Saturday, March 19, 2016

2016 Tibetan Prime Minister Election: Patriotism or Favouritism?

The twentieth day of March 2016 is almost here. It is the day we elect our Prime Minister for the next five years. There still are unsettled opinions and debates going on in the Tibetan communities in exile. Many of us are supporting and advertising one’s choice of the two candidates, lashing out and criticising the other, while some of us have still not made up our mind about whom to vote for.

Personally, i have never been interested in politics. Since I was a little girl, I have been saying that I want to be a journalist and when asked what field i want to pursue the career in, I say “anything but politics.” Politics is tagged ‘a dirty game’ by many, including me. BUT for how long are we going to keep saying that politics is a dirty game and not take part in electing the Prime Minister of Tibet; the country occupied by a very powerful nation for more than half a century long? Do you think it is worth ignoring what is happening with our nation’s political system and not be bothered by it when the plight of the Tibetans inland Tibet continues? Are we going to be unbothered about losing more people to to the Chinese government, self immolation and the struggle for justice?

To my shame, even after turning 18, the time when one becomes eligible to participate in voting for political leaders and administrators, I have never taken part in any election but this year, at 21, I am proud to say that I am voting for the Prime Minister candidate; I feel can work for the betterment of TIBET. I am finally claiming one of the fundamental rights and doing one of the fundamental duties i am responsible for, as a Tibetan. I request you all to take part in the upcoming election too.

There are a lot of political debates going on in our community and it is disheartening, as a Tibetan, to see many making the decision, of whom to vote for, influenced by the sense of regionalism, favouritism and grouping. The very reason i am taking part in this election and urging you to do so is, our issues are critical and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is 80 years old now. This is not the time to elect somebody for the rank just because he comes from the same province of the country as you. This is not the time to elect somebody for the rank just because the person is related to you anyhow. I do not believe that there ever is a time for that, especially when it is about Tibet. This is the time to elect the person who is capable of taking the position of PM; the highest ranking minister of our government. The Prime Minister, as we all know, is not of a province only but of a country, and that too in our case, the PM of our government in exile.
Amidst all the advertisements and criticisms, I have read some posts on social networking sites and heard of as well that some Tibetans are boycotting this election because it's controversial and some are not even bothered about who takes the position. Please stop taking this election too lightly just because we are living a comfortable life in exile. Tibetans inland Tibet are suffering each day under the brutal treatment of the Chinese government. Are we not contributing a little for Tibet’s struggle by electing the more capable, dedicated and trustworthy candidate for the position of the Prime Minister of our country for the next five years?

When a candidate is either criticised or praised, do not get deluded. When it comes to criticism, keep in mind that ‘there is no spark without fire’ and when praised, remember that ‘self praise is of no recommendation’. Let us elect somebody who has the determination and capability to politically lead the Tibetans and somebody who respects His Holiness the Dalai Lama wholeheartedly.

As the apt saying goes, “United, we stand and divided, we fall.”, let us stop dividing the nation into groups. Rangzen & Umay, Utsang, Kham & Amdo, Tibetans born in exile & those born in Tibet, and so on. Doing this, we are indirectly supporting the Chinese government dysfunction our government in exile and deteriorate the Tibetan situation. Let us not be Tibetans only on the March 10th, or when we apply for documents, or when somebody asks us what nationality we are and so on.
Let us be Tibetans, FOR TIBET. Take part in the forthcoming election FOR TIBET and contribute in strengthening Tibet’s situation. Vote for the candidate who you think is fit for the position and stop lashing out to the other candidate who you think is not. Let us elect the person His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and fellow Tibetans can count on and somebody who will be the right political leader FOR TIBET the next five years.

So how about being patriotic, not bias? The choice is yours.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Farewell 2015 With The Final Bow To The Heartbreaker!

To The Heartbreaker,

2015 was helluva year! I was loved and then unloved by you. Following that were days I felt betrayed and ditched and there were days I felt I had been pushed back to reality by a blessing in disguise. There were days I wanted to yell at your face so that you could see the heartbreak in my eyes and there were days I would do anything to avoid seeing you. There were days I longed to talk you one last time and there were days I felt I should not waste any more time on you because you had wasted enough of my time already. I had been living all these days-turned-months, fighting my feelings. These always seemed to win. Just one of these feelings burdened my heart enough: all of them together crushed me. 

