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Tales for a Home: Speak Tibet to live Tibet (Part 3)

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By Sagar Sethi

Mujhe Indian citizenship nahi chahiye’ (I do not want an Indian citizenship).

Agar mein le loonga, toh mein Indian ban gaya. Mera baccha hoga aur aise aise hi Tibet –ka culture khatam ho jayega’ (Once I take it (Indian Citizenship), I will become an Indian. I will have kids, and they will someday take it too; and that is how the Tibetan culture would fade!).

Tsering Phuntsok has been residing in Majnu ka Tila for the last thirty nine years. Well versed in speaking the old Tibetan language, it seems his birth in India did not impinge on his cultural rearing.

Tenzin Kalden
Tenzin Kalden at a restaurant in MKT

He did express hope to see his home in Tibet, but not with much optimism, as he tells us, ‘Koi guarantee nahi hai. Humaara generation mein toh mushkil hai’ (There is no assurance. In my lifetime, a free Tibet is almost impossible).

Then why fear? Become a citizen of India, and live Tibet style.

Tenzin’s father journeyed to India more than fifty years ago; for religious reasons and settled down in Majnu ka Tila. This nineteen year old Tibetan refugee reveals how aloof he feels from his motherland – ‘I don’t want to see Tibet, as only the Han Chinese live there,’ says Tenzin.

Also born in India, Tenzin has been groomed within a westernised India; a diversely religious, caste-ridden society that interacts constantly with the ideals and notions of western modernisation and models of development.

He tells us how he can’t speak the Tibetan language, unlike his father. Instead he is well versed in English, and pursues a career in film making. He even prefers eating his chow with a fork, not with chopsticks!

There are many others like Tenzin in Majnu ka Tila. We don’t know how far Tibet’s culture has already faded.

Tenzin’s isolation from Tibet’s culture Andrew Martin Fischer writes in his The Disempowered Development of Tibet in China– derives mostly from the fact that he cannot speak the Tibetan language. Is linguistic unity the only hope?

Tsering Phuntsok (on the right) with his friend Tempa (1)
Tsering Phuntsok (on the right) with his friend Tempa

In his ‘Preserving a Heritage Facing Threat of Extinction’, Geshe Lhakdor writes, “Today we can proudly say that the entire Tibetan culture in its authentic form is available in exile.”

The significance of preserving this ‘rich, compassionate and non-violent’ Tibetan culture, he further writes, becomes even more significant in this “conflict ridden world, where people pay more importance primarily to financial power and military might.”

“They bring in big weapons and tanks…special air forces. We are Buddhist monks, we have no weapon, and we have no military. Only Buddhist texts, that’s all.” (Cited from the video below)

 

For more, read:

Tales for a home: Tibet towards freedom (Part 1)
Tales for a Home: Tibet marches from exile to extinction? (Part 2)

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“Visit Strengthens Further Internal Cohesion and Unity”: Pope Francis Meets Leaders of North Macedonia

Ahead of his visit, Francis praised the mix of cultures, religions, and ethnicities in North Macedonia, and said he was traveling there to "sow these seeds" of solidarity.

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Pope Francis
Pope Francis greets the crowds in Skopje on May 7. RFERL

Pope Francis, who is on a historic first trip to North Macedonia, has met with the country’s leadership and held Mass in the main square of the capital, Skopje.

Francis was welcomed by the outgoing president, Gjorge Ivanov, and other government officials.

He has sought to encourage the country’s drive toward integration into the EU and NATO after its name change resolved a decades-long dispute with Greece last year.

Like neighboring Bulgaria — Francis’s first stop on his three-day Balkan tour — North Macedonia, a small Balkan country of 2.1 million, is mainly Orthodox Christian.

But the country has a large community of ethnic Albanian Muslims, who make about one-quarter of the population. North Macedonia is home to an estimated 15,000 Catholics.

In meetings with Ivanov and with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at the presidential palace, Francis praised North Macedonia’s multiethnic and multifaith culture, calling it an example of peaceful coexistence and a bridge between East and West.

“These particular features are also highly significant for increased integration with the nations of Europe,” he said.

Christian
Like neighboring Bulgaria — Francis’s first stop on his three-day Balkan tour — North Macedonia, a small Balkan country of 2.1 million, is mainly Orthodox Christian. VOA

“It is my hope that this integration will develop in a way that is beneficial for the entire region of the Western Balkans, with unfailing respect for diversity and for fundamental rights.”

In his speech, President Ivanov complained about delays in accepting Macedonia in the Euro-Atlantic family.

“You come at a time when [North] Macedonian society is deeply divided, and the [North] Macedonian [nation] is heavily wounded by broken promises, unfulfilled expectations and faltering trust in the international community,” he said.

Viktor Dimovski, state secretary of North Macedonia’s Foreign Ministry, told the media on May 6 that the pope’s historic visit comes at a crucial moment as the country seeks entry into the European Union and NATO.

“The pope’s visit strengthens further internal cohesion and unity, and brings messages of reconciliation and solidarity,” he said.

The pope’s visit also included a prayer at the memorial of North Macedonia’s most famous native daughter, Mother Teresa, who was born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents in 1910 in Skopje when it was still part of the Ottoman Empire.

Francis was surrounded by Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity nuns in praying before the memorial. Mother Teresa was canonized by Francis in 2016.

Ahead of his visit, Francis praised the mix of cultures, religions, and ethnicities in North Macedonia, and said he was traveling there to “sow these seeds” of solidarity.

“Living together is not always easy, we know that,” the pope said in a video message. “But it’s worth struggling toward, because the most beautiful mosaics are the ones that are richest in colors.”

muslims
But the country has a large community of ethnic Albanian Muslims, who make about one-quarter of the population. Pixabay

With the name dispute with Greece now resolved, North Macedonia, which has been an EU aspirant since 2005, hopes to get a clear signal for the start of accession talks in June. Skopje also expects to become the 30th NATO member at the end of the year.

Also Read: Puppeteers Bring Message of Harmony, Love, Tolerance in Pakistan’s Karachi

Stevo Pendarovski, who was elected president in a runoff election on May 5, said he saw his victory as a “ticket for NATO and EU.”

Six Western Balkan countries — Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia — are in various stages of the accession process to join the EU. (RFERL)