We were hurrying to finish the packing & leave hotel. We were quite exhausted from the bike ride (Mcleodganj – Dainkund – Mcleodganj) but the excitement kept us going. We had to catch 6.00 pm bus to New Delhi and had approximately 2 hours at our disposal which we wanted to spend wandering around the streets of Mcleodganj and do a little shopping too !!
The hunger pangs made us stop at the food stall, this one was right in front of the Dalai Lama Temple. We quickly ordered bread – omelette and tea, it was drizzling so we were waiting under this little hutment. Ashish was busy exploring his camera and stepped outside.
As I sat there, two smiling eyes greeted me. I couldn’t refrain but smiled back. It’s tough not to smile back, smile is so contagious!! Isn’t it?
She was clad in beautiful chuba and a cute cap 🙂
Her face narrated stories and instantly intrigued me. She came closer and started talking, I could hardly decipher a word but when I focused I realized she was speaking Hindi words in between in order to communicate with me.
Jampa (JAHM – pah) came to India more than two decades back with a group of 7 others from Tibet. They were 16 when embarked on the arduous journey of survival from Tibet to India, only 7 survived.
Just a little background about ‘Free Tibet’ movement – In 1950, China invaded Tibet resulting in countless Tibetans deaths, followed by imprisonment and torture of several Tibetans.
On March 31, 1959, Tibet’s political and spiritual leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, reached India after a 15-day journey on foot from the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, over the Himalayas.
HH Dalai Lama was followed by about one hundred thousand Tibetans seeking refuge in India. Tibetans moved in groups from Tibet to reach a safer second home – India.
The Indian government extended full support & immediately set up refugee camps for Tibetans at Misamari in Assam and Buxa Duar in Bengal.
Later, these Tibetan settlements were extended to parts of Himachal Pradesh including Dharamshala, McLeodganj, Dalhousie and Manali. Refuge in India gave Tibetans an opportunity to preserve their religion, culture and identity.
HH Dalai Lama has expressed his profound experience of over 50 years of exile in India in his autobiography – Freedom in Exile. He considers India his spiritual home.
Jampa also arrived in India as a refugee but now she considers ‘India’ her second home. She told me the Indian Government has been so considerate and benevolent to Tibetan community. The community has been able to conserve everything while continuing the struggle for Tibet’s Independence. The struggle of Tibetans is not concealed from the world.
As we relished the tea, she happily shared that today her family owns a shop in Dharamshala. The presence of Dalai Lama and tourist influx helps her earn decent livelihood. Also, the kids in the community get free education in the schools set up by Indian Government amongst other benefits.There are separate schools for Tibetans in India. Though it makes her equally sad that they are not able to claim their home because of China’s invasion and continued atrocities on Tibetans.
She is grateful to INDIA!!!
I just felt so proud and happy.
I know there are some things that make us feel horrible about our country, religion, law and systems.
Nevertheless, beautiful experiences like these also make us PROUD 🙂
I believe this community has added golden charm to Himalayas. The people, the culture, the monasteries are now important part of us!!
As we celebrate 70th Independence Day, there is a community still fighting for FREEDOM.
Celebrate Freedom. Happy Independence Day.