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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007
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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007


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WOW!

We just arrived back in Lhasa yesterday afternoon after a wild adventure in the Drigung Terdrom valley. The drive there was only about four hours, but we couldn't have been further from the hustle and bustle of Lhasa. We camped for two nights by the Terdrom Nunnery, situated on a cliff that overlooked the small river settlement, another place said to have been visited by the great Guru Rimpoche. After heaving our tent bags and packs up to our campsite (flat ground was difficult to find) we all happily packed some clothes and headed down to the Hot Springs, something we had all been looking forward to for quite some time. I guess from here I'll describe my own experiences since we all had very different ones: first off, the hot springs are curious in that they are both a kind of resort attraction and a spiritual place for pilgrims, so naturally there were many people already there when we arrived. The men and the women are separated into two springs (the divider however is less than adequate), and nudity is 100% the norm. Being Westerners, Katheryn, Taylor, Kelsey and I were confronted with all of this and in the end we resorted to 'carpe diem.' Off came the clothes, and we waded into the small pool, quickly becoming the new main attraction among the other women. At first they stared, and then they laughed with us as we observed our new situation, eventually making room for us to sit amongst them on the warm rocks beneath the simmering water. It was a wild experience, unforgettable, but in the end we had to call it quits as the water temperature became to hot to handle. Getting out of the hot springs however proved far more challenging than we could have possibly imagined; to begin with, the altitude at Terdrom is about 15,000 ft, which was a significant change from our usual altitude of 12,000ft in Lhasa. On top of that, many of us realized too late that we were a bit dehydrated, so all that combined with our movement from hot water to cold mountain air caused the four of us to enter a slight twilight zone of exhaustion, dizziness, and much confusion. Kelsey and Katheryn somehow climbed back up to camp, while all Taylor and I could do was stumble through the town to our food tent and wait for the others until dinner. Call it what you will, altitude, dehydration, or spiritual trance, but whatever it was, it was wild and terrifying at the same time.

That being our first day in Terdrom, I thought it couldn't possibly get any wilder, but for our second day, Chris and Brian took us each out after breakfast to different places scattered all over the valley, where we were to spend the next eight hours, alone, with nothing but our journals and a Nagarjuna quote to contemplate (and some food for lunch). Again, everyone had a completely different and extremely personal experience, so I can only speak for myself in my account of the day, but for me it was incredible: I thought alot, but without a watch my concept of time was very uncertain. The weather was challenging: it was overcast and a little rainy, which was uncomfortable for many, including me. To be honest I can't even describe how I passed the time because even I'm not exactly sure. But overall, I think everyone would agree in that it was a positive experience, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, even physically, and I think we all benefited from sharing our unique experiences at the end of the day.

Our third day in Terdrom marked the beginning of our first trek in the Himalayas, and we started with a bang. There was an option to do an 18,000ft pass, which seven of us attempted, and, through rain and hail, sweat and tears, five hours later, all seven of us achieved. It was unbelievable, by far the most physically challenging thing I have ever done, and I absolutely could not have done it without the support and encouragement from the rest of the group (Hannah, Scott, Turner, Jason, Kelsey, and Kimberly, with Brian and Pasan in the lead). We were indeed hit by a hailstorm at the first summit, but when it broke we were blown away when a huge eagle swooped down within ten feet of our group and soared right past - we all took that as a sign, some sort of mountain blessing allowing us to pass through in peace. It took us about two hours to climb down the other side, and there we met the rest of our group (yaks included) and set up camp under the watchful eye of a rock buddha perched high on a peak above us.

Our fourth day was another long day - it took us about eight hours from start to finish, but after establishing a new mantra for the group: "peace with the pace," we were all able to enjoy it in our own way, some pushing their limits of their physical capabilities and other hanging back to enjoy the scenery and focus more on the mental challenges of the trek. I for one felt very inspired by the landscape, as it varied from river valley to rock slides to gorges and cliffs and canyons to lakes and waterfalls and barren fields of slopes and rocks... very cool (lots of great photos - hopefully some will get posted).