Why did you have to lead me on for a few months only to tell me in the end that you had mistaken attraction for love? Growing up, I realised that love and loyalty are my strength and I expect the same back from the people I give them to. Why did you think it was okay to awaken the best part of me and just toss it away for your own selfish pursuits, leaving me to experience the best part as my weakness? While I was learning to accept the apology I had never got, you appeared out of nowhere and said sorry as though this unfelt word of five letters strung together, could make me forget everything you have put me through and feel better. I had a playlist of fxck-you songs ready to throw at your face when you turned back to say sorry; they would make you feel terrible about what you did to me and every time you heard the songs being played, the sense of guilt would linger around you. But…I chose not to do that. Instead I forgave you and just as I predicted, forgiving you did not fill the void in me. After all those months of trying to leave my past where it belongs and move on ahead, there you were, asking me if I wanted to start over with you (and then disappear when I risked myself for another lie?). Why did you have to come back all of a sudden and make it even worse? If you were not going to help me heal, why did you have to return and derail my recovery?

The year 2015 has been a painful one. I had walked so many lonely paths under the city lights at nights. I had sat aloof at cafes trying to find some peace of mind - a state of not thinking about you - and you just do not know how chaotic my mind had been. You forced me over a very tough set of hurdles. I had people telling me not to put myself through so much and to move on from you but it had never been easy for me. There were moments when I felt I could not take it anymore. You took me for granted- you knew I was too steadfast to leave the relationship even if you did your best to stay away from me and went for weeks on end without talking to me. The sadness I felt was sickeningly heavy. Because of you, I have trust issues now. My heart is frozen solid already, at this young age. I have turned into somebody who believes that detaching myself from people is wiser than getting attached and being hurt in the end.

But the year was a learning experience as well. I’m happy I have finally come to my senses. You will understand how painful this has been for me only if you go through the same. Now that I am nine months removed from the situation, I am glad it ended when it did. I had become comfortable in our toxic relationship but I am happy that I have been able to wise up before reaching the point of no return. I realised that ending it has given me the opportunity to put myself in a better situation that will pave my way to becoming the woman I aspire to be. I have always wondered how people could have the courage to cut somebody they love out of their lives, move on and start over with somebody new but this time, I will do the same. I will not allow you and our past to haunt me or hold me back. It's high time for me now to accept the fact that people leave. They leave, they just leave. Every fibre of my being understands that I need to let go of the past and move on, for my own stability. I have learned my worth. I believe I am better than what I had settled for and that better things are on the way. I am setting myself free off all the chains binding me. I know someday I will look back at it all and be happy about the decision I made, to let you go. I believe I will be fine.

Thank you for pushing me back to reality and reminding me that I am supposed to be focused on things that matter, at this moment in my life. I appreciate you for pretending to be somebody you thought would measure up to my expectation and I realised, I fell in love with ‘that somebody’ you tried to be and not you. We may run into each other someday in a busy lane or at a cafĂ© or anywhere we are destined to meet again but I hope the feelings I once had for you do not feel at home in me anymore. I hope my heart does not recognise yours. Let me end the story of us right where 2015 ends. I hope you grow wiser and respect women and our feelings. I hope I regain faith in love and people. I look forward for the year 2016, ready to start from the sketch with positivity, love and grace. 
In the end, you’re just a frog I mistakenly kissed believing you to be a prince.

So, there you go along with the year 2015!

Why Are You Not A Feminist?

“Gender equality is a shared vision of social justice and human rights. Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.” - Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director, at the High-level Thematic Debate on advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, 6 March 2015 at UN Headquarters in New York. 

According to Wikipedia, Gender equality is based on “the view that men and women should receive equal treatment, and should not face discrimination”. 
For gender equality to prevail, both the sexes should be treated equally. There is no equality when women are less privileged or being looked down upon. Women can do what men can and if not everything, we can do some things even men cannot do. We have qualities that many men do not possess.

