Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Inching Towards The CIRCLE OF LIGHT~


Thimley left homeland when he was just 11...




'Tibet: Roof of the world. Its people: Roofless'


Kathmandu, Nepal
April, 2012

Dear respected Mother,

I've written many letters to you, over and over again, in my mind. But, today I take my pen to write a few lines to let you know how well I am doing here. For almost seven years now I have been into the circle of sacred friendship…life moves differently in a monastery. The mountain flowers glisten in the sunlight, the deodars and pines dispel sweet scent in the air like in Lhasa, but there’s something austere, something extremely peaceful here that gives assurance to the mind. There's a sense of freedom, a zest of relief even for a young monk like me...

 The Buddhist scholars have immense knowledge which is normally handed down by tradition to their disciples…My teacher, Dr. Tejemi is an extraordinary monk. His parents gave him over to the local Buddhist temple to be raised as a monk at the age of twelve. He calls me Kushal, not because I’m already skillful, but because I need to become more skillful. My Buddhist name reminds me each day, what the goal of my practice should be…..We all have to start somewhere, and I guess, I have started my journey….

 Dr. Tejemi has lit a small flame in my heart to understand the meaning of life. Did I understand the philosophy at the first reading…oh, certainly not! I went to bed in a kind of daze, slept as if I had been drugged and awoke to a new world in the morning--a world clothed with extraordinary mysteries, and it gave me my first conception of ‘dukh’ tragedy, of the terror and complication and pity of human lives.... for a Tibetan boy such revelation should have come naturally. But, anyhow it finally dawned!

 Mother, I am carrying a spark within me--- teachers say it’s merely an awakening; what I see is sometimes clear, sometimes dark, impenetrable, yet burning…The chief Monk told me the other day that I had an option to remain in the monastery with the elders for the rest of my life, and be a teacher. No one knows, that I had chosen monastic life initially not with good grace, for it hobbled me with its many conditions. But, as a poor child from a unstable area, becoming a monk was a chance not only to learn religion, but also for a fuller education. I am glad today that I took the decision.

 The walk to the monastery every morning at 4.00 A.M through the snow-peaked misty mountains, running through those steep stairs, and then through the long shaded veranda of the monastery is exhilarating. As I run for my class, I keep sliding my hands through the large cylindrical structures. Chimes rush, echoing off the large, metal wheels bring purification to that peaceful place. I wish, I could do more…Maybe with your prayers, one day I’ll be a senior monk in this monastery. I’ll get a room for myself and settle down peacefully here.This place is enough to make one forget the problems and the hatred of the world outside here….who knows what scars are hidden in Dalai Lama’s heart.

 From time immemorial the sages, yogis have resorted to icicled caves of Himalaya to dwell and meditate. I am only imitating their example. Wish, I could also practice my meditation in our most sacred icy Mount Kailas, on the Tibetan side. What Mecca is to Muslims, Kailas is to both Hindus and Buddhists! I have met many Tibetan monks living in exile here. I guess, their tears and curses have smudged the ‘Red Mountains’ more. It seems ridiculous, that the highest plateau, which is the most mysterious, legendary ‘Roof of the World’, has turned its people 'roofless'…The roof will always stand as a symbol of nightmare! Faith, liberty, truth, humanity are the words that hold some passionate secrets for me now. I mustn't rest till I've found out the truth. 

Red reminds me of the pouch you gave me as a gift on the day I was leaving; as I opened the drawstring, there was another bag within, and then another…. I reached in and got the small bronze statue of Buddha; but it had a bit of reddish powder on it. I was confused. I wondered if it was vermilion. But, soon realized it was handful of dust from Tibet, my motherland.

 At the time of entering, bhikkhus/ monk are not allowed to keep their possessions. Things are put aside or entrusted to someone else for the duration of their monastic experience. Thus, just before taking the robe, I sprinkled the dust in the garden on a bed of hydrangeas outside my window. In the quiet afternoons, sometimes, I sit and read, stroll and study, doze too looking at it… but, as I said earlier, a bhikku must abandon everything, so I quietly wander back to my monastic home… allowing your thoughts to simmer down in abnormal speed. And then...


