Location: Dharamsala

“Going up the stairs, going down the stairs, going up the stairs and going down the stairs, and going up the sideways stairs” was repeating itself in my head as we started our trek up another day of three hundred stairs. Finally, after reaching Common Ground, we were greeted with a delicious breakfast with food ranging from pancakes to potatoes to scrambled eggs to bananas.

After breakfast, we met up with our service partners for another wonderful day together. Finally, my partner Gelek came back from a few days in Delhi! As we were dropping off my laundry and waiting for Gelek’s friend to arrive, she explained to me, that she was in Delhi getting her Canadian visa to visit her husband in Toronto. I was excited to find out that she will be able to practice her English skills in an English speaking country while being around people she cares about!

After finishing up with her friend, we stopped by a cafe where we proceeded to order a hot chocolate and a cafe mocha. We continued to practice tongue twisters and vocabulary from earlier lessons and continued our read of Alice in Wonderland. I then decided to explain to her every step in an international airport, as her trip to Canada will be her first time traveling alone and internationally. I wrote a series of ten steps, including information such as checking in her luggage and printing out her ticket, going through security, finding the right gate, managing her time at the airport before her flight, the location of the restroom and exits on the plane, arriving and going through immigration, and getting her luggage in the baggage claim before leaving the airport. While we were in the cafe, we saw the march of World Hepatitis Day. It started to rain heavily, so we had to hurry to today’s lunch spot. Of course, today I wore my sandals instead of sneakers, which was not ideal in the rain 🙁

We ate lunch at Tibet Kitchen, where most of us enjoyed chicken momos. Afterward, we went to Men-Tsee-Khang, where we first explained our favorite memories that we’ve had together in these past eleven days. Then, we split up into three groups and read different articles on the situation in Tibet from the notebooks given to us towards the beginning of the trip. We discussed our opinions of the article and the situation in Tibet. After our discussion, many of us said thought-provoking riddles to each other and then the leader of the day, Moshe, gave a speech thanking the students for a wonderful time. A class representative of the students of Men-Tsee-Khang also said a few words. We then had a little party, and ate donuts and muffins!!!

We had quite a lot of time on our hands before dinner (two whole hours!), so we split up and walked around the Main Square. My brother and I teamed up, and I dragged him from store to store in a desperate search for new additions to my room and souvenirs for my friends. Finally, we went into a store where I bought many figurines for my friends, four cute bells to hang in my room, and two figurines for my brother. We also bought gifts for our service partners for tomorrow. Moshe chose prayer beads for Tsultrim, and I bought The Little Prince, a book recommended by a friend, for Gelek. Then, we picked up our laundry and headed to Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen for dinner. We still had a bit of spare time, so I sped-read The Little Prince so I could know the story before giving it to Gelek.

After dinner, we headed back to the monastery and caught a glimpse of Tibetan monk’s debate, a.k.a. Tibetan Monk Fight Club. They were yelling the questions to each other and clapping loudly when they finished asking each question. This differed from the debates I saw when I was in Tibet last year. In Tibet, they are much quieter and calmer when asking questions to each other. What an aggressive fight club that monk debate was acting like…LOL