My life at the Menri Monastery with the Bon monks
Note: This is part one of a series that highlights my time in India. I travelled there solo in the summer of 2010. Things have changed a lot, as have I, but here we go…
I made it to Menri Monastery. Nine hours from Delhi, one from Solan, Menri is perched in the middle of green mountains that spread out and down in all directions. The nearest town is an hour away. Within Menri there are around 800 people, including monks, nuns, children, staff, and others.
I wake to the sound of cows down in the valley, the monastery’s cows. They use the milk to make fresh chai tea and to give to the children. Breakfast is bread and jam. Lunch, a more lavish affair, involves vegetables, soup and rice. Dinner doesn’t exist, not really. It’s usually broth and steamed Tibetan bread.
My shower is a bucket. My bed is covered by a mosquito net, which is alright because at night I can look through it, out the window and up at the stars. There are unlimited stars here.
In the bathroom, there’s just a faucet, and a toilet, and sometimes a cup.
The monks are amazing. I had my first class yesterday, where we worked on introductions and pronunciations. It was in a room with wooden desks, wooden chairs, and curtains of burgundy.
“Should we call you Madam?” Teased one of my ‘students,’ laughing because that’s what children call their school teachers. Now when they see me, it’s always ‘hello, madam. Hello! Cool!’
I met His Holiness the other day, the man who is the head Geshe of Bon faith. I gave him a white scarf and a book from Cambridge. He draped the scarf back around my neck. “This is our welcome. It means you’re welcome here,” he said.
So that is my life at the monastery. It is peaceful and quiet. I am reading a lot and running just as often. I’ve started doing yoga again twice a day.
As soon as I make it to the postman’s house (as there is no post office in Dolanji) I will send out letters to some of you. I have been writing, but like me, these letters just keep traveling along.
Suffice to say I miss people. The monkeys are pretty, but really not very good company. Actually, they’re awful company. They attack dogs and things with sparkle.
I’m off now to go have tea with sugar and to sit on the balcony overlooking the mountains. Hopefully this will post before the internet kills over.