My inner voice whispers: ‘Take this truth into your head, that you have to take a lamp into your hand one day to light many more hearts’!

You can write to me whenever you want. For me, there are no tomorrows....all connections need to be seized for the sake of spiritual fortune....

Wish me well and keep me in your prayers. Writing this letter was like releasing seeds of emotion into the thin air....

kushal.







This post is part of the contest Tibet: Roof of the world. Its people : Roofless.. on WriteUpCafe.com inspired by the Photo Fiction book
The Stopover





This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental....












65 comments:

  1. Very touching Panchaliji.... I have read this book The Stopover and I guess this contest is also based on that. The first story is about Tibet and it gave me goosebumps to read that even as we are in the 21st century there are still people who are fighting a daily battle for existence while we crib about such miniscule things in life. My city has got its Tibetan market for this winter and I simply cannot look at them without thinking about the tales of sorrows they carry in their hearts behind those smiling faces.

    Loved this one <3

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    1. ME! I haven't read this particular book, though would like to go thru the photo-book one day! But, have read many things about Tibetan's helplessness. They are amazing, and their culture is so beautiful. It breaks my heart that Tibet is still not free, but I will live in hope that one day justice will prevail, and rest of the world, will be allowed to witness it first hand.
      I understand how you feel...sad :((
      Thanks for that meaningful comment.

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  2. This story is so sensitive and full of emotions ... you have really expressed it beautifully !!!

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    1. Thank you so much for visiting and thank you for expressing your admiration..every dose of it adds strength. Speck. :))

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  3. For the few minutes I read the story, I was transcended to the path that led to the monastery and then to the temple of knowledge itself, its chimes and cylindrical structures, the ascetic monks. I almost saw the cicle of light! Kudos to your art.

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    1. Wow! If my write up has pleased you, your comment has pleased me no less. Thank you, Umashankar. Thank you so much for taking time to be here and for your appreciation,it means a lot to me :)

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  4. Your prose has the fluidity of a poem and vividness of a painting!
    Very beautiful, Panchali:)

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    1. Amit, Thank you so much for the delightful comment, and for your appreciation and encouragement. :))
      Thanks very much!!

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  5. Beautiful story full of emotions...Loved your narrating style..

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    1. What a fabulous comment..! Truly... you delight me...!!! Can't thank you enough for adding this to my post, Valli :))

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  6. beautifully written...the paradoxes are undeniable...and it justifies being a letter written by a person undergoing the trauma.... because there is a lot of restraint in the thoughts of Kushal, just like any follower of the great Dalai Lama would be expected to practise. no overtly show of emotions and yet even the subtlety can be felt..

    (am I yapping? or did i make any sense?!!)

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    1. Princess, Your comment added value to the blog!To use your emotions not only as a means of calibrating reality (which is a measurement of WHAT IS) but also as an instrument to catapult... is perhaps the proper purpose of emotions. I feel blessed... you have justified my writing this. :))

      Thank you so much.

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  7. There is no denying the fact Tibetans have suffered a lot, they have been denied the very right of their land and forced to live the life in exile. The way you have written makes their plights so palpable. You are a poet at heart, even if you are writing a prose. That's the beauty of it!

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    1. Meenakshi, I am pleased to share... readers like you are such a blessing. Thanks for coming by and this wonderful encouragement. ... :)))

      Btw, I have been looking for your blog. Your link takes me to your google+ page. Please pass on the blog link. Thanks :)

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  8. I remember watching a english movie starring Brad pitt I think , on tibet , that was first time I got to know what is actually happening in that country. It is so sad that people have ot suffer like that , and no one to stand for them ..

    and this makes me so angry , If it was not for the OIL , none of the UN countires would have bothered about iraq or Afghanistan.. that makes the so called leading countries Hypocrites. and such is the world we live in

    A lovely article, I hope god helps all those who are displaced and have lost their own country to tyranny ...