Our final day started off a bit frosty, and while the last day's trek was a bit easier than the last two, we were set back by the vicious claws of sickness - a few unfortunate members of our group fell to what has, by now, gotten most of us since we arrived in Asia. But we persevered together and reached the end of our trek without too much trouble, with a few extra stops (to vomit and/or frolic in streams). We then bid farewell to our faithful yaks (a few of which we named: Horace, Mijellin, Heathcliff, and Horace), and boarded our bus back to Lhasa.

Amazingly enough, today is our last day in Tibet, for tomorrow we begin our two-day journey back to Nepal, to our rural Thangmi homestays, which will be a completely new and exciting portion of our trip. Our experiences in Tibet have been wild, though short-lived, and while I have enjoyed most of it, I am not too sad about leaving. But then again, each one of us have had different experiences here, so I can only speak for myself. While I will miss the genuine Tibetan spirit and what culture is still preserved around the Barkhor, I definitely won't miss the all around jaded Chinese attitudes that I have witnessed, both tourists and residents alike.

Well, I'm not quite sure what our access to computers will be like over the next week or more, so don't worry if you don't hear from us for a while (although I hear we are being put to shame on the yakyak board by our fellow semester groups...) Until then, take care, and know we are all thinking of home often - food cravings have been a frequent topic of conversation lately, but don't worry, we miss you all too! Peace and love,

--Sara

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

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hot springs and hail storms

Sara,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

WOW! We just arrived back in Lhasa yesterday afternoon after a wild adventure in the Drigung Terdrom valley. The drive there was only about four hours, but we couldn’t have been further from the hustle and bustle of Lhasa. We camped for two nights by the Terdrom Nunnery, situated on a cliff that overlooked the […]

Posted On

10/10/07

Author

Sara

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We have arrived back in Lhasa once again and are getting to know the winding roads in and out of the city very well from all our brief excursions! We returned back last night, on the eve of Sara's 18th birthday, and had a wonderful momo party in honor of the start of her 19th circumamulation of the sun. Perhaps we ordered a few too many plates of these delicious veggie and meat dumplings, but everyone "took one for the team" and we had many laughs despite our hazy momo-coma.

The Drak Yangdzong caves were so extraordinary. I am fortunate to have been to these caves three times now, and each time I am always struck by the absolute beauty of the Drakyul valley, and the profundity of being literally in the middle of a mountain, slithering around tunnels worn smooth by the myriad pilgrims who have slithered through before me. I don't think it is possible to really convey the feeling of entering this dry valley which rises up from the wide and sandy banks of the Tsangpo river, which we crossed on a rickety ferry/raft. There are several impressive rock features that jut up from the valley floor, and little villages pop up every few kilometers, their adobe houses camouflaged against the beige rocky backdrop. It is harvest season and as we rattled past in our covered truck, we saw people sifting barley grain and drying hay for their animals this winter.

The mountain which houses the famous Drak Yangdzong caves is an impressive sight, like no other mountain in the valley. We can begin to understand why Guru Rinpoche might have picked this massif to explore and settle down in - it definitely stands out in an impressive way, rising almost wrathfully against the more gentle hills surrounding it. This time of year, all the bushes turn a golden and fiery orange color, and those colors against the bright blue high altitude sky are enough to take my breath away.

We camped at a little nunnery at the base of the limestone mountain, in a beautiful field which offers exceptional views of the stars in the evening. It is about a 3 hour hike up to the mouth of the main cave from our campsite, climbing through the bushes and up narrow sandy paths. We gathered our energy in the main cave for a little bit before ascending into the cave tunnel complexes which are reached by climbing a steep ladder to a smaller opening. Everyone was so supportive of each other, all working together to get up the ladder and through the tunnels safely. Once you climb the ladder, it is necessary to turn on headlamps to illuminate the way because it quickly becomes pitch dark as you submerge yourself in the mountain. There are a series of ladders rigged up to help you slither through the steeper parts, and then it is also necessary to pull yourself belly-down through the tunnel, using all your arm strength to slither through. If you take the time to look closely at the rock you're sliding through, it has these beautiful crystalline formations which have been smoothed down to create an incredibly complex pattern of concentric circles. As an amateur geologist, I'm always blown away at the beauty of the rock.

