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Fellow Travelers to Sikkim…


Tashi Delek and Namaste! (Salutations you will soon be familiar with once you get here..!)


I am writing from Kathmandu, Nepal, having just returned after accompanyingthe Dragons Himalayan Studies Semester group on a three week trek in the magical region of Dolpo in West Nepal. It was an inspiring to travel through one of the more rugged, remote and beautiful parts of this country - accompanying three veteran instructors and their students, and learning more about the Dragons' way of life! I'm looking forward now to setting off on a fantastic journey with all you guys!


For me, our journey together will take me home, as I grew up and went to school in Darjeeling, near Sikkim. Most of my folks still live in the towns and hamlets in the hills around there, and each year finds me in these places for a month or more, spending time with family, friends and familiar places. I've been living in Kathmanduover the last decade, but Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sikkim - where we will be spending our time -is home turf for me. It willbe a delightjoining your exploration, experience, and learning in the world where I grew up!


Just a little bit more about myself now, so you get a sense of where I come from…


A Nepali from a Buddhist family, I am one of two children – my older sister and I. She and her family, as well as our parents, now live in Siliguri (a place you will visit during the beginning as well as the end of your program). I attended a Christian missionary school in Darjeeling for most of my schooling years, and looking back, it was an interesting experiencefor comparisons of faith. It taught me fairly early the merits of keeping myself open to different points of view – to seek them even - and learn what I could from that. I am hoping all of you will come here and find within yourselves that openness and willingness to truly see and experience a different way of life – and be able to take back useful lessons from your time here.
Going back to my distilled resume, after school, I went on to college to study business in Pune, a city in the mid western part of India, but found myself eventually in the field of writing - having in between found time to study photography, language and even software programming!However, as amountain person, the call of the hills eventually became too strong and I returned to Nepal, a place I love, and decided to call Kathmandu home. Since my return here I have worked with non-profit organizations in development and conservation,been a journalist and editor, and in recent times, have been leading mountainexcursions for those who seek to discover its beauty and the lessons in humility and simplicity it can bring to us all.


Living within thesecultures and Himalayan geography I often feel a certain measure of pride in the way of life we have here, and the generosity, simplicity, and easy laughter of the people of the hills. There is struggle here too – life is often not easy for most people living in the mountains, but through that I have seen strength, dignity, courage and community amongst the people here. I look forward to having you experience what I speak of. I hope you find new, or enhanced, understandings of those "hill people" qualities within you, once our trip is done…


Once more, I look forward to hearing from you all soon, and if there are any questions I may be able to answer, please do not hesitate to write, firstly, on the Yak Yak board or to me at siddharth.lama@gmail.com. I will be glad to be of assistance.


See you all soon!


Sid.

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Sikkim, Summer 2009

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Fellow Travelers to Sikkim…

Siddharth Lama,Sikkim, Summer 2009

Description

Fellow Travelers to Sikkim… Tashi Delek and Namaste! (Salutations you will soon be familiar with once you get here..!) I am writing from Kathmandu, Nepal, having just returned after accompanyingthe Dragons Himalayan Studies Semester group on a three week trek in the magical region of Dolpo in West Nepal. It was an inspiring to travel […]

Posted On

05/14/09

Author

Siddharth Lama

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    [post_date] => 2009-05-13 00:00:00
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namaskara,

As you may already know, this traditional Indian greeting is a bit more than simply “hello”. It's more properly understood to be a bow of sorts to the spirit within, and as such is potentially the first opportunity to reflect on possible differences between ourselves and those we seek to understand better. Let me elaborate.

Within the first two weeks of my first trip to India, undertaken through the University of California, I heard someone say, “Only God controls the country” or something to that effect. It was a trite comment said as much to discourage further thought as to why such and such was happening as it was to convey a generally understood truism. In the former sense, it was directed to me in my capacity as a wide-eyed young man from Kansas. In the latter, it was to show me a more profound world view.

