Map of Himalaya

October 9, 2021

March 10, 1977. I was 22 and had arrived the previous afternoon in the hill station of Mussoorie, India and checked-in at the Grand Hotel. 3 stories and 50 rooms, but I was the sole guest. Off season. India’s hill stations are wondrously charming and at 2000 m above sea level, the climate is invigorating. After a walk around town and dinner, a storm set in. Winds full of rain then snow howled while the power went out for the night. Huddled under ten blankets, the sounds of the storm gradually carried me off to sleep in that giant, empty hotel. The next morning it was calm, clear, bright and fresh. Four inches of snow covered the town. I had planned a 2 hour hike up to Lal Tibba, a lookout point, to see the Himalaya mountains for the first time.

On the way, by chance, I happened to converge with a demonstration march of Tibetans and their supporters. I did not know it then, but every March 10, Tibetans, wherever they are (there are approx. 100,000 living across the Himalaya outside of Tibet), commemorate March 10, 1959, when their uprising against Communist China’s invasion and occupation of Tibet began in Lhasa, after 10 years of ever-increasing subjugation and repression. On this date, fearful of an imminent abduction of the Dalai Lama by the Chinese, 300,000 Tibetans surrounded the Norbulingkha Palace to offer protection. The Chinese military took up troop and artillery positions. One week later the Dalai Lama and some of his family and government were spirited out of Lhasa at night and began the 14 day trek to escape over the mountains to India. In Lhasa, the Tibetan defenders were hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned. Early on March 19, the Chinese began shelling the Norbulingkha and the crowd of men, women and children still camped outside. By March 21, culminating in a shootout at the Jokhang temple, it was all over with approx. 15,000 Tibetans dead. The Dalai Lama and his small entourage crossed the border March 31.

In the following years the killing accelerated and the toll is now estimated at 1.2 million. March 10 is now known as ‘Tibetan Uprising Day’. I recommend seeing the 1997 Martin Scorsese directed film ‘Kundun’. Tibetans have resisted China’s rule long before and ever since March 10, 1959. They also live with it.

The march disbanded. I paused for some Chai and Samosas, and a chat, before carrying on with my walk.

On arriving at Lal Tibba, one doesn’t see the snow peaks till the path crests the lookout ridge … suddenly … whewww … took my breath away! Taking it all in … I was entranced. I was home. The snow peaks, about 70 km. straight ahead at their nearest, arched across my view from the north-west horizon to the east horizon, I reckon, some 200 km or more in either direction. A true wide-angle panorama. And hundreds of peaks including Nanda Devi (150 km. distant) and other famous peaks could be discerned against the cerulean blue sky. Mount Kailash was 300 km. away in the direction of Nanda Devi, in the ‘Trans-Himalaya’ range, hidden behind the Himalayan ranges. I sat, stared, meditated and contemplated for 2 hours. A great deal of my destiny revealed itself to me that day. Whole World was born.

Lyn (bio pending) and I met 27 years back when we created our ‘Kali’s Kollection – Premium Organic Tea’ and ‘Spices of Life – Premium Organic Spices’ product lines, featuring our Saffron and  Vanilla and some mighty fine Himalayan Teas, and Herbs from just about everywhere. To make up for us retiring most of our Tea and Spice products, we’ll be publishing all our blend recipes on this site. Stay tuned. Grow your own or otherwise get your quality ingredients, then blend, brew and enjoy!


Rhys Fockler

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