Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Fond Farewell

What a time we have had, Menri was amazing!! When we got there we were told we would be put up in the Medic center. This was to fool the Police if they came to check, as European Doctors usually stayed there. We were told if asked by the Police that we were staying in the local town.  Apparently the Indian Government has decided - without any notice - to demand that any visitors apply for a 'visa' to visit the monastery. Visa applications take upto 4 months to process !!  What a bunch of wankers, we believe China has put pressure on them to just make life harder for Tibetans  in that its hard for Westerners to gain access!!! We were asked not to leave the building the first night and a young monk cooked supper for us and an American Lady from the Bon Shen Ling Foundation who had been under self imposed ' house arrest ' for a week!!   That was weird because when we got chatting, she of course knew Chongtul, but also Cathy the american lady who was with us at Glastonbury and Karen Williams, the lady who organised my very first Nepal trip. What a small world !!
That night we were asked to attend the final exam of Rinpoche's friend Dako. This meant we were taken to his rooms to witness the fitting of his ceremonial robes and then given special badges to wear that basically said we were friends or family. We then went into the Temple with all the monks and his family to witness his exam which included wonderfull chanting and ended with him throwing sweets and money at all the monks and orphans, it  was great fun to watch the kids scrambling for the goodies and I felt quite proud of his performance- just like he was family !!
Afterwards we were invited to meet his Holiness, which was lovely, after presenting him with his tea and he giving us his blessing, he invited us into his living room for tea. Disgusting Butter Tea !! We had quite a chat with him , he is very charming and charismatic and was delighted that we were English. He told us of his time in Primrose Hill London in the sixties and we spoke a bit about the current problem with the government. It was really nice to be in his company.  The next day was the Mask dance. We were given special seats on his Holiness verandah from where we could get  a birds eye view. All the locals started to arrive and sat down in the courtyard. some had brought a picnic to eat before we all received lunch c/o the monastery. The dances lasted all day, the masks were amazing. The dances were all ritualistic and authenic Tibetan, and thoroughly entertaining. But 5pm we were feeling quite tired, but we received two invitations to dinner from the monks. In the end we accepted Dako's and were treated to Mo Mo and Mushroom soup in his rooms. The other guests were a Japanese lady who worked for the UN in Baghdad and her Tawainese partner and the Tibetan Doctor from the Monastery. Needless to say the evening turned into a debate on politics and lack of world peace. Dennis and I tried to hold our end up, but I think they all decided to group UK with the US and we both came off pretty badly. Actually the UN lady was sitting on the fence- as you would expect, so maybe it was a draw.
We had to leave the next morning, and wanting to give a donation to his Holiness we had to walk to the far end of the Monastery to the Yogi temple. We made our donation and he walked a little with us. He said next time we visit we needed to make sure we got Chongtul to book us into the new apartments that they are building, and that we should stay longer. And yes I guess we should. Dennis then asked if he could take a photo and he duly obliged by putting his arm around me. Such a lovely 85 year old.
Then 5 hour drive back to Delhi where I became a Diva again and refused to stay in a grotty hotel in the Tibetan quarter. Having spent two days in austerity in a monastery this girl needed some luxury !! So we booked into the Radisson near the airport. By the time we got to our room it was 7pm. After a wonderful long shower we ordered room service and went to bed as we had to be up at 4.30am to get the flight back to Kathmandu.
We spent our last afternoon saround the Stupa. By now Dennis had succumbed to the Lurghy so he stayed in the coffee shop whilst I did Kora for about 45 minutes. It was great to be able to concentrate on saying my Mantra's whilst doing Kora. Somthing I really needed to do, very uplifting. Then we bought prayer flags to be hung from the Stupa and stood and watched to make sure they did it. Later that evening we returned for a final meal with Chhewang at Flavors, and after that we did a couple more final Kora's in the peace and quiet of nightfall. I became very emotional, mostly because I was so grateful to be back. They were severall times over the last year when I did not think it would be possible, so I guess it was only natural to feel quite choked at the final farewell.
There have been loads of odd goings on on this trip that I shall write about later but for now I have tried without success to upload this Blog several times. I am now in Doha airport having been delayed for an hour on our connecting flight to Heathrow.  Next stop BALI!!!

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