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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."

The new Lhasa

August 27, 2010

Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
August 24, 2010

New Delhi -- For five decades, Majnu Ka Tila (MT)
is where Delhiites go to experience the Capital’s
Little Lhasa. A refugee camp for Tibetans who
fled to India,  escaping the Chinese colonisation
in 1959, MT is a dream factory for the city’s Tibetophiles.

It has all the Tibetan traps: pork momos, yak
butter, Thangka hangings, robed lamas, Dalai Lama
posters and wrinkled momolas in striped aprons.
But the basement Coffee House, with its yellow
walls, impressionistic posters and pop music, is
barely Tibetan, save a Tibetan calendar on the
counter, and a Tibetan-English dictionary on the
shelf (stacked with George Orwell and Salman Rushdie).

The café was started in 2008 by a woman named
Tsering Dickey. Its menu has no momos; the only
nod to Tibet being the presence of butter tea.
Prices aren’t high. There’s no coffee beyond R 65
and no tea beyond R 35; both are as civilised as
any beverage in the city’s big coffee chains. The
bakery products are better. Try the marble cake,
R 20. Buttery and crumbly, it doesn’t have the
excellence of Oberoi Hotel’s pâtisserie, but it
brings the Proust out of you. The peculiarly
homemade taste is just like that of the simple
cakes your mummy baked from magazine recipes.

The wicker chairs make up most of the 30 covers,
though there are sofas, too. Cushions are a
little worn out but that’s charming. So are the
café’s two waitresses, often dressed in tees and
checkered Katpants. They glowing with natural
warmth, not the rehearsed smiles seen behind the counters of coffee chains.

A magnet for MT’s cool young people,
conversations are rarely loud here. Sun tanned
Tibetans chat in their own language, while the
white lamas from the West tap on their laptops.
You may spend an entire evening staring at any
one of these firangis, thinking... is he from
Denver or Dublin? Is he heading to Dharamshala or
Sarnath? If too curious, feel free to strike a
conversation. A lot happens over a coffee.

Where: House no. 39, Majnu Ka Tila
Time: 8 am-10 pm (all days)
Nearest Metro Stop Kashmere Gate

And if you still want momos One of MP’s oldest
establishments, the Dolma House’s momos are worth
living for. The veg steamed momos (R 35) take
their own sweet time to come, since the lady says
that the dumplings are prepared once the order is
taken. Also try Tibetan sausage (R 55). We swear
by their strawberry lassi (R  20).

The eatery  is usually crowded with jeans-wearing
Tibetans who make slurping noise while swallowing
noodles from their bowls. The best tables are in
the partition on the right side of the entrance.
There, sitting by the glass wall, you get to
watch the street life outside. The waiter
presents the menu along with a notebook. The
guests are expected to jot down what they want on
a piece of paper. It avoids confusion that could
result out of mispronouncing the tongue-twisting Tibetan dishes.

Where: House no. 1, block no. 10
Time: 8.30 am-10 pm
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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