Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Thursday 3rd July

Our taxi guy fetched us as planned at 6.30 am. We wanted to be at the kalachakra venue early. Well as early as it was, Leh was already buzzing with bumper to bumper traffic all the way of the 8 kms to the site. We then followed the flow of bodies as we walked the 2 kms to the venue. We were directed to our gate where we were frisked and asked if we had a camera, cell phone, lighter, matches, knives, nail clippers in our back packs. She opened my camera, turned it on and looked at it then gave it back to me. Jennifer had her nail clippers  taken but was able to retrieve them on our way back! 

We found a good spot where we could see the raised seat that his holiness the Dalai Lama would be sitting on the raised podium as well as having a clear view of the large screen showing all that was happening. We had our camp chairs but pretty soon had to put on our rain ponchos and unfurl our umbrellas as it started raining. We were under shade cloth but the rain still came through. We spent the first few hours listening to the monks chanting and praying while volunteers brought around hot tea which they poured into our cups. I forgot my cup but had a coke bottle in my pack which I used for my tea. Later they brought around flat bread for everyone.

The atmosphere was amazing with more and more people pouring in quietly, sitting in the various designated areas- covered areas closest to the podium for foreigners, VIPs and monks, with 200 meter by 260 meters reserved for 150 000 so called common devotees, namely Tibettans and Indians. 1/4 million people are expected to attend!! The ground is flat and even and in fact was a little soft because of the rain the night before. 

The Dalai Lama started talking at 10am - unfortunately the English translation didn't come through in the beginning. Eventually we were able to hear which was great but in some way I enjoyed hearing HH's voice even if I couldn't understand what he was saying. I especially liked his laughing and chuckling! It was super to watch him and what was happening on the podium through the binoculars as well. 

I took notes on what HH said. Fortunately the rain stopped but it was pretty chilly. We left after HH finished his talk and managed to find a taxi to take us all the way back to the hotel. Once again the mass of people leaving was calm and peaceful and in fact there was a wonderful feeling of lightness and joyful ness. 

We hung out at the hotel and then went down to hear Andy Weistrich, the guy who explained the ceremony to us earlier. He gave a review on the Dalai lama's teachings and then explained what the whole initiation is about and what is involved in taking part, either as an observer or as an initiate. A bunch of us hung out afterwards having fun at a coffee bar with much lively discussion on the days teachings. So our first actual day of the Kalachakra ceremony. Exciting and inspiring and a relief to finally know what was involved in getting to the venue, how it is sitting for long times and how the day will pan out. 

We had an early supper and walked back to the hotel. I was keen to watch some Wimbledon but unfortunately managed to short the tv and blow the power in our room!! No trouble - it was 9.45 pm and it didn't occur to us to do anything other than phone reception. Durshand, one of  the young guys who runs the hotel came up and fiddled around with the wiring to no avail. It is incredible - two pieces of wire pushed into the wall plug and held in place by another plug!! He then called another chap who finally sorted out the tv and the power in our room!  We watched a bit of tennis then I turned in and slept like a log after a really great day. 

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