Day eight part one–Kashmir Cottage, Old Shugseb

We arrived at Kashmir cottage early today and had a little while to settle into our rooms. It is different here, but still peaceful. As the former residence of Dekyi Tsering, the mother of the Dalai Lama, it certainly has a distinctive air. Rinchen Khando Choegyal, Director of the Tibetan Nuns Project, also spends a lot of time here. I’m rooming with Debi again–after her last roommate didn’t work out. I don’t mind–I like her a lot and we seem to get on well. I think a change will be good for all of us. Many emotions surfaced at Dolma Ling, and perhaps a different space will help us to breathe again.

After a wonderful lunch we headed over to the old Shugseb site. It was an amazing walk, with Pündrun-la our guide. A small trail led to the buildings which immediately just broke my heart. A cluster of small delapitated houses huddled together as if afraid they might fall apart at any moment. The walls showed outward signs of the ravages of the monsoon. It… was depressing. Yet, the nuns, once again, were full of life and welcoming. To think those at Dolma Ling also used to live like this…

As soon as we arrived we were treated to tea and then a tour of the… buildings. There are around 60 nuns here and they sleep in rooms of between eight and ten crammed together. Their classrooms are small and dark, the kitchen cluttered and inadequate–but they survive–beautifully.

As we toured we were introduced to the nuns and their living quarters and tradition. Shugseb is a Nyingma nunnery–which traces its lineage back to some of the greatest teachers in Tibetan Buddhism. Some of the practices, such as the Chöd are pretty much unique I think.

These entries are getting too long. I seem to have covered up my feelings with a swathe of words. As if these will hide the rawness I am still feeling. I felt it deeply at Shugseb today. I just don’t know how to write these words anymore. I just don’t know… who I am. Funny how losing my hair took so much more with it. Strange how I sit here, in a room, a stones throw away from the Dalai Lama’s brother, and I still can’t comprehend it.