Thursday, August 14, 2008

History happens to us

Long but fun day in Shimla. Started with lightening my load by sending home a book parcel, nicest package in a long time , ended with a very short discussion on the price : " you decide, sir " .

Next stop ; Inner Line Permit.New office , clickety sound sound of printers, fans .. and a angrezi blowing of his head ( and any remaining respect ) : "I just want my ***** permit !. I have been wating for hours !"

The process totters on , delayed another half hour by a country too big : one of the students in a Spiti conservation project comes from the Republic of Macedonia , which is too long to enter on the computerised form.

In the end we are ushered in to a court like room , where the the Assistant District Manager presides behind a impressive pile of folders, and calls us up one by one, inquiring of our origins.

" Austria .. so you speak German in Austria too ? "

" Anna *** ... Macedonia. So you were a part Marshall Titos land. How many countries now , out of former Yugoslavia ? "

Anna counts them off m, one by one.

" Sad. If this would happen to India , that would mean thirty three countries - can you imagine that ? Impossible. "

" Well .. history happens to us. It was sad, but we move on . "

Interestingly enough , the example of Yougoslavia and the Soviet Republics was mentioned in the book I finished yesterday : Baba Phuntsog Wangyal , witness to Tibets history.

Wangyal is an interesting figure, a Tibetan communist that started in in ( literally) Chiang Kai-Sheks school and was thrown out after being inspired to Tibetan independence after reading ... Lenin.Later he became the translator between the Chines and the Tibetans at the forging of the the infamous Seventeen Point agreement. Political spine reflex translates this as collaborator , but he remained highly valued through his rocky carreer , from the sole Tibetan in the TAR goverbnment to eighteen years of imprisonment and torture. following shortly after Dalai Lama's escape to India. The foremost Western academic apologetic , Melvyn Goldstein, has recently published a bibliography on him , that seems to project a solid image of someone who from the start was committed to making Tibet a part of China - but his own words from the time seems to contradict this, pointing to the work of establishing a separate Tibetan nation , encompassing all of Tibet , not just the present TAR.

And his present stand seems to be the only politically survivable in present China : best for the Tibetans "under the present historical conditions " .. mentioning Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union in the next breath.

Chinese claims on Tibet have been dressed in terms of family ever since Mao welcomed Tibet "back" to the Motherland. Chauvinism comes out more clearly when Chinese cadres in Tibet are dubbed lao dai ge : bigger, elder brother. If this would be a marriage it was scripted by Lars Noren , and the point that the loyalist Wangyal makes is that only willing marriages survives .. , i.e. there has to a right to divorce.

After the ILP I went to Park Cafe to see Dhannajay : still in Delhi, but I got to know Dixit and Rakshim , big plus. Long nice chai , afterwards Dixit led me to a long search for a new burner for my stove. Lakka bazar afterwards for a new staff, and sharing the one tree available when the rains really got going.

(Soundclip , username and password in the dialog box

Photos to be posted later.

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