Excerpts from the Director Tamio Ota’s interview with Jepa Mila Rangzen, the editor at Tibet Star, NY

DTO: Please introduce yourself (name, family name, age, job, birthplace, etc..) and related personal experience–when did your parents flee Tibet? When and how did you come to the U.S. and serve in U.S. army? Do you return to India often?

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The Editor

MR: Hi, this is Mila Rangzen. I changed my name from –Dhondup Choephel- to this one in January 2004 when I got naturalized and became US/American citizen. I discarded my old name-which Jepa Rinpoche gave me- because my military buddies found it hard to pronounce. By the way, it is not so uncommon for immigrants to change their name at the time of naturalization and citizenship. Tibetans usually seek names for their child from a high lama or tulku or Rinpoche because they believe their child will live longer and healthier. I do not buy this, so I named me myself.

I am 49. I was born in Kathmandu, Nepal on August 12, 1969. After a couple of years, with my parents, I moved to Himachal Pradesh. My parents like thousands of other Tibetan refugees worked on road construction, breaking rocks with hammer or dynamite. A few years later we moved down to Karnataka where I have lived on and off for well over 40 years.

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My late father, Jepa Tsering Rhichoe

My parents didn’t have to flee Tibet in 1959, not that there was no danger to them but because they were already on the Nepal border when PLA bombarded Lhasa. My father Tsering Rhichoe was from Jepa district in U-Tsang. 40,000 Jepas inhibit Jepa district on 40,000 square kilometers of land that is very rich in mineral resources which are being exploited by China for years. His family name was Gesar, a small family.

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Along with some of his village buddies, he was on a business trip near the Nepalese border when they came to know that China bombed the Lhasa populace and the subsequent escape of the Dalai Lama to India. He then decided not to go back to Tibet, leaving his wife and son behind.

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Riwoche Ngawang Dolkar, my late mother weaving Tibetan aprons and rugs in 1990.

My mother Ngawang Dolkar was from Chung Riwoche, a district in U-Tsang. Her family name was Phunubpa. This Phunubpa should not be confused with Sakya Phunubpa because they are not related at all. She belonged to a Bodong tantric lineage. Her father was also a physician. One of the most notable figures from her place was Thangthong Gyalpo, 14th ACE, who is regarded as the father of Tibetan opera. He was a great Buddhist adept, a Chöd master, yogi, physician, architect, and a pioneering civil engineer.

Another great figure from her place was Bodong Panchen in 14th century ACE, who authored over one hundred and thirty-five volumes and is known as the most prolific writer in Tibetan history. Each volume runs over a thousand pages. A famous tulku of this tradition is Samding Dorje Phagmo, one of the few female incarnation lineages of Tibetan Buddhism.

My mother was on a pilgrimage with her parents, son, and daughter in Nepal. And when news reached her that her husband, a Master Sergeant, was summoned along with many other regional Tibetan military leaders by China, using Tibetan leadership, to Lhasa and was eventually tortured to death during a struggle session, she gave up going back to Tibet.

I came to the US with a diversity visa from Nepal in 2001. I landed in New York City with only $200 in my wallet. Fortunately, I met a village buddy, and he let me move in his two-bedroom apartment–in Brooklyn– which he shared with five other Tibetan immigrants! I slept in the living room alone and with no privacy.

Three months later a knife fight erupted in the apartment between two roommates, and with two of my buddies, I moved to Queens. Much better now. The place felt much safer streetwise. Less jobless folks, fewer bums, less private shelters, fewer projects and fewer blacks and far fewer street crimes.

Well, after hopping from odd jobs to odd jobs for about six months in New York, things weren’t getting better regarding money, so I decided to join the US Navy. What pushed me to join the navy, among other reasons, was the promise of quick citizenship. I needed that so I could travel to India quickly so that I could say goodbye to geographical separation from my family. Also farewell to the statelessness!

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I was 33 when I joined the navy. It wasn’t easy. We were about a hundred recruits in our barracks, in the boot camp, out of which only five of us were 30 plus and the rest were between 17 to 23. I had many humorous situations with those kids. Those young folks hated old guys like us because we couldn’t run as fast as they could. It was like going back to teenage life!

