Sunday, August 22, 2004

Ponderings!!!! in Mumbai can be weird in many ways. Different people fascinate me and Mumbai is a perfect place to meet different different kind of people. One of the main motivation for me to become a journo is to meet new people. Mumbai is a huge, megapolis actually. As lakku rightly pointed out it has loads of clusters, various places which are self sufficient townships in every way. As in every place will have loads of schools, colleges (for various streams), hospitals, shopping malls etc. U really need not travel as such for basic ameneties like this. But well. For work and for sometimes eductaion too, one has to travel in Mumbai and travel lots! I too travel a lot. In this process I get to meet various people and DIFFERENT people. DIFFERENT would be an understatement. Its so funny, the kind of people changes with every area u know. I don't want to generalise as one would be able to meet different kind of people too; but majority of people would be typical types. Its like every area has its own identity. If area A would be filmy area, area B would be totally gujju and area C would be totally south indian. Economically also it would vary. Thinking, aspirations, everything varies. Whats more, dressing sense of college students also vary. Some areas Ekta kapoor will be GOD whereas in others she would be poo-poohed. I know people for whom rave parties are like the most happening thing but I also know people who don't know where their next meal is gonan come from.I hope you guys are getting the drift. I still maintain that exceptions prevail and one really can't always generalise. So since I travel quite a lot within the city, I encounter people of all types. Shocking different in every aspect from one another. Its a nice experince but I kinda experince it every few hours : Its not always funny because it drains you emotionally sometimes. I don't know how exactly to explain to you guys, but I think one can't experience it unless one stays in Mumbai. Its like I don't want a change every few hours. Some stability, some continuity needed please!!!!!!!!!!!! But this is one endearing aspect of Mumbai. I know I'm sounding totally contradictory but well......I'm like that only ;)

On a different note.......Malu called me up today, such a cutie pie. WOTTA LOVELY SURPRISE.....:D *HUGS* babes! Was lovely talking to ya. She had her fair share of fun by not revealing her name and all......majja she had at my expense! :P :P (by the way, see another new post down)


When I have nothing better to do, I sometimes bloghop. Its funny when I see people describing their state of mind so accurately. I mean even I have my weird mood days, but I don't think I would be able to write so eloquently about it. I might write to myself about it though (never can blog it) but I dont think so I would be able to write it so beautifully, the clarity of thought is just so amazing. I hate to admit but I am all *ENVIOUS*

Anyways, I have to narrate this funny incident. Well I was having my dinner with my television set swicthed on. Some random number from Khakhee was being played on Star plus I guess. It was a total Dhinchak number with beats and all. Amma was somewhere in the room when suddenly she broke into a little jig. It was "I-am-dancing-when-nobody's-looking-at-me" jig. The best thing about a family is the level of comfort one experinces. The comfort zone one gets is unbelievable. We may all have our differences with the family itself, but still, the most awkward things is chalta hain. As in even if you let out a burp, its ok when you are at home. Its like family only na! Ok.back to the story, I saw Amma doing some weird dance step, but I kept quiet. I wanted her to enjoy her moment. On the hindsight I would have had royal fun pulling her leg, but even if i pull her leg, it doesn't make any difference. My Amma doesn't even listen to me, making me a fulltu popat : So i just kept quiet. But what was most freaky was when I saw the TV screen sometime later, I saw Akshay Kumar doing the same step : I can vouch for the fact that Amma wasn't watching the tv while doing her lil' cute jig....hehehehehee! That was really funny, that was when I started laughing........Amma had this quizzical expression on her funny, didn't even bother to explain! My amma sure is cute......*grin*

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I just don't get it!

Well...guys, read this! The article talks about how majority of the homosexual athletes don't come out in open about their sexuality. Either they remain permamnently in closet or reveal only to a certain few. What I don't understand is, what's the big deal about a person's sexuality! Hullo! The person may be a gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual (they are a subject of debate) or whatever! How does it matter, as long as they are performing! Even if they don't perform, they would be sacked, simple! The athletes get qualified for the olympics on the basis of their performance in the pre-event qualifiers and not b'coz of their sexuality. So why is such a big deal made! It's such a personal matter, why the unncessary probing! It seriously seems so petty to me.

