Name: Yeshi Kunga
Interview Age: 78
Date of Birth: 1937
Birthplace: Kyadroe, Utsang, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1959
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 32N
Location: Tashiling, Pokhara, Gandaki, Nepal
Categories: Culture and History
Keywords: escape experiences, nomadic life, refugee in Nepal -- life as, salt trade, trade, Utsang
Yeshi Kunga was born in Kyadroe in Utsang Province. Life was very difficult for the nomadic families like his and for the salt collectors. His mother and the siblings looked after cows, sheep and yaks while his father went to gather salt. The salt was transported on yaks to Dolpa in Nepal to exchange it for grain. Yeshi Kunga explains the hardships like the freezing cold and heavy snowfall that he experienced when he accompanied his father on a salt gathering mission.
During the winter months, herding was also challenging because there was no grass for the animals and all the water was frozen. Some days they spent 2-4 hours searching for water sources. Yeshi Kunga liked the 6th and 7th months of the Tibetan calendar year best because warmer temperatures meant easier work. In addition to herding, the family also engaged in spinning wool, sewing and making cheese and butter. Some of the children also worked for others just to get enough food, which was the only form of payment.
When news of the Chinese invasion came to their region, Yeshi Kunga's parents became worried and the family fled their hometown. They escaped "without even a cup," and left all their animals behind. After arriving in Nepal they worked as servants in Dolpa, and Yeshi Kunga helped build the foundation for the present Tibetan settlement in Pokhara.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Henry Tenenbaum (Videographer)
- Palden Tsering (Interpreter)