With hope of return to Tibet diminishing, Dharamsala takes on the trappings of permanency
After 50 years of exile and an uncertain future at best, this Indian hill city of Dharamsala in the North Indian state of Himal Pradesh is increasingly looking like the last stop for the thousands of Tibetans who settled here after their 1959 flight to escape Chinese domination.
Many in Dharamsala hoped that 2009 would be a watershed year in which some form of détente would take place with the Han Chinese. But if anything the Chinese have become more intractable than ever over any hint of negotiations. The Dalai Lama himself, who can often be seen on the streets, said recently that: "I have spent most of my life in this hill station. Now I feel like a citizen of Himachal Pradesh."
Given Chinese intransigence, it appears unlikely that many will ever go back. The Chinese believe they have beaten the 74-year-old head of the Tibetan religion, and will be able to name his successor, reincarnation or no reincarnation. Thus life in the exile capital has come more into a pattern, with more and more Tibetans coming to consider the old British hill station a permanent base, located as it is in the middle of a populous Hindu community.
At least 125,000 of Tibet's 2.8 million citizens have fled the remote Himalayan kingdom to establish communities as far away as Canada and Switzerland. Massive Tibetan temples have sprouted in the remote forests of Northern California above San Francisco and in New York. Hundreds of Tibetan communities thrive in Europe and the United States.
India's Prime Minister Pandit Nehru gave the Dalai Lama and his government the leftover British Raj palace in Dharamsala, which translated means religious abode, and which increasingly they have translated into a Tibetan community, with Tibetan architecture and Tibetan cultural rhythms.
Dharamsala remains the biggest overseas Tibetan community, with 30,000 Tibetans slowly taking over. The semi-nomadic Gaddi, once the dominant ethnic group, have struggled hold onto their culture and language. At first poverty-stricken and with no jobs, the Tibetans have slowly swamped the local population with their rich culture and their God-King, bringing with them the attention of the world and the thousands of seekers of enlightenment who swarm the place. Tibetans now outnumber Indians, with Tibetan monasteries, schools, refugee camps, and education centers putting their distinct architectural and cultural stamp on the town.
A second, smaller settlement exists at Bylakuppe in Karnataka state. With some 11,000 residents, it has also sprouted numerous monasteries, nunneries and temples including the huge Lugsum Samdupling established in 1961, and the Dickyi Larsoe, established about a decade later. Both appear as if they were transported brick by brick from Tibet. Both Dharamsala and Bylakuppe were established on land leased by Indian governments to accommodate the refugees who fled in 1959.
Dharamsala itself is actually divided into two urban areas. The first is Upper Dharamsala, or McLeod Ganj, sometimes called Little Lhasa, where most Tibetans live in little crowded streets and where the Dalai Lama has his residence just opposite the Tsuglag Khang, or central cathedral in the Dhauladhar mountains. The second is the largely Indian Lower Dharamsala just kilometers down the road, so different from Upper Dharamsala as to nearly produce culture shock.
Unlike the isolated and severe city of Lhasa in Tibet, where only a handful of tourists ever get to, an eclectic crowd throngs Upper Dharamsala, making it a unique ecosystem, a cosmopolitan town of espressos cafes and Web-surfing monks and mountain lovers. It has become a global node for pilgrims, hippies and backpackers swarming into the city to seek enlightenment through Tibetan Buddhism. Tourism has brought yoga classes and spiritual retreats and the adventure of hiking the Himalayas.
In the hills Tibetan prayer flags, maroon-robed chanting monks and variegated Tibetan life are everywhere. Monks perform their daily routines, with men and women doing daily work in patterns developed centuries ago in Tibet. The town throngs with small Tibetan-run cafes and bustles with activity such as volunteering to teach young students and monks Buddhism courses. Protest flags against the Chinese are everywhere, along with Free Tibet billboards. Monks and nuns outnumber tourists and revelers, performing hunger strikes on every major holiday, hoping against hope that the world will do something for their cause.
However, in a town where Indians and Tibetans share a common platform, life is changing. There seems surprisingly little animosity between Indians and Tibetans despite religious and cultural disparity, particularly the Gaddi, who have lived here for generations, only to see the Tibetans move into a position of economic superiority.
"Hum sab aage badh rahe hain, sabko saath chalna hoga ek ghar ki tarah hai tabhi sabh kush hai (We all are growing, all of us have to be as a family then only we all live happily)," said Ramesh, an Indian taxi driver in Hindi.
Tibetan children learn both Hindi and Tibetan in school, the first to prepare them for a life in which they may never go back to the homeland they have never seen and are increasingly likely never to.
While daily life appears to be endless obeisance to the Tibetan religion, with prayer wheels spinning endlessly, in actuality many feel they are becoming more Indian.
"I live more like an Indian now, the only difference I see is just my religion, the rest is the same," said Lobsang, a middle-class Tibetan.