Eventually, we reached the entrance to the main womb-like center of the mountain, a large hollow opening that we had to descend into climbing down another rickety ladder (but don't worry, Guru Rinpoche's consort, Yeshe Tsogyal, put a blessing on these ladders that no one would ever fall off!). We sat and absorbed the darkness and silence, and our Ani (nun) guide described the iconographic meaning of the various rock features. We also took turns entering Guru Rinpoche's primary meditation cave up another ladder from the ground of the womb, and were granted some time to sit quietly and meditate. Legend tells us that originally, Guru Rinpoche entered this smaller cave subsidiary through a minuscule hole, but that Yeshe Tsogyal told him that he should create a bigger hole so that others might receive the blessing of the place he meditated in for 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days. We were told that Guru Rinpoche subsisted on rock minerals from an opening at the bottom of the cave, and water dripped down from a rock formation that has been described as the breast of the cave. We were blessed by some of this water, which is pretty special in that it flows through a mountain!

After soaking up the dank dark silence of this womb cavern, we followed the same path out of the cave, sliding down the natural rock slides and eventually reaching the mouth of the cave where sunlight streamed across our faces and warmed our chilled bodies. It was really like a re-birthing experience, coming back out into the light after existing in the mysterious mountain chambers for an hour or so. We definitely pushed our boundaries and it was frightening sometimes - the mind has a great chance to spin all sorts of tales when you're alone in the dark with your thoughts, but everyone made it out feeling stronger and more inspired than before; all of us agreeing that this was one of the most rad experiences that we've had! How many people can tell stories of scrambling THROUGH a mountain where a crazy Tibetan meditation master spent 3 years in yogic practice?!

We were able to check out another meditation cave, but there were some impatient Tibetan pilgrims on our tales making this second cave not as peaceful and inspiring of an experience as the first. It was impressive to see the living significance of the caves in the eyes of the pilgrims, evidenced through their insistence on receiving the blessings of the place and doing whatever it took to get to their "destination." Still, it can be difficult holding the fact that these people revere this place so much and yet at the same time, they are acting so pushy and altogether un-compassionate. As Dragons, I am impressed that we can appreciate the winding process of pilgrimage or travel or any journey, and not be as stuck on the "goal;" but this attitude is definitely a privilege. We have time and resources, and have grown up in a culture where expressing our feelings and accepting the process is emphasized. Regardless, it was beautiful inside the mountain, and we were blessed with the darshan (reciprocal beholding) of the 1000 Buddha rock formations and begging bowls and severed nagas (snakes), etc. Cool!

It was sad to leave the caves, but we were able to take so much with us from this short excursion. We challenged our minds and bodies, beheld powerful sights, sat silently, and worked together so compassionately. I think we'll be able to take these blessings with us for the rest of the trip, and beyond, as evidence of our indomitable spirits and open hearts.

We're now off to the Mentsekhang, the Tibetan medical college, for a lecture with a traditional doctor of Tibetan medicine, and will depart again tomorrow for the Terdrum hot springs and our 3 day trek! More to come soon!

Kristin

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

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Drak Yangdzong

Kristin,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

We have arrived back in Lhasa once again and are getting to know the winding roads in and out of the city very well from all our brief excursions! We returned back last night, on the eve of Sara’s 18th birthday, and had a wonderful momo party in honor of the start of her 19th […]

Posted On

10/6/07

Author

Kristin

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The Yak board seemed to eat up this post from a few weeks ago, so here it is again:

Everything has been going smoothly here in Kathmandu. We are becoming versed in the art of eating dal bhat (lentils and rice) with our hands, being kept awake at night by the barking dogs, navigating the busy streets with relative finesse, haggling with vendors and taxi drivers, and are getting more comfortable with various bathroom techniques! Overall, health has been good, bellies full with rice, and our hearts are looked after by our friendly home stay families.

