#Time Stamp: 0040hrs
#On iTunes: Catch Me- Nicki Minaj
It’s been an interesting last three weeks in India. I use interesting for lack of a better word to describe this mixture of contentedness, anxiety, homesickness, sadness, fatigue and confusion. I have learnt more than a website or textbook could tell me about India, it’s people and the ‘other’ Indians- Tibetans living in exile, most in the north where we are currently kickin’ it.
On Friday, though, all that confused pack of emotions was thrown out the door when we sat down to interview one of the film class students, Thupten. My Gad.
Just a little education moment for those that don’t know why I am in India. In 1959, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with over 10,000 followers, crossed the border into India from China. The number of Tibetans who escape each year has dwindled since ’59. Mind you, these guys escape by hiking through the Himalayas. YES, THOSE MOUNTAIN RANGES. Apparently, it can take from weeks up to months to cross into India. Enter impartial mode: according to the Tibetans, they have always been an independent state. In fact, China invaded Tibet some 50 some years ago on the premise the area belonged to them. Now, the Chinese (the government, mostly) believe Tibetans are acting a tad crazy. They were originally (I’m hazy on the dates) part of greater China, just like Mongolia and all the other areas annexed. Like Israel and Palestine, land between these two has been contested for ages. The details are mucked up. China says one thing, Tibetans say another. Several reports out of Tibet tell of brutality and lack of respect for Tibetan culture and language. Some say Tibet is highly contested because of the natural resource-richness it poses.
Personally, it’s been mostly a one-sided adventure. I’ve heard only the Tibetan side of the story. One day when Thupten, now 21, was about 8, his parents sat him down and told him he was going to India. There would be a lot of opportunities for him and he would love it. A couple of Nepalese businesswomen took him and another Tibetan girl across the border, disguising them as Nepali citizens. After a harrowing ordeal passing through customs, into Nepal and finally into India, Thupten began a new life. He stayed with relatives, enrolled in the Tibetans Children Village school. He later got a scholarship to attend a model school with cool facilities for Tibetan kids for his senior years. After completing high school, he got a scholarship to do a humanities course in a Delhi Uni. After one year, he dropped out. He was more interested in telling his story through the one medium he connected with- making films.
As Thupten talked about not having an emotional bond with his parents who were miles away, not having a close relationship with any of his relatives here in D’sala or not knowing what’s happening with his educational life but only the hope of clinging to a dream, was inspiring to hear. I hope we can accurately convey his story in our final picture. It was truly an honor to be a part of their journey.
Much of what we learn from other people is unexpected simple actions, brief stories that supply brief snippets into other people’s lives. It’s amazing how our world functions. These guys have shown me what one definition of resilience is. I am so humbled to have been given this opportunity to broadcast their stories. So many people tell me how they can’t do ABC because they don’t have DEF or GHK. I mean, do you have clothes? Regular food? A little bit of entertainment in your life to fuel your creative juices? And best of all- a brain with villages of dreams? GET ON IT! It’s never too, too late nor never too early to start writing down an idea-however brief or silly it might be. Life is so much fun (of course it has its weird low moments) but we gotta (gorra) keep movin’!
* A dear, special friend of mine taught me the word Penultimate a while ago and I can’t stop using it.