Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Part Four: Points of Departure - Delhi

Leaving McLeod was filled with a blend of emotions. As sad as I was to leave Dolma and family behind, I knew I had to get back to the U.S. to begin a new chapter, for us. I was dubious about starting over in Houston, but it made some kind of sense to return there and check out possibilities. I'll return to this later, but basically, as much as I love my hometown, I don't really like it. I have more roots and more of a network in the northeast and it doesn't make sense (after this amount of time when I'm writing this) to settle here.

Most of all, though, this is about closing one chapter, having realized a dream I'd been sitting on for most of my life. There was sense of abundant satisfaction in this, but most importantly, a felt sense of deep connections established with people on the other side of this wonderful, troubled globe.

I arrived in Delhi at the Tibetan Settlement Camp (a term I detest) or the Tibetan Refugee Camp, if you will (a more accurate term, but loaded with over fifty years of sadness and Otherness), too early to check into Rabsel House. I took myself over to the park on the edge of the camp and read for a bit, surveying the garbage strewn all over and strays that resembled coyotes a little. The camp was pretty much barren and I was lost in revery when I heard my name.

It was Sonam, a relative of Dorjee's I'd met in Dharamsala. He was out with his brother walking a dog and had come over before heading to work. We chatted at great length and I was invited over for breakfast. Good thing, too, as the local businesses were closed both for protests to take place at the BRIC conference and in honor of Jamphel Yeshi's self-immolation. We had a good long chat and after Sonam left for work, his broth and I had a fairly intense discussion about Tibet and the complexities involved in her existence. He had some reservations about the effectiveness of some of the organizations that support Tibetan independence, particularly Students for Free Tibet and the Tibetan Youth Congress. He didn't seem to think very much of their efforts and felt that time would be better spent on education young Tibetans and helping them deal with the rapidly changing world they encounter. He noted, as well,that there is a difference of mentality between Tibetans born in exile and those born in Tibet (like him and Sonam) who evade refugees.

It was noon by the time we wrapped up and I was welcomed back anytime, particularly over the next couple of days since nothing would be open. I was grateful, but once I got back on the main avenue in the camp, I couldn't have told you where the apartment was! I know I came down three flights, down a corridor and made a left onto the main drag, but once I was almost back at my hotel I couldn't be sure which alley it was I would have to go down to get back. As it was, I was fine with checking in, taking a shower and lying down for a couple of hours.

When I awoke, I wasn't particularly hungry and watched TV for the first time in a very long time. An old Bollywood flick, bits and pieces of "Hostel", and random badness that is the common denominator of the tube all over the world. I read a bit, meditated a lot and dozed happily. It occurred to me that I could join the protests in town, but I wanted to sit more and absorb the lessons of the past few months. I wanted to bask in the fondness of newly found friendship and just be still. Perhaps tomorrow.

Tomorrow came and I decided to arrange for my cab to the airport, get something to eat, and most of all go for a walk. I asked the young lady at the front desk if there was any bottled water tone had and she said no, the restaurant was closed and there were no vendors who would be open today. No one was at the the travel agency's office, so I decided to go for that walk and see what I could find on Majnu Ka Tilla. I headed out into a ten-thirtyish morning sun and strolled past police in both the khaki and blue uniforms. The Delhi government assured everyone that the Tibetan community wasn't under lockdown or curfew, but the police presence was strong enough to cause me to doubt some measure of that assurance.

No shops or restaurants were opened and I took that as a sign to just keep strolling. I walked to the Gudwara Majnu Ka Tilla but really didn't feel like site-seeing. Truthfully, I didn't really want to do much in Delhi and continued up the road a stretch to a garden that was recessed from the highway and provided a have of relative quiet for a bit. I headed further down where the highway meets other roads and picked up an auto-rickshaw. I basically just told the driver to go to the nearest restaurant and wound up eating not too bad Chinese. Once I had my fill, I went back to the hotel and decided to see if I could book a cab to the airport.


Gurdwara Majnu Ka Tila is situated opposite Timarpur Colony beyond Khyber Pass in Delhi. The Gurdwara is dedicated to Guru Nanak who sanctified this place in the 15th century. Delhi Gurdwara Majnu Ka Tilla has quite an interesting story behind its foundation. It is believed that a fakir (Muslim hermit) used to live on the banks of river Yamuna during the rule of Sultan Sikander Lodi. Carrying people across the river in his boat for free, prayer and meditation were the sole aims in his life. He craved for a Darshan of God so much that the local people started calling him "Majnu", after the Persian lover. One fine day, he had the chance of meeting Guru Nanak, who blessed him and helped him achieve enlightenment.

Thereafter, he became a staunch devotee of Guru Nanak. It was his hermitage on the banks of the river Yamuna that later came to be known as Majnu-Ka-Tila. The site of Majnu Ka Teela Gurudwara, in New Delhi, has seen many spiritual discourses between yogis, sufis, fakirs and Guru Nanak. Guru Har Gobind, the Sixth Guru also stayed at the Majnu Ka Tila, when Emperor Jehangir invited him. Slowly and gradually, this place acquired significance and a gurdwara was constructed here. The Gurdwara also houses a well inside its compound. Every year, the birth anniversary of Khalsa is celebrated at the Gurdwara on Baisakhi with much fanfare and a "langar" is arranged for all.

The young lady was still there at the front desk and a gentleman came up who apparently was one of the owners. I told him I wanted to book a cab for tomorrow morning and he set that up. I asked him, too, if he knew anywhere nearby where I could buy a couple of bottles of water. He walked me into the closed restaurant, called a waiter over and sold me two one liter bottles! I was happy to have been so obliged, but wondered why the front desk woman wasn't similarly obliging.

I headed back to my room, did some qigong, some yoga and vipassana. I wrote, I read, I texted Dolma,rinsed and repeated into the evening and called it an early night.

An early rising and a cab to the airport made me happy to be leaving Delhi. I had my last breakfast in India and boarded my flight.


No comments:

Post a Comment