Archive for the “India and Tibetans” Category

Notes about my trip to India and to visit with the Tibetans in Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj

Xeni alerts us to a McClatchy Washington Bureau story and narrated slide show by Tim Johnson “China orders resettlement of thousands of Tibetans” which details the forced relocation of Tibetan villages (over 250K people or 1/10 of the entire Tibetan population) while encouraging the in-migration of Han Chinese into the Tibetan cities.

The New Yorker carried a story that covered the same ground, sans the forced relocation, but more deeply in the “Our Far-Flung Correspondents” section of theie April 16, 2007 issue as “The Train to Tibet: What will the greatest rail journey on earth do to its destination?” by Pankaj Mishra. This is only available as an abstract online tho.

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It’s 10 pm here in EST America, but in Delhi it’s 8:30 am tomorrow. I stayed in the luxurious Taj Mahal Grand Hotel in Delhi this summer whilst there for the “Owning the Future” symposium. And tonight, their today and my tomorrow, I received a very nice email with pictures of roses wishing me happy birthday.

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Red Hat Magazine has a great 8.5 minute video posted about India and Intellectual Property in the context of the Owning the Future Symposium posted. Here. Well worth 8.5 minutes of your attention.

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Fred is predicting the 2007 changes in the Social Networking space. Hint: Shake out, consolidations and transformations. The details are the devil. Read his post.

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Tom Glocer is CEO of Reuters and he is also a blogger. Where better for him to publish an article called “Trust in the Age of Citizen Journalism” than on his blog?

The article is the text of a speech Glocer gave at “Globes Media Conference in Tel Aviv on Monday 11 December 2006.” About the talk he says: “It’s about trust in media today, taking into account the growing
popularity of blogging and all other types of citizen journalism.”

Reminds me that when I met Lobsang Wangyal, the Reuters reporter amongst exiled Tibetans, he was most interesting in talking about his newly formed Association of Tibetan Journalists. The Association’s biggest task, he told me, is preparing citizens to be journalists by educating them about strong and respected news practices — values, ethics and skills.

Glocer’s talk via Dan Gillmor and the Center for Citizen Media. Dan has his reservations about parts of the talk.

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Buddha at the Dalai Lama Temple
I wrote up a bit about my trip to India and (mostly) about my visit to McLeod Ganj, home of the Dalai Lama for Red Hat Magazine. Bascha made my pictures look much much nicer too.

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Owning the Future

Possibly the only time that I’ll be to the left of Eben Moglen is preserved on this video made at the “Owning the future: Ideas and their role in the digital age” conference in India. I’m on your right tho ;->

Can lawyers say yes? Eben says he can since he represents hackers. Much more here in this nicely produced, CC licensed video from Red Hat.

The road to Delhi with Eben Moglen and Paul Jones
Produced by Kristin Hondros

Ever wished you could be a fly on the wall when tech-savvy folks gather? We got the chance at this summer’s Knowledge Symposium in Delhi, India.

The official title of the conference was “Owning the future: Ideas and their role in the digital age.” In between the discussions and sessions, we sat in on a conversation between Eben Moglen and Paul Jones. Two of the open source movement’s big thinkers–the lawyer (and founder of the Software Freedom Law Center) and the curator of ibiblio.org (one of the Internet’s largest public repositories).

Moglen and Jones have an open and fast-paced discussion that touches on international labor dynamics, technology expansion, intellectual property, economics, capitalism, and freedom. (Just imagine what they could do in more than 8 minutes…)

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Sayan sends a different story about the Tibetans — IBN has a video posted of the Miss Tibet Contest. The Contest is produced by Tibetan journalist Lobsang Wangyal (of the ibiblio-hosted Association of Tibetan Journalists).

The winner will be announced soon on the Miss Tibet site.

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When I was among the Tibetan exiles, I was amazed how hardworking and innovative they were and how positive they were. I mentioned this to my guide and friend. He immediately set me right, telling me that there is so much that was not being seen. Every Tibetan has had a family member or friend killed many times right before them, he told me. Still there we were among smiling and optimistic people.

In the past 24 hours, proof that the Chinese soldiers are still killing Tibetans in cold blood hit the news (and on youTube.) Xeni has a good summary on her Trek Blog.

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Xeni’s blog added a lot of stories last night.

