Friday, May 22, 2015

The magic of Mcleodgunj

The magic of Mcleodgunj
makes
time
stand
still-

for friends to share
what their children,
who will
be going to universities soon,
really hope to do
when they finish school-

over a wood fired Pizza
and
hot ginger, honey, lemon drinks
that taste so good
you can't stop talking about
how delicious the food is
while splitting the last wedge
of pizza
into two.

But the cheesy strings
have been in the hot oven
together-
so they know
a thing or two about
loyalty.
They stick together
and hold on
against
the split.

One half of the divided wedge gets all the toppings
of eggplant, peppers and tomatoes
while the other looks
like a freshly cleansed face
with bits of blotchy make up still on.

Friendly fingers patch up the
unjust division
of haves
and have nots
and carry on
with
conversations
about
greying hair
and
stubborn belly fat.

Carpe Diem-
(Pluck the day.)
(Seize it.)
is the name of the cafe.

The magic of Macleodgunj
makes a frothy cappuccino taste like none other you've ever had
or
ever will.
And the walnut tarts... I salivate while I type.
Woeser Bakery-
'the name in Tibetan means
Golden Shine.'
informs Sangmu,
the lady who runs the show.
She does it coz she loves baking.

The dollop of chocolate
she serves with her pancakes
is worthy
of
being a poet's muse.

I lick the little pot clean
and shush my guilt to shut up
and stop pointing his finger
at
my belly fat.

My children are convinced that the food was laced
with Shiva's prasadam
OR
the hike had made me so famished
that anything I ate
would've tasted delicious.

But I smile the smile of the ONE who knows
and nod
for it is the magic of Mcleodgunj
that stretches a day into
an eternity
of
bliss
and
everywhere you look
there is a reason to say,
"Thank you God
for I can
breathe
see
hear
feel
and
taste
such
beauty."

Come with me and feel the magic of a place that I want to visit again 
despite 
the sleepless 10 hour bus ride. 

We stayed at the 8 Auspicious Him View Hotel where woman power was evident from the minute we checked in- efficient, warm and friendly. 
The breakfast was the crowning glory- wholewheat pancakes served with honey and yoghurt or fruit. When I enquired about the recipe, I was asked to step into their immaculate kitchen and the lady showed me all the measurements -Indian style- not with measuring cups or spoons but with ladles (karchhi ka andaza). She shared everything about the recipe even the consistency of the batter- the way it should be to get the softness.

This is the essence of the humans of Himachal. They share and smile and make you feel like family. I found this everywhere I went during my five days there.
(more about them will follow in my later posts)
Back to Mcllo..

I haven't tried the recipe yet, but do hope to soon.
The flour they use comes from a local stone grinding mill. 
Locally sourced fresh food always is and always will be the best tasting food.


After our audience with the Dalai Lama, we headed towards Woeser Bakery.

(photo credits: Aparna @ http://vistasindia.com)

 https://woeserbakery.wordpress.com



No contest- the BESTEST cappuccino EVER!




I met this gentleman- a honey seller just outside the bakery.
Lo and behold! his honey collections are made in Kalsi, Chorpudh (Vikasnagar) and Dehradun...
my childhood haunts.
It's a small world.
I couldn't taste the honey for he didn't have any spoons and I didn't want to carry any more weight on the trek.
Only when I sat down to write about this trip, did it occur to me that I could have nipped into the bakery and got one!
(hand smack on head moment!)

I did have a nice long chat and his shiny eyes smiled a lot:)







A short but steep walk from the main square leads one to Bhagsu Falls. 
Here are a few sights that caught my eye...

and ear...


This gentleman is Tamilian. I tried to use my five words' long Tamil vocabulary to communicate but we had to resort to sign language to say 'hello', 'how's it going?' and 'have a good day'.



Bhagsu Temple.
According to the priest,  the pool you see in the picture is fed by a natural spring running through the temple - under the lingam - throughout the year. 
At times like these, I wish I were a man- I could just take a dip and no one would bat an eyelid!


A painted pebble at the temple gate.