When I was volunteering at the world social forum, I happened to attend a talk by the gay rights activist Ashok row Kavi. A group of people majority of them homosexuals were having a discussion. There were few youngsters too. One of them for the first time ever came out in open about his sexuality. It was sweet, he became very emotional and struggled with words. We all applauded. Homosexuals in India go through a real rough time in their quest to get accepted by the mainstream society. But, i don't understand why someone's sexuality should be an issue or a point of debate at the workfront. Do the heterosexuals face the same thing...No, they don't have any pressures in order to declare their sexuality. Just b'coz the homosexuals are in a minority and justb'coz they are different, doesn't mean that they need to come out in open about stuff which are just not necessary and totally unrelated professionally. God, gimme a break please!!!!!! Y can't people just live and let live! *sigh*

Friday, August 13, 2004

The Meeting Part-2

Well... After shopping, we went back to our hotel rooms and I went to sleep very early that night. I really didn't get a chance to clear my doubts about Tibet with Appa at all. The next day we went sight seeing all over Manali. I went to some apple orchards. I was particularly delighted about the fact that the apple trees over there were just almost my height, approximately 4.5 feet. That was really interesting for me. But well, the saddest thing was that there were no apples. The trees didn't have leaves at all because it was winter then. I could only sigh and imagine how wonderful it would have been had I come during summer. Delecious apples plucked directly from the trees.......awesome na!

In the evening the whole group again went shopping. I have to confess something, I hated shopping way back then. :........yea, yea, yea, even I sigh in disbelief sometimes. How can I, Shobha of all people in the world.....HATE SHOPPING! Shesssssssssh! I am ashamed of myself :P :P I only liked shopping if something was brought for me. I was least bothered about the woollens my mom/pop were buying and other electronic goods. Duhhhh! B O R I N G! We went to a shop which resembled like a super market. Our whole group dispersed. It had everything, woollens to electronic stuff to cosmetics. Initially I accompanied Appa/amma in their shopping sojourn but later I became so bored that I left them, joined my group of friends and started enjoying myself. Suddenly my eyes fell on this most gorgeous pair of earrings I had ever seen. It was very pretty. I immediately went to the shop and asked a lady sitting there about the price of the earrings. "150 ruppes dear. U like it?" I replied in affirmative and kept staring at the earrings. "Wait, I will show you more of those." she retorted and kept in front of me a big box which contained loads of such pretty earrings. I was busy checking the earrings when suddenly i noticed that this lady was wearing a completely different outfit. It was different. I can't really describe it now but it sort of resembled the outfits the tibetan women had worn. Oh yea, she had chinky eyes too. Somehow we stuck up a conversation. there weren't many customers to her cubicle that time, so we continued talking. Gradually I came to know that she had come to India from Tibet when she was barely 7-8. Yet she had vivid memories of her childhood in Tibet. She talked about her house, the garden, courtyard etc. She often spoke in chaste Hindi but our talks were interspersed with smattering of English too.

Then I sudden;ly asked her, "Why do u people keep coming from Tibet to India? You don't like living there?" Hearing my question, she burst intpo a mild laughter. I did not understand why she behaved like that. She then told me that," Dear, tibet used to be a free country until China had invaded Tibet. So we were forced to flee the country and come to india." While telling me this, she burst into tears. I was shocked. I did not know how to react. I just muttered a feeble sorry and apologised to her profusely. "Aunty I did not mean to hurt you, I am so sorry. Please don';t cry." I couldn't say naything more. I was completely comfused, disturbed on seeing her cry like this. She composed herself and then consoled me by saying, "Oh no dear, don't worry. it is not because of you. its all out fate.". But aunty why did you cry? You don't like living in India? You have lived here for so many years." To this she replied," Oh well...I love India. India has been very kind to us. it has given us a home, has given us an opportunity to earn our living here. We couldn't have asked for more. But then..... I snapped, But what aunty?" "but....I belong to tibet. Tibet is my homeland. I have always wanted to go back, to my home, to my Tibet." I just stood there mum." We live in India at present earn our living here. We have been assimilated with the India society, but it doesn't change the fact that we are refugees. We are not one among you." I didn't agree with ehat she said. "Absolutely not, You are one among us, you are just like any other Indian citizen." "So sweet of you dear, but the fact is that we are not and one has to accept it. Our roots are in Tibet That difference will always exist."