    Bikram's

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    1. Bikram, Was that a movie or a serial..? I do hope the complex issue of independence gets sorted out soon, else it's sending wrong messages to all oppressed people of the world!
      You said it well, Bikram. I guess, since Tibetans are committed to nonviolence, despite the Chinese repression and hard-line policies on Tibetan people for decades--none of the UN countries are taking them seriously!
      I pray for all those displaced people.
      Thank you, Bikram for coming in again and for your meaningful comment. I really appreciate.

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    2. It is a movie Seven years in tibet, made in 1997 , I had to google it :)

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    3. oh, I think I have heard about the movie! thanks Bikram..:)

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  9. Moving text. I do not know this book.
    Thank you for the beautiful comments.
    I send warm greetings

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    1. Thank you, Lucja for being here. Read the book if you can lay your hands on it. And do Keep visiting with such warm comments :))

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  10. Another absolutely beautiful post, Panchali di. You did transport us to the monastic life in the divine Kailas.
    Some dust from Tibet? I'm sure he'd have saved it if he was allowed to have keep his personal possessions. That's a sad story.

    I'm not sure what movie Bikram's talking about but you might want to watch a Keanu Reeves movie (quite an old one) called Little Buddha. I know a real life story quite like that. Now, that reminds me of Malayalam movie called Yoddha also has a small story of a young Rinpoche. That's a good one too and the kid in it is simply adorable. You can watch the movie just to watch him. :)

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    1. Thank you Divya, I need all the encouragement I can get, so your words are much appreciated! Thanks a lot!!
      Of course, I have seen this movie several times and the DVD is in my private collection.
      The interweaving of the story of the kids who are expected to be the reincarnation of a Tibetan Lama, with the Life of Siddhartha was an interesting approach. It was interesting how Buddha tried to instill that his teaching was key and he was an example of how to live and practice, not someone to be prayed to....! Thanks for reminding me. I must watch the movie once again :D
      Let me check, I might get a copy of Yoddha with English subtitles!
      I am glad to read your encouraging comment and also to know that you could relate to this post well due to your own experiences. Thank you so much for your visit and the appreciation...:)))

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  11. I just read about this book yesterday from another friend's blog. now, I want to learn more about Tibet. Beautiful, Panchali. very touching. :) Your prose is as good as your poetry. I liked that statement..Roof of the world, Its people roofless.. :(

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    1. FIF...I want to read the whole book now. I could download just about 30 pages for the contest...Thank you for taking the time to read, and for your lovely words.
      Yes, even I loved the caption!:))
      Happy to read your appreciation. Thanks a bunch!

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  12. I am lucky to have interacted with the young child given up to becoming a monk by his parents. He was full of confusion, emotions and stress the first year. And i couldnt believe the change in the second. Though he is still a child filled with naughtiness and mischief, he is happy and settled. Buddhism is mystical.

    I am glad your fictional boy has also found peace. So nicely written.

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    1. Meoww, Oh, that sounds great! So, you have first-hand experience, huh? We had two monks from Thailand in our batch in post-grad level. They came to India to study Indian Philosophy. They used to tell us stories of initiations and monastic lives...

      Thanks so much for checking out my blog.Good to know that the topic is of your interest. It’s great to feel supported by the blogger friends...always :))))

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  13. Touching one mam :) You have beautiful explained the silent powerful atmosphere of those monasteries and the austerity of those monks while narrating the story... Meditation and yoga will both help us both physically and mentally. I suggest everyone out here must do that to keep our mind calm but clear... Its sad to know that Tibetans have been suffering a lot.. Hope it all becomes normal again...

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    1. Harikrishna, Sorry for being late to acknowledge your visit and comment on my last blog. Last night I was trying to reply, somehow the reply button didn't budge..so left a common reply.
      Thank you so very much for that wonderful comment.. Hope of course, is the panacea for every situation ..and one who can cling on to it, would sail through the situation.So, I am sure, one day the Tibetans would get their country back! Amen...
      Thank you so much for taking time to be here and for your appreciation....

