My Interview with John Billington for LondonNey

It was my absolute pleasure to interview John Billington for LondonNey about his lifelong engagement for Tibet. John, or “Uncle John” as he’s known in my family, was kind enough to come all the way from his home in Wales to spend the best part of an afternoon with us in London on a Saturday last month.

The full interview on YouTube is embedded at the top of this post and above are some other photos from the day.

A huge thank you of course to Uncle John but also to the entire LondonNey crew who worked extremely hard to make sure the filming on the day went smoothly. We had a productive day but it was also a lot of fun, with plenty to talk about and also to eat and drink!

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New for HuffPo – “Madame D: A Cautionary Tale of Language and Duck Momos”

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Ever since I saw the new restaurant Madame D’s description on Twitter, it bothered me that they described their food as an interpretation of the food prepared by “Chinese-Tibetan immigrants in India”.

The issue I take with this term is elaborated on over on my HuffPo page: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/59536635e4b0326c0a8d0c6b

Please have a read and share!

“Art, As Told By” – My Piece on Contemporary Tibetan Art for Gorilla Arthouse and LUSH

Gorilla Arthouse’s Instagram post about my piece on the LUSH website. Photo credit to Selim Korycki.

My Tibet work and my role as Editor of High Peaks Pure Earth has taken me to all sorts of places I couldn’t have imagined. Thanks to the lovely team at International Tibet Network, I’ve been connected to the rather amazing British cosmetics company LUSH and have a piece up on their website on contemporary Tibetan art!

I should go back a few months and mention that LUSH were kind enough to host myself, Kunsang Kelden and Alison Reynolds and Mandie McKeown from International Tibet Network on the Main Stage at their annual LUSH Summit which took place at Tobacco Dock in London on 8-9 February 2017. Even before that, LUSH had been supporting Tibet by donating proceeds of their Charity Pot to International Tibet Network’s work, so cool!

All four of us were blown away by the event where we were given completely free reign to speak for 45 minutes about the current situation in Tibet, art, music and freedom of expression.

Ali and Mandie did a stellar job condensing the situation in Tibet into a short amount of time and also providing an overview of campaigns leading to very concrete steps, such as taking action for detained language advocate Tashi Wangchuk. Kunsang and I focused on creative expressions inside and outside Tibet. I got to highlight the work of Woeser and Kunsang talked about her work on Lhakar Diaries too, focusing on young Tibetan artists.

We loved our day at the Summit and the talk has also been recorded and posted online on the LUSH Player, check out this link to watch the whole thing: http://player.lush.com/tv/summit-supporting-free-speech-tibet-banned-expression

So when I was asked by LUSH’s Gorilla Arthouse to contribute a piece about my views on art, I was thrilled. It was a great chance to think about why art is important and what creative expression says about the situation in Tibet and for Tibetans around the world today. I’m fortunate that all the real work is already done for me by artists and writers such as Woeser, Bhuchung D Sonam, Gade, Tenzing Rigdol and Tashi Norbu!

I’d like to end by thanking LUSH and Gorilla Arthouse (especially Graeme) for the opportunity to reach a new audience and for their support of our Tibet work. Check out Gorilla Arthouse on Facebook here and click through to my article here onto the LUSH website: https://www.facebook.com/GorillaArthouse/posts/1484855598214223

“White Crane, Lend Me Your Wings” – My Late Uncle Dr Pemba’s Book Launches in Delhi and Dharamsala

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On 26 November 2011, my Uncle Dr. Tsewang Yishey Pemba passed away at the age of 79 in Siliguri, India. It was a great loss to our family but his distinguished life and career was honoured all over the world by those who remembered him.

Even though we still feel his loss, it is heartening to be able to announce that his novel “White Crane, Lend Me Your Wings: A Tibetan Tale of Love and War” has been published posthumously in India by Niyogi Books and will be launched at an event in Delhi this coming Friday, 17 February 2017. For the full details of the launch, see this link to the Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1220255771396207/

Even though my Uncle was a distinguished surgeon and had a long medical career, he had a huge passion for literature and the arts and spent a considerable amount of his free time furiously tapping away on his typewriter. His memoirs “Young Days in Tibet” were published in 1957 and Idols on the Path, the first Tibetan-English novel, came out in 1966.

