Sunday, December 10, 2000

Tashi Delek from Mcleod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh!

Hi Everyone!
When I last left you we were about to take off on a flight around Everest, and it indeed was cool. We woke up many hours before dawn, caught a cab to the airport, only to find our flight delayed for 6 hours! To add insult, we also had to pay a departure tax - even though we were not going anywhere! And worse - they charge VAT on the departure tax! That’s Value Added Tax on a tax! What may I ask value does a departure tax add that they feel necessary to tax it????
After the flight we realize that it's election day back home - so off we go to the internet to find out that we don't have a president... Boy are we glad we're not home - I imagine that the election farce is getting all of the coverage that both OJ and Monica enjoyed - we could tell that this was so because when we went into a bar that had ESPN on the TV they interrupted a major sporting event with a bulletin that said: "Breaking News: Still no election results" - what is so breaking about that????
The election had SaraGrace sick - so sick that we decided to see a doctor. Well, it turns out that Mssrs Bush and Gore were not to blame as SaraGrace had the Big G! so I've been calling her SaraGiardia in revenge for all of the ribbing that she's given me the last 4 times that I've gotten it. Don't worry Helen, She took some meds and is now back in fighting form.

So, after all of this we decide to head on into India - but as there is a nationwide services strike in Nepal at the time of our departure, we decide to change our flight to leave a few days later. Well, to do that requires playing by Nepali rules - i.e.: you need to find the Royal Nepali Airlines office which has no published address, and then once there wait in line to be given a chit to go upstairs, then go upstairs and search out the correct person in a building with no nametags or department names anywhere to be found - then get another chit to return downstairs to the original queue that you were waiting in to get your new ticket...

I won't even go into our arrival in Delhi - SGK covered that quite well, but I will quote our friend Randall "It's our God Given right as Americans to hang out in McDonalds for 5 hours if we want to!" and to point out that if you do go there - the Maharaja Mac (like a big Mac but made with Lamb) is quite good.
We are now in Mcleod Ganj - Home of the Dalai Lama and have seen him virtually every day we've been here. We also have taken up teaching English to Tibetan refugees - This is great fun, and we have learned quite a bit about their troublesome crossings into India. We ourselves are planning to visit Tibet just before we go on the Trans-Siberian train - and when our students have learned this we now get to take Dave Montgomery’s job from him - They have all given us letters to bring to Tibet because apparently any letter mailed to Tibet with a postmark from India never arrives. We originally had planned to stay here only long enough to get a chance to see the Dalai Lama - but we've already seen him heaps, and we've been here for 20 days already! What's kept us here? Good company (you all know who you are!), interesting classes, interesting refugees, and just a great place (although it looks grungy). I'm not going to say much more about Mcleod Ganj as I know SGK is bursting with experiences here that she wants to relate, so you'll all have to wait until next time to hear them.

Where do we go from here?
Well, tomorrow we board a train at 5:58am to Amristar - home of the Sikh Golden temple then on to Rajasthan!

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