Name: Sonam Tobden
Interview Age: 80
Date of Birth: 1937
Birthplace: Sintso, Amdo, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1959
Profession: Trade, Herding, Farming
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 27U
Location: Clement Town, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
Categories: Culture and History
Keywords: Amdo, childhood memories, customs/traditions, Chinese -- first appearance of, March 10th Uprising, Norbulingka -- defense of, resistance, trade, houses/villages
Sonam Tobden was born in 1937 in Sintso, Amdo Province, which was a village of 60-70 families filled with flowers. All the villagers helped one another in times of need, such as a family illness or construction of a new house. The houses were made of wood, designed with many pillars, and each floor had a specific use. His family members gathered together and recited prayers in the evenings in the shrine room. As a teenager, Sonam Tobden whiled away his time hunting and racing horses.
The Chinese began entering his region in small groups, offering to help the Tibetans and giving them money. After the Tibetans realized that the Chinese were not there to assist them, fighting broke out. Sonam Tobden's family sent him on a long journey to Lhasa to sell butter. He arrived in Lhasa in 1957 and later received letters from his parents telling him never to return to Amdo because it was not safe there.
In March of 1959 Sonam Tobden joined many others in Lhasa who went to the Norbulingka palace to protect His Holiness the Dalai Lama from the Chinese. They were powerless to act after the Chinese' bombarded the palace for hours. After 10 spending days there, it was announced that the Dalai Lama had escaped safely and Sonam Tobden fled to India.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
- Tenzin Choenyi (Videographer)