A weekend excursion to the Himalayas and a small village called McLeod Ganj led to some thinking. This village, the home to the Dalai Lama and the exiled Tibetan government, led to some thinking. Mostly about the meaning of home. I thought about the six weeks that have passed since I had left my home, willingly and enthusiastically setting out to impact the world. But knowing the history of Tibet, what would it be like if I could never go home? The life of a refugee is impossible to imagine or define – these people will never have a home. They may one day return to Lhasa, perhaps even claim the province as a sovereign nation, but it will never again be their home. Too much has happened, too much has changed their life for them to consider anything home.
And what about me? What if the changes that have occurred in me during the past six weeks, and there have been many, are too great? Will I be able to call Atlanta home after living and experiencing all that I have in India? Reading about other’s experiences about reverse culture shock scares the hell out of me, and hearing about the changes that have occurred in others (to a negative effect) after being abroad scares me even more. Will everyone accept the new me? Will the new me even fit in my American life?
So in this beautiful, incredible, even spiritual place – all I could think about were the changes that India has carved into me. Sometimes I wish I could just shut my brain up from thinking so much, but I know that is what makes me human. I just wish I wasn’t so damn vulnerable.
But McLeod Ganj is beautiful, and the people I experienced it with were incredible. A day of trekking and talking with Buddhist monks at the foot of a Himalayan waterfall, reciting mantras in the home of the Dalai Lama, and listening to him teach his disciples was followed by a night of shenanigans. We rented a house in a small village about five kilometers north of McLeod, called Dharamkot, and lived like kings for a night – drinking, dancing, and talking about everything and nothing until 3 in the morning. Followed by spooning, lots and lots of spooning. I woke to the clouds surrounding the house, the most delicious chai I have ever tasted, and a cool breeze with hints of Himalayan rain.