A complete restructuring of you begins there to meet the military standards. Military bearing, acute attention to details and 110% effort! No civilian excuses! I completed the four-year active duty and four-year inactive duty contract in 2009. I did take part in Global War on Terror PART I and PART II. I do not want to go into the military details.

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I am the first immigrant in my family and life in New York was not as easy as it sounded when I was in India and Nepal. Money doesn’t grow on trees, and I don’t have an uncle here who had a forest! Sticking to one job is not smart. I do have a bachelor, but that is not much in demand here because almost everybody has an academic scholarship. I enjoyed the quest for knowledge though, and I took courses over one hundred forty credits in writing, philosophy, politics, communications, psychology and social sciences.

What the job market demands are a professional education in medicine, business, science, math, computers, etc. and I don’t have that. Also, it is not always what you know, but who you know that can land you in a cushy job. If I had a rich, supportive uncle, I could rule the world! Yes, I am capable in many ways. The first few months would be trial and error, and then you start galloping! Rome was not built in a single day.

So to increase the sources of income, I do numerous jobs. All independently though. I hate to work with/under others. Whether underpaid or overpaid I refuse to do dirty, dangerous jobs. For instance, the position of steamfitters fetches between $50 to $110 per hour which is a lot of money for a poor immigrant, but I refuse to do it because it is dirty, dangerous to health and limbs. Money is not everything, health is. Physically as well as mentally. And you got to do what you love. The rest follows.

The variety of stuff that I do also excite me, and time flies. I work independently as a translator, voiceover, document preparer for Tibetans with issues related to asylum, immigration, medical, and legal. I also do job placement. I also teach Spoken English to Tibetans and Spoken Tibetan to Americans.

I am also a real estate agent and a soulmate bridger mainly between American men, and Tibetan women from India. It is not a dating agency. It is a thoroughly vetted process, and only serious applicants are entertained. Yes, of course, I charge for the service. $10,000 for the Tibetan woman and $20,000 for the American man. And they are happy.

The price they pay for their marital happiness is a peanut. For example, a Tibetan woman from India would pay sometimes as high as $60,000 for a tourist visa just to get here. That is insane! I ensure their precious marital happiness through the vetted process. I go for quality rather than quantity. Everything is legal. Everything is confidential.
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I am also an entrepreneur in documentary filmmaking and marketing —my new passion. I am excited, and I am learning the rope and getting better at it every day. I bought every equipment from A to Z. Just need to buy a Harley Davidson, a Wrangler safari jeep, a Tibetan mastiff and some guns. By the way, I am waiting for the gun permit.
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I am also a conservationist blogger, even a journalist/editor running a digital newspaper called The Tibet Star covering everything from Tibet, exile, and the world. I am also writing digital books for the commercial purpose. I am also a rap lyricist, rap composer, and a rapper.

I have an incredible macho voice—a voice that is neither too deep nor too soft– that fits rap songs. Several professors call my voice radio voice! It is in a film mode. When you rap, you do so most from your chest, not from your throat or head and that’s where my voice kicks in. It is, of course, all done on a small scale. Nothing big now. Things might go viral someday!
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In this age of social media and wicked clown Trump as the president of one of the most educated countries in the world, anything goes! It’s a free world! The downside is quality goes down the drain, unintellectual creatures show up but the upside for us small people is both substance and success get redefined! No matter what stupid shit you do, as long as you have enough followers and you start minting money, you are a successful person!
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Almost every year I travel to India because I enjoy seeing my family, the nature, and wildlife and the fresh air and the laidback country life in the Kollegal Tibetan settlement. I love strolling down the memory lane. My wife Kunsang Tsomo moved here three years ago, but my two sons, age 10 and 5 are in India. We have left them in India so they will not forget the Tibetan language, and also they know the value of bonding, money, and respect for their parents and elders. We meet them often.

As far as English is concerned, they will pick it up here in three years of schooling. So they will be bi-lingual at least. My mother-in-law is taking good care of them. We communicate regularly.

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My wife, Tsomo

OTA: Where did you live in India? What’s the life like there as an exile Tibetan? What’s the primary challenge you were facing being stateless in India? (schooling in India, and job in India)

MR: I lived in Kollegal Tibetan settlement since 1976. Life there was slow and quiet. As a kid, I liked it because nature around excited me to no end. But as I was venturing into my teenage it didn’t excite me that much. It seemed there was no opportunity for growth and progress. Country life!

