This year there is no cake baked at home , no surprise presents and no party , but I know it’s still a special birthday for R. If it is the best gift of one’s life , a delay of a couple of days doesn’t really matter , no ?
( I must thank three people I’ve met on WP who’ve reached out when I’ve been low , Nee my sweetheat , K who manages to put a smile on my face with all his encouragement and H who made me believe in myself when I was in the dumps. I hope someday Nee reads this , I know K will and I hope H finds peace always 🙂 )
It was an extremely perilous journey on that very wet day when we started from Gangtok. I am so thankful to our enthusiastic and cautious driver , who assured us we would make it to Phodong and Labrang , although it would take us longer than usual due to land slides the previous night.
Imagine travelling 40 km to see a lovely Buddhist temple and get a glimpse of splendid architecture only to find it locked with not a single soul in sight! A young monk appeared after about ten minutes and asked us if we’d like to go inside . We were more than happy and he pulled out a bunch of keys and let us in . What a sight that was ! Grand , ornate and simply out of this world . He informed us that photography was prohibited inside.
Famous for the chaam dance in the month of December , the rest of the year is a quiet period , with very few visitors. The old original monastery was destroyed and what stands today is one that was built in the 1970s. This temple is painted in the five colours ‘panchavarna’ ( white , red, blue , green and yellow ) which have symbolic significance in Tibetan Buddhism.
The front gate with the Dharmachakra flanked by deer gazing at the dharmachakra . The driver told us one represents a male deer and the other a female symbolizing harmony and fidelity.
Guardian lions in front of the entrance to the temple were quite colourful , different from the plain white ones I have seen before.
The monk informed us that the external walls of the temple are adorned with the 8 auspicious symbols of Buddhism . The first one I spotted was the pair of golden fish .
He pointed out to this one and asked us to look closely , we did see some of the symbols almost instantly …dharma chakra , pair of golden fish , lotus flower , eternal knot ( in blue ) , the overall pattern of a vase , the little umbrella , conch . Am always confused about the banner of victory , so that remained elusive.
He then showed us a few relics from the original temple and let us a click a picture of them.
We were also show the long gallery where monks sit and watch the rituals and the Chaam dance during festivities. The wooden chair is probably for the Lama .
It’s nice to be able to explore a place sans the maddening crowds. This visit taught me a little about symbolism in Tibetan Buddhism . Will post about Labrang soon. Till then , happy blogging and happy exploring 🙂
A few days ago I wrote about the fishy and meaty treats that I enjoyed in this wonderful city . Today , it’s all about sweets , more than a century old Jewish bakery , bandel cheese and a delicious spread at Kepwies .
I had read about Kewpies and wanted to sample the thala. This is Kewpies …an inviting cozy place …
I opted for the Amish thala , Gobindobhog bhaat with ghee (rice topped with clarified buter) ,Phulko Luchi ( like a puri), Kosha Mangsho ( mutton curry ), Daab chingri (prawn curry ) , Shukto ( vegetarian preparation), papor (papad) , pickle and mishti doi…and there’s more but I don’t remember the names !
Nahoum’s bakery is a Jewish bakery , 114 years old ! As I entered the new market area , it was a sea of people and it took me sometime to get to the bakery . It was nearly closing time . In a hurry , I picked a few things. Of them all , I liked the orange biscuits most and the chicken patties next.
Rasgullas at KC Das …..’Soft and sweet gifts from food heaven’! I don’t know how many I must have eaten…… I tried restraint after the first one , then a weak resolve and these inviting spongy lovelies made me throw all caution to the wind .
Mr Sweet tooth picked a few assorted sweets. I don’t know what each is called , I tasted the yellow one but found it too sweet .
Finally found bandel cheese , smoky and crumbly , originating from the erstwhile Portuguese colony Bandel in East India. Two varieties , white (plain) and brown (smoked). A poor quality picture , but this is all I have.
A stained book , school memories and the common man !
I’ve been on a decluttering and sorting out spree for the past few days . Among old cards , letters, photographs , slam books and diaries , I found an old drawing book from when I was in secondary school . My mum is quite a keeper and although it isn’t something I always appreciate , this time I am so grateful.
Sunanda ma’am must have told us to draw what we like , anything we wanted ( she was liberal and fun!) . I was clearly inspired by R K Laxman at the time ( my attempted crow and my own take on the common man’s woes in crowded buses explains that). Am not sure why and how I came up with this , but am glad I found this .