Friday, June 19, 2009

Professor Marjorie Silver - The Monsoon Arrives/White Water Rafting on the Sutlej River/The Trip to Dharamsala

THE MONSOON ARRIVED OVERNIGHT! And so, it is likely from here on in, the mornings will be stormy and very wet! But to paraphrase Doug Colbert (on other subjects at least), this is what was meant to be. I had my first painful attack of the intestinal thing today, so it felt quite cozy to stay in or near my room for the day. And the sky did clear in late afternoon.

I truly wanted to write sooner, to capture the wonderful experience of our rafting trip on Saturday, the 13th. Because one of the students needed frequent stops for motion sickness, we arrived at Tattipanne about an hour late, only to observe the only three rafts taking off with another group. We were told it would only be about an hour until they returned, but, in fact, it was more like two. So we made lemonade out of lemons and walked a short distance to a sort of beach. On the advice of an Indian woman on the bank, a few of us descended down close to the bridge to cross over to the beach, and what a mistake that was! We had to make our way over yards and yards and yards of large rocks, with no guarantee of sure footing. Facing my fears, I approached the task as I do 65 bluebooks: one at a time. And I made it safe and sound.

The river current was quite swift, so we had a limited area in which to “swim,” but as the water was icy cold, this wasn’t a drawback for many. I’m proud to say I made it all the way in, although gradually.

One of our students, Larry, scoped the area around a small cliff/high rock pile and found a spot where he was confident the water was deep enough for jumping off. I trusted his judgment; he clearly was experienced in such matters. Marianne, however, was having a major cow, entreating him NOT TO DO IT. Which he ignored. And he was fine. My concern was the “me-too’s” whose testosterone impelled them to follow suit. I wasn’t at all confident they knew what they were doing. But several did, and all were fine. At one point, I called to Jodie, who had Larry’s waterproof camera, to get a picture of his jump. Marianne chastised me for encouraging this wrongful behavior! I joked that Marianne clearly would never recommend me for the program director position. A little while later, however, Marianne asked Jodie to do the same! That was strange enough, but when a little while after that I heard a shout and a big splash, imagine my surprise that Marianne herself had jumped! So much for her credibility!

When we finally got off in our rafts, the skies opened up and a torrential rain descended. But it was fun! And the rapids themselves were terrific! For most of the time, I got to ride as gunner, sitting up front and center, not rowing, which was like being on the greatest water park roller coaster. It was a super day, and only helped to cement the bonds among this wonderfully cohesive group.

Sunday’s trip from Shimla to Dharamsala was very long, the bus was struggling up even modest inclines. But as I had slept quite poorly the night before, and took a Dramamine, I managed to sleep almost the entire twelve hours!

McLeod Ganj is far cleaner than I remember it, and Marianne finds it cleaner than even last year. She and I are sharing the same room Lucy and I had four years ago, Mythical Creatures. I love being back here, love having a patio, love the gorgeous jewelry on the streets. I didn’t plan to, but already on our outing yesterday, purchased a gorgeous silver pendent with Shiva’s third eye. Today my stomach problems kept me from spending more money!

Classes continue to go very well. Most of the students are so well informed, so well prepared, so engaged with the ideas. I learn so much from them. What a privilege to be here! And we just got news this afternoon that we have a Friday audience with His Holiness!

Click here to view videos of the group arriving at the departure point, "making lemonade out of lemons" at a nearby beach and having lunch at the destination point.

By Professor Marjorie Silver, Touro Law Summer Abroad Program in India

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