Friday, July 13, 2007

Our attendance has been 50/50, though not in the traditional sense - while we ended up attending no more teachings by His Holiness (due to rain, the sub par English translation, and the 2 minutes worth of excitement when he arrives), we have gone to every English Conversation class this week at Lha - so all and all we don't feel too shabby about how our last few days have been spent. Last night we went to a bizarre concert of traditional Sufi music: a singing harmonium player with a tabla accompaniment. The music was top-notch, as was the singing, but the singer/leader was thoroughly in love with his Sufi music, and wanted the audience to share that "feeling" overly much at times. That meant we were constantly encouraged to clap, sing mantra-esque phrases, and even dance. Enthusiasm is nice, and certainly admirable, but at times it was a bit much (like when he chastised one girl for not "sitting right" when she was reclining instead of sitting cross-legged). Another downside was the "halftime show" of a religious speech on opening one's life energy, but at least the accompanying milk tea drowned our sorrows pretty effectively. Weirdest concert we've possibly ever been to, but at least the (forced) group dance session for the last song was fairly fun, though totally bizarre!
Otherwise we've been eating more good food, we briefly attended a Tibetan Youth Congress anti-China/Beijing Olympics protest rally yesterday, and Liz also signed up to spend 15 days babysitting adorable Tibetan babies/toddlers. The organization is called Rogpa, is run by a Korean woman (so it is primarily funded by South Koreans, it seems), and aims to support self-sufficiency within the Tibetan exile community by taking care of children of lower-income families, for free, so long as both parents are working. While it is then, in one capacity, a childcare service, it is also an organization designed to encourage economical stability amongst recent Tibetan refugees, and therefore Rogpa has many other plans currently in the works, including a handicrafts work shop to help create jobs for needy women. The group is well organized, with excellent informative literature, as well as a cute video showing all the tasks for new volunteers: diaper-changing, game-playing, singing, snack time, picture-book reading, colored-ball sorting, etc. We are both, then, excited to begin our 2-week volunteer stints on Monday, though we will undoubtedly sleep in late on Sunday to prepare for our early rising all next week!
We've been doing some rooftop yoga lately, very nice and relaxing, with a great view of the valley around McCloudGanj. Tomorrow we plan on visiting the local "hippie hangout" of Bhagsu, which means we'll need to brush up on our Hebrew in order to read most of the signs - haha. No ill will meant, its just that Israeli tourists have created a well-marked, in Hebrew, path across "hip" places in India. Bhagsu is also home to some tasty desserts, from what our Israeli friends told us, so that should be a nice treat as well.
That's all for now,
Anderson & Liz

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