Friday, January 20, 2006

Nomad's land

Now that the crowds are gone, I am spending a bit of time with the Tibetan newcomers. Many (a few hundred) of them are still here. Turns out, according to the Tibetan Prime Minister in Exile who gave a press briefing last week, 800 to 900 of them have taken refugee status in Nepal and will stay here. In about 10 days,
they will all go to Dharamsala where it will be nice and chilly for them. Right now, they are really suffering with the heat and mosquitos, neither of which they are accustomed to. Some of the younger ones speak English (also some of the monks) and they are my link.

The older ones are very brave to come here, as the adjustment will be the
most difficult for them. Completely unfamiliar languages, totally alien climate. Plus, unlike the younger ones who have some idealistic hopes of some future reunification in Tibet during their lifetimes, the older ones know they will never see their land again. I suspect that after a few months in the heat and crowding of India, life in their village will start to seem as though it wasn't so bad. Except, of course, there are no Chinese soldiers abusing them here, and they can practice their religion freely.

Now they are awaiting their refugee papers, which have to be filed with the Indian government, to be cleared in Delhi. This is why there are often so many Tibetans in Delhi - one, it is the halfway point between Kathmandu and Dharmsala; two, they are awaiting legal work. Then they will be official.

The director of Tibetan reception, Mr. Dorje, is a friendly, affable man with a baseball hat and an open face reminding me of my native American grandfather. But he is extremely busy right now with all the breaking-down of tents and infrastructure, returning things to the rental companies, and the enormous task of getting this show on the road north. The advantage for me is that this keeps them here a few more days. Mr. Dorje is largely too busy to talk with me himself but at least I am learning something of their situation.

Kathmandu has gone from bad to worse. The King has arrested 420 politicians and activists in the past 2 days and all cell phone communications are cut. The embassy warns that regular phones could go at any time. Worst of all there is a strict curfew with movement allowed only from 8am to 6pm (!) and shoot to kill orders issued for violators. I suspect these developments may persuade some of the Tibetans who had planned to remain refugees in Nepal to stay here in India instead.

I have to get going now because the heat is coming, between 11.30 and 4.30
pm I can't do anything but sit under a fan. Anything else is debilitating!


Anonymous said...

hi sireensongs,

u have been away for a long time. how do u finance your travels?


Kim said...

Just thinking of you lately... and catching up on the blog! Your adventures are so amazing. Far cry from TN and NY. Love ya,


Sirensongs: Indologist At Large said...

Well Vidya, I'm SO glad you asked that, because it is a pertinent question indeed.
In fact, I am preparing to install a PayPal link here on the page so that viewers can contribute as they like. Buy Sirensongs more memory for the digicam, and a laptop, to keep the Siren singing.

Anonymous said...

but really, how do u pay for your traveels? do you mean u beg for money? i'm just curious. vidya

Anonymous said...

Yes, I've been wondering the same thing!
I have been reading your blog for sometime now (it's a great read!) and I just assumed you were independently wealthy. If not are you able to work there to help support your travels?

Sirensongs: Indologist At Large said...

Who are you, Vidya?
I don't know you!
How can you expect me to answer such a personal question in a public forum?

How do YOU get your money? I really don't care!

In America, there is this thing called a Money Tree. It grows only in America! That's why we foreigners are all so incredibly wealthy! Which is why evidently you all think it is okay to hassle us as we walk down the street! or even type on our blogs.

Anonymous said...

You said u were so glad I asked and you ask readers to pay you and now you accuse me of hassling. No I don’t know you but does not means I can not comment on your blog.

Sirensongs: Indologist At Large said...

Exactly, I tried to circumvent your overly personal query by suggesting that people make donations (not exactly "asking to be paid") and you countered by persisting, "But really! How DO you make money?"

Yes, you are free to comment on my blog but not to expect answers to such personal questions. Asking personal questions is not the same as making comment.

Does that mean I can expect a donation from you?

Sirensongs: Indologist At Large said...

Maybe it would help to add that in western culture, it is considered extremely rude to enquire about anyone's financial status. Even more rude than asking about their marriage and children, or how much their camera costs. I hope this explains a few things.

Also, if you want to correspond with me about anything serious please give me an email.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to get into or cause an argument, or be disrespectful, but I am curious. As an American are you able to find work there to support your travels. I'm only asking because if it is possible I have hope that one day I can somehow do the same thing! I totally envy what you are doing.

Sirensongs: Indologist At Large said...

Thanks anonymous. I might feel better talking about such things if I knew your name. (!) Is this Vidya?

No, I can't work in India per se unless someone hires me, and sends me out of the country to return then with a proper Work Visa. Hey, it could happen. Till then I am living month to month, sometimes week to week, as detailed in today's entry. It's not for everyone.

Amod said...

Come on Vidya, where is your great Indian culture? Siren's great wealth is her many many good friends and well-wishers who enjoy her work and want to keep her going. Is that so hard to understand?

Hey Siren, just read your "Indiot" piece. It was totally awesome! The scene played out live in front of my eyes. That guy is all over India.