A good long interview with Lobsang Wangyal in his role as organizer of the Miss Tibet Pageant. He’s also the head of the Association of Tibetan Journalists.

A bit from a Finnish newspaper about the Dalai Lama in which he says that his successor could 1) be chosen by election or by the traditional reincarnation method and that 2) his successor could be a woman — even a Finnish woman. He sent a warning to the Chinese about the delicate environment of the Himalayas. His final message in the interview: “Live happy and spread happiness around you” Xeni link here.

The developers of TorPark, a USB portable Tor tunnel builder, have dedicated their latest release to the Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. One of the Panchen Lama’s supporter wrote to the Torpark team with news of an open reward for $30,000 (USD) for anyone who establishes contact with the abducted religious figure – reports Xeni.

Here’s how TorPark describes itself:
Torpark launchs a Tor circuit connection, which creates an encrypted tunnel from your computer indirectly to a Tor exit computer, allowing you to surf the internet anonymously.

A bit about DRM-free Tibetan music for sale from Cruxy.com. Cruxy is a marketplace for ” independent original creativity.”

I’d swear there was a bit about Cisco making a donation to the Air Jaldi Summit, but I can’t find it. A Cisco rep, Jim Forster, will be at the Summit to talk about their world’s highest WiFi in Nepal. Some others to be at the Summit include Danese Cooper (who was at the Delhi “Owning the Future Conference”) and FSF‘s RMS aka Richard Stallman.

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Fred writes and Xeni skypes — each on their favorite topics.

Fred returns from BarCampNYC2 to report on 5 ways to make bucks from social networks and essays on the ups and downs of each. Then he adds three more. These three are by far the most interesting and add deeper insights to what makes communities happen and unhappen (okay I shoulda said “fall apart”).

Xeni visits the SOCALWUG (also known as Southern California Wireless User Group) where she chatted about her visit to the Tibetan government in exile and in particular the wireless mesh network in Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj. She also skypes with Yael Ben-David back in the Himalayas. Lots of monkey talk goes on which is good entertainment and good insight on how to deal with various local problems. The SOCALWUG could use a little postproduction help; the buzz and humm in the video is tough to endure. Xeni hypes the talk on her Tibet blog, but there’s not a transcript there just an announcement of the talk. You need the SOCALWUG link.

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Nice longish write-up on the Delhi Knowledge Symposium “Owning the Future: Ideas and Their Role in the Digital Age “ in MoneyControl.com Mumbai.

And there is a really nice write up in Wikipedia which features a photo of me with my mouth open…

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Mentioned here by Xeni.

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Rhesus looking innocent
Driving to Dharamsala, I noticed a lot of Hanuman Temples — on the way back down the mountains these would all be splashed with orange paint. As we got further into Punjab, I started seeing real monkeys hanging out on the temple walls.
I pointed this out to Vikrant, who was unimpressed. “I don’t like monkeys. I like Hanuman, but I don’t like monkeys.”
“Why?” I asked.
“When I was little, monkeys jumped on me and took my food and scratched my face. I don’t like monkeys.”

When I reached McLeod Ganj, I had another monkey alert. On the back of my door in the Pema Thang were warnings: “Shut the doors and the windows (or the wire-meshing) to your balcony when going out, MONKEYS may enter your room.” “Do not feed the MONKEYs & DOGs”

Sure enough when I walked out on the balcony, I heard rustling in the trees. I could see their little faces peeking out of the foliage. They were checking out my doors and windows (or the wire-meshing).

During my walks around McLeod Ganj, I saw little troops of monkeys looking for mischief. And some large single males getting into trouble. But I also saw evidence that Buddhists try to love monkeys anyway and want them to be happy.
Hanuman Langur is feared by monkeys
Back in Delhi at the airport, I was talking to an Indian traveler. He told me that when the Delhi subway opened some of the first riders were monkeys who followed people on trying to get bags of chips. Once on the subway the monkeys tried to escape with the chips and when they realized they were trapped in the car, they went ape. The solution was to hire Langur-wallahs. Street performers who with their charges, the much larger Langur, terrify the smaller monkeys and chase them off the trains. According to my informant, there are several Langurs and their wallahs on the subway payroll. Sure enough there’s a WikiNews story that supports him.