From June to August every year we had to go through the nasty windy season. We call it ghost wind. It’s a gale! Greenery gets replaced by the brownish environment. The sky appeared dusty and dark grey. Your rooms get visited by one-inch thick sands all over the floors. Big trees would fall, and roofs get wiped out. It was a gloomy sight. The sound of the wind was eerie. The settlement looked its worst. In frustration and anger, I would call it “dead land, dead people, and corpses everywhere.”

The best time to visit the settlement is from September to December. It is lush green all around, and the streams are more significant and cleaner. The weather is excellent with low humidity.

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Surviving on a small corn farm and cattle rearing which was hardly profitable but we did it anyway because there was not much else to do. My parents also did sweater business in the dirty streets of Assam. Only much later they were able to have proper stores. The profit wasn’t significant. It was just enough to get us by.

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My younger son, Jepa Rangzen

As a stateless Tibetan, if you had money, you could join any school in India. To get admitted you have to pay a hefty donation. But you wouldn’t get government job even if you were qualified. You could not own land and start a corporation. Things seem to be changing now for the Tibetan “refugees” at least on paper.

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My older son, Gyakhab Rangzen

I taught at Sera Je school, Byllakuppe from 1994-1996. Then at Tibetan Transit School, Dharamshala from 1996 to 1998. I also taught in Kathmandu from 1998 to 2001. I was the Vice-Principal at the Kailash School. The most significant challenge I faced was this sense of homelessness and refugee and the object of pity. It made you feel you are a second-class race because you don’t have a country to call your own and the insecurity thereof was overwhelming. You don’t have government or embassy to call for help in case you are being ripped off at the airport or you get mobbed in Manali. Also the fact you don’t have the right to determine the life of your country and people is heart-wrenching. China is responsible for all of this.

DTO: We read your article “Is Dharamshala Safe for Tibetans?” written in 2014. Could you please tell us when and for how many years you lived in Dharamshala? You describe Dharamshala as “small and dirty,” do you still think so? Could you please give us some reasons for your personal experience and local news?

MR: I was in Dharamsala as a kid, I don’t remember much though. I was there for a couple of months in 1988. Then from 1996 to 1998, I worked there as a teacher at Tibetan Transit School for the adult newcomers or sajor as they are known. In 2006 I was there again for about a month.

When I say Dharamsala, I was mainly referring to Mcleod Ganj which has 2 one hundred meter long streets with no concept of a sidewalk. Dirt everywhere and the water pipeline was often reported to be contaminated. Things may have changed a bit now. Haven’t been there for over ten years now.

DTO: In the same article, you said the precious relationship between Tibetan refugees and Indian hosts was threatened. Why did you think so? Normally, what will happen and who is in charge to take care if there is a conflict occurring between a Tibetan and an Indian? And what’s the challenge in reality?

MR: The social relationship, deep down, has never been that great and that’s because anytime there is a conflict between a Gaddi and a Tibetan, the Gaddi community is quick to turn it into communal issues rather than call the cops and leave it as individual problems. Gaddis vs. Tibetans. Look what happened in 1994. Read “Dharamshala Revisited: Shangrila or Sarajevo? “ by K. Dhondup. Then in 1999 in Manali, over a hundred Tibetan stores were looted and burnt down. Then twice in 2007. Read “Making sense out of the senseless” by Topden Tsering. And then murder in 2015. These are just a few examples.

In such a situation, Tibetan welfare office with Gaddi-Tibetan Conflict Resolution Committee steps in to resolve the conflict. But by the time this post comes to the scene, the damage is already done. Gaddis came here some 300 years ago from elsewhere. Tibetans lived in Himachal Pradesh for over a thousand years after the Tibetan military expeditions landed here. You see Himachalis practice polyandry like Tibetans. They are both Buddhists and Hindus as well who are descendants of Tibetans back in history. You see them, especially around Lahaul and Spiti districts.

Well, Gaddis are so much attached to their village that it is a matter of courage for a Gaddi to leave for a distant city in search of greener pasture hence their economic condition remains stagnant. They keep singing “Mera Gaon, Mera Desh” that is my village is my nation. If a Gaddi family had a dozen sheep 50 years ago that family by now should have 500 sheep and that is not the case.