Women are under-privileged and have been suffering from gender inequality for centuries. This is why the feminist movement was brought into action. Feminism is the belief that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men. 
But why is feminism still a controversial topic when all it stands for is equality of men and women?
“Feminism; the radical notion that women are people” reads the T-shirt I am wearing in the picture above. Women are people and deserve the same social, economic and political rights and opportunities as men.

That women are still regarded as inferior by many in our society is clear from a number of injustices: inequality in social privileges and job opportunities, the sexual violence in and outside home, less recognition for the same work done by both the sexes, unequal ratio of men and women in politics, stereotypes of how a woman should look and act, no identity for women often regarded as the wife of xxx, not providing education for young girls, heavy household chores, body-shaming. The list goes on. Just as in many other societies in the world, there are prejudiced opinions about the way women in our society act and dress.  

Somebody once asked me why I am a feminist when I am not abused or ill-treated within my own society. Feminism is not about just one woman, but about women as one. There is no woman who has not suffered from gender-inequality in her life just as there is no man who has not enjoyed gender-bias privilege. There are celebrated feminists living in the most forward nations in the world where women are now respected and are treated as equal to men. Why do they still raise their voice for feminism? The question answers itself. 

There are men who turn defensive and even aggressive when feminism is talked about. In my opinion, the reason they show this misogynist attitude is because they feel insecure about the superior status they claim. Women’s capabilities and emotional strength threaten men. Many do not want women to be given the same opportunities and respect they get, for they know they cannot dominate if women succeed too. Some men get offended because they do not even understand what feminism stands for. They have a preconceived notion that feminists hate men and seek superiority over them.
Accepting feminism neither makes a man look feminine, nor females look masculine. You need not compromise your femininity or masculinity to support feminism. Feminism has no gender. If the cause is to change how the world perceives women, that does not mean men should not support it. Feminism is not a movement against men. It is against a patriarchal society in which women are considered and treated as inferior. In other words, men can be feminists too.

Men need to acknowledge us beyond our body. Women are compassionate, triumphant, positive, bold, passionate, strong, ambitious, hardworking, intelligent, independent, empowered, enlightening, sexy and inspiring. We are achievers. To be acknowledged for all these good traits in us, we women raise the feminism issue. We need the male gender to accept us as capable individuals and respect us the same way they want to be respected. They cannot create the stereotypes of a “beautiful woman” and a “good woman” as boxes to keep us in.

Feminism is not a trend to seek people’s attention. Feminists do not want women to be treated with actions evoking male dominance over women and our young sisters need to remember who went before us and on whose shoulders we have stood to achieve the right to share social platforms.

Because of the spread of feminism and education, the world is becoming a better place for many women and we are now respected and achieving equality with men. But everywhere there are still silenced women dominated by men. No country in the world is a women-safe place yet.
So, stand in solidarity with the women who are still being ill-treated in every home, in every region, in every corner of the world. Stand against rape with us.  Feel for us, and the pain women who are raped undergo and the after-rape life women live. Stand in solidarity with the aspiration to raise boys and girls the same way. Stand up for the socially, politically and morally just call for equal rights and opportunities for women and men.

So to those who have been misunderstanding the whole feminism thing, let's repeat: we neither claim superiority over men, nor seek attention and profit. We ask only for equality. If you still think this is too much to ask for, you just do not accept women as people. And women will not forgive you for this. We will bring the battle to you with ever more determination.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Luxury Brand Christian Louboutin Uplifts Body-Positivity Casting Plus-Size Model

After 20 long years of the very famous French luxury brand’s existence, Christian Louboutin finally casts a plus-size model, breaking the stereotype of only skinny women being beautiful and raising the confidence of women of the other shapes and sizes.

Clementine Desseaux, 27, who is now the face of Christian Louboutin’s campaign for their latest shade of red lipstick, Rouge Matte Velvet, is the first plus-size model to be featured in the brand’s ad campaign. She moved to New York to look for a full-figured model job after she failed to find one in Paris, France.

