Yesterday I departed the fun group of young people from Loyola University New Orleans that I had been traveling with in India. I had been helping them with some translating and contextualizing their experiences, and had the opportunity to give them some lectures, which I hope weren't too boring. I also was trying to help out with some of the little things like carrying bags and running menial errands. I think the menial tasks are important, too. As Paul Farmer says in Mountains Beyond Mountains, many social projects fail and most of his peers in medicine quit social medicine because of an unwillingness to "do scrut work." As for me, give me a shovel and I'll dig the ditch.
I left the group in Amritsar, taking the local train three hours to Pathankot, where I caught a bus back to Dharamsala. Amritsar was well worth the visit. The sheer immensity and the beauty of the workmanship at the Golden Temple blew me away. There were thousands of devout Sikhs in a mood of intense devotion all over the place, which was infectious. I'd like to have the opportunity to go back there a few days and do meditation and prayer in some of the open prayer halls there. One can get a great boost from the collective energy of divine communion, if you are into that sort of thing...
The Harmandir Sahib, known as the "Golden Temple" in Amritsar, the pilgrimage center for the Sikh faithful, located a few miles from the Pakastani border in Punjab state, India. this photo from voobie on flckr.com.
I'll be here a week until meeting back up with the LHA people in Delhi to help get the Tulane University School of Social Work Master's students going. I have decided not to remain with the group on thier entire course of study and travel in Himachal Pradesh next month. Like the Loyola group and I did, they will be going to some of my favorite amazing places, like Bir, Tso Pema (Rewalsar) and Mandi. There are true blessings of Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava all over this land. I will sit for three days of public teachings that His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be giving in the beginning of September, and then return to Nepal for a week to wrap up some business and say goodbye to loved ones.
My grandfather has fallen ill, and I will be returning to the Land of the Supersize to spend time with my family. My plane touches down at Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans on September 14.
I am excited to go home, back to Louisiana with its warmth, food and music, where funkiness makes no excuse for itself, and the balmy heat wraps its fat sweaty arms around you in such a way as you think it'll never let go.