Friday, May 05, 2006


Our trip to McLeod Ganj wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention certain esteemed men that faciliated everything for us! I will begin with Venerable Sherab Chopel, a monk at the Namgyal Monastery. He helped us out with everything from lifting our heavy luggage onto the luggage rack of the SUV and strapping it down (he's strong...and he claimed he got so strong from doing butter sculptures!), taking us shopping for certain items, escorting us to and fro the airport, and showing us around.

This photo was taken as he escorted us around the kora of the Main Temple one foggy day. Like many others, he had an adventure story to share with us regarding his hardship in getting into Nepal from Tibet. He didn't relate this story until I inquired about the large scar on his left forearm, and after a while, he decided to share the harrowing story of his escape to freedom.

While still a young boy, he trekked over the Himalayas hiding out from Chinese soldiers by day and traveling at night over dangerous, steep passes. One night he took a tumble, and were it not for a tree branch that pierced through his chest and came out through his left arm, he would have fallen into the deep mountain ravine and perished. He managed to pull himself up with great difficulty (holding his arm up as he walked so he wouldn't bleed to death), and he struggled on. Because he couldn't get to a doctor right away, his arm and chest developed very thick scars. He was very fortunate, however, to be accepted as a student at the monastery where he is advancing quickly because he is very bright, disciplined and determined.

I am convinced he saved our lives too, or at the very least, he saved us a great deal of difficulty. On the way back to our airport in Jamu, he escorted us with an Indian driver. The trip is fairly long (around 6 hours), over bumpy, dusty roads. When you enter the Jamu State, there is a lot of military presence because this is the state that borders Pakistan. At some point, a military man in a uniform signaled our driver to stop. He did so, and then ensued a heated conversation between Shareb and the military officer accompanied by another officer, both carrying guns over their shoulders. I knew this was a serious situation, so I called out to my angels to assist us and assist Sherab in his negotiations, even though I couldn't understand what was being said in Hindi. I smiled at the officers a lot. Smiles go a long way I have experienced.

Finally, he waved us on, and then Sherab related the story of what had transpired between the two of them. Apparently, the officer had ordered the Indian driver to get out of the car and remove our luggage for inspection. Sherab had told the driver to stay put, and he contended with the officer and had won out! I was relieved to hear this, for one never knows what weird things can come down in foreign countries with petty tyrants who carry guns. Sherab has the makings of a strong leader, and we are blessed to have had him watching our backs.
Inspirational blog, sounds like there are so any truly heart wrenching stories about people's lives and what leads certain people certain it destiny?
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