Dharamsala

The Dalai Lama is coming to town soon, and this made me tell my partner the story of when I shook his hand, and of some other great things that happened when I spent a few weeks in Dharamsala in the mid 1980s. I thought I’d write it down…

I stayed in a guest house in Dharamsala for a few weeks, right beside the Dalai Lama’s monastery. One day, someone in the street was telling people that he would be receiving visitors. I showed up at the announced time, and there was a ceremony, and then he shook everyone’s hand. So that’s how I got to shake the Dalai Lama’s hand.

That was a highlight of my visit for sure, but I’ve got a couple equally great memories. One day I was walking down the street, admiring the rhododendrons, when I heard chanting coming out of a building. I stood by the doorway and listened, and then someone invited me in. I went upstairs, into this relatively small room, in which monks were chanting in very low pitches, with overtones simultaneously on top. Pretty mind-blowing. The other was playing music with Tibetan teenagers who were playing some kind of Tibetan lute – I had an electric guitar (a Japanese Tokai Strat that was one of the best guitars I ever played, and which I stupidly traded for tablas that I never played and finally just sold for $40 in a garage sale). I was just doing some kind of blues jamming, but it seemed to work.