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It was always his dream to publish more of his fiction so this makes the publication of “White Crane, Lend Me Your Wings”, after more than a 50 year gap since “Idols on the Path”, all the more special and poignant. The novel is a work of historical fiction set in the Nyarong Valley of Kham, Eastern Tibet, in the first half of the twentieth century.

As the book description says:

The novel begins with a never-told-before story of a failed Christian mission in Tibet and takes one into the heartland of Eastern Tibet by capturing the zeitgeist of the fierce warrior tribes of Khampas ruled by their chieftains. This coming-of-age narrative is a riveting tale of vengeance, warfare and love unfolded through the life story of two young boys and their family and friends.

The personal drama gets embroiled in a national catastrophe as China invades Tibet forcing it out of its isolation. Ultimately, the novel delves into themes such as tradition versus modernity, individual choice and freedom, the nature of governance, the role of religion in people’s lives, the inevitability of change, and the importance of human values such as loyalty and compassion.

For those who can’t make it to the Delhi book launch, there will also be a launch event in Dharamsala on 23 February 2017.

I’d like to take the chance to thank in particular my cousin Acha Lhamo Pemba La who has been working hard to see her father’s wish realised. Special thanks must also go to Shelly Bhoil for all her help and to Trisha De Niyogi and all at Niyogi Books too. I’d also like to take a moment to remember my dear Aunt, Dr Pemba’s wife Tsering Sangmo La, who passed away on 8 September, 2016 – they had been married for over 50 years.

For more information on the novel please visit: http://niyogibooksindia.com/portfolio-items/white-crane-lend-me-your-wings-a-tibetan-tale-of-love-and-war/

If anyone would like to get the ball for the book rolling over on GoodReads, please head to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34208098-white-crane-lend-me-your-wings

Finally, you can order the book from Amazon India – please feel free to rate and review it! Follow this link to Amazon: http://bit.ly/DrTYPemba

 

Upcoming Event: “Discussing Autonomy and Human Rights in Tibet”

Photo credit: Du Bin (杜斌)

On Wednesday I’ll be joining Dibyesh Anand and Shao Jiang on a panel titled “Discussing Autonomy and Human Rights in Tibet” at Kings College, London. Corinna-Barbara Francis will be chairing the event.

This event will begin with the screening of excerpts from The Dialogue / 对话, a 2014 documentary film by Wang Wo and Zhu Rikun that records dialogues among Tibetans, Uighurs and Han Chinese living inside and outside China. Wednesday’s focus will be the online video talk between two Chinese rights lawyers Jiang Tianyong and Teng Biao, a scholar and the Dalai Lama in 2011.

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I remember very well reading about the video dialogues in Woeser’s memorable blog post  “How I Met His Holiness the Dalai Lama Without a Passport”. Because the video dialogues were being coordinated from her and Wang Lixiong’s small flat in Beijing, Woeser was able to be present during the dialogues and also to have a moment herself with the Dalai Lama which she describes in her post:

I cried and I cried. When I, as Tibetans do, prostrated three times, silently reciting some prayers, holding a khata in my hands and kneeling in front of the computer with tear-dimmed eyes, I saw His Holiness reaching out both of his hands as if he was going to take the Khata, as if he was going to give me his blessings.

Woeser’s moving blog post is still one of the most read and popular posts on High Peaks Pure Earth!

The documentary and topic’s significance is sadly heightened, in the run up to Human Rights Day, by lawyer Jiang Tianyong’s recent disappearance/abduction.

I’m very much looking forward to discussing the film. The event is free and open to all but there is registration via the link below. Thank you to Dr Eva Pils and Corinna-Barbara Francis for the invitation to take part in the event!

Date & Time
Wednesday, 7 December, 2016
16:15 – 17:45 GMT

Location

SW1.18
The Dickson Poon School of Law
Somerset House East Wing
London
WC2R 2LS

Link for booking:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/discussing-autonomy-human-rights-in-tibet-tickets-29475238231