We’re definitely ready to move on now – in fact we would have been leaving today if we had got a ticket when we first wanted it, but tomorrow afternoon we’re off. I think we’ve seen all we can see around here!
So we really just killed time – breakfast at the Tsongkha, walked down to the Tibetan Library of Works and Archives, which was interesting; a little museum of Buddha figures, parts of manuscripts, banners etc. I love the Tibetan script. The air was heavy with incense, and a little old monk let us in.
On the way back up the hill we stopped at a little tea shop and had a tea – a little girl from the shop played with us and K gave her an Australian 20c piece and we tried to teach her the word ‘platypus’.
Back on the Bhagon road we stopped at a wonderful spot overlooking the valley and relaxed for a while. I’ve started reading Rudyard Kipling’s Kim which is quite a beautifully written book.
Back into town we were back on the roof of the Ashoka for lunch of rice, dhal, vegetables and chapatis. A beautiful sunny day. I’ve been wearing my hat for the first time despite its somewhat crushed state.
The late afternoon was a bit of a write-off, back at the hotel room, napping and watching TV. In fact, we’re even a bit bored!
Eventually we went out again – beer at the Hotel Mello, then dinner, again at the Tsongkha.
Walking through the street K gave some small change to one of the beggars here, and on the way back I gave him some spare rupees too, and for the first time (after two weeks), the whole situation of his plight and my privilege suddenly hit me. It was weird, like a shiver through my body. He wasn’t some annoyance mumbling at me and holding out his hands as I walked by; he was a desperately underprivileged man with no fingers on either of his hands, chewing on a samosa in the dark corner of a muddy lane in the cold.
It scares me a bit how selfish I am, and how complacent in my privilege I’ve become, but I don’t quite know how to confront those issues just yet. As much as I can think to myself how lucky I am to have been born where and when I was, something about that upbringing has taught me to think about myself all the time instead of others. Maybe compassion increases with age. Certainly I think India throws these issues into your face.
On a completely different note, Indian television seems to have absolutely no relationship with reality. All the homes in the ads are sparkling clean, upper middle class suburban places. That must account for about 0.0001% of the Indian population.