Tagged: Tibetan

Dorje Tsering: Where We Failed Him

Dorje Tsering succumbed to his injuries on the third day of his stay in the hospital’s critical care unit.

He was 16 years old. He looked younger, much younger, than his age. In one of the more widely shared photos of his, on people’s Facebook posts and profile pictures, he is in a classroom. He is smiling, in a kindly way.

For most people, this is the only image with which they will identify with this young Tibetan boy in India: a sunny, cherubic face, nattily attired in his school uniform, caught as if in the midst of writing notes on his notebook. There is no sign or trace of the violent deed to come.

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A conversation with Speaker Penpa Tsering – Part 1

Here is the first part of an extensive conversation—well, as extensive as it can get in 30-plus minutes—that I had with Sikyong candidate Speaker Penpa Tsering. We met in one of Parkdale’s ubiquitous Tibetan-owned establishments, Shangri-la restaurant, where we discussed his Sikyong 2016 campaign so far, the state of Tibetan democracy, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lukar Jam, Tibet Support Groups, Donald Trump, and Rob Ford, among others.

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We need to talk about Tibetan Democracy – Part 1

Yesterday, inside the cavernous hall of the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre (TCCC) in Toronto, Sikyong candidate Penpa Tsering began his public talk by stressing on the importance of harmony and unity, as a way of framing his campaign policy. In what eventually turned out to be a rambling three-hour speech that spanned everywhere and nowhere—a performance that at turns resembled a professorial lecture on the mechanics of bureaucracy, nostalgia for bygone times, and a church sermon—Speaker Penpa Tsering reinvigorated some of the charged proclamations that brought much notoriety to his campaign last year and, consequently, captured the attention of the Tibetan diaspora.

He also revealed new opinions (new for me anyway) that left me scratching my head and “stunned tweetless”, a term I used since I was live-tweeting the event in person. Right from the outset, he shared an opinion that may well prove to be a decisive turning point in his quest to be the new leader of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).
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This Oct 19, Vote for a Canada that Accepts the Niqab

Every morning, Tsering Dikyi, my mother-in-law, steps out to her back porch and lights up a handful of kindle in a small, beat up iron pan. She covers the incipient flame with juniper leaves, bits of dried fruit, an assortment of Tibetan incense, and tsampa (roasted barley flour). Most days she sets the pan with the smoke wafting outside the porch and finishes her prayers. Sometimes she takes the pan and walks around the house, letting the smoke drift around the corners of the property. In Tibetan, we call this saahng.

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A Tibetan Perspective on an American Election

Here’s the thing about us Tibetans in the diaspora: we are crazy conservative.

More often than not, you’ll find us railing against taxes, gay marriages and the scourge of women ruining men’s lives.

Make of it what you will, but the conversations I’ve been having these past few weeks with other Tibetans about the Presidential election in America have revealed an annoying, persistent pattern. A pattern that congeals on a foundation of parochialism, delusion, and above all else, selfishness.

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Anatomy of a Tibetan Party in Toronto

The first thing you do—before you primp yourself, parade on the hallway skidding your white sneakers or balancing on the new high-heels, before you have a round of pre drinks or snacks, before you’re hassling this one friend of yours on the phone to tag along even if she’s not feeling it only because she’s the perfect foil for your supposedly outlandish ways—before you’ve even showered, is you turn on your speakers and blast some Bollywood songs. New or old, it doesn’t matter. You scroll through your playlist, or maybe it’s on Youtube, and select the tunes that gets you set for the night. Sprinkle some of that masala to cover up the sight of piss-stained Mr. Leary earlier in the day softly muttering racial epithets about Filipinos at the seniors residence; ease the knots on your shoulders from moving skids around the warehouse for ten hours straight. Nobody wants to go to a party all glum and expensive-like.

Substitute Hindi with Eighties radio hits if you’re born in Canada; hip-hop if you’re in high school.

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A Clash of Kushas

Samten sat cross-legged on the couch in the foyer, picking at the fried chicken leg and the bits of the conversation between the two men sitting on the chairs across from him. They were balancing their polystyrene plates on one, and gesticulating with their other hands and plastic spoons. The older gentleman had acknowledged Samten by the corner of his eyes and a nod when he settled into his chair. It was a subtle reflex that relegated Samten somewhere above a child and below an adult—an object of annoyance and wariness.

“Oho, when the blacks move in, that’s when you know you have to move out.”

“Yes, indeed. You can tell when a neighbourhood’s going to crash just by driving by and seeing the number of black youth hanging out, just hanging around.”

They barely looked at their plates. They were two friends, the older one from Zürich, Switzerland, and the other from Minnesota, USA. Samten opened his mouth as if to speak, reconsidered and attended to his greasy meal. He didn’t think much of it—the masala was too heavy and applied absent-mindedly. He took a swig from the glass of cola, and thought back to the day’s events.

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