Thursday, January 05, 2006

Earth Day

I awoke to the sounds of Tibetan chant reverberating through the ground beneath me. This must be the "Earth prayers" done by senior monks to please the local spirits of the land, a requirement for all Tibetan pujas, especially one this big. The bass tones sounded like a human didgeridoo, the voice of the earth itself. Since the chants aren't open to the public and are half a mile from my tent anyway, I stayed put. Lying on my thin straw mat with a sheet of cotton wrapped around me, I closed my eyes and absorbed the vibrations, feeling blessed to be enveloped in the sounds. The air had cooled again, there was dew on the dusty ground, and roosters crowed in the distance.

I think the prayers worked.

Kalachakra Checklist:

Current exchange rate: 45Rs = $1.00 US.

*A straw or woven plastic mat for the floor of your tent. - 35 Rs for straw, more for plastic, also varies with size. The 35Rs one is just big enough for me to sleep on

*A hand-held fan (plastic ones are sold here), as you will be seated amongst hundreds of people for many hours from 1pm-4.30 pm - 20Rs

*Umbrella for the hot mid-day. Absolutely essential unless you want heatsroke. -I paid about $3.00 for mine in Sri Lanka, have to check local prices

*Plastic sandals you can wear in the "shower" (bath cubicle)- 70Rs for good ones, cheapo ones much less

*Mosquito coils - 22Rs for 12 coils that burn all night. I personally find that mosquito nets don't work.

*Flashlight - varies with quality. Include batteries in your budget

*Sunblock - the one I like includes Parsol, which blocks both UVA and UVB equally. It's costly - about 200Rs.

*Plastic bucket and dipper for bathing in the "shower" (you have to fill up the bucket and pour water over yourself - you also have to cart your shower stuff to and from the shower stalls) - 55 Rs with plastic mug

*FM Radio and headphones to receive the English translation broadcast of the Dalai Lama's Tibetan language teachings - they're selling them here for 400Rs with headphones but that is a tourist price at the "official" souvenir stand for foreigners, run by Norbulingka Institute. Again, figure batteries into your cost

*Mug for tea (Tibetan teachings are always accompanied by endless cups of tea)- Stainless steel mug with plastic handle, absolutely indestructible, should cost about 30Rs

*Seat cushion (you must mark your place; also you must sit crosslegged for many hours at a time and a cushion can help)- Prices vary; have to check. Norbulingka souvenirs wanted an amazing 400Rs but this is outrageous and not necessary

*Plastic bag to wrap your shoes in (for carrying through the seated crowd; it is rude to hold your shoes at someone's face level) - free with any purchase

*Water bottle - 15Rs for one litre

*Sunglasses would help but are not essential.

--All of these things except possibly the sunblock can be purchased here.

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