South India becoming really to hot, I escaped at the feet of the Himalayan Mountains. I joined Iqbal (I met at Kumbah Mela) in New Dehli. It took us a few days to reach Dharamsala taking many different trains and local buses. It was a pleasure not to have to worry about logistic for a few days: Iqbal was taking care of everything, and in Hindi, it is always faster and cheaper! But it’s necessary to be patient and to be able to squeeze in any already crowded train or bus. On the way, we stop at à Chintpouni and Kangra, two holly places with a big temple. In these small cities, I didn’t see any tourist, but long processions of Indians wearing clothes of all tons of yellow. Many of them had a moody hand trace in their back, symbol of the holy cow. Whole families, from the new-born to the grand-mother, are walking toward the temple, crossing many shops full of spirituals books, flowers and food for the gods’ offering and many kind of jewelries and kids toys.
As we are getting closer to Dharamsala, the weather is getting colder and the road steeper. Our bus is following slopes around the mountain, letting us discovering successfully beautiful trees, a lovely river, a nice fort, hordes of monkeys and suddenly the Himalayan Mountains, full of snow! We settled in the mountains, a few feet away from a waterfall. The atmosphere is very relaxed. We rapidly meet many travelers and hippies residents around a chai and a guitar. Iqbal finds the best and cheapest cook of the neighborhood, preparing every day great typical Panjabi food. Every day is a new adventure, discovering a waterfall or walking toward the Himalayan Mountains (to walk in, I will wait to be better equipped). I also visit the House of the Dalaï-lama where I discover that arguing is a spiritual discipline for the monks. But this place is first a symbol, a desperate cry from all these Tibetans people who lost their freedom, their land, their culture… Every day, voluntary immolations of young Tibetans people remind this peaceful fight to the world, so that one day, Tibet could be a free and peaceful place again.
After a few days spent in Dharamsala, I followed Iqbal in his native village in the middle of the Panjabi mountains. His family welcomed me like a queen (or a goddess I should say, as Indians consider the guest as a God). I improved my skills in Hindi, and learned more about the rural life in India. Each house has electricity continuously and water from time to time. The family of Iqbal is Rajput, meaning the warrior caste. They owned a lot of land in the past, but they have been redistributed to the poorest by the state. The family is now leaving modestly thanks to his small wheat fields and his few cows and buffalos. The day starts at 5:30 am by milking the cows and cooking chapattis for breakfast. Then we go cut the wheat in the fields around the house before the heat gets to high. Then Iqbal’s father leads the cattle toward green pastries. I enjoyed eating homemade lassi (typical Indians yogurt) and sauce made with curd. I learned how to harvest wheat and milk cows manually. Ii was such a great time!