Tashidelek. Once Again. We have arrived back at the beloved foothills of the Himalayas in the teeny town of Bir. We’re staying at the Deer Park Institute, which is Buddhist sanctuary after our crazed filled Diwali few days in Amritsar…

We had just come off a nice 5 hour train, from Varanasi to Amritsar. The landscape was different up there. There were turbans of every color filling the streets. And, with the comng of the holiday Diwali, mountains of cascading sweets and colorful decorations lined the polluted roadways as well. We went off to settle into our new resting place for the next three nights: a free resthouse across the path from the Holy Golden Temple! The entire area was full with a blessed commotion. We all ate together in Langer hall – a 24-hour free community kitchen. It is an incredible symphony or whordes of people passing metal plates over their heads for washng, attacking the task of chopping mounds of ginger, onion, and garlic, filing in the dining hall, drinking chai, handing out wagonlaods of utensils. It’s a marvel, yet it shines in a light altogether different from the Temple. That is an amazing sight og gold glittering it’s reflection in the surrounding pool. At night the gold was topped with lightbulbs and with the fireworks of Diwali, the spectacle caught everyone in a net of awe. The inside of the temple is breathtaking. A band of Sikhs sing and play their tranceful musical talents inside, while devotees pray and throw money. We slept with the same 24-hour excitement outside our door. Pilgrims lined the courtyard night and day, resting their bodies head to toe. It was breathtaking, and hard to breathe…
We even were able to drive the 3km to the India/Pakistan border, where the military men individually yell for as long as they can before marching to the gate like an exotic. The colorful crowd of India then yells: “Hindustan Jinjabad!” towards the mostly white clothed crowd of Pakistan.
India definately won the competition…if that’s what it was.
Anyway, every day at sundown they do this and lower their respective flags. It’s quite something.

So now, we are out of the stoic gaze of Sikh warriors, and have turned completely outisde in. For we are learning to meditate, practising, and learning about Buddhism.
It sincerely feels like a great breath of fresh air here. We went on the most beautiful hike up into the villages of Bir yesterday. There are paragliders floating down from the snowy mountains, and eagles in the sky. We have wonderful meals served to us, and we are also volunteering with handy-crafts, and in their garden. It really feels homey.
Last night we carved a “pumpkin,”or a squash fetched from a tree-vine in the village and had a carrot cake with chocolate frosting for celebrating the holiday.

Namaste from al of us wonderful Shantites.