This is our first full week in one place, and I think everyone is settling into the way of life here. The group is visibly close and I am so thankful to be here in my favorite corner of the world with such a fantastic travel crew! Last weekend was a quiet one after all the running around and transitioning of the first week, and offered much needed reflection time to process all that has happened already.

We collected ISP proposals yesterday and have been working to get everyone set up with a great project. Bryan, Chris, and I will be overseeing 4-5 students each, trying to hook them up with local contacts, internships, translators for interviews, and trying to inspire any initial research that must be done. The Himalaya semester is definitely the most nomadic of the semesters which can be a blessing and a curse for ISP projects. We are able to travel through various regions and note the similar threads that connect each place. This can be a great opportunity for a comparative ISP, one that works with the diverse trends we see. We do not get to have too much settled time in each place, but certainly do our best with the time we have. Our time in Darjeeling will be the most settled, and it being at the end of the program, hopefully everyone will have more of a context to give relevance to their projects.

Below is a summary of each student’s ISP proposals. We met with everyone this morning/afternoon and have reserved this day for initial ISP work. Some are already apprenticing with people, collecting stories, and brainstorming interview questions. It’s a really exciting time!

I’m off to find some more contacts for ISP work, so I’ll end here for now. Hope all is well at home!

ISP Proposals, submitted 18 September, 2007:

1. ROSIE:

Beginning with an investigation of the meditative effects of Tibetan Thangka painting, Rosie is focusing her ISP on meditation and holistic healing. She’s looking at various interpretations of the processes of the mind to give context for various local healing practices.

2. ROB:

Medicine, looking especially at affects of altitude on humans. He hopes to study western treatments for altitude sickness and compare to “indigenous” treatments. He hopes to also look at four other diseases and compare western versus indigenous treatment. He intends for there to be a more personal component of this project: to work at western hospital and also with local healers.

3. TAYLOR:

Investigate the effects of 1960’s Cultural Revolution on the Tibetan people. She will interview refugees about their quality of life, before and after invasion. She hopes to explore how the cultural revolution has shaped refugee lives culturally, religiously, and economically. She will produce photo-essay.

4. KIMBERLY:

Kimberly hopes to look at agricultural production and study various farming practices. She hopes to question how sustainable the farming production is in Nepal and what crops provide the country with food. She will look at exports and what crops people here use, how local people take advantage of the land. She hopes to work at tea plantation in Darjeeling and/or work in local gardens.

5. HANNAH:

Alternative medicine: Ayurveda and Tibetan. She hopes to learn various ways, practices, and philosophies of dealing with medical issues. She would like to research and shadow various practices. Wants to combine service and ISP projects by working at various clinics.

6. CORI:

Cori hopes to produce an ethnography of “indigenous Tibetan artistic expression.” She will conduct short interviews with artisans of various crafts and also survey three art forms in depth:

-Music: Would like to be hooked up with an ethnomusicologist to learn about Tibetan folk music, and document study with field recordings on her recorder.

-Pottery and silversmithing: Undertake brief apprenticeship, gain basic knowledge of processes, and research story of the crafts and craftsmen.

7. KELSEY:

Kelsey will explore storytelling and folklore expressed through music. She hopes to create a songbook of local songs, play music with people, and hopefully accompany the songs on her guitar. She is interested in songs expressing folklore and political issues.

8. SARA:

”Perceptions of Place through Folklore and Photography.” Sara will look at how different creation myths have impacted how people relate to and interact with the land and observe the land-human relationships. She hopes to collect folk stories and take photographs to document the process.

9. OFER:

Ofer will study Buddhist theory and practice. He would like to have 1-on-1’s with meditation masters to receive personal instruction in meditation. He will try to independently meditate each day, and also find mentor to discuss Buddhist philosophy.

10. MARGARITA.

Margarita will take on the task of studying Tibetan Language and script. She will find a teacher to teach her the fundamentals, particularly basic translation. She hopes to translate a short piece for her final project.

