Just my two cents worth


March 2012

I am intrigued by the Global Times Report on Miss Tibet

By now some of you would have read this somewhat weird report about Miss Tibet pageant in Dharamsala in the Chinese Government newspaper Global Times.

Although Global Times claims to be different from the official Chinese media organs, it is but another aspect of Chinese propaganda, somewhat softer.  In fact this story about the Miss Tibet in Dharamsala is clearly part of the sophisticated public relations diplomacy on the part of the Chinese Government. If anyone has doubt about Global Times’ relationship with the Chinese Government’s propaganda machinery you can just look at the People’s Daily reposting of the Miss Tibet article under its Opinions category.

I was intrigued by the Global Times report in two ways.

First, the Chinese reporter seems to have visited Dharamsala in recent past.  Although the text of the story does not say so, the caption to the photo of Dharamsala alongside it connects it to her name saying, “A busy street in Dharamsala in India Photo: Lin Meilian/GT.” Given the open society that is India there is no reason why a Chinese journalist could not visit Dharamsala.  However, I wonder whether any of the Tibetan organizations or even the Central Tibetan Administration was aware of her visit.

Secondly, the story may be the first time ever that a Chinese government media organization has interviewed Tibetans in exile and quoted them in its publication.  The Global Times reported says she had “e-mail interview” with Miss Tibet Tenzin Yangkyi as well as the pageant’s organizer Lobsang Wangyal, who is based in Dharamsala.  So far Chinese media organizations have looked at each and every Tibetans in exile as the enemy. Therefore, this embracing of the enemy was a bit interesting to me.  The times are certainly becoming interesting globally, if you know what I mean!

Tibetan Writer Alai in London for the controversial London Book Fair

Among the English translations of literature by modern Tibetan writers that I have read, Red Poppies by Alai stands out for its stark depiction of Tibetan society and its unnatural portrayal. The content certainly caught me off guard a bit.

I was reminded of this as I learn that the writer is going to be in London in April to participate in events relating to the London Book Fair.  The Book Fair has become controversial for its reliance on officially-sponsored writers from China in its focus on China this year.  The situation is developing as I write this.  Alai’s participation in the events will no doubt provide an added complication because of his Tibetan ethnicity.


Alai is doing a Reading and Discussion at the School of Oriental and African Studies on April 18, 2012 at 7 pm. Let us see how this rolls out.

Taking Life in Stride

Every Monday, I look forward to reading Metropolitan Diary in The New York Times. It is a compilation of impressions sent in by readers relating to their life in the Big Apple. Oftentimes, there are items about overheard conversations in a bus or a subway that make you chuckle. Reading them makes one have a new appreciation of life in a hectic city like New York.

Many years back, I got sort of addicted to what can only be termed the Indian version of “Metropolitan Diary.” While working for the Indian Express newspaper, I took a liking for its “middles” as well as “Monday Diary.” The newspaper had on its Editorial page, between the main article and the Letters to the editor, a short item that looked at life’s vicissitudes. The items were mainly contributed by readers with a retired army officer residing in the Delhi University area being a very frequent contributor.

Similarly, the Indian Express also carried a section on Mondays, simply called “Monday Diary” that addressed a somewhat similar theme. I recall contributing materials to this section, including about a man that I used to observe in Delhi University area who would distribute flour or grains along roadsides, obviously meant for the ants. I also remember writing about the interesting case of Tibetan doctors having to consume alcohol while preparing a specific Tibetan precious pill that contained mercury (while being detoxified) so that they would not be affected by it.

I think sometimes we need to sit back and take life in its own stride.

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