Neither Tibetans nor Indians have found themselves completely secure in the mixture of culture and religion. Instances of intermarriage are rare although with the cultures growing together, they are expected to increase.
Dharamsala, the Tibetans say, is not their true home but feel it has a lesson. Tenzin, an elderly monk says: "We Tibetans have left our homeland in search of freedom and the desire to live our lives as we see fit. We did so to avoid political oppression and religious persecution. Living in exile has strengthened the resolve of Tibetans to regain their homeland."
For the elderly, pride lies in living in one's own country and not as a refugee. "We are refugees and one day or another we must go back" said an elderly Tibetan woman who fled to India in the 1960s.
For 50 years both Tibetans and Indians have been living, growing and making their bread and butter from this tiny town. Since the poverty-stricken refugees came to make the town a center of Tibetan Buddhism, it is becoming permanent, adding to India's secularism and making Dharamsala unique by imbuing the town with an underlying substance.
And, in the middle of the country that bills itself as the world's biggest democracy, the Dalai Lama has pledged something no Tibetan knew before the hegira to India – representative government. The Chinese have called the exiles' attempts to bring democracy a cynical ploy by the Dalai Lama. But it appears genuine democracy will take root in the Tibetan community. He has established a government in exile, with a prime minister and a legislature elected directly by the people.
Written by Saransh Sehgal
10 ways to control your anger - Professional expert’s advice
I am really emotional and excitable person. I think that there are two types of anger: constructive anger and a destructive one. In order to understand the anger phenomenon I decided to investigate the nature of anger, reasons of its appearing, key factors and anger management.
What does it mean this anger? Anger is a strong indignation feeling of our emotional sphere that is attended by self-control losing. Anger is a signal of our state. Glands produce an array of hormones that have a great and deep effect on all our body. The main participants of this process are adrenaline and cortisol. They activate cardiovascular system and consequently all organs. Adrenalin causes fast heart beating, rising blood pressure. These rich oxygenated blood streams to the places are responsible for reaction. Thus some extra energy is released.
There are 4 basic ways of anger expressions:
1. Straight and immediately (verbally or nonverbally) to show your anger. It gives an opportunity to free from the negative emotions.
2. To express anger in an indirect way. In this case usually suffer persons that are weaker, not dangerous and those ones who “come to hand”, usually they are our family and close relatives. Thus we hurt our dear ones. One of the best ways is to express your anger to the person who is the source of this very anger. If it is impossible- better find some compromise.
3. Restraining anger you “drive” it deep inside. So, negative emotions store will provoke a big stress sooner or later.
4. You may foresee situation of anger feeling, try not to expand this feeling but get to know the reason, understand and solve it. A Roman philosopher Seneca said: “When you are feeling of ascending “volcano”- stand still, not doing anything- not speaking, not moving.”
Anger is a normal and natural human feeling, especially nowadays as life is really fast and we have a huge amount of information to accumulate (in comparison with our previous generations). The range of anger is rather wide: from a slight annoyance to impetuous fury. Anger can be quick and long, lasting for years in form of bitterness, vengeance or hate. Anger can lead to health issues like depression, high blood pressure, hearth diseases, stresses, alcohol dependence and obesity. If you are anger- express it. If you feel discomfort from these “negative splashes”- then we can give some techniques how to manage your emotional anger:
- 1. Take a deep and continuous breath. Count up to 50 or imagine your aggressor just naked, only in socks. This will help you to calm and smile.
- 2. Have a walk. Look at high sky. Continue to breathe deep and easily. So you appraise the situation and calm down.
- 3. Do some physical exercises. When you are angry- your body is very tensed and tough. If you stretch your muscles it will relax your body, as you will spill out all your negative energy into action. Your brains will get more oxygen and it assists to clear your thoughts.
- 4. Write down all your thoughts. Write down that you are mad and why. Avoid being rational, logical or laconic. Write on paper all you are feeling this moment. Try to write all in details. The function of this technique is to shift all your anger out of your head on paper.
- 5. Be grateful. Find someone to thank. Do you not forget about yourself. Thank that you have woken up today, thank that that the Sun is shining for you, that the sky is blue and the grass is green.
- 6. Prayer. Ask God to be with you during this anger moment and lead you.
- 7. Meditation. Close your eyes, look into solar plexus, and be all your anger, breathing deeply.
- 8. Change of places. Move yourself on your enemy’s place. And look at situation from his point of view. Better look at the situation from the ceiling. Focus on details, especially on funny and absurd ones. Strive to forgive your enemy as well as forgive truly yourself.
- 9. Go back to your childhood memories. Recollect state when you were angry. Hug this child and say: “All is ok. I am here. You are good child. I love you and I will not leave you.”
- 10. Your values. What is the most significant thing in your life? Who are the most important people in your life? What kind of person do you want to be? Think and accept that point that you are living your life, and you are living your values. There is a good man inside you that wants to help you. I wish you good luck!
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