McLeod Ganj in North India may well have been my favourite town in the country. Technically, it's a suburb of the greater Dharamsala, and settled on the edge of the Himalayas it's a place of shocking natural beauty. The sky is clear and the air is clean and snow-capped mountain ridges lean over the forested valley below like giants in a garden.
The place is best known as home to the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama after he fled his home country in the late 1950's. Thousands of refugees have since followed him, colouring the town in tones of home with Tibetan dress, language, art and food.
On the morning I arrived, I, (and everyone else in the city, it seemed) went to see the Lama give a public teaching at his monastery at the top of the hill, which was a unique experience to say the least. Monks, locals and travellers alike packed themselves in shoulder-to-shoulder to listen to the words of the leader of Gelug Buddhism, as he genially rambled and kidded from one idea to the next, always preaching a life and world of acceptance and peace.
The Dalai's most memorable lesson for me was that, (paraphrasing) "all misery comes from the search from your own happiness, and all happiness comes from the search for the happiness of others". It's an idea of extreme altruism and selflessness, perhaps unattainable in the real world, but there's real truth in it - helping others is a redemptive joy in and of itself.
I've got some really big news coming later this week, but until then, I hope you're finding your happiness, for yourselves and for each other. Gross, that sounds so preachy.