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.
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.
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).
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.
Gudrup, 43, from Kham in Eastern Tibet, becomes the 53rd Tibetan to self-immolate in Tibet. He is reported to have perished on the scene.
Darkness and light before life.
Substitute Hindi with Eighties radio hits if you’re born in Canada; hip-hop if you’re in high school.
“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.