The hotel manager who is a good friend of John's let us change rooms from one that had WiFi to one that had WiFi and a View! So first thing in the morning I moved all our stuff from one room to the other. I say 'I' and not 'we', as Em had been up sporadically during the night with her bad tum, and was still feeling sick. No more Tibetan soup for her! (Mine was absolutely delicious!).
Having done the room change I went to meet John at Kunga's outdoor restaurant, something we would do every morning. The reason? The view is just spectacular. On this morning we were especially lucky as we not only had the top table, but there was a group of Tibetan kids doing their morning chants and exercises at a nearby school rooftop. The view, the children chanting, words really cannot describe how special it was.
After breakfast, John and I headed into the main town street, to get some chores done. It is perhaps worth mentioning at this point, a few of the givens when going into any busy street in India.
First of all there are a fair number of beggars. Some are kids, some are women with their babies, some are men or women who are badly disfigured. About half of them will call out from the side of the street, whilst the other half will actually come up to you and keep touching you until you give them something. I will just say that I do not think there are any Tibetan beggars, and that most of the ones in Mcleod actually come up every day from Dharamsala. Why do they come up every day? Well as you may or may not have guessed, an awful lot of westerners come to Mcleod, and hence I guess it would be classed as rich pickings. More on that another time.
Another given in the streets, is spitting to clear the throat. There is an awful lot of it, and sometimes it can be really vocal and loud. You can accept the locals doing it, but when westerners start to pick up the habit, well I personally find it quite offensive. I am pretty sure I have not seen any women do it, which is a start!
Last and by no means least, you will definitely see a lot of animals in any given street. A lot of cows and dogs to be specific. The dogs are nearly all strays, and generally speaking they keep themselves to themselves. Although nobody seems to go out of their way to harm or harass them, if they do become a problem, little mercy is shown when moving them on. At night you can often see dozens of them curled up on steps and door entrances. Cows get the opposite treatment. As most of you will know, Cows are sacred in India and as such cannot be harmed. They even have right of way, which can be a real problem when one decides to sit down in the middle of a narrow road. Luckily for both the driver and the cow, a few pushes on the horn and the cow usually moves on, at his own pace of course.
So, during our walk into the main street, we were greeted by a small kid who wanted something. His English wasn't too bad, and after a bit of dialogue it emerged that he did not specifically want money, but some powdered milk. Well how can you refuse a kid some milk? I promptly when to a shop with him, and bought him a bag. Upon my emergence, a couple of other beggars had noticed the 'weak target' and started to swarm around me. I managed to lose them by going into a shop for a while, but it made me unfortunately rethink my previous action. The solution? I don't know.
Much later in the day, John took me to his local barber. A tiny shop with 3 chairs and 3 hairdressers. They are always busy, and I have yet to see more than 1 chair be empty at any time. I sat down and the man got to work. As I was sitting there watching him work on my hair, I couldn't help but think of Edward Scissorhands, he was that quick. After 5 minutes, he was nearly done, and he asked if I wanted a shave as well? Why not. 10 minutes later, and my hair was cut, my face shaven twice (with a proper shaving blade I'll have you know), I had had a quick shoulder massage, drunk a cup of chai, and there was a new customer in the chair waiting. Amazing. And all that for 100 rupees, about £1.25.