When I was born
my mother said
you are a refugee.
Our tent on the roadside
smoked in the snow.

On your forehead
between your eyebrows
there is an R embossed
my teacher said.

I scratched and scrubbed,
on my forehead I found
a brash of red pain.

I have three tongues
the one that sings
is my mother tongue.

The R on my forehead
between my English and Hindi
the Tibetan tongue reads:


by Tenzin Tsundue

No one has taken Ngodup’s [A Tibetan who self-immolated himself on April 1998] example more to heart than a young poet and writer named Tenzin Tsundue, the new and most visible face, after the Dalai Lama, of the Tibetan exile community. In January 2002, Tsundue scaled 14 floors of scaffolding attached to a Mumbai five-star hotel; Prime Minister Zhu Rongji of China was inside. As angry Indian policemen threatened to crush him under a service elevator, he tied a 20-foot banner inscribed with the words “Free Tibet: China, Get Out” to the scaffolding. Then, as Chinese officials watched, he unfurled the Tibetan national flag and shouted pro-Tibet slogans before policemen captured him….

Like many Tibetans, he grew up demonstrating outside the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi. In 1997, soon after finishing college, he walked across India’s remote and inhospitable Ladakh District into Tibet — he didn’t think that hard about what he was doing, he told me; he simply wanted to see his homeland. Arrested by the Chinese, he was taken to Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, and imprisoned there for three months before being deported to India. In his early 30’s, he has already known six different prisons. “I would strongly recommend a spell in prison to anyone,” he told me. “It is really essential for your personal growth.”

Pankaj Mishra The Resless Children of the Dalai Lama, New York Times Sunday Magazine, December 18, 2005