While seeing all the famous sites and taking all the perfect Instagram pictures are definitely on the modern day traveler’s agenda, theres also an added element of travel that I feel the majority of travelers miss out on. Most of the people we’ve met traveling are going full speed ahead, trying to fit as many experiences and opportunities into as short (or long) an amount of time as possible. While this is an extremely thrilling way to travel, and we also enjoy this frequency every now and then, there is an added element of being so far away from what we consider to be “home” that we have come to love: There is something to be said for slowing down the pace a bit and allowing yourself to be part of a chosen community for a period of time, to see what its like to live in a place completely different from what you’ve known all your life and to gather all the elements required in order to turn it into a temporary home.
In the west, we are so obsessed with needing certain boxes to be checked in order to be satisfied with our home: it has to be the right size, in the right neighborhood with the right neighbors, with the properly landscaped front and back yard, a two car garage, access to a grocery store, a freeway entrance, social events, restaurants and bars, with the proper interior design, the right looking kitchen and couch and a multitude of other details. While all these things are sure nice to have, I don’t think most people realize what luxuries they really are and that creating the necessities of a home is a much more simple concept than we’ve ever previously given it credit for.
When you break it down to its bare bones, what do you really need to feel like you’re home? We spent a month in Dharamkot, a little village above the home town of the 14th Dalai Lama, experimenting and eventually succeeding in simplifying it down to the basics:
•First is the matter of finding a roof to go over your head and a relatively comfortable and warm place to sleep at night. While our accommodations were quite simple, we had the essentials covered with warm blankets, nice basic wooden shelves for all of our clothing and books, a hot shower, and lucked out with a beautiful view of the neighboring mountain side. •Next comes a place to create the medicine of the heart: A kitchen! We had a small, yet incredibly efficient kitchen with a two burner stove, a sink and a small shelving unit for all our dishes and pantry items. Although there was no refrigerator, the weather outside was cold at night and never grew too hot during the day. Plus, when you’re shopping at a fresh market on the daily, you don’t really need to store things under refrigeration! Here in our tiny kitchen, we made countless delicious and fresh meals, with simple ingredients bought from the small local markets: one market for fresh produce and another market for dried goods. We also found a local farmer who would sit in the bustling square in the middle of McLeod Ganj, the main city of the area, while all the traffic would pass him by, selling his local pasture raised eggs with yolks that were the appropriate color to be eating when compared to the ones we would find at the dry goods market, which were sometimes almost grey in color! Admittedly, we had to get pretty creative with our limited selection of ingredients, sometimes even having to make do under candlelight during the many blackouts that riddled the very stormy little village of Dharamkot. However, we were still quite successful in making a few different Indian curries, dahls, oatmeal, fried rice, and pad thai as well as some deliciously amazing breakfasts we would enjoy sitting on a cozy blanket on our porch while enjoying our beautiful mountain view.
•With our basic needs covered, there were some wants that we yearned for in order to make our little house feel more like a home. Of course we had each other, but an animal companion to greet you with excitement upon your return is usually a quick way to create the feeling of being at home. Luckily, we had two pets: the giant wolf spider that lived in our bathroom and the sweet yet skittish young kitty we decided to fatten up while we were there. Needless to say by the time we left, Snatch (named because of the way he would hungrily snatch food bits out of our fingers) was just like any domestic cat, marching into our home on the regular like he owned the place.
•Community is another significant and necessary part of feeling at home and lucky for us, friends were in superfluous amounts in Dharamkot and we were blessed enough to have not only an amazing neighbor from Austria but also a beautiful group of international travelers to share stories and laughs with. There were many social activities to fill your days with ranging from music and dance jams to hiking, art classes, jewelry making, yoga, cooking, and even knitting.
•The final cherry on top of the cake that really seals the deal for creating a home away from home is being able to do your life’s work. It was here in Dharamkot that we set up our most successful Chiropractic practice yet. With very little advertising and mostly word of mouth testimonials we had a huge array of international patients from a number of different countries including Israel, Poland, Dominican Republic, USA, Spain, Austria, France, England, Australia, Ireland, Russia, Indonesia, India, Switzerland, Sweden and Argentina. As we worked on so many incredible and very grateful people, we realized how lucky we were to come from a place that is over flowing with humans doing the amazing work of Chiropractic and how easily accessible it is back in the U.S.A. We witnessed our patients face and begin to heal from childhood and adolescent traumas, severe injuries, and repercussions from life threatening surgeries, all while regaining mobility, energy, and fluidity in their body, mind and spirit.
After one month, when the time came to move on to our next destination, we found ourselves quite sad to leave and realized that it was because we had unintentionally created a home, here in the middle of the mountains which makeup the foothills of the Himalayas. Dharamkot had become our “home away from home”, with nothing more than a simple shelter, a kitchen with fresh food to cook, sweet and amazing friends, loving pets, a place to do our life’s work and of course, each other. Although we will return to the states and probably desire some of those nice extra luxuries, we will always remember that building a home is a much more simple thing than we have ever given it credit for and that we are ever so blessed to be able to make the decision to choose to want more.