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    2. I hope Andy is down there.
      I hope I can make it across the border.
      I hope to see my friend and shake his hand.
      I hope the Pacific is as blue as I have seen in my dreams.
      I hope.

      These are the ending lines of "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" a part of "Different Seasons" a novel written by Stephen King.

      We too will hope :) Hope is a great thing.

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    3. Certainly, hope is confidence after all. Very apt lines for this particular blog...AMEN!

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  14. So beautiful post. Thanks a lot.

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    1. Thanks Rupam for your words of appreciation...every dose adds strength!:))

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  15. only few reads put us in a kinda melancholy still soothing harmony... something like a old song we listen before we sleep; and this is one such read.
    Bow.

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    1. Sathish..Here here! Hope I didn't lull you to sleep :P Just kidding,I’m honored that you stopped by, thank you so much for your words of encouragement, and wonderful example...and I just hope to live upto the expectations.. !!
      Thanks a lot!

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  16. U write like a dream..... :)....i usually have lots to say...it one of those few times when all i can think of is " i m speechless" and its wow.:)

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    1. Naughty Goddess...If my words have inspired you, I cannot but give credit to God. For he moves my spirit... and I write. Thank you ....for being what you are, my dear :)))

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  17. OHHHHHHHHHHH it's great to be here again wonderful post, thank you mam

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    1. That was one power packed comment...! I am thrilled really, Lucky !!Glad that this post held your interest. Thanks:))
      Cheers

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  18. "The inner voice" is intriguing & beautiful! Lovely write-up! :)

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    1. Oh, gayatri...Feels good to have you read this story. A performer needs an appreciative audience.. :))))Thanks so much !!!

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  19. Panchali your post seems as if you have been there,seen all that.Beautiful flow of emotions-lyrical prose.
    But my heart pains for a boy uprooted from his home n family-must have been agonizing initially.

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    1. If my writeup has pleased you, your comment has pleased me no less. Thank you, Indu:) Things that are happening in Tibet today rip my heart apart. My heart goes out to all the Tibetans who self-immolated recently because of the oppression at the hands of Chinese...sad, very sad indeed !!
      Thanks a lot!

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  20. It crossed the fence of fiction and came out alive to play some melancholic tunes in reader's mind! So did he post the letter finally?
    Ami apnar Fan hoye gelam Shotyi :-)
    Wish you all the best for the contest...

    Regards,
    Anunoy Samanta
    -------------------------------
    http://just4suzan.blogspot.com

    http://imakemytrip.blogspot.com

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    1. Welcome aboard, Anunoy! Kothaye chile etodin...??? Thanks for the wonderful comments.I feel blessed... you have justified my writing this. :))Yes, he did post the last letter.:))

      Now since we have met, hope to see you more often on these pages :))))And I also look forward to reading your posts soon!!!!
      Thanks a bunch!

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  21. Hey Ma'am... I could feel the glow of the light shine through this post...its beautiful an well crafted.
    Winning post!
    I have read the first few pages of Stopover and plan to write something related to Tibet for the contest :)
    Reading about the people of Tibet, my heart goes to them..

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    1. Hey Manjulika...I am so pleased... readers like you are such a blessing. Thanks for coming by... :)))

      It’s absolutely amazing what has been uncovered in the book.I want to read the full book now... have just read about 30 pages!My heart goes out to all Tibetans across the globe who are living in exile!I feel that spirituality, politics and science are all interconnected rather than in opposition, and I certainly would love to learn more!!:)
      Really looking forward to reading your take soon. Lots of love,

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  22. I am so enchanted by Tibet and the unfortunate circumstances under which many of them had to leave their homeland. You always do a good job at stories.

