I have not been a fan of our traditional drink, Chang (fermented beer or wine. While we are on it, is Chang a wine or a beer?). As a child I would take a sip or two from the bowl that my parents used. They, too, stopped drinking eventually. These days, except for the possible exception of Losar (Tibetan) or a Wedding (when I am forced to partake of it) period when I may consume some Changkhoe, I do not interact with it.
But Chang came to my mind as I was thinking about the Tibetan people’s exposure to the outside world and how this has impacted our lifestyle. During weddings in the Tibetan settlement in India, I have seen people starting to bring a case of beer instead of a tin of chang now.
I have nothing against Chang, though. The drink has been part and parcel of the Tibetan way of life, finding a place in many traditional songs or even modernized ones, as in the case of a song by the rock band Namchak (Vajara) based in Lhasa.
Who said Chang was not good? For those of you who think it is a bad habit, you may want to visit the website of the Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute, which touts Chang as a treatment for indigestion.
Unintentionally, the chang name has gone global, too. There is a beer by the name of Chang Beer that is produced in Thailand. I say unintentionally because the word “chang” here seems to be the Thai word for Elephant.
In Lhasa, there seems to be some modern-style breweries that produce chang for commercial sale. Now is the time for some Chang-kho Cola! eh!