We loved Dharamsala. We stayed at the Kasheri Lodge - much recommended. Here's the view from the bed in our room (well, as long as you got up and opened the curtains first).
Again, it felt like we'd entered another country, although our cooking teacher Tashi told us only 10% of the people living there were Tibetan. My previous knowledge of China's occupation of Tibet extended to vaguely remembering that the Beastie Boys once did a concert to try and free it - and to presumably also fight for its right to party. I don't think I'd even seen a prayer flag before and wasn't really conscious of the Dalai Lama's situation and back story, so it was fascinating and shocking to find out the strength of feeling that lay behind signs like this:
While he showed us how to make bread, Tashi, now 35, told us he'd come to Dharamsala in 1997. How did he get here, someone asked. "I walked." He didn't elaborate, apart from to say that it took 28 days. He also told us he was the man responsible for introducing the chocolate momo to the menus of the town's eateries. "No one made chocolate momos when I arrived here!" he said. By this stage, I had gone off them, chocolate or otherwise, after overdosing on mutton momos on the first night. I had eight and I could feel the congealing fat blocking up my pipes.
A series of exhausting early morning yoga sessions helped, though. Our bendy instructor had an immaculate centre parting, gleaming eyes and some wonderful verbal tics, announcing the end of each posture by saying: "Closing time." Another frequently used classic was: "Happy feel, good feel, enjoy feeeeel." And I will never fail to think of him whenever I hear someone say: "Enjoy the all differentdifferent postures."