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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Taste of Tibet

May 16, 2008

Toronto Star (Canada)
May 15, 2008

Salden Kunga of the Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario took the
Star on a tour of Tibetan hangouts in Parkdale:

Jason's Coffee Shop
1498 Queen St. W.

This narrow Vietnamese café, near the intersection of Queen St. W.
and Lansdowne Ave., has long been the place where Parkdale's Tibetans meet up.

"Most of the Tibetans will be found over here," Kunga said as he
waved to patrons. "Even when we finish our tea, we sit and we talk
and talk and talk."

Mid-afternoon, a handful of men sat at two diner-style booths,
chatting and joking in Tibetan while they sipped butter tea, a
traditional drink made from butter, salt and tea.

"It tastes a little like soup," says Kunga.

Tibetan Emporium & Entertainment
1506 Queen St. W.

A framed portrait of the Dalai Lama hangs above the counter in the
spartan store. Religious items like Buddhist prayer beads are top
sellers in the 4-year-old shop, which caters mostly to homesick
Tibetans, said store owner Gyaltsen, who has just the one name.

"I choose these things ... because a lot of Tibetans are here, so
that they get to see and learn their back-home culture," he said,
pointing to the collection of movies that chronicle Tibet's tumultuous history.

On the bottom shelf, Brad Pitt smiles from the cover of Seven Years
in Tibet. About 20 per cent of the store's business comes from
non-Tibetans. "A lot of Canadians, they are interested in Buddhist
culture and philosophies," Gyaltsen said.

Shangri-La Produce
1528 Queen St. W

In the back of this corner grocery hides a small but productive
kitchen, where staff fry up crispy dumplings and roast tsampa, a
traditional snack made from barley groats.

"We sell a lot to go," said salesperson Tsering Youdon, showing off
freshly cooked sha-bhaley, or fried beef dumplings. By the cash
register, chili-spiked stews simmered. Tibetans, particularly the
younger generation, like their food spicy, Kunga said.

On top of food and standard convenience store goods, the store
carries family-size bags of IKEA votive candles to burn at evening
prayers. The candles, Youdon said, are better than the dollar-store
variety, but IKEA is too far for most area residents.

Tibet Kitchen
1544 Queen St. W, Toronto, ON

Though snacks and takeout abound, there aren't many sit-down
restaurants serving Tibetan meals. Enter Tibet Kitchen, a cozy
restaurant near Dufferin known for its powerful, sinus-clearing hot
sauce. "I opened here to preserve our culture," said owner Tenzin T.
Valunbisitsang, who moved to Parkdale 10 years ago after living in
the U.S. on a tourist visa.

He partially credits media attention on Tibet for stimulating his
business, particularly outside the Tibetan community. "People know
about the Dalai Lama, they say: `Oh, the Dalai Lama ­ let's go try
Tibetan food.'"
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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