After a quick flight, and a three hour jeep ride up winding mountains, we have found ourselves in Darjeeling. Upon our arrival we were warmly welcomed at our hotel, and offered the tea which Darjeeling is so well known for. Darjeeling is generally the opposite of the crazy hectic city New Delhi. There is a sense of deep serenity and calm which eminates through the land as well as the people who inhabit the land.
After settling into our room on our first day, we decided to explore. We made our way into the main square which consists of an open space surrounded by benches. The benches are occupied with people sitting, talking, and watching passersby. On our first night, we stumbled upon a rooftop with a view that cannot be done justice with words. It was as if we were at the edge of the world, reaching up to the sky, touching the luscious moon, and floating through the clouds. We then mosied back to the square and began playing with some of the native children. Some of the children were very good english speakers, and they taught us a few key phrases in hindi, for example “what is your name?” and “how are you?”
We ran around and played, and soon the english speaking children had to leave. They said sweet dreams, and blew us kisses. The 10 year old girl said “remember, you will always have a friend in India”, and continued waving until she was too far away to do so. Left with the hindi speaking children, we were at a slight disadvantage, and repeated the phrases “how are you” and “what is your name” many times. Despite the language barrier, we had a wonderful evening.
The next day, we made a trek down to the Tibetan Refugee self help center. The people that live there are mainly elders and children. The older people do handicrafts that they brought over from Tibet, which they practice with great skill and ease. The work they do varies from detailed rug weaving to knitting and woodcarving, as well as painting and spining wool. The wrinkles on the faces of the refugees are like a map of their lives, tracing smiles and hard times. They are beautiful, and emit an aura of happiness and pride. After touring the self help center we trekked back up to the hotel.
Since then, we have returned to the center to download programs onto the computers for the children to use. We have also been fortunate enough to hear the wise words of Mr. Jambala, a key player in the workings of the refugee center. He has educated us on the genocide that is currently taking place in Tibet. Hopefully we will all be able to spread the word, and do something positive to help.
Namaste for now!