This week my future truly began in earnest, there’s no turning back now. My flight is booked, 1st of September, London Heathrow to Delhi.
I graduated earlier this month (read http://bit.ly/cIayn1 for more information on that) and as my friend pointed out I was taking the biggest risk out of all my friends, the largest lurch into the unknown. It hit me as my friend spoke that what I am planning to do with my life is very foolish and risky, perhaps too much for me. Many of my friends are doing masters degrees or getting jobs in London, not me, there’s no pathway where I’m heading. I’m following my heart, back to India, to find my ‘fortune’, my future. So with my new found freedom I have decided to do something that I have been dreaming of for well over a year. I plan to write a book, dedicated to every single Tibetan around the world.
I have been to India twice in the last three years, the first time I lived and taught in McLeod Ganj (or Dharamsala) in North West India. In this hilltop settlement, hidden among the Himalayas I truly found a home, a heaven. McLeod Ganj was originally a British hill station and saw a huge population boom until 1905 when a massive earthquake killed almost 20,000 people, this led to its abandoment and it wasn’t until 1959 when it started to become the refuge for hundreds of thousands of Tibetan people. I will do into greater detail of the history of the Tibetan people in the book but for now visit http://www.sftuk.org/about-tibet/history-culture/ for more information. On the 17th March 1959, the Dalai Lama fled his own country in fear of his own life and the safety of the nation he swore to uphold as spiritual and government leadership. This began the fleeing of hundreds of thousands of Tibetans, following their leader to freedom. The Tibetan people were granted McLeod Ganj as a refugee settlement by the Indian government, since then they have created a large and successful sanctuary centered around the Dalai Lama.
What struck me the most when I first arrived in Mcleod Ganj and still does today is the caring and warmhearted nature of the Tibetans despite all the heartbreaking hardships they have had to endure just to have freedom, the freedom to worship and the freedom to be Tibetan.
My aim is to create a book that is both informative and visual, to shine a light on the Tibetan peoples, a peoples that are often ignored by foreign governments, the media and the general public. I will create individual chapters for each person with in-depth interviews covering all aspects of their lives so far. What their lives were like in Tibet before they escaped, the constraints upon their basic freedoms and the experiences they have had. I will also include the astonishing tales of escape across the Himalayas, how they eventually reached sanctuary in McLeod Ganj. Finally I will document their new lives in India and their hopes for Tibet’s future and their own futures. I will intersect these stories with photography of the people and the surroundings they now live in, showing the beauty of the Tibetans and the Indian Himalayas.
I have started to create the book, with publishing contacts and people agreeing to talk about their experiences but the pages are still empty….for now. I have always been a dreamer but for once its leading me somewhere. I’ll keep you all up to date in the mean time with blogs of experiences as I’m having it, writing it out in India as well as my usual writing malarkey.
That’s my plan, now I just have to hope and write.