Name: Tsering Choedon
Interview Age: 86
Date of Birth: 1929
Birthplace: Drikung, Utsang, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1959
Profession: Farming, Herding
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 15N
Location: Kathmandu, Bagmati, Nepal
Categories: Culture and History
Keywords: childhood memories, escape experiences, farm life, imprisonment, landowners, refugee in India -- life as, taxes, thamzing/struggle sessions, Utsang, wealthy/upper class
Tsering Choedon's birthplace is called Drikung, a village in Utsang Province. There was a large monastery called Drikung The with a lama called Drikung Kyabgon. Her family earned a living by farming and raising animals. During summertime there was work in the fields and during winter they fetched wood or did farm work. They were telpa 'taxpayers' who owned their own land and were able to keep all of the harvest. She explains that a telpa was required to pay taxes by supplying labor and animals to transport supplies for the soldiers as well as do other errands assigned by the government.
Tsering Choedon recounts that her father, who used to be a wealthy man was subjected to thaptsoe 'physical struggle [thamzing 'Chinese struggle session']' and forced to become a pig herder. He stole pig feed in order to ward off starvation while her brother and paternal uncle were imprisoned for refusing to submit to the Chinese' demands. They died due to torture. Tsering Choedon managed to escape by giving her money and jewels to a man who smuggled her out of Tibet to the Indian border.
Tsering Choedon describes her life after arriving in India where she worked as a foster mother in a nursery school for Tibetan refugee children in Simla. She describes her duties and her wages. Tsering Choedon later left this job to work on a road crew before being relocated to a settlement.
- Katharine Davies Samway (Interviewer)
- Henry Tenenbaum (Videographer)
- Palden Tsering (Interpreter)