Interview Age: 74
Date of Birth: 1933
Birthplace: Dhuena, Utsang, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1959
Profession: Agriculture, Dairy Farming
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 16
Location: Lugsung Samdupling Settlement, Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India
Categories: Oppression and Imprisonment
Keywords: Bylakuppe -- early life in , childhood memories, Chinese -- oppression under, Chinese rule -- life under, environment/wildlife, escape experiences, forced labor, herding, refugee in India -- life as, shamans/mediums, thamzing/struggle sessions, Utsang, wealthy/upper class
When he was a child in Tibet, Gelong's family owned a huge herd of sheep and fierce dogs to guard them from wolves. Gelong had the difficult responsibility of grazing the animals in the mountains, often separated from his family for extended periods of time. He recalls the beautiful animals like lynx, gazelles and wild asses that used to roam in Tibet.
Once, as a young boy, when Gelong (originally named Namgyal Tenzin) grew sick, his family consulted a lhapa 'medium.' The lhapa believed Gelong to be a reincarnated lama and renamed him "Gelong," a name typically reserved for high lamas. Then he recovered from the illness.
After the Chinese came to his village, Gelong's family was subjected to the thamzing 'struggle sessions' initiated by the Chinese on Tibet's wealthy and influential families. Gelong relives those sad moments when the Chinese turned his family out of their house and confiscated their assets. He also talks about his experience of forced labor under Chinese rule; Gelong had to help build roads. When the road work was completed he returned to his village, only to find that his family had fled to India. He soon he followed them and helped to build his settlement in India.
- Martin Newman (Interviewer)
- Lhakpa Tsering (Interpreter)
- Tsewang Dorjee (Videographer)