Friends of Tibet

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"2 Days for Tibet"
(By Nitesh Mohanty, Mumbai, November 9-10, 2011)

Tenzin Tsundue

Nitesh Mohanty of The Roots reports on the "2 Days for Tibet" event organised by the organisation in association with Friends of Tibet at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and at Kitab Khana, Mumbai from November 9-10, 2011.

Talk on Tibet:
The Root felicitates the "Talk on Tibet" by our dear friend and young Tibetan writer, poet, activist Tenzin Tsundue in association with Friends of Tibet.

The Venue:
There's something warm and welcoming about Kitab Khana, Mumbai, a sprawling book shop with a soul. The place carries an old world charm with an inviting feel. Wander, browse and find some of your favorite reads within the high walled wooden racks with an eclectic collection of books stacked with joy. When you walk into Kitab Khana, be assured that you'll definitely stumble upon yet another book to add to your collection.

The Hippy:
The evening kicked off on a musical note with Billy Salisbury AKA Undercover Hippy, who carries messages of love, peace, equality, justice and freedom with his music. The 'Undercover Hippy' has travelled across many music festivals, singing and sharing his gospel. Billy dedicated couple of his songs to Tibet (and to the mindless world of war and hatred that we live in). His songs provoked us to look within rather than blaming the world outside for the wrongs around us.

The Reading:
The stage was set for Tenzin Tsundue to take us into the pages of 'Kora', the seventh edition of his hand-stitched book of poetry. Tsundue started off with the stories of the Chinese nationalists who escaped the wrath of the communists before settling down as the noodle sellers of Kalimpong. He spoke about the Tibetan refugees, who would often camp in Bombay, selling woolen sweaters during the winters. He remembered Bombay of his college days, when his decision of coming to this metropolis was "an act of rebellion"... Tsundue attributed his interest in poetry to the literary greats like Adil Jussawalla, Nissim Ezikiel, Arun Kolatkar, Ranjit Hoskote, Dom Moraes, Jerry Pinto and Dilip Chitre who inspired and shaped the writer in him.

Tsundue read out three poems reflective of life as a Tibetan refugee.

The Poems:
"My Tibetanness" about a foreigner born in India.
"A Proposal" wrapped as a request to live in a friend's house.
"When it Rains in Dharamsala" about the unleashing of torrential showers and soaking of the poet's humble dwelling…

Tsundue closed the session with an unpublished poem about the Tibetan new year, Losar — recollecting the feeling of agony and ecstasy that comes around every year. The poem carried, hopes and expectations, trials and defeats, the mundane and the memorable… Unsettling emotions that each Losar brought along with it.

During the post reading Q&A, Tsundue deftly and eloquently answered the various queries around the Tibetan struggle for freedom, from the new prime-minister's stand within the democratic community of Tibetans living in exile, about how news trickles out of the heavily guarded walls of the Roof of the World, about the vital role that India could play in securing it's future with Tibet as its neighbour and not China, ending the session with his feelings regarding the recent "Rockstar" controversy.

The evening could have easily stretched into the night, but alas time was fleeting and we had to draw curtains to the long red walls on which it read:
"The woods are lovely,
Dark and deep, But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep"

There couldn't have been a better metaphor for Tsundue and the Tibetan struggle for freedom. We wrapped the book-reading session selling copies of Tsundue's Kora and Undercover Hippie's album — Why We Fight.

Tenzin Tsundue

Screening Of 'The Sun Behind The Clouds':
The Tata Institute of Social Sciences campus is situated far away from the maddening crowd of the mega metropolis, Mumbai. Tucked within a corner in Deonar, close to Govandi railway station, the campus is kind of an oasis — brick wall structure designed along with a canopy of green trees that provide the institute with a naturally inviting feel. The campus had just reopened after the winter break, the students were trickling in. We along with Avadhoot and Amol, the dup behind the ADDA Film Club were apprehensive about the turnaround for the screening. There was a buzz in the air and eager students stopped by to look at the poster of "The Sun Behind The Clouds" put up on the notice board.

Nitesh Mohanty of The Roots speaks to the gathering during '2 Days for Tibet' event organised by The Roots in association with Friends of Tibet at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai on November 10, 2011.

Nitesh Mohanty of The Roots speaks to the gathering during "2 Days for Tibet" event organised by The Roots in association with Friends of Tibet at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai on November 10, 2011.

By the time we were ready to start the screening, we had a packed room with no place to move. I read out the "Director's Note" as mailed by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam. The letter raised concerns about the current situation in Tibet along with a request for everyone to come together in support of Tibet's struggle for freedom. The viewers were not really aware of the Tibet issue, hence the films was a revelation to many. They received in film with surprise, shock and disbelief.

After the screening was over, everyone was eagerly awaiting to hear from Tenzin Tsundue, the special guest for the evening. Tsundue spoke about the journey of the Tibetan struggle from the time the film was made in 2008 till now, he spoke about the recent act of self immolation by young Tibetans, the desperate call for international help and attention from the roof of the world. Tsundue also spoke of the path of non-violence as a method of wearing China down.

Friends of Tibet and The Roots Campaigners distributed reading materials on Tibet within the viewers, which gave them a better grip on the reality around the social, cultural, environmental and historical significance of Tibet.

Exiled But Rooted: Jamyang Phuntsok, Tibetan poet in exile and a postgraduate in Physics recites his poem 'When It Rains in Dharamshala' during World Tibet Day event in New Delhi on July 6, 2011.

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Friends of Tibet (India)

Friends of Tibet is a people's movement to keep alive the issue of Tibet through direct action. Our activities are aimed at ending China's occupation of Tibet and the suffering of the Tibetan people. Friends of Tibet supports the continued struggle of the Tibetan people for independence. Friends of Tibet is also one of the principal organisers of World Tibet Day around the world.