Then suddenly she began all enthusiastic. " Do you know what my dream is? I ant to die in Tibet. I still dream of living in my ancestral house. I still hope that one day Tibet would be free." "me too aunty." Thatw as all I could mumble. IAt that point of time I just thought how lucky I was to belong to a free country like India. I was lost in thoughts when she said, "You know Shobha, India has been so good to us. She has given us home, shelter, food, so many things. Why doesn't Indian government help us to in our endeavour to be free then?" i just looked at her. i did not have any naswers to her question. I was ignorant, completely. But I could see the sadness in her eyes. Sigh!

Shobha.......I heard somone calling me. that was Amma. "Where were you? We were searchign for you all over." she screamed at me. Amma, I was here talkign to aunty. they bothe xchanged pleasantries but we were in a hurry and had to rush. I just waved a quick good bye and left. That was our first and last meeting.

From that day onwards I have deep empathy for the Tibetan struggle for independence. I hope Tibet gets liberated one day. But well, realistically, I don't think that's going to happen. But well you never is full of surprises :D

Aha! What a coincidence :D This is real good news. :D :D

Sunday, August 08, 2004

The meeting---Part 1

I was in my 6th grade, I was around 11 years old. We had to been to Himachal Pradesh for a trip. Himachal Pradesh is so of the most beautiful places I have been to till now. I don't mind going there again. We were 4-5 families altogether for the trip to Himachal. Abhi....Himachal Bole toh, Kullu Manali nahi gaye toh Doob Maro! seriously!! :P Anyways.we were at Kullu. The first time I set foot at Kullu, I felt different. I mean the whole ambience of the place is so different than Mumbai (obviosuly it would be different but well as a kid it hit me right on my face) It was cold (I went to kullu on the month of November) But I liked it. Another thing which caught my attention was the large amount of "chinky eyed " people. now I know its a stupid way to address them, but well..I din't know any other way. (People please suggest, I would incorporate it :) ) I had never seen so many chinky eyed people at one place. I was very intrigued.

