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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

An Interview: My essays present an argument: Tenzin

January 28, 2010
January 27, 2010,

Activism brings to mind spirited slogan shouting,
a certain disregard for appearance and a
heightened sensitivity towards issues of freedom
and originality. When seen with this perspective,
Tibetan activist, writer, poet, Tenzin Tsundue
stands apart. Vogue has rated him among the 50
most stylish Indians, and his weapon of protest is ‘mightier than the sword’.

When Shivangi Singh and Nabila Habib of caught the celebrated Tsundue, he
came across as a very placid and warm individual,
with a charming (and paradoxical) disregard about
his appearance that was extremely appealing. The
small, wiry activist talks in fluent and engaging
Hindi, and fills up the spaces in between his
words with poetic silences pregnant with a
strange fervour for freedom, giving him a very
lyrical quality. Excerpts from an interview:

Q: What made you take up the cause of Tibet?

Tensin: I was born and brought up in India, but I
am still a foreigner -- legally. Culturally I am
very much an Indian. Chahe hum Hindi bolen ya
Tamil bolen, hain to hum Indian hi. (Whether we
speak in Hindi or Tamil, we would still be
Indians.)Just like you or any other young Indian.
But my problem is mera ghar nahi he. (I don’t have a home).

Q: Are you more like a vagabond?

Tensin: No not like a vagabond. I am a man who is
out of his house, who has to reclaim his home. My
country is occupied by China. We have to reclaim
the independence of my country.

Q: So you are fighting China...

Tensin: Yeah, but it doesn’t mean we cause
violence to them. They have caused so much
violence on us, but we take this as a challenge
to our practice of non-violence. You will perhaps
not see a Tibetan take to violence. I am an
activist who is fighting for things I believe in.
As an activist and as a writer - these are the
two ways I fight for the freedom of my country.

Q: What is the purpose of your writings?

Tensin: When I am writing poetry, essays and
stories, I am making an argument from our side. I
am fighting for the cause of my country. I am an
activist and a writer. So when I write stories
and when I write essays I am making an argument.
I am making people know our opinion on that, and
this is to help people make sense out of Tibet.

Q: Why in English, of all languages?

Tensin: Because there is so much of propaganda
from China. I am writing our story in English
language, making other people know our side in a
way it’s a voice that I am making for our people
who may not speak English, who may not understand
us, for we speak Tibetan, write Tibetan.

Q: Do your poems also carry the same message?

Tensin: Poetry is different. It has to come from
within. I can sit at a desk for three days and
write a wonderful essay, but poetry is something
that should come to me. I cannot sit at a desk
like that and write poetry. An inspiration should
come from within. And if it is coming then I
should listen to it very collectedly, and put it
together very sincerely. It requires a lot of craft.

Q: What are you writing next?

Tensin: I will soon be coming up with more Tibetan stories.

Q: Some writers whom you appreciate?

Tensin: I like the works of AK Ramanujan, Nissim
Ezekiel, Domorel and also pross
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