It was so hot as we walked upto the monastery. The place was overflowing with tourists, doors of vehicles snapping open and shut, noisy and of course going trigger happy with instant pics and reels or whatever.
We focused on entering the main temple where the altar was, and it was sad, really sad to see a sign saying, ‘You are entering into holy premises, please wear decent clothes’ Really? That sign had to be actually kept out there. There was sanctity in a sacred place no matter any religion and we got to respect that.
If the tourists at the mountain passes we crossed were horrible, the ones at the monastery notched up a level! Selfies galore, we had to keep moving through these people to get to the main altar.
But the moment we entered into the main sanctum, a vibration came through, a calmness set in. We did a circumambulate of the altar and Archana and I sat in a corner on the floor in silence. Immediately a Buddhist nun, an Indian woman gestured us to sit with her on a comfortable seated place that’s usually reserved for monks and nuns.
Whatever tiredness I felt slowly ebbed out as I closed my eyes in silence. I was so grateful to be there, to be with Archana and sit in this sacred place. I don’t know how to tell this, but I feel so much gratitude towards Archana for pulling me into this journey. It went beyond cycling. It has impacted me so much in my daily life, my perspective shifted. I no longer want to ‘do’ things, to sign up for this and that and rush more. This has been going on for quite sometime. Cycling in the Himalayas with folks you connect strongly goes beyond just an experience, it’s something I can’t justify in words and I feel it inside every day.
The concluding part of the ceremony was happening and the Senior Llama with the monks of the monastery were heading out to do the final rituals. The nun told Archana that along with the ‘Oracle’ they would chant and put in all their energy and vibrations into the idols and altars they had created out of hay, and flour. And finally they would burn them all ending the ceremony. This meant all the negative energy would go up in flames and it would be a new beginning. And we could at that time pray for the health of us, or our family or a loved one. We can join the procession. And that’s exactly what Archana and I did, we followed them all the way down to an open enclosure and stood there in the scorching sun, through the entire ceremony.
As usual the tourists came clicking pics galore and kept leaving not even curious to know as to what was happening. The chanting was continuous and the young kid monks were getting restless but still kept their calm. It was amusing to see a young boy going up and down to where we stood and a senior Llama told us he was the naughtiest of all 😊
As they were chanting, it meant all the negative forces of the universe were getting into the altars. And right at that amount comes a typical Delhi lady dressed as if she was getting into a bar than a sacred place and starts clicking the altars! Like in front of the altars blocking the monk’s vision disregarding anything! Just click click click and selfies to boot!
I couldn’t handle it anymore so the only way I thought I could stop her was this, I went to her hubby dearest and said, look they are chanting and transmitting all negative energy into those altars, they are going to burn them. Your wife by clicking the pics of altars is bad news. You are carrying the bad energy with you! That was enough to make him rush and make his wife stop clicking pics. At least it worked.
God knows how we stood for almost 2 hours until the ceremony ended. Only after that as we came down we felt really tired. But it was worth it, every bit of it. Sonam had already called us to say the others had come and were freshening up, in half an hour we would get out for lunch. It was already quite late.
By the time we got ready they had already left to a cafe, so Sonam picked us up. It was very hot I tell you, so hot. But the food was good. Momos and Thukpa was what we ordered. What didn’t occur to me then was all these are made with Maida( white processed flour) and I had completely stopped eating it for years. But there were no other choices so we ate to our hearts content.
We all looked fresh post a hot shower and lunch as you can see in the pics, we look like a bunch of tourists than cyclists 😊
Our skin was charred, our lips were cracked completely, Archana couldn’t open her mouth without feeling the pain. We kept smearing our lips with thick pasty lip balms, forget making our lips soft, as long as it didn’t cut in painfully when we ate food it was enough. Yup it was that bad.
The dinner at the restaurant in our hotel was an Indian Chinese buffet and that’s all they had. And let me tell you Indian Chinese food in other cities to Indian Chinese food in Ladakh is different. That night I ate like I usually do, not more not less. I remember Archana and I laughing hysterically as our lips were smeared with white lip balm, especially Archana’s and we were joking how people will think there is a ghost in La Mayuru 😁 We kept laughing in pain as our lips were taking the brunt. It was what I thought a good ending to a day until..
Within a couple of hours, I woke up feeling uncomfortable, so so uncomfortable. Stomach cramps, gas, burping big and not in a good way. I could still feel the food of afternoon and evening in my throat. What was this? Every hour I would wake up and rush to the bathroom. I had no sleep, none at all. And then I started throwing up from 5 am. It was so bad, that I sat down in the bathroom with no energy to get up. The moment I wanted to get up, I threw up again. Then it started all over again from the other end.
Shit shit shit! We had 3 days of cycling to go, how the hell am I gonna do this? Will I even have the energy to sit? In a couple of hours we had to be on our way..
To be continued 🚴♀️🚴♀️