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Monday, October 24, 2011

Countless Smiles and Namastes here in India


Dharamsala 01
Tibetan woman in Dharamsala 

Why is the sun so orange and full during sunset here in India?

Six days in India. Three days in busy and chaotic Delhi. Three days in peaceful and cold Dharamsala.

Driving in India is crazy, even here in Dharamsala. Drivers continuously honk. Public transportation is disorganized. People quote you different prices.

But more than that, people have been really nice to us. They don't really mean any harm. They all are just trying to make a living. And most, if not all, smile at you. Or return your greetings.

I remember the homeless man in Delhi eating his dinner on the streets. He smiles at us while we were walking by. And I asked if it's okay to take his photo. He nods and even posed for me.

While walking alone earlier along Temple Road, this young guy smiled at me and said 'Hello!'. I said hello back. (Most people here greet you with 'Namaste' or 'Hello'. Or smile at you. Yes, I'm not exaggerating, almost everyone.) 'You don't remember me?', he asks. 'We said hi to you the other day. You were with a guy friend.' After a while I kind of remember him, he was with his friends that time. He asks me where I'm from. When I tell him I'm from the Philippines, he even tells me that he heard of this big calamity that happened two years ago. I think he was talking about 'Ondoy' that flooded Manila in less than 12 hours. He tells me there's not much Filipinos who go to Dharamsala. He asks if I'm enjoying my stay and if I'm here for Buddhist teachings. I tell him how this was just an accidental trip. 'You're here for a reason. It was meant to happen.' We talked for a bit more. After a while, I bid goodbye. And he sends me well wishes.

There was an old Tibetan monk earlier at the Dalai Lama's talk a few seats away from me. He caught me looking at him and he just smiled. You know the happy kind of smile. And everytime I look his way he still smiles at me. He even drew Buddhist symbols and figures on the hands of the Koreans beside him. He was so nice.

People who have never been to India ask 'Why go to India? Why stress yourself out and make things hard for you?'

I think India is a misunderstood country with so much warmth and color, if you just learn to look past the noise, pollution, and inefficiency.

I am slowly and continuously falling in love with this country. Their food (it's so easy to be a vegetarian here) with all the various tastes and spices, chai twice or thrice a day, the chaos that somehow works, the warmth, and the various sights and experiences it can offer (Read: a few peaks of the Himalayas), and the people. I think I've cried or shed a tear like five times already. Some from pain and admiration for the Tibetans in exile, and some for being humbled and touched by the people on the streets and those who smiled and have been so nice to me.