They sell their property to the businessmen from the plains and after they blow up the money just made they go back to square one and some end up as servants in Tibetan families. This situation triggers baser human elements like jealousy, anger, and hatred in them toward us. We are the scapegoats. I see no cure for this.

They look for every little opportunity to mob us, and we on our part as guests use diplomacy to survive. And you know diplomacy is not real, it is fake. So underneath the façade of ethnic harmony sits a volcano of hate and jealousy.

Tibetans are by no means wealthy but they are hardworking and adventurous in business, and some progress achieved every year. They do not even hesitate to trek continents and cross oceans to chase greener pasture which occasionally turns out as fake plastic grass! Their nomadic DNA is running deep in their blood.

Tibetan women don’t confine themselves to homes. They travel if necessary to war-torn zones such as in Kashmir and with her child on her back, another child in her lap, she sells her merchandise in the dusty streets with no sense of social embarrassment but taking it as a matter of factly.

DTO: The local Gaddis seem very violent in your article, which is different from what we experienced personally. However, we also suffered the double-faces of the local Indian officer in Leh. Could you please tell us some stories about this issue from an exile Tibetan’s perspective?

MR: You are a tourist and tourists are a source of income for the locals, and why would they let go off a rock on their feet? I got assaulted a couple of times and verbally abused many times for no reason other than being a Tibetan. This was between 1996 to 1998. I have seen other Tibetans abused too. Violence doesn’t always have to be physical. Hate is also violence. It boils up your blood, and that is not a pleasant experience.

Let’s say you go bankrupt and become homeless today and you and your wife come to me to stay in my house indefinitely, and I welcome you because we are buddies. Then a year later I got titillated by the sight of your wife’s thunder thighs, and I grabbed it without her consent. What would you do now? Would you keep quiet because I sheltered you or would you fight back because what I did is wrong?

As far Ladak and Leh are concerned, my direct experience there is nill because I have never been there. But from friends there I learned that they were jealous of Tibetans too. They would call us “khyampo” meaning wanderers, gypsies and homeless. They would always on occasions ask Tibetans to play a soccer match with them. Tibetans don’t play a soccer match with them anymore because Ladakis use this game as an opportunity to beat up Tibetans and degrade us.

I believe Ladakis are going through identity crisis. They were Tibetans once. If you check their DNA, they are more Tibetan than Indian, ethnically, culturally and linguistically. But politically they are Indians now for seven decades.

DTO: You claimed in this article “the stateless Tibetans in India are at risk and need to get citizenship.” What are the main risks you refer to? Why do you think acquiring citizenship can protect exile Tibetans from these risks?

MR: In politics, no permanent friendship or enmity exist, but lasting interest does. India once came under pressure from China and began rounding up Tibetans in northern India pre-1959 to be shipped to Tibet under Chinese control. But when Dalai Lama escaped to India, India let go of this policy. The Dalai Lama acts as a shield for Tibetans without citizenship for so long. But nobody lives forever. Once the Dalai Lama is gone, and Tibetans don’t have Indian citizenship the likelihood of getting deported to Chinese hands is high. We cannot trust politicians.

But once you become Indian citizens the Indian constitution will protect you from being deported to Tibet under Chinese occupation. Being deported could mean arrest, imprisonment, interrogation, beatings, torture and possibly execution.

DTO: In this article, you also said “Dalai Lama has told some Indian officials he is for it” Did he say it in public? The Indian’s Citizenship Act has been there for decades, why your fellow exile Tibetans turn it into hot pitch in recent year?

MR: The Dalai Lama hasn’t made it public but what I know from my sources is he did express concerns to some top Indian officials as to what would happen to the exile Tibetans once he is gone and there the idea of seeking and granting Indian citizenship popped up and HH said that is good. I know from a reliable source who has contacts with Indian bigshots. Every wall has ears and eyes.

The Indian citizenship act may have been there for three decades, but the Tibetan public was not aware of it. And also the Dalai Lama wasn’t that old, and he promised to live up to the age of 113. But some five years ago the Dalai Lama was upset that as he said some Tibetans don’t trust him or his Middle Way Approach and he said he might not live long enough. This incident created some sense of urgency and anxiety in the community.

