Tuesday, May 4, 2010

India - The Himalayas

I told myself and my fellow readers I would write about my India experience every day this week.  Then a drank one of my first cups of coffee since returning from India in January.  This common beverage does strange things to me.  I only "slept" for one hour Sunday night before I was jolted awake at 5am for work.  I know it sounds far fetched, but it is true which is why after discovering tea in India I cut it out of my life.  Except it worked wonders for a recent 40 mile bike ride.

This will be a surprise to no one, but I have to say it, the Himalayas are colossal.  Even the foothills are scary big.  The great part about driving in the Himalayas is you experience how scary big they are by just looking out your passenger window at the shear cliff inches from your car tire.  Shoulders, guard rails, proper lanes, tentative drives and lights don't get in the way.  You remain well aware of the constant danger you are in as you are hurled up and down the mountain, which helps to make one really appreciate the beauty of the Himalayas. 

Our driver, Kalu was excellent.  He had no fear.  It calmed me knowing the thought of imminent death was not on his mind like it was on mine.  In India, having a driver, if you own a car is common.  I learned that most cars driving the roads through the Himalayas drive this route often and there is a code these drivers follow.  Although I didn't appreciate this code when we encountered a broken down truck on the mountain top road.  We tried to squeeze by it the same time as an oncoming truck.  We were bumper to bumper and Kalu didn't hesitate a second.  He threw it into reverse and floored it.  I would think since we were closest to the edge we would allow the other truck to back up.  It would be the safest thing to do but I guess there was a slight head bop or something to let Kalu know it was his turn. 

The Himalayas are speckled with Buddhist monasteries.  I was luck enough to visit two.  I think if I grew up in the awe inspiring Himalayas I would probably be Buddhist.  I grew up in the Midwest which is probably why I am agnostic. 

The monasteries are quite appealing.  The monks walking around in their red ropes are very cool.  The children in their monk robes are adorable.  I was told that it is a tradition that the youngest son in a Buddhist family is sent to the monasteries to become a monk.  That sounds like a really altruistic tradition.  The catholic tradition (requirement) is to donate 10% of your salary to the church.  Which compared to the Buddhist tradition seems paltry.

Which makes me wonder.  Should I give my last born (or first if it ever happens) to a cause near and dear to me?  Would the Sierra Club teach my youngest to run the with wolves, plug piping carrying pollutants into our rivers or master the US court system for environmental causes by the age of 12?  Would the Planetary Society be interested in shooting my six year old into space?  I am not sure what NPR would do with a 6 year old but I am sure they will think of something amazing. 

Some of the photos are courtesy of my friend Lisa Monroe.  I would send you to her photo website, but she doesn't have one.  She is quite the painter.  I would post a link to see her paintings, but she doesn't have one.  I do have a photo of one her amazing paintings, which reminds me of India.  So I will post it here.

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