Saturday, I walked down the road to the Tibetan community of Happy Valley, home to a few thousand Tibetan refugees. The “walk down” proved to be 7km, each way, and in the blazing sun and 95 degree heat, was quite the work out. It was wonderful to pass through each of the smaller communities along the way and to see the vibrant life that hustled and bustled its way through each turning corner of the narrow and winding road.
I have to admit, my expectations for Happy Valley were perhaps a bit too high. Upon my arrival, I was surprised to see so much poverty and so much desolate landscape. I was able to take in the main temple there and visited with two Buddhist monks who were preparing what appeared to be some sort of paper mache product. Next to the main temple, which was quite small, there was also a large prayer wheel, which when spun, rang a large deep sounding bell within the same room.
I tooled around the area and was surprised to see such extreme poverty and such desolate conditions in most of the community. There were several schools, with the largest being very run down and packed with young Tibetan grade schoolers leaning out the windows eagerly offering up their English greetings to me which made me smile widely.
On the other side of the community were two more secondary schools which appeared to be segregated by gender. I was rather impressed with children’s uniforms and their eagerness in saying hello to me, each with a bright smile on their face.
Just my first trip to Happy Valley, I look forward to my next visit in a few weeks after I return from Dharamsala. Two of my Hindi teachers have extended an offer to connect me with Buddhist leaders in the community that can help me with my research of exploring the role and impact of new social media on the Tibetan diaspora living in India today.
Casting aside my preliminary expectations, the day trip to Happy Valley was a wonderful experience that offered me my first encounter with life outside of the very sheltered Char Dukan area. The sea of humanity in the streets and the cars, motorcycles, and rickshaws, weaving their way to their destination was worth the trip itself.