The cottage I'm staying in is a wonderfully peaceful place. It is a very simple, stone built building with a corrugated iron roof, built into the hillside as are all the houses in Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh. It has a history and it's strongly felt. The verandah is wonderful place to sit quietly and enjoy those ripe juicy mangoes I love so much.
The town is a retreat for visitors to escape the heat of the Indian summer and has a strong British presence in its history.
But that is well in the past and now I seem to be the only European amongst many hundreds of Indian tourists. I get stopped to have my photo taken with a passing family. It's strange to be an object of interest or maybe just curiosity.
The town is at 7000ft in the Himalayas, nothing in comparison to the mountains further north but even so, climbing up the steps to the road leaves me short of breath.
The friend who has lent me the cottage introduced me to a Buddhist teacher, Balbir Jootli. A man in his 70s living alone in a beautiful house just out of the town which looks across the valley to snow-capped mountains. He has offered to teach me the basics of Buddhism while I'm here and each morning I walk for 40 minutes up a gradually increasing incline to his house. I reach the top sweating, panting and breathless. This is exercising my legs and my lungs and heart and hopefully my spirit.
No one said enlightenment was easy...
Me in my next life??