We entered a famous market (Purposely not naming it) in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala. A colourful lane that attracts many tourists, especially women with its handcrafted bead necklaces, jewellery pieces studded with beautiful gems, Tibetan masks, bowls, Thangkas (detailed Buddhist paintings) and many more. The shops are well decorated with many Tibetan items creating an ambience for one to drift away to their lost land, The Tibet. Love for their land was clearly visible in this lane.
The lane is full of make shift shops with plastic shades and a few shops with proper Tibetan interior and stone walls. Most of the attendants/owners were woman with red cheeks, wearing sweaters on their Punjabi dresses and emotionless but doubtful staring faces. Their shops though were very welcoming with Tibetan healing aromas let out, Tibetan wind chimes catching your attention with every breeze, extremely soft shawls & sweaters brushing past as you go near the shops to let a car go ahead and of course the eye-catching colours everywhere.
Irrespective of the type of shop some things were very common; the free Tibet flags or posters outside every shop, continuous passing of messages from one owner to another and of course shop attendant/owner least interested to sell their goods. We entered multiple such shops and came out empty handed just because the owner did not answer our basic queries. The situation behind the colourful, well decorated shops seemed to be different.
The urge to buy Thangkas to decorate our walls made us enter a shop and select some Thangkas on our own. We then handed the money, that owner asked for without bargaining a single penny. As soon as we came out of the shop, we saw a rickshaw with a free Tibet flag tied on top of it. The rickshaw was announcing something in Tibetan language. We thought, maybe they were having some celebration or Tibetan festival around.
Excited to attend the festival we asked a book store owner about the recent announcement. He in fluent English answered.
“Two students organising programs for free Tibet moment were abducted last week and have not been found since then. There are people in here who abduct any protester against China’s rule over Tibet. They either take these freedom fighters across border to China or simply kill them.” He casually added “This is just the first news of the day we hear such news all day long.”
The owner in his 50s passionately told stories of his childhood and showed photos hanged on the walls of his shop; photos of his school where his father was a principal, their owned land and 2-storied rich house. His love for Tibet was evident from his soft tone and the walls of his shop. We now had reached the counter with many books in our hands and a sensitive topic in his mind.
He said, “People here are always suspicious and never talk to strangers not knowing who might be an agent. But I fear no one, hence I sit in my shop instead of any woman attendant. I have nothing to lose. My son is in Ladakh trying to help our people. I lost my wife and my father one day after my free Tibet speech. I never found any trace of them.” His cold tone told us his determination to see a free Tibet at any cost.
The ancient Tibetan tools of spiritually healing and uplifting humans were still helping the Tibetan refugees. The shop attendants surrounded with Tibetan aromas, wind chimes, thangkas were positively working to get back their lost land despite regular negative news. The Tibetan tools, books and the atmosphere in the lane showed that China can never take Tibet away from these Tibetans.
“The more you are motivated by love,
the more fearless and free your actions will be “
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