Archive for September 2011
I had watched the interesting Bhutanese movie Perfect Girl some years back but took the time to watch it again last night. It is different from the run of the mill Bhutanese films (I have watched quite a few although I should shamefully admit that these are all bootlegged copies as I could not find any legal DVDs of these films available here in the United States).
In one sense it is the simple story of boy-meets-girl (of a different class), boy-loves-girl, boy’s-mother-does-not-approve, challenges are overcome and all is well in the world when the movie ends. It is also similar to some of the other Bhutanese films in that the boy has an urban background, the girl comes from a simple village and the challenges on account of this.
However, the subject matter deals with a combination of old and new habits, one of which, prostitution (the other being drugs) is something that is normally not confronted directly as it was done in the film. There is a brief episode where there is a visible attempt to convey the message to the audience.
Tshering Gyeltshen, the journalist hero, and Sonam Choki as the prostitute to be reformed give quite wholesome performances. It seems this film was the one where Sonam Choki made her debut and that makes her effort more commendable. In terms of appearance she and a Miss Tibet, Tsering Kyi (who now is working here in Washington, D.C.), have some resemblance. That is just my perception.
The fundamental message is wrapped by the story of a boy looking for his perfect girl (hence I guess the English title of the film although in Bhutanese the film is called Muti Thrishing, tree of pearl).
The movie ends with the man saying that he has found his perfect girl. However, in real life I don’t think anyone has found the definitive answer to the eternal question about who is one’s perfect life partner. Perfection is subjective in many ways.
I have always been writing for some sort of purpose and not for pleasure. Of course, one did get the heady feeling when one’s name is in print (as I used to feel when I started writing ). But almost all that I have written have something to do with some aspect of the Tibetan issue and my perception of it.
The times have changed with the onslaught of the internet age. Today, personal websites, blogs as well as social networking sites have all led to anyone aspiring to be a writer to fulfill that aspiration without having to wait for the acceptance letter (or more likely the rejection slips) from newspapers or magazines of their articles. You write something that comes to your mind, upload it to your website or blog and in an instant it is already published (Just like I have done with this.)
Friends, colleagues and even editors of magazines for which I have contributed articles have been giving me good advises. Write on topics other than Tibet, one said, adding that it will give me a different perspective. A colleague once asked me why I was not bringing out a compilation of my column that I used to write for Tibetan Review. A younger colleague, who has since joined a creative writing course in a university (luck for her), said I should be writing more of non-serious blogs after reading one such item that I did some months back. Another, a head of an academic institution, suggested that I should write a book (I guess he was thinking of my experience being involved with the Tibetan issue.).
I actually did consider writing an autobiography of sort many years back. I even pondered over the title of the book, deciding to call it “An Ordinary Tibetan.” I wrote a synopsis and even sought advice from Dr. Dawa Norbu during one of my meetings with him in New Delhi. But I have not gone any further than that on this.
My life so far has been such that I did not really have much command over where it was heading.
The reason why I am sharing these thoughts is because today I got into thinking about reasons why people write. Sometimes when I look back at the writings I have done, I feel some sort of fulfillment. I have made some contribution to the Tibetan public’s discourse. I have got some small recognition of sort, whether it is a youngster saying he or she reads my writings or an older person saying he subscribed to what I had to say on some TV or radio program. But then I come across the works of many Tibetans who are doing much more than I am doing but who are not in the limelight, and I wonder how useful I am.
I am writing this as I sit on the couch and there is a rerun of one of the Friends episode on TV. It just finished and now there is a rerun of Two & a Half Men. These are interesting and entertaining shows that poke fun at the follies of society. I particularly like Friends for its ability to engross the audience over issues that are “nothing.” I guess I will take any of these shows over some of the reality shows that seem to be marking this 21st century TV world.
And I am eating some Haldiram’s Moong Dal that we get from the local Indian grocery store.
The State Department has, on September 13, 2011, released its annual report on the state of religious freedom throughout the world. This International Religious Freedom Report documents major developments with respect to religious freedom in 198 countries and territories from July-December 2010.
There is a separate section in the report on Tibet. It says that the Chinese “government’s repression of religious freedom remained severe in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas, particularly during “sensitive periods,” such as the Shanghai World Expo and the Asian Games.”
The report said in part;
“The government’s level of respect for religious freedom remained poor in the TAR and other Tibetan areas. Repression was severe, particularly during “sensitive periods” such as the Shanghai World Expo or the Asian Games in Guangzhou. The government continued to blame the Dalai Lama publicly for instigating the March 2008 unrest and repeatedly stated that all reincarnations of Tibetan Buddhist lamas would have to be approved by the government. Chinese authorities often associated Tibetan Buddhist monasteries with pro-independence activism; disagreement with government strictures on religious practice and education are often assumed to be simply expression of separatist attitudes. Control over religious practice and the day-to-day management of monasteries and other religious institutions continued to be extraordinarily tight. Monks and nuns reported that government restrictions continued to interfere with their ability to carry out the teaching and practice of Tibetan Buddhist religious traditions. Throughout the year, authorities limited the ability of monks from outside the Yushu TAP in Qinghai Province to travel to areas to assist in earthquake relief reconstruction. There were reports that large religious gatherings for earthquake victims were not permitted so as to “protect social order.”
“During the reporting period, residents continued to face societal discrimination, including, for example, being denied rooms at hotels in large cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu, during the 2010 Shanghai World Expo (April 30 to October 31, 2010).
“The U.S. government encouraged the government and local authorities to respect religious freedom and allow Tibetans to preserve and develop their religious traditions. U.S. diplomatic personnel visited the TAR twice during the reporting period. TAR officials restricted U.S. diplomatic personnel’s ability to talk openly with persons in Tibetan areas. The U.S. government protested religious persecution and discrimination, discussed individual cases with the authorities, and requested further information about specific incidents. U.S. government officials continued to urge government leaders to engage in constructive dialogue with the Dalai Lama and his representatives and address policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions due to their effect on Tibetan religion, culture, and livelihoods, as well as the environment.”
You can read the full report on Tibet here.