|From Jore Bungalow Monastery|
Jore Bungalow is a nondescript town about 9 kilo-meters from Darjeeling. It clings to a ridge from which a small road veers off to the left, winding its way several thousand feet down to Kalimpong and Sikkim. At this junction, another smaller road winds up towards the famous view point of Tiger Hill. Hindu's come from far and wide to witness the sun rise from this vantage point, where it is said a flash of green light can be seen at the very moment the sun lifts above the horizon.
From this place also, on a clear day, one has an unimpeded view of the Himalayan mountains, right across to Mount Everest in Nepal.
In the 1960's soon after the Chinese invaded Tibet, my teacher Chadral Rinpoche rebuilt a small temple here and established the very first three year retreat center in India. He would visit regularly, often slipping in unannounced and staying quietly a few days, before word would get out that he was 'in town'. Then the crowds would begin to arrive from Darjeeling and surrounds, all eager to receive his blessings, teachings and advice. It would be crowded for a few days, then things would settle down again, and the visitors taper off to a more manageable trickle.
During one of Rinpoche's visits, my friends Uncle, Kunzang, decided to pay his respects, as was always his custom when the Lama came to Jore Bungalow. He waited a few days for the crowds to subside and then spruced himself up one morning and donned his best Tibetan jacket, filled his wallet, bought some cakes and a ceremonial scarf of greeting, and boarded the local jeep. This was a dilapidated old dzongkar, that was packed to bursting. Four people squeezed into the front seat, that should normally accommodate only two. Four more, plus a few children sat in the second row, and finally in the back, four or five unfortunate fellows were pushed in along with bags of rice, vegetables, and the odd, live chicken or two.
The old crate would then fire up and puff along the road somewhat like the toys trains that chugged up and down the tracks. If one survived that bumpy, windy ride without vomiting, one would never the less emerge from the old jeep somewhat rumpled, shaken and grey around the gills.
However the good, and uncomplaining folk of Darjeeling were well acquainted with inconvenience and various other kinds of discomfort and somehow adapted themselves to these little trials. After this, there was a fifteen minute vertical climb at 7,500 feet and rising, to the Gompa...
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