Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend, or a meaningful day.” – Dalai Lama
Daybreak roused me from exhausted drug-induced sleep. Either that, or the bus swinging from side to side, as it slowly chugged up the narrow, winding mountain roads. The view outside the window ensured I did not fall asleep again. It felt like being suspended mid air – way down below the quiet valley bathed in the new light of the morning sun, up above the green mountains, and much higher still, as if stabbing the sky with their jagged peaks, and making holes that sent bright sunbeams shooting through, were the gigantic, sombre, bluey-white mountains – The Himalayas – I was in my old and new home.
On arrival in McLeodganj, needing to stretch my legs after a 30hr journey, I went for a walk around the Tsuglagkhang Complex, the headquarters of the Tibetan Government in exile, and home of the Dalai Lama. To see this humble complex, in its very modest surroundings, one would struggle to believe that it’s home to one of the best known, best loved personalities of our time.
It was 8.00am, and hardly anyone around. Those who were about, had also come to enjoy the tranquility. The multi-coloured Tibetan prayer flags fluttering in the breeze brightened the walk. I encountered several people along the way, some humming their prayers while rolling their prayers beads in their hands, others softly chatting away. There were old ones who struggled up the steep dirt path, but still managing a smile as I passed; there were people sitting on the makeshift benches in quiet contemplation, there were even monkeys who looked comically reflective as they sat side by side with the maroon robe clad Tibetan monks.
All along the way I received indulgent smiles, which I thought a bit odd, but rather nice! Later I discovered that being a Bhuddist place of worship, one is supposed to walk around the complex in a clockwise direction. I couldn’t help smiling to myself thinking about the silly joke where, on being told to avoid a certain one way street because some crazy was driving in the wrong direction, the man remarked, “you should see all the idiots on this street!”