Friends of Tibet: People's Movement for an Independent Tibet

Melting Boundaries: Poetry on Tibet
October 20, 2015, Union Christian College, Aluva, Kerala

Melting Boundaries: Poetry on Tibet

A report on the event "Melting Boundaries: Poetry on Tibet" with Tibetan poet Tsering Wangmo Dhompa and Indian poet Eswar Anandan organised jointly by Friends of Tibet and The Media Club at the Union Christian College, Aluva, Kerala on October 20, 2015.

A ferry trip from Fort Kochi to Ernakulam city is so soulful, enjoying the slow drive in the backwaters, listening to little chitchats of the local people — college students, office-goers, children — for some this being the only means of affordable transport. Listening to stories told about some parts where a ferry is the only means of transport, where one can find even an ambulance ferry!

What welcomed us was a group of young people excited to see a Tibetan woman and looking forward to hear what she has to share with them. The students who happened to be the host of the event "Melting Boundaries: Poetry on Tibet — with Tsering Wangmo and Eswar Anandan" hosted by the Media Club, Union Christian College, Aluva. Exams just a week away, this group of second year and final year students, did not want to miss such an experience, for some of them this is the first time they were seeing a Tibetan, for some, first time to hear about Tibet.

During the tour of the historic campus, the students talked about the Mango Tree planted in 1925 by the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. 'Does the tree still bear fruits?' Tsering asked. The question though was asked in a lighter tone, brings in our minds a serious thought. At an age when the ideals and teachings are more important than ever, we celebrate THE person, but seldom remember the LIFE he lived!

Tibetan poet Tsering Wangmo Dhompa and Indian poet Eswar Anandan interacts with students during 'Melting Boundaries: Poetry on Tibet' event at the Union Christian College, Aluva, Kerala.

Tibetan poet Tsering Wangmo Dhompa and Indian poet Eswar Anandan interacts with students during "Melting Boundaries: Poetry on Tibet" event at the Union Christian College, Aluva, Kerala.

Spending some time in front of the historic tree, we walked towards the venue. The Tibetan prayer flags and the outlawed National flag welcomed us. Professors Shri Cherry Jacob and Shri Aju Narayan had given the students a free hand to organise the event, and they did not let their dear professors down. A small and eager audience welcomed us.

Shri Cherry Jacob introduced "Melting Boundaries: Poetry on Tibet" to the audience and quoted poems stressing importance of freedom and independence in one's life and introduced the Tibetan Cause. The student organiser introduced the poets to the audience and the boundaries started melting, the hall filled with voice of Rangzen (Independence) and Tibet.

Two points of view, two perspectives, two poets from two cultural backgrounds, writing about the same cause — Tibet, talking the same language — Rangzen. Tsering Wangmo enthralled the members of the audience with tales of Tibet, taking them on a journey to an insider's perspective, giving them a picture of what it is like to be in Tibet and how it is to live a life in exile. Eswar Anandan's perspective was that of a supporter of the cause, and his words based on tales heard and told to him and how he is affected by the Tibetan Cause.

Melting Boundaries: Poetry on Tibet: Prof Cherry Jacob and Prof Aju Narayan of Union Christian College, Aluva, Kerala speaks to the gathering.

Prof Cherry Jacob and Prof Aju Narayan of Union Christian College, Aluva, Kerala speaks to the gathering.

The conversation went on for over two hours and the members of the audience interacted with the poets asking them how the reaction of the audience affects their poems. Another member asked about self-immolation and the next twenty minutes was spent discussing one of the most sensitive issues — self-immolation. Prof Cherry Jacob rightly quoted "One cannot choose birth, family, friends, gender, but one can choose death". He went on to explain how he see self-immolation as a silent protest, a brave one daring the dragons asking them you can control our life, but not our death.

It was an afternoon well spent. On behalf of Friends of Tibet, Tsering Wangmo honoured Prof Cherry Jacob, Prof Aju Narayan and the student organiser Shri Susruthan with traditional Tibetan Khatha (Silk Scarf). The students honoured the poets with a beautiful hand-made card drawn by Shri Jebin George Bobby, who spent the previous night working on it. The card said "From now on UC College will remember two Ts — Tagore and Tibet!

Melting Boundaries: Poetry on Tibet

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Tsering Wangmo Dhompa is the first Tibetan Female poet to be published in English. Forced to leave their motherland in 1959, her parents raised her Tibetan communities in Dharamshala, India and Kathmandu, Nepal.

Tsering received her BA from Lady Sri Ram College, New Delhi and MA from University of Massachusetts Amherst and MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

A finalist for the Asian American Literary Awards in 2003 for her first book of poems 'Rules of the House' and a finalist for the Northern California Independent Bookseller's Book fo the Year Award for 2012, Tsering is fluent in several languages and dialects — including Tibetan, Hindi and Nepali.

Through innovative structures and schemes, her poetry articulates the nostalgia of displaced Tibetans, recording the memories of elders in the Tibetan Community. Amongst her many books, anthologies and articles, her first full-length book, 'A Home in Tibet' was published by Penguin India in 2013.

Eswar Anandan: A Management Graduate, Eswar Anandan is an entrepreneur, CMMi Consultant, Poet and Free Tibet Activist. He is the founder e-Garderner of EzeeSolve, an end to end Software Solutions Provider.

His mother's traverse with Cancer opened his eyes and thoughts about the life outside the glass cubicles. In his own words: "Strong emotions gave way to words, words took poetic form, and I found a new purpose..." His first book, a dedication to his mother and million others affected by Cancer, 'Seasons' was released in 2013. In 2014 he was instrumental in bringing together a group of Poets in India and coming out with the anthology 'Spectrum' published by the Poetry Society of India. At the moment he is working on "Story of A Nation: Poems on Tibet".

Eswar is a Campaigner of Friends of Tibet, a people's movement for an Independent Tibet and Programme Coordinator for 'Friends of Tibet Foundation for the Wellbeing', a philanthropic initiative that restores, propagates and promotes the endangered traditions and practices of Tibet. He advocates 'Say No To Plastic', 'Paper is Prettier’, 'Ban MIC' and 'Wellbeing’.

(This report is prepared by by Eswar Anandan, poet and 'Friends of Tibet' Campaigner based in Kochi. He can be reached at

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