Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Last Gasp of Mountain Air

I only realise at about 7.30am this morning that last night marked the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere. I was blessed again last night for GA is finally on-line again and is happy to keep me company through the night. And there is no finer company for we have a mega-ball and a lot of laughs, and before i know it the sun is rising up over the opposite slopes.

I take yet another coffee onto the veranda and just chill until about eight.

I sensibly make sure i have stuff to do and time to do some stuff i want as well. Sleeping bag and whatever is left in my bedsit is donated to my refugee friends at Gu Chu Sum before heading up to the LHA office with a thumb-drive full of some recent photos for Lobsang at Contact. He is delighted (i think a first) and we spend time saying goodbye for the 30 minutes it takes for the files to transfer. Poor Man needs a decent computer: He asks when i´ll return – not an easy question to answer at this moment time, but tell him i will be back but “not for quite a few years”.

Lobsang tells me he hopes i will come back soon for if i leave it too long, Tibet will be an Autonomous Region, and he will return to his homeland. I ask him about the 2nd and now even third generation Tibetans living in exile, will they want to return to the country they have never seen? He is adamant that most will. “It will take at least another 10 years" he says, "but it will happen” he says and i admire his positive mind-set.

Lobsang particularly likes the photos i took of the last mass clean-up at the Jampaling Home of Elders and he says he will organise a slide-show for them. I am delighted – i love the wrinkly elders who kora with me.

I take my North Face boots for their regular 6 month overhaul and head to my final haircut at my regular R and K Hairdressers whilst i wait for my boots to be re-stitched, glued, hammered and polished. My normal Man at R and K is busy so i sit down for his assistant. He has done me a haircut on me before so i just say “like before”. He pussyfoots around taking minimal off and i say to him. “Cut it short; like i´m in the army”. It transpires the guy in the neighbouring chair is in the Indian army, and whilst no hippy, his hair is far from short with the ubiquitous bushy moustache. “Okay... a bit more like a monk then” i tell him, before promptly passing out in the chair.

I awake as he begins my shave, and as i do not have my glasses on i can´t see my own reflection. However, my head feels much lighter so i reckon all is well.

Oh! How wrong? I almost faint as i note putting on my glasses i am completely bald – he has shaved it all off. I´m equally gutted and freaked. But what can i do? To hammer it home even further prices have been raised to RS80! I won´t be going back there again for a while.

Collect boots which now look like new again sets me back Rs100 (US$2), but considering they cost an extortionate US$150 i accept with good grace (and bad hair-cut).

Rush back to the bedsit, close up my bags, grab my camera and head on for one final kora. Whether it is the coffee, the kora or natural high i whip through all the wheels. There are an excessive number of cows on the path and i disturb such a huge flock of crows and ravens that at first i fear i have stumbled across a sky burial. As does a really old Tibetan guy walking round with me.

On my last kora i give out very generously to my more regular beggar friends who look suitably startled. And they thought i was just a tight-ass. Which normally i am!

For those inflicted with OCD, koras must be one of the ultimate rituals. I´m gonna probably miss my koras most of all.

Whilst my bags are heavy, my heart is heavier to leave The Ganj.

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