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Taking the North Country to Northern India

Becky McCluskey

Living at the Monastery: October 22, 2004

I've had some of the coolest experiences living at the monastery. On Tuesday I woke up at 6:00 am to the sounds of the Dalai Lama chanting a day-long puja. The night before, I went up to the temple part with my achala (sister). She's bossy and doesn't follow the rules, which is perfect because then I don't feel guilty following her up the stairs that say DONT USE STAIRS.

Let me explain. Since she's grown up there, most of the monks know her and playfully tease her. It's fun to see because I get to see a different side of things than what I normally would. When I'm at the temple by myself, I feel like I have to be really serious because its a holy place. But with my achala, it brings out the little kid in everbody. One night we sat and watched the monks debating. She was playing with her Barbie and a monk sitting at the debate stole her Barbie and started playing with it...it was hilarious :).

Another night we went into one of the temples and played hide and seek (it was all her idea) and then we went up the stairs of another temple even though it said not to. I can't resist when she says in her little demanding voice "Beckyla, come!" We went up the stairs and ended up on the roof of the temple. It was so amazingly beautiful. On one side the moon was up, and then a little to the side of that the sun had gone down. The sunset here is strange in that the sunset is sandwiched between darker blues (it's not actually on the horizon). On the other side the clouds that build up during the day had gone away, so I could see the ghostly glow of the Himalayas behind the smaller, closer mountains...it was amazing!!!!! Eventually our pala (dad) found us and we had to go down, but it was tons of fun.

All day Tuesday the Dalai Lama was leading the puja. I didn't have a chance to go see it, because I was busy all day (it ended right when i got back home). The nun I was tutoring did get to see him, and she gave me a red string that was blessed by the Dalai Lama and a little bag of what I think is incense.

Today is really kind of sad because we're leaving tonight at 8:00. We all had to say goodbye to our families :( . We're headed to Rishikesh to work at an orphanage for about a week, and then we're doing a mountain retreat/hike for a week after that.

Love you guys,
Becky

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2004 North Country Public Radio, St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York 13617-1475