Mist, Momo's, and Massage
Today I woke up and set off on a solo mission. On a cooking kick from the day before, I had signed up for yet another class. This time it would be a Tibetan cooking class that I found just down the street from the other class.
Max was all cooked out with one class and decided to get some ink done at a small tattoo studio we found tucked into the mountainside.
I woke up early and walked alone down the twisty narrow roads. I soaked in the silence, listening to nature and nothing else. The birds were singing as I sat on the side of the road and stared as the mist rolled in.
The fresh morning dew trickled down the tree leaves and plopped on the gravel ground. It was quite the scene. When I strolled into McLeod Ganj, I found a restaurant with a rooftop terrace and sat down to enjoy the view along with breakfast. My masala omelet and hot tea paired wonderfully with the Himalayan highlights. I was content.
It was 10am and time for my Tibetan cooking class. I walked into Sangye's Kitchen and was greeted by Sangye himself. A native Tibetan, Sangye escaped 14 years ago and, like many Tibetan refugees, now lives and works in Dharamsala. He was a happy man, always smiling, full of warmth and instantly likeable. Besides myself, there were three other women in the class with me, all with different stories scattered across the globe. One woman was on holiday from Ireland. The only American was a poly-sci major from BYU who was taking a semester of classes in Dharmsala while living with a Tibetan family. The last woman was from Moscow and, coincidentally, worked as a video editor back in Russia. It was a fun mix of ladies.
The dish of the day was momo's. A momo is a traditional Tibetan snack similar to wontons. These dumplings can be steamed or fried and they can have a multitude of different stuffing. Whether your momo’s are savory or sweet, the same dough is used however the shape of the dough is what they use to differentiate between them.
We made five different types of momo’s and learned five different ways to shape the dough, which is harder than it looks.
Our five different stuffing’s were shredded chicken, potato, mixed veggie, spinach and cheese, and chocolate momo’s. First things first, we had to learn how to make the dough. Although I enjoyed the variety of the food we made in the Indian cooking class the day before, I enjoyed this class because it was much more hands-on. He would demonstrate once or twice and then throw us each a ball of dough to try it ourselves.
We kneaded the dough and formed it into very thin circles, no bigger than a quarter. We stuffed our dough circles with each set of ingredients (precooked and chopped for our convenience) and then we shaped them. Shaping them was the tricky part. From small Hershey kiss shaped momo’s, to the traditional wonton shape, each was fun and challenging.
No matter how dilapidated the momo’s turned out, Sangye was encouraging and told each one of us that we did a good job.
After we were done stuffing and shaping the momo’s, it was time for the steaming.
This required no effort on our part and we took this 15 minute interlude to get to know each other. The timer dinged and we were all salivating for momo’s. Each one turned out delicious, but my favorite was the spinach and cheese. This was definitely a dish I will be cooking at home.
I walked around McLeod Ganj for a while, peering into different shops and snatching up souvenirs when I decided to sign up for a yoga class.
The Rishi Yoga and Meditation Center had a 2 hour class and I was right on time.
As I did some pre-yoga stretching, the instructor and I waited to see if any more people showed up. At five after four, he decided to get started with just the two of us. It was a relaxing class and the mats were set up facing a giant window that overlooked the mystic mountains. As I contorted my body into downward dog and cobra poses, I watched as the mist turned to rain. The second hour of the class was focused on meditation and I listened to the pitter-patter of the rain drops as I reflected in silence. It was not a very strenuous class but I enjoyed myself and the peaceful energy I walked away with.
As I was on my way back to the hotel, my eye kept drifting to the different massage offers lining the mountain roads. I wanted to give India another shot at massage even though the groping in Goa left a bad taste in my mouth. I had a nagging knot that had been aching since Peru and so far, rubbing it against the edge of the wall was the closest I came to any relief. I decided to spend the money and find someone who specialized in deep tissue massage to get this knot loose.
I walked into Himalaya Body & Soul Rejuvenation Zone and spoke with Jitt, the male instructor and masseur. Although, after my last experience, I was looking for a female masseuse, I instantly got a good vibe from him. The massage studio was set up very professionally and had a large curtain that separated the massage table from the rest of the room. I inquired about a deep tissue massage and told him that I was only interested in my back, not a whole body. To save money, I told him that I only wanted a half an hour, assuming that would be enough time to relieve my throbbing muscle. He agreed and excused himself to let me get situated on the table, a luxury of privacy not provided by the Goan masseur. He started my massage and I was in ecstasy. It was one of the best massages I have ever had! He was skilled and professional and, never once did I feel uncomfortable. As the 30 minute session came to an end, I asked him if he had time for the full hour. I was enjoying it too much to have it come to an end so quickly. I walked out feeling fantastic!
After I was done with my magical massage, I met back up with Max and his new ink. He played it safe and only got some touch-up work done and although he wasn't thrilled with the quality, he was stoked to walk away with a permanent reminder of Dharamsala forever stamped into his skin.