Steel Notes Magazine September 2016 - Page 162

Steel Notes Magazine July & August 2016 Dharamsala was very different than Kashmir. The first thing that hit me was the lack of hustle and come-on by touts. It may have partly been the strong Tibetan influence, but I think the main difference is that Dharamsala is truly part of Hindu India, while Kashmir is mostly Muslim. My first stop in Dharamsala was the Rose Hotel, which I think was about 80 cents to a dollar a night. Perhaps it was more, because the next day I went looking for different accommodations, which I found at the Deepak Hotel. The Rose Hotel was much more difficult, being up a hill with a steep climb. The Deepak was in town, cheap and decent. It probably cost about sixty cents a night. There wasn’t a bathroom in the room, but there was one right down the hall, with a toilet and shower, no hot water, of course. When you think of a hotel in the States being so cheap, not that you could even find anything remotely close to less than a dollar a night, you think of flophouses. These hotels in India were not that. The Indians I met staying at these hotels were middle or lower-middle class. For example I would meet government workers, such as engineers, who were traveling on business. Dharamsala was an adventure in Tibetan food, such as Momo, baked or fried dough filled with meat paste, and Thukpa, a soup of meat, vegetables and noodles, meeting some interesting travelers, taking walks along the hills and up goat trails, to peer from this 12,000-foot high perch and see the sun sinking below the Earth’s horizon line. I would wander out of town and find beautiful mountains and hills that looked like ancient Chinese paintings, with green-tufted, scalloped edges, fast-running streams and gorgeous lacey waterfalls, which I could stand under letting the refreshing mountain water shower down upon me. The Dali Lama’s home in exile is in McCleod Ganj, about a kilometer or so up the mountain from Dharamsala. You can take the bus or walk; the trip takes about an hour whichever method of transportation you choose, since the climb is so steep the bus just crawls along. The hike is exhausting, but incredibly beautiful, both for the views where one can literally see over the Earth’s