Name: Ngawang Chomphel
Interview Age: 76
Date of Birth: 1931
Birthplace: Donpa Gonpa, Utsang, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1959
Profession: Agriculture, Dairy Farming
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 33
Location: Lugsung Samdupling Settlement, Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India
Categories: Culture and History
Keywords: Bylakuppe -- early life in , childhood memories, Chinese rule -- life under, escape experiences, nomadic life, Utsang
Ngawang Chomphel spent his early years living in a monastery, where his father was the head lama's business manager, and roaming the plains of Tibet as a nomad. He recalls his childhood was filled with "happiness, plenty of milk and [I was] physically healthy." As a boy he grazed the animals in the fields with large dogs to protect from the livestock from wolves.
Before seeing them himself, Ngawang Chomphel heard rumors about the sufferings imposed by the Chinese. When the Chinese did come to his region, some of the neighbors reported his father to the Chinese saying that he had repressed them. Fearing for his life, Ngawang Chomphel's father escaped to India a day before he was to be subjected to thamzing 'struggle session.'
At that time, Ngawang Chomphel and his wife were harvesting crops in a nearby village and did not know his family had fled. He soon felt compelled to also escape after hearing people say, "The tree may be gone but the branch is here. So we will thamzing the son." Traveling to Bhutan was not difficult because Ngawang Chomphel had frequently taken that route as a trader. Starting new life in exile in Bylakuppe was challenging-- Ngawang Chomphel helped to build the settlement which was threatened by dangerous elephants.
- Martin Newman (Interviewer)
- Lhakpa Tsering (Interpreter)
- Tsewang Dorjee (Videographer)