11. TURNER:

Turner will study Tibetan Thangka painting, it’s practice and the meditative benefits. He will learn basic Buddhist iconography and the processes of Thangka painting such as sketching, brush stroke, and shading.

12. SCOTT:

Scott will look at folklore, religious stories, and local mythology and put together a book of stories and his own illustrations. The illustrations will be based on traditional artistic styles relevant to the story.

13. KATHRYNE:

Kathryne will apprentice in jewelry making (silversmithing, beading). She will investigate differences in Tibetan, Nepali, and Indian jewelry. She will learn different steps, processes, and customs of jewelry making, as well as symbology. She is looking forward to working closely with people and learning about their way of life.

14. JASON:

Jason will study shamanism, particularly the shamanic traditions of the regions we will travel. He hopes to learn systems of beliefs and sets of practices of shamans. He will look at the process of becoming a shaman, the role of shaman in community, their learning process, and the meaning of ritual/ritual objects. He will look at the history of these practices, how they have been preserved, and if they’re still effective for the 21st century. He will do this through reading books and articles, and hopefully through interactions/interviews with shamans. He will look at shamans’ role in health and healing, and how drumming is used.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

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ISP and Kathmandu

Kristin,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

The Yak board seemed to eat up this post from a few weeks ago, so here it is again: Everything has been going smoothly here in Kathmandu. We are becoming versed in the art of eating dal bhat (lentils and rice) with our hands, being kept awake at night by the barking dogs, navigating the […]

Posted On

10/1/07

Author

Kristin

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Tashi Delek from Lhasa, the rooftop capital of the world!

Our group arrived safely in Lhasa, and we're adjusting to the new smells, tastes, sights, and altitude of the Tibetan Plateau! Everyone seems to be acclimatizing gracefully, exploring the city with the vigor of high altitude pranic energy! It feels wonderful to be here, out of the chaos of Kathmandu, feeling out an entirely new culture. We took at walk yesterday to the Lingkhor, the naga temple at the base of the Potala palace. The second and third stories were closed, but we somehow managed to persuade a monk to let us in to observe the exquisite wall paintings. It was so beautiful - these paintings are some of the most detailed I have ever seen. We also had a little workout at the calisthenic park just outside, wondering what in the world the Chinese were thinking building this zero-resistance exercise park.

We are about to depart for the beautiful Reting Gompa tomorrow, our first excursion out of Lhasa. Reting is situated on a hillside scattered with magical winding Juniper trees. It is a sight that would inspire awe in the most stoic of people, and we're fortunate to travel there in the autumn when the junipers will be turning earthy shades in preparation for the cold winter months. The Reting mountainside is the only one in the area covered with trees, and it's a wonderful retreat spot for us to settle into this new country and begin lessons on Buddhism and Tibetan history.

We'll be in and out of Lhasa for the next 3 weeks, also taking trips to the Drak Yangdzong caves of Guru Rinpoche, and Terdrum nunnery where we'll bathe in the medicinal natural hot springs and start our 3 day trek off right! Below is our revised Tibet schedule:

September 30: Travel to Reting Gompa. Set up camp. Evening story time: Life story of the Buddha

October 1: Reting. Morning lesson on history of Reting including Reting regent controversy, the writing of the Lam Rim, etc. Kora around Reting. Possible visit to Reting Rinpoche. Afternoon/evening lesson on 4 Noble Truths.

2: Return to Lhasa. Evening lesson on the 3 Marks.

3: Full day in Lhasa. Visit the Jokhang Temple, the first temple built in Tibet. Lessons on Jokhang history and Sacred Geography.

4: Travel to Drakyul (bus, ferry, tractor!). Set up camp.

5: Trek up to and explore Drak Yangdzong caves. Talk about Guru Rinpoche.

6: Travel back to Lhasa. Morning lesson on the 5 Skandhas.

