On The Road With Faith As Wheels


R EDWIN SUDHIR recounts a chance meeting that broke the wall he’d built within

You like to meet interesting people, don’t you? Come by around 1 o’clock — there are three guys you should meet.’ When my friend called me the other day, I initially demurred. Meetings to attend and deadlines to meet occupied the mind, leaving little room for such conversations. I went reluctantly, more for my friend’s sake than for his friends’. The trust paid off.

As the blazing January sun beat down on a bright day in Bangalore, the three youths sat on moulded plastic chairs, slurping noodles unhurried, as only those can who are yet to be changed forever by cities. But there was no mistaking that the threesome would bolt at the first sign of danger.

When I heard the stories of Gyaltsen, Lugoen Thar and Tselo Gyal, I felt a twinge of shame that I’d almost not come to meet them. I was humbled by their stories of courage in the face of adversity and unwavering faith in their mission that eggs them on…. and on…

The more I heard about their escape from Tibet, the more amazement I felt at they’d endured. But I’m a skeptical journalist - trained to question every claim, and cynical of grand ideas and plans…

So, they’ve fled from Tibet? Good for them. So, they’ve just cycled from Bylakuppe, the Tibetan settlement near Mysore, to Bangalore? Nice going, but where are the photographs to prove they didn’t hitch a ride on a truck along the way? So, they’re cycling to Chennai in a couple of days, and then, in a zigzag route, eventually to Delhi, to present signatures collected along the way, supporting the Free Tibet campaign to Western embassies.

If their story of escape from Tibet is as fantastic as the one narrated by Jonathan Green in ‘Murder in the High Himalaya’, their cycling mission is equally jaw-dropping. How did they pick the route? Why goes east to Chennai when the final destination is Delhi in the north? Their answers, interpreted by their young friends fluent in English are simplicity itself. They are touching major Tibetan settlements in South India to spread awareness among people like them — they’re barely 21, 21 and 19, and hope to connect with other youths. They’re still in pre-university courses simply because they started schooling late, busy as they were, fleeing Tibet.

And the cycling mission was born out of a deep desire to do something to make people aware of what’s going on back home, where their parents and relatives still live.

They fished out their school atlas and charted a route. They serviced their Hero cycles and packed some clothes and food and set off from Bylakuppe. It’s as simple as that.

They also packed faith in their hearts. That, along the way, their friends and brothers and sisters in exile would feed them, give them a roof to sleep under, help them negotiate the city until they hit the open road once again.

Stay tuned to TIBET TELEGRAPH for more news and views on Tibet and Tibetan life, and on areas of interest to the Tibetan readers

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