Group on final night at Amit and Gaurav's following Tracy's birthday cake exchange (those in fresh new kurtas and pajamas escaped unscathed)
Hi Andrew, Breena, Cassie, Emma, Jesse, Jordan, Julianne, and Kate-
Well, I hope everyone (save Jesse) has had a good reentry back into home life thus far. It's probably a little strange to wake up in a familiar bed, but nice to open a refrigerator with cold milk and drink cold water from the kitchen tap.
I made it here to Kathmandu yesterday evening, where, as always, it's wonderful to be-but I must say, I miss you all already. From the flight into the Valley around 4:00 PM the Himalayan peaks were shining in the clear splendor which I generally only dream about, without the obscuration which I typically attribute to pollution but is more likely my own romantic delusions. Truly, things were magical coming in-the evening light, the easy smiles, the energy which I always recall so fondly but still somehow manage to forget about until I'm actually walking kora around the Boudha stupa with mountain people in town for the winter and beautiful faces every which way I turn. Now connecting with an impossible number of friends and teachers whom are here in town-Wisconsin and Middlebury, chums of Paul's and colleague trip-leaders of Tracy’s and mine. Much like it must feel for many of you back with family and friends at home, it seems to me that everyone from a vast yet small world of mine is here right now. But not all of you, which is strange.
Let me say, that in telling a few stories last night, it sure was nice to brag about what amazing individuals each of you were, and what a joy it was to travel with you all as a dynamic group over the past three months. I think our final days in Delhi are attestation to this, and as Tracy and I mentioned back at the Cartel Palace, I want to say again how much we appreciated the opportunity to work with each one of you, as a unique person, as well as with everyone together in the community which we formed.
It truly was a pleasure for Tracy and me to introduce you to a bit of the ways of India during the course of our journey together. And on behalf of both of us, as well as Global LAB, I’d like to sincerely thank you for being a part of our amazing group, for making it all happen.
I hope you will drop me a line now and then and let me know what you're up to. And if you ever need to talk and feel like there's no one there to listen, or no one who can understand what it means not to be eating butter chicken and nan or searching for a bathroom in the middle of a new city, you have my ear.
And please, let one another know how it's going. You have all shared so much in the past wild three months and it's important to continue the dialogue. Our blog will remain a great forum to share your thoughts, and I hope we will all send some end-of-the-program photos there in the days and weeks to come in order to create a Flickr album which we can all share. I continue to look back at previous programs now and then, and love that return to a time and place in the past, so I hope you’ll take advantage of the resources which we created together as well.
Also, thanks to each one of you for keeping Tracy’s birthday bash a surprise and for helping to smear the cake in her hair and on one another’s faces. At this point I think it’s become a Global LAB tradition for the fall semester, as it was my day last year at the very end (I’ll try to send the photo of me and Amit going at it with the cake a year ago). Hopefully Jesse will post my less-than-becoming Bone Diggah photo sometime, too.
Moreover, we express our sincere gratitude for taking the time, on our last day in India, to do all of those program evaluations. We appreciate this so much, as all of us at Global LAB benefit from hearing more about your particular experiences and new found wisdom, in writing, and can then continue to build successful programs for new students down the road.
And finally, when you’re sitting at home or driving down the road, thinking about India but the fact that you’re not there, please recall a few of the talks we had about the nature of travel and the meaning of pilgrimage. Remember how, when deliberating about what to do for the Chalo Delhi protests and while doing circumambulations at the Namgyal Monastery we discussed how the Tibetan term for pilgrimage, ne-kor, literally means ‘going around places.’ We talked about how in the tradition of pilgrimage the path is but a circle, and whether at the destination, somewhere along the way, on the way back home, or in between and within the mind (which is where we always are, after all), the journey is always happening and never concludes. And so I hope you recognize that the pilgrimage which you’ve just returned from is, in fact, really just beginning. For when you return home you're merely somewhere along the way-not at the end, and far beyond the beginning, en route a circuit that need not end.
Be well, keep in touch, and thank you so much for a truly wonderful journey.
And don’t forget to dhoom achiyay.
Galen (aka The Bone Diggah, or, as Jesse prefers, Lenny)