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    1. Good to have you here, Rachna. Indeed, Tibet is beautiful and I guess, it is about time this evil stops...!!
      Thanks :))

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  23. My take on Tibet issue:

    1. Tibetans have not been passionate enough about this issue. That longing for the motherland is there, but that is not sufficient to counter Chinese imperialism. If the Tibetans want a free Tibet, they must take the bloody route of military activism to counter the Chinese army. Sadly, they are lazy enough not to do that. We have never seen any guerrilla warfare in Tibet. In fact, I think, LTTE guys were more passionate about their agenda than the Tibetans. Tibetans, perhaps, want India to do all the hard work and get freedom at platter.

    2. There is far too much of commercialization of emotions in Free Tibet campaign. Big money is coming in, particularly after some Hollywood big-shots got interested in this issue. But you cannot buy Tibet. It has to be won back from China. Self-immolation by some youth will not get you there. Gun is the solution there. You have to kill the Chinese army personnel - thousands of them - to win it back. Has there been any serious discourse on how to free Tibet? or, What would/should Free Tibet be like, socially, politically, economically?

    3. China has been able to brainwash those in Tibet region completely. One doesn't get to listen about any 'Free Tibet' campaign in Tibet. Only the Xinchiang province has some disturbance. I must say China has been very successful in doing this, very strongly, no appeasement a la what we see here in Kashmir. That is the way to go for a sovereign country. It has to be ruthless in suppressing secessionist tendencies. This is where India has failed so miserably.

    4. The Dalai Lama has also failed the Tibetans. I believe, he has a soft corner for the Chinese. He fondly remembers Mao Xedong. A self-proclaimed champion of non-violence feels Mao was like father to him. Mao, incidentally, would go as the biggest mass killer in the history - some records put this number at 40 million.

    5. India has paid dearly for siding with Tibet in the past. Barely 4 years after the Dalai Lama got exile in India, China invaded India. Tibet has since been a thorn in Sino-India relations. Not that China will make a reliable friend. But, it makes sense not to rub our biggest - and the only more powerful - neighbor the wrong way.

    I guess I have written on this issue in a non-emotional manner. This post, brilliantly written as one has come to expect from the author of this blog, is actually soaked in emotions. I'll be happy if my opinions enrage any Tibetan and make them take a concrete action against China.

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    1. Ashwini,

      *batting eyelashes* I couldn't have inserted more emotion into this story. I was squirming while reading your comment/points... :)))Thank you for adding value to my blog!

      I AGREE...!!Tibet has long been a plaything of people disillusioned by the world, and it has been used and abused badly in many ways. It has witnessed all forms of resistance to Chinese rule but protests have been mostly non-violent!! Facts are complex, but we all know that moral, political and geopolitical considerations and the dominance of the Dalai Lama ensured Tibetan's commitment to non-violence!! And as you said, India has given its bit too !! Like Jawaharlal Nehru, to begin with, was aware that the asylum would antagonize China and destroy his vision of Sino-Indian cooperation,but, he still went ahead with it anyway.... Wish, there was oil in Tibet too to make it worthwhile for NATO or the EC to invade or take notice :)
      Thanks so much for the feedback, I really appreciate it... :)
      And well... one lives and learns... so, I hope Tibetans would learn to be ruthless too one day!!
      Thanks a bunch for that power-packed comment.... :)

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    2. 1. Agree with you on the disinterest of NATO in Tibet issue. But, Panchali, apne haq ki ladai sabko khud ladni hoti hai. Tibetans can't rely on foreign forces for that. Believe me, it's a blessing in disguise that NATO is disinterested. Wherever they have gone, the situation has deteriorated. BTW, the USA & other western countries would happily jump in this region to counterbalance growing power of China, given a chance. It's upto the Tibetans to create an opportunity here by collaborating with the USA, which, in my opinion, would be happy to provide them ammunitions. The strategic location of Tibet will help any country to control both South Asia & Central Asia.

      2. Non-violence should not mean lack of intensity.

      3. Tibetans will have to take their protest to the Chinese aggression at a much higher level now. The Dalai Lama has failed them. I hope the new PM-in exile proves pragmatic enough to see beyond his preachings.