The lady who made all this possible. 



Sufi songs sung with love...he was awesome.








Sipping hot ginger, lemon and honey:)

 Listening to guitar strings...

watching the world go by




Let me say phir milenge (see you again) with this beautiful quote:

“Your own words are the bricks and mortar of the dreams you want to realize. Your words are the greatest power you have. The words you choose and their use establish the life you experience.”





Thursday, May 14, 2015

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet has very soft hands.

“Happiness doesn’t always come from a pursuit. Sometimes it comes when we least expect it.”

- Dalai Lama XIV
Last Friday, at around 9 am, happiness came softly
to 
me
and she has decided to stay on.


Seven days later-
and I can still feel the way his hand felt when I touched it-
soft, soft, soft.

Seven days later-
and his dark eyes are still peeping into my soul-
clear, mystical, simple.

Seven days later-
and I can still see his soft drooping cheeks commanding his lips to utter,
'Come again.' to us.

'Come again' echoes deep inside me.
Why did he say that?
Come again to Whom? for What? Why?

The white scarves you see us all wearing in the photo
were bought in a rush
after we spotted other visitors carrying them.

A kind gentleman helped us to carefully fold the scarf into a neat concertina.

The lady security guard
at the metal detector,
however,
had other ideas.
With one swift movement of her experienced hands,
she unfurled my neatly folded scarf
and smiled warmly.

Even before we lined up to see His Holiness,
the lessons of life had begun.
Neatly laid plans
sometimes
unfurl
while we look on.

It's time to 
unfurl
to
receive
the light,
the love
and to let go
of
expectations.

Easy said than done.

Standing in line
waiting for my turn
soaking the red, pink and white geraniums planted in cans painted in green
following the butterflies dancing on delphiniums
noticing the bulging biceps of the good looking security personnel caressing his automatic weapon
feeling odd
witnessing this duality-
mean looking guns protecting His Holiness
a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Standing in line
waiting for my turn
carrying my rucksack of expectations
wishing I'd worn a brighter colour or at least some lipstick
to look good in the photo
envying the pretty white dress worn by a Japanese visitor
and
the lady behind me dressed in Tibetan robes
feeling inadequate
in yoga pants and an old top.

Maybe it's time to unfurl myself
and let go of the ego
that fogs the light of my spirit.

The murmur of voices
and the rustle of bodies
announces his arrival.

I automatically stand on tiptoe to see.

Bodies bow.
Hands fold.
His voice rings out clearly.
I catch snippets of conversations
he has with the other visitors.

I am last in line.
It is time.
'Pick me, Pick me'.
my ego screams silently.
'Tell me I am special.'
'Hold my hand and make me stand out.'
'Tell me you can see how good my soul is.'
You see
I am last in line-
the furthest away from you.

'Can I touch your hand?'
I ask
as we are about to leave
after the
photos have been clicked.
He holds his hand out to me.
I touch.
Three fingers of mine hook into his soft palm.
Calm.
Peaceful.
Soft.
I've come home.

Seven days later-
he is still with me.

'Come again'
becomes
'Come home.'

Come home-
to unfurl
to let go
to open your heart
and wipe the foggy window pane clean-
for
light
travels
forward
and unfurls
the darkness
one
cloudy
puff
at
a
time.


An out of the blue email from Aparna 
aka 

informed me of this all girls trekking trip in Himachal- from Mcleodganj to Kareri Lake in the Indian part of the Himalayas- specifically in the Dhauladhar range.

We had joked about seeing His Holiness, but Dr D. who was travelling with us turned it into a reality:) LUCKY US!

A ten hour (sleepless for me) bus ride from Delhi brought us to Mcleodgunj. The audience with His Holiness was booked for 8.30 am. We had just enough time to check in and wash up and clamber to the temple.

Here are some shots of the temple. I hope you can get a feel of the peace and tranquility I felt when I was there.














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Image result for dalai lama quotes on love

The image above is from Google Images.

There's lots more to share with you all from this beautiful part of India.
Hope to see you soon:)