Then in 2011 current MP Namgyal Dolkar fought for Indian citizenship in Delhi high court and she won. This victory opened the eyes of the Tibetan public. We have not come to India to be Indian citizens but given the fact that our leadership abandoned independence struggle, we the people in the streets with hot blood pumping into our system have no choice but to find a way out. Those up there in the ivory towers found their way out long ago!

Taking Indian citizenship doesn’t mean you have lost the legitimacy to pursue your cause. This is the childish excuse Sikyong is reciting for some time now. Look what the Jews, who were citizens of European countries, did for the homeland Israel and won it. Where does it state in United Nations charter that once you adopt a country, then you automatically lose the right to fight for the home country? If that is the case then why did CTA ask western nations to let Tibetans immigrate in the first place? Was it sleeping then?

Also, you must realize that over 40% of the exile Tibetan population now live in the west with citizenship and the security that comes with it. Current CTA president Lobsang Sangay is an American citizen too. When the topmost leader took to American citizenship, why can’t the ordinary Tibetans in India seek Indian citizenship? If you want to lead your people, you got to do so by example. No more hypocrisy!

As much as the Dalai Lama acts modest in his contribution; as much as he is flawed in his approach to the Tibet question; and as much as we criticize him or his policy democratically; one thing is sure that no Tibetan cares more deeply about the Tibetan people than he does. That, however, doesn’t mean we should zip our mouth shut when we have a different perspective than he has on issues that concern all of us Tibetans. This is being a responsible democratic citizen.

DTO: In your article in this year “Is Indian citizenship for Tibetans a threat to the Tibetan cause?”, You said CTA is “dead set against Tibetans becoming Tibetan-Indians.” Why do you think so? We heard many stories about how Indian government makes it difficult for exile Tibetans to apply for citizenship. While you said that it is manipulated by CTA. In your previous article, you asked CTA to do more to help exile Tibetan to get Indian citizenship. Is there a time point for you or what happened in the last years to make you realize it?

MR: The Indian government is not really against granting Indian citizenship to Tibetans for several reasons:-

1. India does not support Tibetan independence
2. Tibetan population in India is a drop in the Indian ocean
3. Tibetans are peaceful and hardworking people
4. We share the same cultural heritage                                           5. The Indian constitution created by Indians provides us the right to be Indians if we meet the criteria

All it takes is the Dalai Lama to ask, and we have it instantly.
But the Indian bureaucracy can give you a hard time. India is corrupt from head to toe, from the President to the shopkeeper, from the Prime Minister to the sweeper. If you threw some dollars on the desk, they would get your job done with a big happy smile on their face! Who doesn’t love money? Besides, India is poor. The bureaucrats are underpaid.

Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful to the government and people of India for granting us Tibetans a place to live and not only that I have tremendous respect for the sharp Indian brain in math, science, medicine, and computer. 40% of the NASA scientists are Indians. A good percentage of CEOs in the west are Indians especially South Indians. But when the environment of accountability is missing, and the rule of law is weak, they get corrupted easily.

CTA said time and again in the past that it would render help to those Tibetans who want to apply for Indian citizenship, and at the time there were about 13 applicants, and some even withdrew. But now from what I hear there are hundreds if not thousands of applicants and CTA is in a fix. So recently CTA has ordered its regional offices not to issue supporting letters to those Tibetans seeking Indian citizenship.

It is harder for CTA to control Tibetans once they become Indians. As the decades have gone by, I realize that this CTA will never retake the path of independence and that it is hell-bent on making Tibetans citizens of China. Pushing Chinese agenda on us is a classic case of Stockholm syndrome.

You are going to embrace the Chinese who is responsible for the loss of your country and the degradation of your people. This is madness. Tibetan struggle if it can be called one is a massive deception. I for one have decided to be Indian than Chinese. Also, I love Indian food, flora, and fauna.

DTO: We learn from your article that “Tibetan-Indians will lose access to all the CTA benefits, including the right to live in Tibetan settlements and political positions.” Does that really happen? Could you please give us some examples? (We only know that you have to hand out your IC and RC once you got Indian citizenship.) And why do you think he/she should keep the privilege for exiles after he/she is not stateless anymore?

MR: From what I hear, both the central government of India and the state governments have sent circulars to the Tibetan settlements that those Tibetans who acquired Indian citizenship must leave the settlements immediately or legal action will be taken against them. This is the preemptive strike I am talking about. They know most Tibetans have no homes other than the houses in the settlements. You have already endured one homelessness after Chinese occupation and just when you become Indians to escape that homelessness you are homeless again for the second time.