Fast forward two years. I am walking through Paharganj, it's blistering out in the mid-day sun. Sadar-ji approaches me with an offer to reveal my future. With time on my hands, I take him up on the proposal. After blabbing about some general and easy enough to assume things, he comes to the big one, one that he knew I wanted to hear. After settling the baksheesh, loosely a “tip”, he says that he will share the prophesy with me the following year. This despite the fact that he was paid handsomely. No amount of arguing could persuade him that I was never coming back, which was the sincere truth as I saw it at the time.

Less than a year ago, on my third extended visit to India, after having met with above mentioned sadar, I was hitchhiking (a truly privileged mode of travel) my way up the ganga (Ganges River). A small man dressed entirely in orange approached me and engaged in the usual, “Where are you going?” “How long have you been standing out here?” etc. He looked “smart” as they say. Short hair, neatly trimmed beard, clean clothes. His English was at least as good as mine. When we finally reached our shared destination, Gangotri, Muni-baba led me around, showed me where he stayed, and then took me to a nice ashram. A little red-tape prevented me from hiking to Gamukh, and so I decided, after a few days, to leave town with unfinished business. On my way out I stopped to present my new friend a small gift. Though I had interrupted his meditation he insisted I sit. It was God's will, he said. We chatted about many things. I was very curious about his asceticism (material renunciation). I mean, here sat a sadhu who did not drink or use drugs, not even caffeine. He ate once a day, Indian vegetarian. I asked him when he took the decision to become a sadhu. He said, “What decision. It is God.” I should have known.

You may be asking what any of this has to do with this summer. I will submit, not much — and everything.

The nextmonth will no doubt be busy. A thesis here, a good-bye there, and much deliberation over how to lighten our packs (I hope). If you have any questions, I can be reached at dameyer@uchicago.edu. Please add “Dragons” in the subject line. I look forward to meeting you all, and hope that you are as excited as I am about exploring this magical land.

Dan

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Sikkim, Summer 2009

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Namaskara

Dan Meyer,Sikkim, Summer 2009

Description

namaskara, As you may already know, this traditional Indian greeting is a bit more than simply “hello”. It’s more properly understood to be a bow of sorts to the spirit within, and as such is potentially the first opportunity to reflect on possible differences between ourselves and those we seek to understand better. Let me […]

Posted On

05/13/09

Author

Dan Meyer

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    [post_date] => 2009-05-08 00:00:00
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Namaste Fellow Travelers!

It is spring time in New Mexico and I am surrounded by greens and purples of every shade; lilacs flavor the air. I sit and wonder why it is I keep leaving a place I call home, thinking about why I love India so much and what keeps bringing me back there. It is the colors, the smells, that unique combination of living, breathing culture that stimulates the senses and leaves me wanting more. It is the people and the landscape that has has taken a stronghold on my heart. And it is all of you daring wanderers with a curiosity about the world around you that continually inspire me to learn more about this little corner of the world that I love so much. For that I am grateful.


The Himalayan region has always had a strong, inexplicable pull for me. It was this pull that inspired me to go to Nepal for the first time when I was 19, and what keeps pulling me back to the Himalayan region again and again. The Himalayas and its people are what drives my wandering and my continuous learning. It is a love affair with landscape and the people it sustains, a relationship that continues to grow and take new forms.


My first adventure to Nepal was in 2004. I studied with the School for International Training, where I focused on Buddhism, Nepalese culture and development and Nepali language. That was the beginning of it all. It sparked a deep curiosity about this part of the world and its people, and it opened me to new experiences that until that point, I had never deemed possible. In short, it changed my life. After I returned I finished up my degree in Religious Studies and Psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Once I graduated in 2006 my wander lust needing quenching so I returned to Asia, this time to travel throughout Nepal, India and Southeast Asia, to trek extensively in the mountains that I love and play in Nepal's glorious rivers. Along with traveling and exploring I spent two months volunteering with The Mountain Fund, an American based NGO aiming to help local NGOs in mountain communities around the world. In 2008, I again returned to the Himalayan region to co-lead the Himalayan Studies Semester where we spent three magical months in Sikkim, Nepal, and NorthWestern India, followed by the Sikkim Summer program where I spent a month exploring the wonders of Sikkim with an extraordinary group of young people. And I get to do it again insix or soweeks with you all!


