is a memory of a beloved

bleeding somewhere behind the

high mountains”

​Wrote K. Dhondup(1952-1995), a Tibetan poet and historian attempting to describe the nature of Exile. High up in the Dhauladhar range in Himachal Pradesh India or in the streets of Queens New York, The question of their current disposition presents itself like an unending nightmare each day to over 150,000 Tibetans who fled their homeland after the Chinese occupation began in 1959. The thought crosses the mind of a little boy, as he sits in his orphanage bedroom looking out the window where he sees a snow laden mountain and mistakes it for a Tibetan landscape because it reminds him of a half forgotten journey he took as a baby tucked cozy in his aunt’s rucksack. The thought invades the mind of a nun, as she takes a break from her daily monastic chores to go to a local police station for the third time in a month so she can renew her refugee certificate despite the fact that she was born in India; the word “REFUGEE” screaming out of the legal documents reminding her that homelands are after all, like everything else, impermanent. The thought invades the mind of a young boy as he attempts to burn his hand with a candle at the wee hours of the night after he watches videos of self-immolations in Tibet on YouTube to try and understand the pain these martyrs feel as they light themselves up on fire in protest.

In West, discourses about Tibet conjures up romantic images of vast mystical landscapes, prayer flags, monks and His Holiness Dalai Lama, however this fetishized celebration misrepresents and often ignores the current political realities faced by Tibetans across the world. Despite growing up in alien cultures for almost half a century and seeing their homes being uprooted, their landscapes polluted and their way of life commercialized by the west and the Chinese, Tibetans have still not given up the dream of returning back to their homeland. As refugees living in India and the United States, Tibetans have managed to set up an exile government, schools for Tibetan children, scholarships and business’s all of which are under attack inside Tibet. The awareness of the duality of their identities and contexts, of existing in several places and in-betweens simultaneously, is shaping the coming generation of Tibetans and the future of their resistance movement. 

This is a story about people who move, who are forced to move; who are rendered obsolete by a capitalistic machine that churns their culture, tragedy and history into products.

This is a story about freedom, or the lack there-of, about voice and voicelessness, about sensory feelings: taste, smell, warmth and cold, fire and water.

This is a story about wounds and healings, about resilience and about giving in, about severed histories, about deities, ghosts and spirits that dwell in the Himalayan mountains.

Most importantly, this is a story about remembering and not being able to remember, about pixelated dreams and nightmares, about a distorted past and a constructed future. About longing and belonging to an imaginary homeland.

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