      4. JL Nehru did a mistake in supporting the Dalai Lama. Nation's interest should always take a priority & not an individual's wish to be seen as a statesman in history. If India was not militarily strong enough to face upto China, it should not have antagonised them. Sino-Indian cooperation has been a big myth. Just because of his socialist leanings, Nehru chose to go soft on China, irrespective of the apparent atrocities perpetrated by Mao on the supporters of Chian Ki Sheikh.

      5. History is made by tough decisions, more so when the facts are as complex as in this case.

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    3. Thanks Ashwini for adding more inputs. Of course, it goes without saying, the earth would NEVER probably open up for them while you and I lie buried in the shame of THEIR embarrassing lack of intensity.... :((
      God save Tibetans n Tibet!
      It was a pleasure and honor to interact with you here. Thank you so much!!

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    4. Best wishes for the contest

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  24. woww..I just loved reading this...fine write...thumps up...

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    1. Sreeja... I take pleasure in the fact that I made you come here again... :)))))))

      Thanks a bunch....:))

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  25. Such an unique letter. I have met a few real life monks and have often wondered about them. This kind of shed some light on how they feel and why they choose such a life. Made me pause and think as I read this. Very very well written and all the best :)

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    1. Ghaz..Your appreciation as made my day. So glad you liked this... :))) Thanks...

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  26. Panchaali, going through your brilliantly penned 'letter', i found myself in the pacific ocean of emotions like i flow with any saas bahu daily soaps etc..also, the fairly long list of comments entails the same 'bucket full of tears'..but a comment by ashwini kumar has raised some very burning issues contrary to the popular opinions favouring the 'freedom fighters' of tibet..The comment deserves your take and for me its an eye opener..These monks are really lazy people...engaged in befooling the indian government by their crocodile tears..Dalai Lama is also encashing this 'so-called slavery' of tibet..

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    1. Pushpendu...Assuming that by now you have gone through my response to Ashwini's, I am certain that you agree as I do and I am quite sure even Ashwini does, that the issues raised here are complex. As the post modernists would say ( refer to Gyatri Chakraborty Spivak), that a complex issue, if dealt with in simple language it amounts to cheating...a complex issue would always require a very complex language. And all the while I was only trying my hand at a simple letter dealing with the idyllic world, if you please, of a Tibetan boy. And just to let you know, that this story is part of a contest on Writeup cafe.

      Purnendu, I hope that I would not exceed my brief, if I remind you that I was a student of philosophy once upon a time- and I had two robed- Buddhist Monks from Thailand, as my research associates in DU. One thing I learnt, from Pascal that too much clarity darkens!
      Thanks for the encouragement though... :)

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    2. ooops...that should have been Pushpendu! Sorry about the typo :(

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  27. yes, Panchali..by now I have enriched myself by going through your reply to ashwini's comment and ashwini's response on this as well. I can't help fall in love with your lucid writing. Now, for issue raised here about the tibetan problem, I find myself helpless in finding complex words to justify its complexity. But, ashwini's logic is a bit more convincing that in the name of moral, geopolitical constraints etc., the tibetans are making their issue more complex instead of inching towards its solution.The Chinese atrocities should be dealt with a similar spirit than loosening the belt in the name of non-violence. So, with all my due respect to your academic achievments, kindly allow to disagree with your point of view to tibetan issues and the Buddhist Monks' lack of intensity to win their motherland. They lack political acumen and will power to get it...so was our first PM J L Nehru - a man without any diplomatic vision...due to which we are facing the chinese aggressions every coming day.And to your reply to my earlier comment, I would say- Thank You so much. Keep writing to quench my thurst of learning from these healthy discussions-esp. yours and ashwini's..

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    1. Pushpendu...This beginning to turn into a mutual thanking spree:))))LOL... Thanks for the participation... :)))

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    1. Thank you, Ankit. Going over just now...:)

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