My giardia is gone and I too have left Dharamshala. Now that my volunteer work is finished, I have a month to travel. So I'm in Manali, staying in a gorgeous guesthouse among apple orchards, pine trees and fragrant but (I'm told) barely potent marijuana bushes. I had a very relaxing day today, straying out only for a shabbat walk along the river in the nearby forest. The main street is best avoided, truly a North Indian Costa del Sol for Israelis. It's not the Israeliness I have a problem with, but rather the synthetic atmosphere. My friend Jay has a theory that it's easier to perceive God/Being/Now in the country than the city because modern urban life is designed to cater for our desires. So too with tourism. It's obsever's paradox. We come looking for authenticity and our very presence prevents it. All the restaurant and shop signs are in Hebrew and trance music blares from every interior. I just ate dinner in the Third Eye Cafe - Ayin HaShlishit if you prefer - watching an Indian waiter dance exactly like an Israeli and listening to another speaking Hebrew better than mine. There was to be a trance party tonight, started yesterday and continuing on into tomorrow. But someone forgot to pay off the police and they shut it down about 5 this afternoon. For me, Manali is a stop-off, en route to the deserted, desertified Spiti Valley. I'll be travelling with four very nice, very chilled Israelis, exploring the villages, walking in the mountains and moving on to the equally remote region of Ladakh.
On a different note, on Sunday 11 July (also my birthday) you can catch the UK debut of Tibetan film We're No Monks, showing at Screen on the Hill in Belsize Park. It's about the Tibetan community in McLeod Ganj, where I've been volunteering the last two months. The director will be giving a Q&A session afterwards. Funds from ticket sales go to the Tibetan Jewish Youth Exchange (the project I've been working with) and the Tibet Relief Fund. Email email@example.com if you're interested in going.