Tibetans are still very poor. You can go to the settlements and see for yourself. Because they are humans and because they are poor they should be granted the ownership of the property on which they live. This is nothing new. Indian government provides this kind of help to Indians whose homes have been washed away by a flood. We deserve this support too.

DTO: It’s well-known that exile Tibetans are holding different passports of different countries. CTA and some NGOs even help people to go to western countries. Why do you think CTA doesn’t want its people to become Indian citizen? Why don’t you agree with them?

MR: CTA immigrated 2000 Tibetans to Swiss in the 1970s, 1000 to the US in the 1990s and recently 1000 to Canada, and 500 to Australia since 1990s. CTA also was going to immigrate 5000 Tibetans from Nepal to the US 10 years ago, but somehow this didn’t materialize. Regardless, you see CTA has no problem sending Tibetans to these nations with primarily light skin people. But CTA has issues with Tibetans becoming Indians and that I think is because Indians are dark skin people. If you live as Indian citizens for generations to come, race mixing is inevitable.

A decade ago a Tibetan woman was paraded naked with a big wooden dick on her neck in the streets of Majnu-ka-Tilla just because she slept with an Indian man. Who did this? The Regional Tibetan Women Association did it. This similar attitude from CTA does reek racism towards the Indians. And this is wrong and unacceptable.

By the way, according to DNA report, 6% of Tibetan DNA is Indian on average. In my case, I am 3% Indian, 30% Chinese and 50% Mongol, etc. There is no such thing as pure race in the whole world. We are all genetically mixed through trade, migration and war and mass rape by the victor for millennia. CTA should embrace broadmindedness.

DTO: Why do you think “it is CTA’s policy to keep us poor and dependent on the CTA”? All the governments around the world want to make their people rich so that they can have more tax. Hence then, what benefit CTA can have to make its people poor?

MR: The poorer we get, the more dependent we become on CTA and the more dependent we become on CTA, the more control CTA would have on us. There are over 50,000 Tibetans in the west, but only about 50% of them pay the annual $100 tax or contribution to the CTA and CTA can do nothing about it because they have no control over Tibetan-Swiss, Tibetan-Australian, Tibetan-Americans ETC.

If you as a student don’t go to morning prayer in school, you could be fined or even caned. If you don’t go to eight-hour prayer occasionally conducted by the settlement officer, you could be fined as much as Rs 500 per day. You will also be fined if you don’t show up at meetings or community work.

Last April Gyalyum Chemo Gold Cup was held in Kollegal settlement. The Chief Representative Choephel in Bangalore ordered the Tibetans to go and attend the speech delivered by the Home Minister Sonam Topgyal. Everything is forced on the people to fit their worldview. People should be given the freedom to come or not. This is a form of control that CTA will lose the day we become Indians. What are you going to do to a Tibetan-Indian well protected by rights in the constitution of India? Nothing.

CTA under both Samdong Rinpoche and Lobsang Sangay tried hard to get a say on what Tibetan gets a US visa or not but fortunately the US consular gave them no such authorization. If on the other hand, they succeeded in securing that power, do you know what will happen to those who believe in independence? Visa denied! Stay stuck in the world of poverty! CTA will not succeed in controlling our thoughts, wishes, dreams, speech, and movement.

DTO: Generally speaking, do you think the living condition of exile Tibetans in India is getting better or worse?

MR: Living conditions have improved on the whole. For example, until the 90s hardly any family had a bathroom in my settlement of 3000 or so people. To answer nature’s calls, we would go to the outskirts of the village or the field or the stream or the forest and this is not only annoying but unhealthy too. Now every family has a bathroom. Also 40 years ago there were just two Tibetans who had bicycles. Now almost every family has bicycles, motorcycles, and cars too. Unlike before many Tibetans now live in real brick houses with a concrete roof.

The credit primarily goes to their relatives in the west who sent them the dough. Also when we were young, we would often wear pants with patches to cover the torn part, but nowadays hardly any Tibetan wears such clothes. Many wear clothes and shoes with brand names. Hardly anyone goes hungry now. Those days five times chicken dish and four times momo dish per year was a big deal. Nowadays every other day momos and chicken dish, no big deal. Most Tibetan children today can see colleges and universities.