7: Full day in Lhasa. Morning lecture on Tibetan Medicine. Afternoon meeting at 1:30 with director of Men Tse Khang (Tibetan Medical College) on Tibetan Medicine.

8: Travel to Terdrum nunnery. Set up camp. Hot springs!

9: Full day at Terdrum to explore, reflect.

10: Trek-Drigung day 1.

11: Trek day 2. Lesson on Heart Sutra. Evening fun.

12: Trek day 3. Get picked up in evening and travel back to Lhasa.

13: Full day in Lhasa. Morning lecture on Tibetan history. Visit Sera Gompa and witness famous debates. Lesson on Wheel of Life. Goodbye Lhasa dinner.

14: Travel to Lhatse.

15: Travel to Zhangmou

16: Cross border back into Nepal in morning. Get picked up and taken to the infamous Last Resort to celebrate the Tibetan portion of our program.

17: Travel to Suspa. Begin home stays and Dashain festivities.

18-22: Suspa Homestays and festival time.

23: Travel back to Kathmandu.

As in any Dragons plan, this itinerary is subject to wonderful and exciting changes, but we should be sticking to this itinerary pretty closely. We will of course send updates as changes arise.

-Kristin

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

View post

Arrival in Lhasa and Updated Tibet Itinerary

Kristin,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

Tashi Delek from Lhasa, the rooftop capital of the world! Our group arrived safely in Lhasa, and we’re adjusting to the new smells, tastes, sights, and altitude of the Tibetan Plateau! Everyone seems to be acclimatizing gracefully, exploring the city with the vigor of high altitude pranic energy! It feels wonderful to be here, out […]

Posted On

09/29/07

Author

Kristin

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    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>   

Upon arriving in India for the first time, my experiences at the Calcutta Airport could not have been any more surreally convoluted yet perfectly reasonable, totally foreign yet oddly familiar, completely unpredictable yet somehow not wholely beyond the borders of my expectations. Perhaps, though, this is the only way one can be introduced to the country of India- a vast landscape of unknowable secrets, a land which can hold a magical lightheartedness and grave desperation so tightly together. India is truly one of those places where one can feel so strongly drawn to yet once there can have no idea why.

My feet have not yet touched the streets of India, yet I already feel an intimated connection based solely from a night of friendly conversation with the workers in the Calcutta airport. Despite the amount of space we had traveled to get to Calcutta, as soon as we began talking to these workers, it seemed that there had never been a real distance between us after all. We shared our perspectives on life, our philososphies, our views of the world. But ultimately, nothing that was said was as important as the mutual recognition of our friendship that seemed to occur spontaenously and immediately.

We talked for several hours and our Indian friends had something to say about everything from the nature of self to Shakira- but mostly we just shared cigarettes and laughed a lot together. Afterwards I wrote a song based on our conversations with them:

Everybody is itchin for money

Some people say that it's sweeter than honey

And it can even seem better than sunny

But ain't it also just a little bit funny?

Oh what do you really have to gain?

Other than bankin on someone else's pain

What is found can only be lost

Do you still think it's just a simple cost?

Can you win, without also losing?

The game we play is really quite amusing

The ups and downs they gotta meet in the middle

Answer my question and I'll just tell you a riddle

Cause when you go your fortune won't mean a thing

Yeah you can give it to the queen and the king

Spent every dime on a shiny new car

But you can only drive it oh so far

Well don't you know how it eventually goes?

As your time here draws near to a close

You're on your own you leave it all behind

Will you still have your peace of mind?

Re-writing all this right across the street from the magnificent Stupah in the center of Bhoaddha, with peaceful Tibetan prayer chants audible in the background, Calcutta seems like a distant memory and needleless to say, I am looking forward to returning to India with great intrigue. But for now, I am happy to embrace the peaceful determination of the Tibetan refuggees we see around us in the streets and, for most of us, our new homes. Nepal has been quite a mouthful to take in, but for all the hardships we see daily, there is also such a vibrant sense of aliveness that seems to permeatte everything here- the people, the plants, the mountains.