Women of all sizes and shapes are beautiful. The fashion brands hold a great responsibility and are influential in creating the stereotypes and encouraging the other gender in tagging only the skinny women as beautiful. All the sizes and shapes should be featured in every brand’s ad campaign and no women of sizes and shapes other than skinny are to be discouraged. Young people look up to the models and hence the preference of skinny over plus-size is rampant among the younger generation. 

Congratulations, Christian Louboutin for breaking the barriers with the major leap and uplifting body-positivity.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

INTERVIEW: Dikyi Ukyab

Dikyi Ukyab is a twenty-four year old Tibetan-Nepali based in New York, US. She has her own music album out and she sings cover music as well. She has a very unique passion and talent of hula hooping. Dikyi and her friend, Sangye Dolker, started the Khushi Project to help children in Nepal, affected by the recent traumatising earthquake. 

Tenzin Woesel: Hello, I am Tenzin Woesel. I have started a project to interview young talented Tibetans around the globe to make people of the world aware that Tibet is an independent nation and has its own celebrities just like the other nations. With this project, I also intend to appreciate and encourage young Tibetan women like you who are talented and are pursuing your passion to go further. I found you on Instagram and I checked your blog, your YouTube channel and your SoundCloud account. I love your voice and your big heart in helping the children of Nepal through the Khushi Project. Thank you for accepting my request to have an interview on Skype. 
Dikyi Ukyab: What a pleasure to hear from you. I’m so glad you like our work with the Khushi Project. I love that you’re trying to raise awareness for Tibet. Great work! Thanks for reaching out. 

TW: What do you do currently?
DU: I graduated from SUNY Purchase with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and I’m currently doing my Masters in Public Relations from New York University. I make music and do cover music as well. 

TW: What is music for you and since when did you get involved in music?
DU: Music has always been a form of expression for me. It’s a way for me to connect with others and myself. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. 

TW: Who’s your inspiration in life?
DU: Personally, my parents have been my inspiration. They work so hard and it inspires me to worker harder. As far as music is concerned, Lady Gaga and Adele have been my inspirations. I really admire the message Lady Gaga gives through her music- spreading positivity and encouragement. I want to be an artist like her. As for Adele, I think we share a lot of similarities in our sound and I love her music as well.

TW: How old were you when you had your debut album ‘Silver Lining’ out and how do you feel about it?
DU: I was twenty years old when I released my debut album ‘Silver Lining’ although I started recording the tracks much earlier. Having a music album out at a young age has been one of my greatest achievements.

TW: Share something about your EP, ‘Memories’.
DU: Memories is a project I was working on. It has three songs. It paints a story about different moments in my life that I feel everyone can connect to. 

TW: You sing cover music too, right? Which song do you think is the best one you have covered so far.
DU: I’m pretty busy with grad school, so when I’m not working on my own music I do some cover music for fun. I’m working on a cover of Drake’s Hotline Bling at the moment. My favourite cover I’ve done is a mash up of ‘Take Me Home’ by Cash Cash and Naughty Boy’s ‘La La La’.

TW: Where do you do the recordings and what music genre are most of your songs?
DU: I did all the recordings of my debut album in Nepal but I recorded the EP at my friend’s house. I record the covers at home. Regarding the genre, almost all of the Nepali songs in my album are folk pop but the second album I am working on currently, is of diverse genre.

TW: Do you write your own songs?
DU: Yes, I do! I started writing lyrics at a young age. The Nepali songs from my debut album, Silver Lining, were written by Durga Lal Shrestha and composed by Nhyoo Bajracharya. The two English songs on the album were written and composed by me. I’m hoping to venture into writing some music in Nepali as well some day as I improve my Nepali.

TW: From all the music you have made till now, which one is your favourite?
DU: My favourite is never constant. It keeps on changing and as for now it is ‘Nothing to Lose’- a song from my EP, ‘Memories’.

TW: How many music videos have you released till date?
DU: I have four music videos out, two from my debut album and the other two from the album I am currently working on. 

TW: Tell me something about the ‘An Evening with Dikyi Ukyab’ concert you held at Army Club in Kathmandu, Nepal and how was your experience?
DU: I have been a part of a few concerts but ‘An evening with Dikyi Ukyab’ was my first solo-concert. I performed fifteen songs for three hours and had other singers like Nima Rumba, Ciney Gurung, and Yogeshwor Amatya performing in between. I did a Tibetan song, one or two English and the rest were Nepali songs. It was a great experience and a proud moment, holding a concert of my own.