DTO: What states and union territories in India have you traveled?

MR: Karnataka, Assam, Nagaland, Goa, Pondicherry, Uttar Khand, Jarkhand, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Panjab, Himachal Pradesh. Kerala, and Rajasthan.

DTO: What countries have you traveled so far?

MR: Nepal, India, Switzerland, France, US, Canada, Australia, UAE, Hawaii, Thailand, Mexico, Tahiti, Malaysia, Saipan, Bahrain, Peru, Colombia, Panama and may be some more.

DTO: What you hate in life?

MR: Flies, mosquitos, bedbugs, rats, and slimy people

DTO: What you love in life?

MR: Nature, flora, fauna, streams with pools, swimming, reading, camping, fishing, cooking, and friendly happy people.

DTO: Your personal dream life or fantasy?

MR: Well, I like to have a $2 million house in Long Island in New York, $2 million apartment in Manhattan, $4 million in investment, $4 million in savings, $2 million annual income, also fantasize to be the owner of 100 square kilometers of BR hills in and around Kollegal Tibetan settlement! I like houses, not necessarily big ones. So I wish I could have a dozen 5 bedroom two story houses made of thick logs, bricks, cinderblocks, concrete, glass, rocks, and steel in the laps of nature by a crystal clear stream at the foot a forested range of hills across the seven continents. I would also want a real tree house built on fat branches and 50 feet off the ground. I would also want a house built in the middle of a clean river. Also a house on the sea water on the shallow side near a jungle. Reading, writing, and walking ten miles in the morning in the wilderness every day. And at night chatting by the campfire, with good food and wine and plowing a woman that fits my wet dreams every weekend under the moon and the stars with wild animals roaring in the distance!

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I just can’t fathom why I am so happy in the midst of nature. If people believe in religions because it gives them comfort, then mother nature is my religion! It gives me tremendous joy when I am in a dense jungle and I love rain.

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My interest in nature started at an early age. I grew up in the countryside of Karnataka, India and I remember that I played in the jungle nearby almost every weekend. I gathered firewood, wild mangoes for pickle and delicious brown berry for snacks. I searched for wild edibles like thump-size blueberries or white mushrooms and I fished with my bare hands with other kids from my village.

A grunt from a wild boar, an alarm call from a barking deer or a sambar that a leopard is afoot, and a sloth-bear in a frenzy, a scream from a wild elephant and an occasional “Ooongh! Aoongh!” from a tiger would send a chill down my spine, and at the same time also excite my curiosity about the jungle even further.

When I grew up in mid-teenage, I read “Man-eaters of Kumaon” by the legendary hunter-turned-conservationist Jim Corbett who visited this planet a century ago, I owe him a lot. I learned how to sense danger by the alarm calls of birds, deer and monkeys, the position of grass, wind direction, and footprints of the denizens of the jungle. I also learned how crucial it is to ensure the survival and continuity of the endangered wild animals such as tiger to prevent the world from going poor and ugly. Also, I was always eager to learn about how to enjoy the wilderness to the fullest. Nature was fascinating to me because it seemed like a big living mystery where every part had its place and would fit in.

After serving the US military and executing a number of operational commitments, I worked numerous jobs ( I just can’t stick to one job because it bores me and because I love life so much I stick to ten different jobs!) including as a translator for the immigration department but then decided to start a youtube channel to follow my true passion. I am making videos about enjoying the nature in every form possible including trekking, rock climbing, cooking, swimming, primitive living skills, survival, but no hunting. I love guns, bows and catapult or slingshot but I would not kill another living being in the name of sport or trophy or profit. For survival and self-defense, yes!

My father often described my passion for guns as something he noticed days after my birth. I would point my index finger in the air and make the sound of a gun going off, “Ding-goong, ding-goong!” A lama told him that I was a reincarnation of a Tibetan soldier who died fighting the communist invasion of Tibet in the 60’s and that I died in the midst of gun sounds that kind of embedded in the stream of my consciousness!

Why am I telling you this anecdote? I am an unbeliever, nonbeliever or atheist. Well, I just found it amusing to observe as to what length people can go to believe anything with no evidence whatsoever, including the so-called highly educated modern two-legged creatures!

