There’s more to Tibet than just Tibetan momos. This was a slow and eventual realization over a few years as I was exposed to the land and its people.
Through my sister, I came to know of Tenzin Tsundue (whom she befriended in Mumbai) and who had climbed the 14th floor of the Oberoi Hotel in Nariman Point some years ago to unfurl a flag saying â€œFree Tibetâ€ as the Chinese premier was visiting.
A few years ago, my sister and I also went and visited Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, home to one of India’s most beautiful (and largest) monasteries. Situated on a hill-top with its bright yellow and red paint, it stands out from anywhere, its beauty unsurpassed in this small hilly kingdom.
In Bangalore, I met the dreamy Aqua through whom I was exposed to more of this country.
Last year in Kushalnagar, I had a chance to visit one of South India’s largest Tibetan settlements in the South of India. It is also home to a beautiful Namdroling monastery.
Then this year, I got a chance to visit the abode of His Highness the Dalai Lama at McLeodganj in Dharamsala. His heavily guarded residence is just in front of the main monastery and I try and peep in through the thick iron gate only to encounter a suspicious security guy. There is a huge sign at the monastery that talks about the Panchem Lama (and successor to the Dalai Lama), who was taken by the Chinese authorities when he was about eight years old and no one has any idea as to where he is today.
I often wonder what it will be like not to be able to return to your homeland? What if I went abroad and was told I could never come back to India. What if some other country takes over and does not allow me to come back? It’s unimaginable. And yet, it’s living reality for the thousands of exiled Tibetans living in all parts of the world including India.
Some excerpts from the World Tibet Day site:
- Since the Chinese Army invaded Tibet in 1949, and under Chinese occupation, over 1.2 million Tibetans have died and more than 6000 monasteries have been destroyed.
- Forced to flee his homeland in 1959, the Dalai Lama has lived in exile since then in northern India, working with his countrymen and Tibet supporters to keep alive the culture and religion of his people, while trying to establish a peaceful dialogue with the Chinese government.
Politics apart, just talking to those Tibetans you encounter is heart-breaking when they express a desire to see their country (some of them are born outside and can’t go back or even visit) and you can sense their sadness as they speak about never being able to return to Tibet. You’d think that freedom is every human’s right but you realise how far we have to go in this struggle for freedom when you look at what’s happening in this country.
I do hope, for every Tibetan out there, that their dreams of a â€˜free Tibet’ comes true someday soon.
If you feel the same way, please do post about it on your blog too. If you do, please leave a link so I can add it here: