On Sunday I, my pluristic friends and I ventured into spaces of gratification in a tiny piece of Tibet and India simultaneously. We visited the Tibetan refugee community in Bylakuppe in the Coorg District, which is one of the three large Tibetan communities in India.

Bt Melissa Taljaard

The day ahead promised to be long. We spent hours in a bus sitting, but had rural surroundings and each other’s company to keep us sane. Being often individualistic (which I confess disappoints me largely, as I am an African at heart), I speculated that the day may not go according to the proposed plan. But my fears and frustrations seemed mundane, compared to the sacred tranquillity that awaited us.


We started at the Tibetan Buddhist Monk temple. The group was chatty and excited, as it was to be a fresh experience to almost all of us. We stepped into the grounds, and waves of peace flooded us momentously, almost as if the outside world no longer existed. Embellishments of mustard and burgundy where everywhere, accompanied with genuine heartfelt smiles. The grounds were painted with luscious gardens and exquisite gold temples; beauty that is as rare as the serenity that escorted it. Entering the temple was one of those moments that are assured to never disappear from your memory; like riding a bike for the first time or your graduation. Walking in, we were drawn to three magnificent vast statues inviting us to join them in mediation. Our bodies seem to jointly take a seat, without asking permission to do so, in front of them. We sat there in solitude, forgetting about the long ride home or our growing appetites. We just were, not our past nor our future. Just mindfully ourselves.  Leaving the temple, my vision was again flooded with that of Tibetan monks. Every part of me was urged to stop one of them, to sit and learn about this life I longed for in my Western world. But I knew it was not something they could teach me. It was something I had to find. Something I have high hopes of unearthing enroot back home.

Moniken in IndiaWe said goodbye and embarked on our next adventure. We stopped at what I had imagined to be just a dam wall, trapping gallons and gallons of water. I was, to say the least, pleasantly surprised and filled with satisfaction to discover a regal orchard surrounded the wall. While strolling, soft patters of rain followed us, kissing our skin as we breathed in the splendour around us. Many locals matched our plans of a walk, but their presence seemed to be part of the blissful scenery. The garden was filled with fountains and patches of green lawn and flowers fit for a royal family. We found rest for our souls, and were refreshed for our trip back.

The bus ride was long, and partnered with a few hiccups, which all played their part in completing a grand trip. I think it is safe to say we all experienced serenity on our own terms. We all took a little piece of Tibetan as well as Indian lessons on finding inner peace with us. Our goal now, as I see it, is to establish these as the set equilibrium in our routine lives. This is certainly what I am planning to do  back home.

Melissa Taljaard is  a Master student in Reconciliation and Social Cohesion at the University of the Free State in South Africa.