TW: Besides the solo concert, have you done any performances?
DU: Yes, I have performed at various events like SFT’s, Chatpati Mela 2014 and so many others. I have also performed at the Rubin Museum of Art during the Chelsea Block Party last summer. The most recent event I performed at, was the Walung Kyidug fundraising show. 

TW: According to your preference, rate English, Tibetan, Hindi and Nepali music.
DU: Although I love music in all languages, I’m most comfortable with English since I was born and brought up here in America. I love Nepalese and Tibetan music as well. 

TW: Please share with us, the acknowledgments you got for your music.
DU: Making music in Nepal has been quite a rewarding journey. In just a short span of time I’ve been welcomed by so many. My first single Jaun topped the charts as #1 on a few stations and my music video for Ke Bhaye Ko topped at #1 on Image Channel’s Top of the Pops. I was nominated as “Best New Artiste of the Year” at the 13th Annual Tuborg Image Award (2012) and touted as the ‘The Next Big Thing’ by Navyaata magazine. I was also nominated for Best New Artist, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Best Pop Rock Album of the Year at the 16th Annual Hits FM Awards (2013). Most recently, I was nominated for Best Vocal Collaboration at the 2015 Hits Fm Awards for “Maile Diyeko Phool” a duet from my upcoming second album.

TW: What shall we expect from you in the coming months?
DU: I’m working on a cover of Drake’s Hotline Bling and I am sharing it soon. I am also redoing the song ‘Nothing To Lose’ from my EP ‘Memories’. Apart from those, I am currently working on my second album. So, you will be hearing a lot of new music soon. 

TW: You have an extraordinary passion and talent of hula hooping . Since when did you start doing this and what inspired you to hula hoop?
DU: I started doing this since last December so it has almost been a year now. I have seen a lot of students hula hooping around me during my undergraduate, but I never got into it. A friend of mine started doing it recently and I finally got it. So I brought one when I visited Nepal last winter and since then, I have been in love with it. I have always been interested in activities like making music, dancing and all kinds of artistic self-expression.  I found that same passion in hula hooping.

TW: You run the Khushi Project and help the children of Nepal. What inspired you to start the project?
DU: My friend Sangye Dolker and I started the Khushi Project after the Nepal earthquake. When we first heard about it, we were shattered. We really wanted to do something that would help the affected people. Since both Sangye and I have worked with children before and are interested in music and dance, we decided to bring back smiles on children’s faces through music and movement.

TW: What are the achievements of the Khushi Project?
DU: Well, Khushi Project is a fundraiser we started to bring music and movement therapy to kids affected by the recent earthquake in Nepal. We raised over $10,000 with the help of our donors, Himalayan Yak restaurant, and our event “Karaoke for Khushi”. Karaoke for Khushi was a night of food and singing at Himalayan Yak, a Tibetan restaurant and cultural hub here in New York. A lot of people joined us that evening and supported. With our funds, we visited different schools in the earthquake affected areas in Nepal, like Gorkha (the epicentre of the earthquake), Sindupalchowk ( the place with the highest death toll) and Jampaling, one of the Tibetan settlements in Nepal, among many others. Along with other friends from New York and Nepal, we made hula hoops and distributed them to the children. We taught them how to hula hoop and sang songs with them too. It was so refreshing to see smiles back on children’s faces and we look forward for more opportunities like this to help them.

TW: Aren’t you proud of yourself? You have achieved a lot at such a young age! I’m so impressed. Keep amazing us with your melodious music. Good luck for the forthcoming album and your life ahead. Thank you for making time for this interview. Stay beautiful. 
DU: Thanks! I’m definitely blessed to receive so much love and support from my fans and the people around me. They’ve been the reason I’ve had a chance to share my music and art. I’ve still got a really long way to go and I hope to do so much more in the future. So I really want to thank my fans and ask others to join me on my journey and stay connected. I hope I can make music one day that can truly touch people and transform minds. Thanks Woesel, again, for helping me tell my story. It’s been a pleasure!