I think this trip has really been surpassing our wildest dreams and I am honored to have the oppurtunity to visit these places and be able to share it with the rest of the group.

namaste yall,

jason

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

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Calcutta Airport and a Song

jason,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

Upon arriving in India for the first time, my experiences at the Calcutta Airport could not have been any more surreally convoluted yet perfectly reasonable, totally foreign yet oddly familiar, completely unpredictable yet somehow not wholely beyond the borders of my expectations. Perhaps, though, this is the only way one can be introduced to the […]

Posted On

09/15/07

Author

jason

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    [post_content] =>  After a long, grueling battle with nepal's internet, I think I've managed to find a way to upload my pictures onto a website all of you can access:  

http://public.fotki.com/alucan/himalayas-07

Week 1 pics should be up by tomorrow morning..hope it works

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

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pic-tur-es

Ofer Levy,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

After a long, grueling battle with nepal’s internet, I think I’ve managed to find a way to upload my pictures onto a website all of you can access: http://public.fotki.com/alucan/himalayas-07 Week 1 pics should be up by tomorrow morning..hope it works

Posted On

09/13/07

Author

Ofer Levy

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    [post_content] =>   

Namaste from Nepal!

We're so happy to be here in this gorgeous country! And its truly an honor to share this experience with such wonderful people; the group is amazing and our leaders rock. Though we've only been together for a few days, we've already developed a remarkably close bond.

Our adventure began with a shocking arrival in India; as we drove through the early-morning darkness to find a place to rest, we saw dozens of Indians sleeping on the dirty streets of Kolkata. The image proved unsettling and truly affirmed how far we were from home.

We awoke a few hours later to explore the city and were immediately confronted with a barrage of foreign sights, sounds and smells. The chaos was both mesmerizing and overwhelming: people were bathing in the streets, dogs and goats roamed freely, and vehicles were weaving dangerously through it all. Thus, it was far easier to digest the pace of life in Nepal when we arrived later that evening. Tired but happy, we drove through Kathmandu valley, our faces glued to the bus windows as we took in the breathtaking Nepali landscape for the first time.

We settled quickly and easily into our mountain resort in Dhulikhel, which overlooked a vast and beautiful valley guarded by mountain-like hills wrapped in rice patties as far as the eye could see. Our view afforded us the chance to finally rest peacefully after many days of travelling. The next few days passed quickly; we spent some important time as a group to officially discuss our goals and dreams for the program, reviewing some important information and covering a crash-course in Nepalese culture, language, and history.

Yesterday marked our first expedition into the natural landscape of Nepal; after a lovely early-morning yoga practice, we left Dhulikhel and walked four hours through the striking Nepali countryside to get to Bhaktapur, an ancient holy city built in the 12th century. We were surprised to learn that there was to be a festival of dancing that night, and, after exploring the city, we made our way back though the crowded Durbar Square to watch the festivities unfold.

This morning we left Bhaktapur to meet our first guest lecturer, Mandira Sharma, an inspiring Nepali activist working for human rights in the wake of the recent Maoist People's War. Sharma will receive the Human Rights Watch's highest honor this November for her important work in this field.

Now we have finally arrived in Boudha were we will soon meet our first homestay families. None of us were truly prepared for what would greet us upon our arrival here: the great Boudha Stupa, an enormous Buddhist monument covered in prayer flags surrounded by a ring of numerous Tibetan-style shops and restaurants. Our group will spend one last night together before venturing apart into the homes of our new families, where we will stay for the next two weeks. We are all excited (and perhaps a little nervous) to start this next chapter of our adventure in the Himalayas. More stories to follow soon!

Hoping all is well on the homefront,

Taylor and Sara

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

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Namaste!

Taylor and Sara,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

Namaste from Nepal! We’re so happy to be here in this gorgeous country! And its truly an honor to share this experience with such wonderful people; the group is amazing and our leaders rock. Though we’ve only been together for a few days, we’ve already developed a remarkably close bond. Our adventure began with a […]

Posted On

09/13/07

Author

Taylor and Sara

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