Our Trip to India: Dharamsala Day 13

by Siegfried Othmer | November 4th, 2014

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

Sue and I have just returned from a sojourn to India, where we taught our training course at the Tibetan Medical Institute, Men-Tsee-Khang.
Day 13

September 28 (Sunday)

I received an e-mail from the office of the Dalai Lama telling me that our request to meet with him, which had been mediated by Minh Chau, could not be accommodated. This was no surprise at all. There are so many demands on his time, and there is the matter of his health and endurance to consider. I also thought that it might even be a bit premature to ask him to come to terms with what we were about. It would be best if word came to him from the people he trusted after they had more experience with the training.

However, on our way to Men-Tsee-Khang on this day we received the news that Minh Chau had in fact succeeded in getting our group onto his schedule. The meeting was to take place the following morning. The doctors would simply have to do their personal training on their own until we got there.

Sue’s lecture material focused on our new two-channel synchrony training. And on this day, the training began with actual patients of the Tibetan doctors. The autistic girl also received additional training. By the end of the day, our group had supervised some 25 training sessions on a dozen new clients, all of them challenging under the circumstances. The day was also graced with a lot of rain. We typically gathered for tea in the roof garden, but the din of the rain on the tin roof made conversation a challenge.

In the evening we had to find our way to a new hotel for the remainder of our stay. Our luggage had been moved there by a Tibetan monk, Jampa, or Gose Lama, who had been Minh’s assistant throughout the trip, whether wrangling taxis for twenty-two people, translating from English to Tibetan at the monasteries, ordering at restaurants, or leading the trek to the hermit monks. We were now at the Norbu Hotel, which had just opened, even though it had not yet been totally completed. The taxi driver did not even know how to get there. It turned out that there was no way for the taxi to get there! There was no car access to this place. So how did all the marble and cement get delivered there, one might ask. By donkey, apparently. There had been no donkey for our luggage, however.

This was yet another hotel that had sprung up on a steep hillside. This gave it a commanding view of the valley below, and even of the monastery not far away. Our room was once again on the third floor. As I stood there taking in the expansive vista, my mind gravitated to more concrete matters. We had been told not to use the elevator during rains. What? Are any building codes operative here? And is there any institutional memory of the major earthquake of magnitude 7.8 that wiped out this whole area back in 1905? That was the largest earthquake in modern Indian history. Nearly every structure in McLeod Ganj, in Dharamsala, and in Kangra Valley was demolished, and nearly 20,000 people were killed. Should buildings really be hanging on the hillsides here? Even if earthquake-safe construction were mandated, which is not the case now, apparently, it would not matter in an earthquake of such size.

Our third-floor room was precious real estate, it turned out. There were only three such rooms, and we had views in two directions. Minh Chau had gotten our reservation in early. As it happened, the hotel was about to be filled with two past winners of the Nobel Peace Prize who will be joined by members of a supportive organization of women active on peace issues and women’s issues. The occasion was the 25th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s receipt of the Peace Prize.

As soon as we were settled in the new hotel, it was time to join everyone at Serkong House for yet another dinner prepared by the Vietnamese cooks in the group. Unfortunately both Sue and Evvy were too exhausted at the end of the day to hoof across town yet again and participate in the merriment.

Our Trip to India Continues

Dharamsala Day 14

Siegfried Othmer, PhD

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