Student Directed Travel Week- McCleod and Amritsar

With only 3 days left in India, Shiva has closed their student directed travel portion of the program. Beginning in the home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama- McLeod Ganj- and after a week working at Dev Bala Farm, we settled into this tourist-y part of Himachal Pradesh. We first saw the the Tibetan history museum, which was full of personal accounts from Tibetan refugees, staggering statistics, and detailed displays that bewildered me as to why schools in America aren’t teaching about this tragedy**(see bottom note). We then gorged ourselves on vegetarian sushi, soy marinated potatoes, and garlic green bean salad. During the nights, we briefly rediscovered American TV and watched Ugly Betty and Impractical Jokers. On some nights we indulged on virgin apple beer and danced the night away…well, at least until 10PM. Hey, that’s late for us! The next day, as we pondered whether or not to cancel our trip to Shim-la and Chandigarh, Mary and Anya gathered information on artisan courses. The decision was made, and before we knew it we were signed up for macrame, dream catcher making, music, massage, and mala making. I took macrame with Mary, Jon, and Anya. I created a necklace out of aquamarine for myself, and others for gifts. I also made a mala out of turquoise and yellow jade. Kippie and Rachel crafted gorgeous beaded dream catchers, while Sergio and Grace took a massage course. Matt made a rosary with me in mala, and attempted to find a music teacher to broaden his guitar skills. In the late afternoons, we taught conversational English to monks in a class. This schedule left 2 days for group activities- one of which was filled by a day hike up TRIUND mountain, and the other with a semi-failed trip to Palampur tea plantation. Early the next morning, we boarded a bus and were Amritsar bound. Once in the holiest Sikh city in India, we took a quick walking tour of the beautiful Golden temple and it’s surroundings. We also got to see the new Disney movie Moana (which was really good by the way, we’ll be singing those songs for a while) and wander around a modern mall while munching on vegan gelato and crunchy buttery popcorn and caramel corn. Now as I sit here, behind the screen of the last internet cafe computer I’ll see for a long while, I can say we have successfully reached the end of our semester with growth in our hearts and plenty of dal in our bellies. Until next time,

The Shiva Crew