Friday, July 10, 2015

How My Grandmother Left Writing Poetry

Some years ago, I visited my grandmother and we went on a long walk to the far end of the village. During our time together, she told me so many stories of her salad-days; I cannot remember all now but one thing that has struck me since then was about how she left writing poetry.

I have heard from her friends that my grandmother unlike other girls of her age when she was young, would spend a lot of time alone; meditating on life and sometimes imagining herself to be a bird. “She was always seen with a book and a pen, writing poetry in the fields.”, a friend of hers once told me.

“In my early twenties, I was known as ‘the-poet-in-the-making’ in our village.”, my grandmother told me on our walk. “Most of my poems are melancholic for writing poetry had always been an escape for me. It was a friend whom I could turn to when I felt low. I also used to write poems that were beyond the personal. I loved speaking on behalf of the sad people to let know that they were not alone. I wrote about the heartbreaks of people I know and even about heartbreaks I neither felt, nor I had known of.”

“When I was twenty nine, I experienced a traumatic obstacle to my writing. My little sister, my closest friend, Kenny drowned in the ocean while on a family trip to Hawaii. She was only twenty four then. Nobody could save her, it was a tragic death.  I had been through some severe heartbreaks prior to this dreadful incident. I have lost friends, broken up with my boyfriend, failed in papers and so on. I used to look for solace in writing because it had always been a comfort and an escape for my burdened heart. But none of these losses hit me as hard as Kenny’s death did. I stopped writing forever.”

She wiped her tears and I could see unfiltered heartbreak in each teardrop that fell onto her wrinkled cheeks. 

She went on saying, “I had became terribly sad and weak within. I thought penning down my emotions would help me like it used to but surprisingly, I could write nothing. The paper remained blank and the pen, unused. The more I stared at the paper, the more I felt as though it was piercing my heart. I learned that no words were enough to express how bitter I felt within. Months passed and so did years. I am eighty now and it has already been fifty one years since I wrote a single poem.”

I pitied my grandmother for how badly she had been hit by the loss. She could not put her feelings into words anymore. From this, I learned that writing poetry is not the act of sad and weak people. When writers remain strong despite their sadness, they express their emotions through any medium. Poetry is the medium I would choose to express my poet- grandmother’s pain for her. Weakened by 
trauma, she could no longer write .  Perhaps if there had been another poet there to encourage her to write about her sorrow, she could have regained her strength and her poetry writing. Sad poetry does not mean the poet is weak. It shows how strong he/she is despite being massively hurt ; when a person is hurt and weak within as my grandmother was, they cannot write down their feelings at all.

Not all  sad people write and not all sad poetry is written by unhappy poets.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ode to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama on His 80th Birthday

Born in the land encircled by the snowcapped mountains,
Where human, flora and fauna lived in peace.
You, the sun of Tibet rose from Taktser in Amdo
On the sixth day of July in the year 1935.
Your rays fall on every sentient being, illuminating hearts,
The world rejoices in your presence, Your Holiness!

As the red Chinese flag covered your homeland,
You fled to keep the hopes of your people alive.
Crossing the Himalayas into India's welcome
On the thirtieth day of March in the year 1959.
In Dhasa, the little Lhasa you found a home,
You are our only hope in exile, Your Holiness!

You promote human values and religious harmony,
You spread love and compassion wherever you go.
Honoured with countless awards, the Nobel Peace Prize
On the tenth day of December in the year 1989.
You travel the globe in humility and selflessness,
The whole world looks up to you, Your Holiness!

At sixteen you bore the burden of Tibet,
Living up to the hopes and confidence of the six million.
We will forever protect you as on the Uprising
On the 10th day of March in the year 1959.
The light in the darkness, the hope of millions,
You are the gem; the purest and treasured, Your Holiness!

For everything you have done for the Tibetan cause,
For the universal promotion of human values and harmony.
We bow down in gratitude as you turn mighty eighty
On the sixth day of July in the year 2015.
The world celebrates your long precious life,
Happy eightieth Birthday, Your Holiness!