I woke early this morning – before sunrise – because I wanted to see the Dalai Lama's Temple at first light.
I stumbled down a rocky path in the dim pre-sunrise gloom, and finally found myself outside this gated compound that looked like anything but the Residence in exile of a banished national and spiritual leader.
It was meant to be a palace. I was expecting something grand – something with gleaming spires and colourful Tibetan flags snapping in the morning breeze, and golden rooftops.
Instead I got a jumble of buildings that looked like government offices, built in the early 1950s. It was very disillusioning.
And then I thought of the Buddhist doctrine of non attachment – and it all made sense. His Holiness does not need to live in a fancy palace with gold plated taps and marble floors. Where he lived was in absolute keeping with his beliefs.
Here's another freaky intuitive moment on this film: our assistant's name is Rachit. Every time I say his name, I'm terrified I'll call him Ratshit. Anyway, unknowingly to me, the weekend we arrived in Rishikesh, he traveled up to Dharamsala to spend three days in a remote Buddhist monastery, doing a retreat.
This film is definitely calling the shots.
We went to the remote monastery today. It took us two hours to drive 40kms. That's how crazy the traffic was. And how bad the roads were.
We stopped at roadside dhaba which would have freaked out most people with its lack of hygiene – however it looked ok to me and we sat down and ordered thali – a mixture of curries and dahls and tandoori roties. You're given a silver tray and someone comes around with a sausepan and ladles out your curries. You can eat as much as you like. It costs 40 Rps, or approx 80 cents Australian.
Even though it all looked very scary dirty, it tasted delicious – one of the best curries I've ever had.
On the way through to the monastery we passed a car taking school kids home. I counted 12 kids in the car. And the car was tiny. Can you imagine trying to do that in Australia? You'd get locked up!
We got to the monastery and all the monks were involved in a teaching. But it looked magnificent. And we shot a great sequence there.
Tomorrow we're doing an interview with the Director of Buddhist Studies, just on the outskirts of town, and we've also been allowed to shoot in their library, which contains texts and discourses dating back to the 1600's.
It's a shame the Dalai Lama's not here, but I'm going to make another attempt when we come back to Delhi.
Even without him though, we're still getting some very solid stuff that is supporting the underline narrative we're shooting to.
All afternoon while driving out to the monastery, and while filming, my son Clancy kept sending me text messages about the Preliminary Finals, in which my team The Sydney Swans, kicked enormous butt to win convincingly.
This means we're into the Grand Finals – ou rAFL equivalent of the Superbowl. Buddha, hang with me one more week mate, that's all I need…