Location: Dharamsala

We woke up to a refreshing lack of rain and a bit of sun. This Thursday began like any other weekday in Mcleod Ganj: Wake up at 8:00. Hurriedly get dressed and pack all my rain gear in my bag. Then walk out the door at 8:10 and begin mentally preparing for the daily 300 step struggle. After our trek up the mountain, we started our work day like any other at Common Ground. We filled ourselves with tea, tofu, pancakes, and my favorite: potatoes. When we finished eating, we brainstormed a lesson plan for the Men-Tsee-Khang students. Our learning partners arrived at Common Ground at 9:30, and we set off on another day’s adventure. Me and my learning partner, along with some others, strolled down to the local retirement home. Then, we headed to the local “One Two Cafe” with some other people and their partners. We chatted and discussed new and useful vocabulary.

The rendezvous was Common Ground for lunch. The lunch consisted of delicious chow mein and fried rice. Once we finished lunch, we played a couple of rounds of hearts before the taxi ride down to Men-Tsee-Khang. When the students arrived, they explained they had a special session planned for us. To say thank you, they brought drinks and snacks for all of us to enjoy, as it was our last day of teaching with this group. Then everyone wrote and signed cards for each person. In each card, the Men-Tsee-Khang students wrote a kind and personal note about us, and we did the same in theirs. By the end of the session, they awarded us with prayer scarves and our cards.

From Men-Tsee-Khang we taxied to Bhagsu. There we were given an hour of free time before our cooking classes. My free time was spent at the Singh Corner Cafe playing cards. We split up into two teams and went to our respective kitchens. My group was taught by an Indian woman named Rita. At first, the task seemed hopeless when it took me about a half an hour to crush and peel one clove of garlic. I thought Rita would give up on us, but then we all pulled ourselves together. We made aloo gobhi and shahi paneer. Aloo gobhi is potato and cauliflower cooked with Indian spices, and shahi paneer is a rich gravy with chunks of Indian cottage cheese. To go with our dishes, we made handmade chapatis. After a little struggling, we finished the chapatis and set the table. The food was spicy and delicious, and in my opinion the best Indian food we have eaten so far. Later we descended our favorite 300 steps in Mcleod Ganj to have a forum and go to sleep.