I have to mention the crazy things I did during this trip. I was fascianted by people, countries, different relegions, cultures etc. right from a very ypoung age. These trips provided me an opportunity to meet like so many different people. There were tons of tourists who had come from various countries. Well, I was very curious about all everything "NEW" I saw. Therefore I used to stop and talk to any random foreigner and ask them From where they came from, which country and How they liking India and all. It freaks me now as to how I could just go to any random strangeer and ask questions. Boy! I was totally uninhibited and bold! :D I met some really nice people likewise. They were only too interested in telling me what they liked, info about their country and all. It was very cute! So in kullu, when we went shopping, I witnessed like huge numners of Chinky- eyed people (I thought that they were from north-east)
There are loads of them In kullu, Manali, Dharamshala etc. Since we went to Kullu during the winters, the lanes and roads of Kullu were filled with people selling woollens. It wa sa ubiquitous scene. I went to this particular lady who was selling really lovely sweaters. She also had cute friendship bands (yea and this was way before Kuch Kuch hota hain released.) Every second person over there int he street was busy knitting sweaters and other stuff. I went to this particular stall which had an old lady knitting and her daughter selling the stuff. They were really very beautiful and pretty. They showed me several of their stuff sweaters, shawls, socks, gloaves etc. etc. Out of sheer curiosity I began talking to them. I asked them," Do u belong to Kullu only or do u come here during winters for business?" THey looked at me and said, " No, beta, we are tibetans But we have been staying here right from our childhood." Now I was stumped, where is Tibet???? I smiled and went back to Appa who was busy haggling something in anotjher shop. Appa is very good with geography and keenly takes interest in current affairs and stuff. I asked him, "Appa, Where is Tibet? Is it in India?" That was not a proper time to ask questions and dispell my doubts as he was busy making purchases and answering in a busy stret really didn't make sense. Amma was also shopping. So i kept quiet. We proceeded to another lane where again we encountered like several shops. I met another girl whow as busy knitting. She was knitting a friendship band. I was quite curious coz at that time I hardly knew wht these bands meant. I asked her,"yeh kya hain? (what is this?) She replied," Isko friendhsip band bolte hain. Isko aap apne friend ke haath mein baand sakte ho." (This is called a friendship band and you can tie this on ur friend's wrist.) They were indeed very pretty. I keenly began to watch the way she knitted so fast and came out with such pretty stuff. After a point of time I began talking to her too. She was very sweet. I asked her u r also a tibetan? She looked at me surprised," Yea, even I am from Tibet. Where are u from?" I replied that I am from Mumbai. I didn't have any clue about Tibet or anything. I asked her what relegion do u follow? Christianity? She repleid with biiiiiiiiiig NOOOOOO! "We practise Buddhism.", she said. I aske dher whom do you regard as your god. She said Dalai Lama! Now I was totally confused. She said she pratrcised Buddhism and god is Dalai Lama. I bid her good bye and again joined our group........(To be continued)

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Hats of to you!

Tibetan Review August 2004

The old amala rephrased her question "I mean are you Amdo, or Khampa orToepa?" Lobsang gave the same defiant answer again. In a brash tone hesaid "Tibet". One amala mumbled condescendingly - "obviously the boy doesn't know his parentage, his native land."

This incident happened at a restaurant in McLeod Ganj, where my friendLobsang, a school drop-out works there as waiter. He was trying to bepolite to this gang of old amalas while serving them tea, when he was asked: "What is your native land?"

Most Tibetan youngsters would perhaps give the same answer as Lobsang did.Some are oblivious to their parental roots. Many know, but do not like toidentify themselves with any of the clans. Tibetan youngsters don't wantto carry the extra baggage of their regional and sectarian identities,which, more than anything else, has become a divisive tool to many of the petty politicians in the community.

Tibetan youngsters are choosing to steer clear from such typecasting. This is the new generation emerging with its own sense of identity. They have seen such categorization resulting in communal fundamentalism.The challenge is to know ones own parental and cultural roots, and yet notfall into the trap of clanish groupism, which has stifled Tibetan parliamentarian politics.

This is the fine balance I believe our youngsters must maintain to take the community forward into positive development. Through this we will achieve that wonderful democratic visionthat exiles are struggling for.

Right from the beginning of our exile life, His Holiness the Dalai Lama placed great importance on the healthy growth of the Tibetan children.Tibet's youth who are receiving both traditional and modern education willgreatly influence future Tibet. Today, there are over one hundred Tibetan schools in exile.The children of exile are the hope for free Tibet.

His Holiness has aspecial word for this 'Sontsa'. Sontsa is not the unborn seed, it's not the assumed potential; it is the sapling, it is already fertile andgrowing, and yet it is young. There is promise of a bright future inSontsa.

As a kid growing up in school, the Elders gave us the most wonderful dream- a dream called "Free Tibet", a country of our own, the country our elders lost to the Chinese and we have to quickly grow up and reclaim.There was so much patriotism in our education, whether it was about the national flag, our leader His Holiness, or study of Tibetan history andpolitics.Today we are grown up and ready to fight for that dream, but the rules have changed. There is no longer that freedom to fight for. The goal posthas moved, and we are left with no role to play. Now we can't even do aprotest rally; elders charge us of disloyalty with the Exile Government's request to keep calm.There is no glory in battling for a compromise, nor does the compromise look hopeful. Anyway, even if it was granted, would the youngsters keep silent and be satisfied with that autonomy?

