Fujisan's Kyareng

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong

The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong
by Gyalo Dhondup and Anne F. Thurston
PublicAffairs, New York

The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong is a must read book for all who wanted to know why and how Tibet lost its independence. Kungoe Gyalo Dhondup, second elder brother of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, writes about the time and the people who saw the last days of independent Tibet and how it all happened. The book reveals several facts and instances to let us look back and introspect seriously. Was the Chinese communist invasion a single factor responsible for the present situation of Tibet? We were as much responsible in disrobing Tibet of its independence. When the world was reorganising after the lessons learnt from the Second World War, Tibetan leaders still oblivious to the geo-political changes in the neighbourhood remained busy in their internal power struggle.

The book is an account of how the  greed, hubris and follies of the people around the power corridor of Lhasa contributed in betraying Tibet to the invaders. Pathetic state of affairs is obvious from how easily Chamdo fell. Even when the advancing Chinese troop were at the doorstep of Chamdo, “Kashag was in the midst of one of its annual picnic…. Instructions would have to wait until their picnic was over”!! (Page 101). And somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of the Tibetan aristocracy and officialdom were on the Chinese payroll thereafter!! (Page 133).

It is disheartening to know that initial offer of support from India and America were not handled properly. Even Nepal and Pakistan were with us, and the Russian also showed interest. But we have not been able to ride on it properly. Mustang and the CIA episode were heroic tales of tragedy and betrayal. We must salute those heroes who fought for us and went away anonymously. Here also it is the undoing of our own people in leadership that led to the sad ending of this short saga of heroic resistance. The book talks about the initial days of refugee experience, and negotiations with the China and its failure.

While the book gives valuable accounts of modern history of Tibet, some facts and allegations may need proper verification to be a part of a real history. Co-author Anne Thurston has moderated well at the end of the book. The book also talks of good leaders, who stood firmly for our cause and by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Tibet suffered because we preferred or some insisted to stay aloof from the rest of the world, and our enemy shrewdly manipulated this in their favour. Amidst all these political commotion and uncertainty, how His Holiness the Dalai Lama negotiated through while still young is impressive and lotus like.. The book is implicit of why His Holiness the Dalai Lama has wanted to devolve power and bring in the Tibetan plebeian in governance through democracy.

Kungoe Gyalo Dhondup la has seen and played important role and contributed well in our struggle for freedom and justice. It would be good to learn from the book how we need to tread forward in this political world henceforth. It should serve as a good lesson and reminder for us than as a noodle maker in our community, for that is not the intention of The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong. Auspicious note at the end the author share with us is the word of Chenrezig, “We have to return home together”. This is very inspiring and encouraging.