Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dolma Ling Nunnery

While in Rakkar i spent most of time at Dolma Ling. Even when i got there i had no idea what pictures i was going there to take. So i figured i'd just spend all the time i could at the nunnery and hopefully find some stories to tell. I don't think this is what happened in the end though, because i didn't have enough direction to get close enough to the nuns in time. Instead i focused on doing portraits of them, some of which i've put up. By the time i had to leave to come back to Bangalore some of the nuns had really warmed up to me and it was very hard to leave just when i saw i was starting to make headway. But i guess it was an important lesson for me. To dive right into people and not waste any time being an outsider. Maybe soon if i'm lucky, i can go back and pick up where i left off.
The nunnery was about a fifteen minute walk across the river, through fields with the Dhauladar range towering over. I did this walk sometimes at 4.30 am, sometimes in the rain and sometimes after 10 at night without a torch.
Both the nuns and i were initially a little wary of each other, they had no idea who i was and i didn't want to disturb them. This soon turned to a curiosity about the other. By the end of my first week they had all pretty much gotten used to my hanging around with my camera and i stared making friends :)
They taught me how to make butter lamps and i helped them practice their English. I spent an afternoon making 10 kilos of soya with some of them. Watched 200 of them debate, which was ELECTRIC. A few of us snuck into a classroom one day and ate lunch while we were supposed to be cleaning the prayer hall. Climbed over fences and went for a picnic. Watched the news. Discussed the bane of wearing bras. Shared histories and cups of tea. Tried to understand each others worlds. And in the end exchanged mobile numbers, addresses and secret grins at all the things we'd gotten up to.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rakkar Reelaxation :)

Post Kashmir i spent a couple of weeks in this little village called Rakkar, half an hour out of Dharamsala. Apart from a couple of forays into bustling Mcleodganj for momo's i was vegan O_o This was an interesting and really pleasant change actually. I was staying with a sweet old Austrian doctor but she was travelling after my first couple of days there. So i was on my own in a beautiful Himachali home, that came with a little Shiv Mandir by the front door, a stream on either side of the house, a vegetable garden, solar cookers, two lovely strays Ega and Sundroo, Pratappo Ji the cook, a hammock, bright flowers painted on the walls around my bed, a cozy loft with a sun roof, and lots and lots of books.
I spent a lot of my time initially taking walks and bumming around the house. And then all my time at the nunnery which was a 15 minute walk away. More about this soon :)  

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Krishna Cottage

And the last post with this story.
Krishna Cottage is a funny place. It sits over the dirty tired bus stand and is looked after by the old care-taker and his extended family. The owner is a businessman from Anantnag, a bustling town in the Valley. Him and his wife come up to the cottage every weekend and on seeing me there on two of their visits, i think started to get a bit shifty. I guess it couldn't have been too pleasant for them to know that family of previous owners were snooping around. So one evening i sat down with them in the garden and we drank tea. By the end of which the wife softened up to me but i think her husband was still pretty skeptical :)

The cottage with Lal Kothi in the background.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The ice cream parlour

Adding to the quirky collection of tenants and happenings at the Kothi, recently one of the big rooms downstairs has been leased by a Jamal bhai. He's on his way to making it an ice cream parlour! I sat with him while he and his son cleared out the room and excitedly told me their plans of becoming rich.

Thursday, June 16, 2011