“We have bigger houses, but smaller families; more conveniences, but less time. We have degrees, but less sense; more knowledge…

…but less judgements; more medicines, but less healthiness.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour. We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies, but we have less communication.

We have become long on quantity, but short on quality. These are the times of fast foods, but slow digestion; tall man, but short character; steep profits, but shallow relationships.

It is a time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room.”

H.H. The XIVth Dalai Lama

I came across this saying by H.H. The XIVth Dalai Lama, and living in Mcleodganj, one can’t help but compare the way of life here to that of the seemingly more advanced Western world.

At first glance one sees the hardships: Tibetan refugees unable to return to their country free from Chinese oppression; financial and monetary limitations  for many Indian and Tibetans alike; and a Himalayan landscape that dictates a physically demanding existence.

However, pausing for a moment in this incredibly special town one realises  that there is a very different story to be told.

What I’ve found amidst the hustle and bustle of constant honking car horns and endless travelers, is a kind of peace that one can’t really explain.  The Tibetan people that largely influence Dharamsala exude a warmth and tranquility that resonates and spills over onto everyone around them. There is never an unkind word, expression or action.

There is always time. Time to sit across the table from one another and share in a meal or conversation. I’ve watched as Tibetan children are walked hand in hand by their parents to school each morning. Their gleeful shrieks can be heard dancing up the stairs which lead to the main street. There is no need for monotonous treadmills and testosterone pumped gyms – the natural hills and mountain stairs provide daily exercise.

One does not see material wealth, but spiritual wealth is everywhere.

This is  a place where one feels connected. To the people, to religion and spirituality, to the mighty snow capped peaks. Quickly you realise how little you actually need to feel blissful and content. One pair of shoes really is enough! And a bucket shower is still a shower.

Life is simple. Peaceful. Rich. We may not wish to give up our creature comforts, and we don’t have to. But realising that without them we can still have everything is a wonderfully freeing place to be. And the occasional reminder of what is really important only brings us back to that inner peace we are so desperately seeking.

Below are some wonderful and amazing photos of everyday life in Dharamsala, taken by my very tatted Pom neighbour Mr Nick Chapman (please contact Nick  if you wish to use these elsewhere).

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