This is a piece of my story and I truly look forward to hearing all of yours. We all come from very unique and diverse backgrounds, which will color our travel experiences, bringing many wonderful voices to the table. I look forward to hearing them all and can't wait to embark on this journey with all you! Come wide-eyed and open hearted and let's see what adventures we can find together.


This is perhaps one of the most exciting and overwhelming moments in all of our lives. How does one prepare to jump into the unknown? In these next few weeks we are here to help one another in this preparation. In our month together we will be travel companions, friends, family. Let it begin now. Feel free to contact me with any questions, thoughts or stories. (I always love a good story!)


Until then, be well and laugh a lot!

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Sikkim, Summer 2009

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Hello from Taos, NM

Germaine Bartlett-Graff,Sikkim, Summer 2009

Description

Namaste Fellow Travelers! It is spring time in New Mexico and I am surrounded by greens and purples of every shade; lilacs flavor the air. I sit and wonder why it is I keep leaving a place I call home, thinking about why I love India so much and what keeps bringing me back there. […]

Posted On

05/8/09

Author

Germaine Bartlett-Graff

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    [post_date] => 2009-05-05 00:00:00
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Hi everybody! I'm Ella and I can't wait to meet all of you and begin our journey. This will be my first time traveling to Asia. I've always been fascinated with India and Indian culture so I'm very excited to visit/ explore it with you all.

I chose the Sikkim program because I hope to gain some spiritual guidance after learning about Buddhism and Hinduism and I'm really hoping to become more independent after traveling and being away from my twin sister.

A few things about me: I'm 16, I have a twin sister, I'm a vegetarian, I'm one of five children, I'm a quaker, and my older sister went on a dragons trip to Cambodia a few years ago (that's how I found out about the program).

Anyway, like I said, I can't wait to meet you all!

Good Luck in your mixed martial arts competition Brigette!

- Ella

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Sikkim, Summer 2009

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Hi Everybody!

Ella Samuel,Sikkim, Summer 2009

Description

Hi everybody! I’m Ella and I can’t wait to meet all of you and begin our journey. This will be my first time traveling to Asia. I’ve always been fascinated with India and Indian culture so I’m very excited to visit/ explore it with you all. I chose the Sikkim program because I hope to […]

Posted On

05/5/09

Author

Ella Samuel

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    [post_date] => 2009-05-05 00:00:00
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Ah!

Hello future traveling buddies! I'm Brigette and I can not even tell you how excited I am to be able to go to India this summer and to meet all of you. It's kind of strange that I am talking to a bunch of people that I have yet to know even the names of. But I'm sure at the end, when we all have shared an amazing month, together I will laugh at this first first yak yak post. But, anyway, introduction...

I am 19 years old and am just wrapping up my first year at UC Berkeley. With all the crazy kids at this school and the competitiveness of it all, It was difficult to not get wrapped up in everything, so this trip could not be a more perfect time to reflect and decompress. I am hoping to gain some sort of direction after visiting Sikkim and what exactly that means, I don't know. I can feel I am searching for something, though.

I have been doing mixed martial arts (MMA) since I was eight and it is has shaped so much of how I identify myself. I am training for the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Championships right now which take place a couple of weeks before we leave, so wish me luck!

I feel like this was a very skewed introduction of me but soon we will all know each other quite well so hey.

Please post! See you all soon and talk to you all lots before then.

lookingforward,

Brigette

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Sikkim, Summer 2009

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Let’s do this!

Brigette Barnato,Sikkim, Summer 2009

Description

Ah! Hello future traveling buddies! I’m Brigette and I can not even tell you how excited I am to be able to go to India this summer and to meet all of you. It’s kind of strange that I am talking to a bunch of people that I have yet to know even the names […]

Posted On

05/5/09

Author

Brigette Barnato

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