Author: Cheryl Kumar Templeton
Year of Publication: 2013
– A Tale about Cakes and Compassion
A story of a woman and by a woman who visited Mcleodgang for a medical reason and chose to settle here forever; for here she belonged and was called back by all environmental energies.
Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh is a Tibetan settlement and is home to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama because of whose presence the area has transformed into hills of radiating spirituality and optimism.
The book is a compilation of real life experiences by the lady herself who through shifts and swirls in the hills found her spot which is considered today as the ‘the karmic mountain’.
The book is a very swift read and becomes all the more enjoyable if you have visited Mcleodgang, the title place in question – ‘The Chocolate Log’ and met the author herself – Cheryl. For me it was as if characters whom I met in reality got a structure in the form of a tale; a non-fiction which is as beautiful as a fiction.
For a tourist, the attraction is limited to what can be jotted down on a piece of paper in terms of the checklist. But for a locale and a person who is gradually developing through experience, every moment becomes an adding ingredient.
The book apart from highlighting the course of journey of settlement from a meager tent shelter to a fully fledged running café and building of the ‘The Cheryton Cottage Guest House’ along with the “Wine Oaks’ is a traceable narrative. The text of the book is a well knitted story for those who aren’t acquainted with the place but nostalgia to live for those who have shared some moments.
Cheryl not just offers a few of her recipes here but an iced baked cake of her life, a slice of which we all wish to intake. She is not a bakery chef. She is not a writer. She is a woman with spirit and spontaneity whose strong decisions have enabled her to reach where she is today.
Many people visit Dharamsala in search of finding the ‘lack’ in their lives. Some seek refuge in monasteries and nunneries, some learn Tibetan Buddhism and meditation and some just loiter around zoned with toxic elements. Every human is in a state of trance but those who can channelize their energies are the ones who have found the right path to follow.
‘Little Lhasa’ i.e. our very own Mcleodgang echoes with the ideas and needs of optimism but even then the real philosophical debate is never subsumed until and unless one pays a visit to the ‘The Chocolate Log’ where rests the ‘The Philosopher’s Bench’.
Cheryl has created her own world of peace and prosperity amidst the hills where numerous people have simultaneously sought solace and elevation in thought and spirit just by communicating with the couple or by indulging in the gluttony delicacies prepared by the author herself.
We all live in tales but her narrative leaves you in awe. Beneath the chocolate layers on the cakes there rests many scarred, burnt and painful times which could have ripped any human in to pieces beyond repair.
In every aspect, the book is a collection of moments which leads one as a reader to look up for something in life and believe in every minute success that one receives. For every individual we encounter, whether he or she helps us in direct terms or not, they tend to add something to our pool of knowledge and intellect.
Valuing relationships and believing in humanity has lead Cheryl and her husband to create a paradise of their own which stands open to be shared by the world at Mcleodgang, Dharamsala, India.
“’Come, let us pray’, the Holy Man cries,
‘For Peace, for truth, life that never dies.
Love the Universe, don’t draw lines,
Remove all dog tags, Yours and Mine.”