Yak Butter Tea at Key Gompa

July 18, 2016, 1155 hours.

The #KeyMonastery looks like a fortress and feels like an old friend. A series of Prayer Wheels in the corridor between the entrance to the monastery and the main porch is a delight – it evokes childlike happiness to run down the corridor, turning the wheels clockwise by turn and then turning back at the end to see them all spinning in unison.

The Assembly Hall, the temples, the Monk quarters, kitchen… are all quaint, and provide an interesting peek into life at the monastery. Temple areas are somber, quiet, peaceful. Sunny porches and the kitchen are jovial, energetic with repartee and smiles all around.

We spoke to a little group of monks who were sitting outside a temple and preparing for dinner. Lunch was at noon and dinner around 6 in the evening, so preparations for dinner were on around 11 am. Actually, one monk was diligently chopping cabbage, one was pouring green tea and the other two were making conversation and making everyone smile.

Yak Butter Tea at Key Gompa 01

Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

Yak Butter Tea at Key Gompa 03

Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

Yak Butter Tea at Key Gompa 04

Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

We met Lama Nima inside the monastery and Lama Nima gave us a historical narrative on the monastery and on Buddhdism in the region. I was quite impressed with his hold and analysis of current international affairs as also his strong evangelism regarding a strong nationalist sentiment being a necessity for a resurgent India to build upon the strong policies of the government. I was reminded of Chanakya as I listened to him gently advocate that individuals must do their bit to promote national and local manufacturing.

After the visit through the monastery, Lama Nima led us to the kitchen where the conversation veered towards where we came from and general topics while he served us green tea. The conversation was engaging and he offered us Yak Butter Tea as well. The pink-coloured salty tea was everything I had imagined and much more. Am now thinking how I can have a steady supply of Yak Butter Tea.

Yak Butter Tea at Key Gompa 05

Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

The Key Gompa also has a school within its compounds and as we were walking down, we met the younger monks-in-training running up to the Monastery for lunch.

Yak Butter Tea at Key Gompa 02

Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

I am constantly amazed with what I am finding on this trip, constantly amazed. Each monastery follows and disseminates a similar philosophy, has a history from a similar time-period, has faced similar ravages of time and political changes… and is yet so different in feel and personality. There is a lesson in here somewhere on how to build a sustainable organisation with many diverse personalities… I’ll take the time to think on it and see what that lesson might be.

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