and Passover too!
Easter happens in India too! It was the Easter of things people have never done before.
The new things started before Easter itself, with a Passover Seder at a new restaurant owned by some friends of the program. Out of the sixteen of us, three staff, one alum who lives in town, and half a dozen camp followers and associated hangers-on, I’m pretty sure six were actually Jewish. This being India, wheat crackers stood in for matzo and various other substitutions were made throughout the meal that I largely didn’t notice because this was (embarrassingly) my first Passover experience. But it counts, and was quite a bit of fun. I had the fortune to sit next to Amalia Rubin, a program alum who’s been living among Tibetans ever since, working as a translator and remarkably successful Tibetan pop star on both sides of the border, though after some time in Chinese prison has been living in India.
In case you’re in town, the restaurant is called Illiterati, and it’s halfway to Gangkyi. The cook is Belgian and has a secret family waffle recipe, and let’s just say it shows..
Following up my first Passover service, I thought it appropriate to attend my first Easter service as well, which meant going to St. John’s in the Wilderness Church, a relic of British rule about a fifteen minute walk outside of town. Lord Elgin is buried out back.
The service itself seemed fine, though my only basis for comparison was the hyped stories I’d heard of the glories of Easter Vigils in the Catholic Church—so I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed by this relatively informal protestant service for an hour or so on a Sunday morning. What an interesting group of people, though! The service was entirely in English (there may have been a separate Hindi service for the other half of the congregation) and the audience was a microcosm of the Dharamsala community: about half Indians, some scattered Tibetans, a handful of East Asian folks, and some lost-looking Westerners. The main sermon was given by a tall, late-twenties, intensely friendly seeming fellow from Denver who spoke in what felt like a US-evangelical-protestant style, while the Indian priest (who spoke good English) only popped up for a short benediction. I noticed the guy from Denver had brought with him two of the young locals who’d tried to convince me to give them money.
I skipped out on the (Indian-food) outdoor lunch to head down to Tara-la’s house for our Easter party! Will and Lindsey had blown out, dyed, and hidden something like sixty eggs and some candy in and around the (gorgeous) garden, of which we found most. It was really fun to watch a few Jews, Tibetans, and a monk hunt on their first Easter Egg Hunt.