Quite often I get to work with Tibetan college students in cities all overIndia. Tibetan students in these cities have been forming studentassociations through which they collectively campaign for Tibet. These arebeing run from the funds they begged from Tibetan camps during theirsummer and winter vacations. These associations double up as welfare organizations taking care of students in times of emergencies like sickness or accidents.

Last year I was in Mangalore, the seaside-city in south India. About 300Tibetan youngsters study there. During the four-day Tibet festival, acurious Indian student asked one Tibetan youth, both about the same age:"How does Tibet look like?"The Tibetan student stopped in the middle of his speech and began thinking. He was perhaps recollecting images of Tibet he had seen in films and photographs.

Most Tibetans born and brought up in exile have never seen Tibet, even the hundreds who escaped at a young age haven't seen muchof their homeland other than the village they fled. Their Tibet is created by their imagination, their education, stories theyheard from elders and tourists and what they inherited in their blood. There is no citizenship to claim; the Dalai Lama is their passport. They are born refugee.

Yes, like the younger generation of any community we too have our own share of problems with language, traditional customs, and yes, we have loads of attitude. And yet deep down there we are Tibetan. Every mention of Tibet and the Dalai Lama in a newspaper, TV, radio pulls the strings in us. It's something very personal. Tibetans strayed to foreign countries with or without papers tell me of this heartstring. It's just magical. This, I believe, is Tibetanness, and I know this is there in all Tibetans.

At the end of the day, we also want a home to return to, a small place tocall our own, somewhere where we belong. It's too difficult imaginingthere will be a free Tibet and postponing our dream called "Home," and yetthe struggle must go on. Often I am asked how should the Tibetans channelize their emotional power into real works to free Tibet.

Today, with the youngsters receiving aworld class education, equipped with global language and technologyskills, we can put up a strong fight. Today's youngsters are not bound bycustomary loyalties. They are patriotic, but educated and informed. If only we can do away with the inhibition where - in the name of faith -we place the whole job of freeing Tibet on the shoulders of one man: His Holiness the Dalai lama.

We are the kind to share responsibility while simultaneously receiving guidance from the Buddha.We do have a younger group who have excelled in their field of socialservice, leadership, art and literature, and have set examples. Norsangruns the most popular Tibetan website, single-handedly, LobsangTsering runs Kunphen; his drugs de-addiction centre in Dharamsala has helped more than 120 patients, Rapsel has been campaigning for vegetarianism; traveling Tibetan camps across India, Techung and Tsering Gyurme in music, Tenzin Dorjee in photography, Karma Sichoe in thangka painting, Lhadon Tethong in youth leadership, she's also the president ofworld-wide Students for a Free Tibet, and not so young Dolma Gyari andKarma Yeshi in the Tibetan parliament.

I salute these and many others who work silently with commitment and yearsof dedicated work for Tibet. This article pays tribute to that power ofyouth, to this new generation of Tibetans in exile which is now slowlycoming of age, and making 'Sontsa' - the dream of His Holiness - come true, a promise of new Tibet.

Tenzin Tsundue

Well....not many of you would be knowing Tenzin Tsundue. All I can say is, he's one remarkable personality I have met in my life. A revolutionary, he fights for the Tibetan cause. I had the priviledge of meeting him once. Well all about that in the next 2-3 posts. I promise you the next post would be soon.

I did not post all these days b'coz, I dunno, I just didn't feel like it. In a way, its good I took a break. Surprsingly I did not miss it. its weird, it really is weird. But well, after fair share of threats and stuff from people, I decided to post today. Please read it fully people, this is something which is really close to my heart. I willt alk about my personal experiences later. :)

and yes....yesterday was my Bhai's birthday :D :D