I consider myself a compassionate nature lover, and if provoked and if necessary to the point of militancy! And that I want to live as close as, and as long as possible, to mother nature and right now I am in the process of learning how to live alone in the monsoon jungles of South India teeming with exotic dangerous wildlife and thrive in the wild.

DTO: You see any hope for Tibet?

MR: Inspirational speeches can be beautiful, but it has to have its basis in reality. And the fact today is Tibet is dead, the Tibetan struggle is unconscious, the Tibetan cause is gone because the leadership on Tibetan independence struggle is dead for three decades officially and fallen since 1974 unofficially. Would you call the desire to be the part of the country that is responsible for the loss of your country a cause? Would you call the wish to make Tibetans a part of the Chinese who invaded, occupied and degraded us a struggle?

We have about thirty years within which if we don’t regain independence we will be joining the ranks of functionally dead people like the aboriginals of Australia and native Americans. Five hundred years ago the population of native Americans was between 80 to 100 million. Today the community is three million, and many of whom are biracial now.

Regardless of the outcome we should retake the path of independence and stick to it – until the last Tibetan drops dead – for the following reasons:- This is not being emotional.

  • Tibet has a history of independence much longer than majority of the countries in the United Nations today
  • Majority of the Tibetans want nothing less than independence. Not one self-immolator screamed genuine autonomy. Well over 150 Tibetans self-immolated for independence for the past eight years.
  • Over a million Tibetans died as a direct result of Chinese invasion and occupation. Does their death have any value?
  • Thousands of monasteries were destroyed because we lost independence
  • We tried autonomy or Middle Way Approach in 1951 with 17 point agreement and what we did we get in return? Guns, artillery, and bombs and homelessness.
  • The current Middle Way Approach is pushed down the Tibetan throat since 1988 and what have we achieved other than some minor concessions? Nine round of talks talking about the negotiations? That’s it?
  • If everything is impermanent from a Buddhist perspective, then doesn’t this impermanence apply to the statelessness we go through?
  • The Chinese have deceived us many times, why is our leadership not getting it?
  • Independence or autonomy, no nation will fight for us.
  • However powerful China might be, however weak the western support is, and yet we should still stick to independence. In sticking to it, there is a glimmer of hope that your autonomy could be achieved.
  • In politics, you demand a mountain so that you may get a molehill, but if you request a molehill, you will end up with a handful of dust. Bite that dust!
  • Struggle for independence is a struggle for truth and justice. It is not a business deal that you can abandon when you suffer loss after loss.
  • Isn’t it far better to fight for independence, bleak as it may be than to give it up and swallow a life of Chinese deceptions?
  • Greater the objective is, greater the sacrifice will be! Greater the sacrifice, greater the determination will be. When this happens, independence is not far off.
  • But on the other hand, lesser the aim being, lesser the sacrifice will be. And lesser the sacrifice is then more than likely we shall be induced to give it up. Bite that does now!
  • Without independence, we have no hope.
  • That we fought through the Chinese deceptions at every curve, and we fought to the end should be the legacy we pass on to the future generations of Tibetans.
  • That we may not have regained independence, but we have no regrets whatsoever because we did our best not just in thoughts and prayers but concrete actions. Now it’s your turn to grab the legacy—the sword of independence struggle! And flung it at the Chinese security and economic interests until the sun shines once again on the roof of the world!

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One of the primary reasons put forward by the Dalai Lama and his Middle Way supporters, while citing history and legality, to strive for genuine autonomy is that there never was a Tibet comprising of the three traditional regions such as Dhotoe, Dhomey, and U-Tsang in the last one thousand years. And they argue that Tibet referred to the U-Tsang region only.

If that is the argument, then I for one am willing to fight for U-Tsang Independence! Jews fought for a small patch of land in the desert with no more than 22,000 sq.km! And the Palestinians are fighting for only 6000 sq.km of land within the desert of Israel!

So why can’t we U-Tsangs fight for U-Tsangland with 1 million sq.km in territorial size that is immensely rich in mineral resources? Just by selling uranium alone every U-Tsang family could be a millionaire in US Dollars within a decade. And we can flood one hundred thousand valleys with forest and wild animals.

Take it easy or take it hard, independence is the key to the survival of our people, culture, and nation.

Tibet must be free and independent now!

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