On our second full day in Dharmashala, we went as a group to the Bagsu waterfall with our language partners, a nice 20-minute walk from the central area of McLeod Ganj. It was a fun, cool break from the bustling streets of downtown. While the local men took off their shirts and walked under the cold water of the waterfall, I noticed the women did not get in. When women did go under the water, they did so fully clothed. I understand the culture is way different here, and women didn’t seem to mind. However, there was something that bugged me, and I couldn’t shake it off. Rose and I decided to dip into the water, and it felt amazing to feel the freezing water swirl around our feet.
We all got 3 hours to spend time with our partners, and it felt really fun to be guided through this beautiful Indian mountain town with our learning partners. We walked all around town, some of us stopped to get henna, had amazing snacks and got into a lot of great conversation with our partners. I found it personally very interesting to listen to their escape stories from Tibet. Each story is different, yet they all are all connected. All had to trek across the Himalayas, the highest mountains in the world, to escape from Tibet, risking their lives to seek refuge in India. As a people, the Tibetans have gone through some of the biggest struggles humans can experience, and yet they are such joyful people that radiate happiness everywhere they go.