Name: Dawa Tsering
Interview Age: 77
Date of Birth: 1936
Birthplace: Jolay Thegulung, Kham, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1959
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 28B
Location: Lugsung Samdupling Settlement, Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India
Categories: Culture and History
Keywords: childhood memories, Chushi Gangdrug guerrillas, environment/wildlife, herding, Kham, trade
Dawa Tsering began working in the fields and grazing animals at around age 8, as there were no schools. His family grew different types of crops twice a year like grains, corn, rice and peas. He remembers going to graze goats and sheep in the mountains that surrounded his village. Dawa Tsering describes an incident when a leopard killed the flock of sheep he was tending on the mountain. He explains that the regulation against killing wild animals in his region was due to the people's belief in a mountain deity.
Dawa Tsering describes his work as a teenager, which was to cut wood into boards for constructing houses. His life changed at the age of 18 when he began to work as a trader between China and Lhasa, bartering a medicinal plant called edi bhemu for tea, brown sugar cubes and noodles. Since the Chinese had occupied Tibet already, there was no official border crossing to be made. Dawa Tsering thought that China appeared more prosperous at that time than Tibet.
At age 20 Dawa Tsering became a transporter, transporting goods on his mules for various merchants between Phari, Tibet and Kalimpong, India. He recounts that in 1958 the Chinese stopped trade movements between India and Tibet. These circumstances led him to join the Chushi Gangdrug Defend Tibet Volunteer Force. He stayed 6 months at Namgangtse. A losing battle with the Chinese army forced him to flee onwards to Bhutan and India.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
- Pema Tashi (Videographer)