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Here’s a brief list of the folks and institutions that I visited in Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj that have some relationship with ibiblio:

Jigme Tsultrim
Tibetan Computer Resource Centre – Manager
website of the Tibetan government-in-exile (CTA)

Jigme Tsering
CTA Dept of Information and Intl Relations – media
Tibet TV Online

Lhakdor
Library of Tibetan Works and Archives – Director

Lobsang Rabsel
Contact Magazine – manager

Lobsang Wangyal
Reuters reporter, photojournalist
Lobsang Wangyal Productions, Miss Tibet Pageant,
MusicTibet Music Awards – Director
Association of Tibetan Journalists

Lsering Lhundup
CTA Dept of Home – field officer and web developer
website to come

Nawang
Louisiana Himalayan Assn (LHA)

Neil Guidry
Louisiana Himalayan Assn (LHA) – director

Penpa Tsering
CTA Dept of Education – field officer and web developer

Phuntsok Dorjee
Tibetan Technology Center – Director

Sanon Nyima
Louisiana Himalayan Assn (LHA)

Tashi Samphel
Lower TCV – computer teacher/administrator and programmer

Tenzin Norgay
Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy – UN Affairs

Tsering Yangkey
Tesi Environmental Awareness Movement – ecotibet

Tseyang
VolunteerTibet – Director

Yeshi Choesang
Khawa Karpo-Tibet Culture Centre (KTC) – Assistant Editor

Multi Education Editing Center

Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute – Men Tsee Khang

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Both Sri and Sayan claim that India has great coffee. They may be right. But I didn’t find it in Delhi inside my bubble in the Oberoi or the Taj Mahal. In the room I got Nescafe, but even the most pedestrian tea was of excellent quality compared to teas commonly available in the US. At the restaurants and the bars in these two five star hotels, the espresso wasn’t made from an espresso or French roast blend. It was either a mild roast or gawds help us from what tasted like freeze-dried stuff like Nescafe.
In McLeod Ganj, there were actual coffee shops – mostly there to deal with the tourists who were Israeli in majority. The coffee there was better than in Delhi, but by then I had become a tea drinker.
India and the Southern US has something in common when it comes to tea. We both like it sweet, very very sweet. The difference is the temperature. Indians drink hot tea; Southerners drink it cold. But we still like our tea to be as close to sugar syrup as possible.

On other fronts, former ibiblian Kyle aka Clark aka Beastie sends links to about 15 pages of photos covering his trans-Siberian trip. He found more Lenin statues that I found on my trip to Siberia.

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I was in India during the monsoon season. In the areas in which I wa travelling that meant hard rain in the afternoon or most likely in the evenings and night. But not such a terrible thing to have happen. In the mountains there were washouts, but not like the stuff we see from hurricanes in NC.

Thanks to our friend Ernesto, I’ve seen more rain in the past 24 hours in NC than during my whole trip to India.

Kirk Ross at the Cape Fear Mercury has all kinds of details about Ernesto.

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The malaria medicine that I didn’t choose is supposed to give you odd dreams and hallucinations. Instead I opted for Malarone, which merely upsets your stomach. Hey I’m in India; I will have an upset stomach eventually during the trip. I wasn’t disappointed, but I was ready and immediately reached for the Cipro, which calmed it all down and killed the bacteria responsible.

Then the dream. I had been waking up between 2 and 4 every night and again at 6ish. But tonight when I woke up I still had the memory of an odd dream

In this dream, I was in America. A dream America to be sure, but America nonetheless. I was with my parents. Not with my small family. I was the age I am now and they the age they are now but living on their own in a dream house. By dream house I mean that it did not remind me of any place we ever lived together. It did not even resemble the same house from minute to minute but changed as I moved through it even nearby parts seemed vague then suddenly detailed. That however was not the mystery of the dream.

The mystery of the dream was that I had no memory of how I had gotten back to America. In the dream, I began in McLeod Ganj in the Pema Thang Guest House just as in reality. But at dream-waking, I was in America. How did I get there? I had lost about two days of time. Others commented on that as well. How did I get there? My parents were the only identifiable people. I kept looking for Sally and Tucker and couldn’t find them. I wasn’t in Chapel Hill, but in some American limbo, some bardo. How did I get there? Finally it dawned on me as I sat there surrounded by people at once familiar but startlingly unfamiliar and I would even say ghostly and ethereal; I needed to check my passport. That would have stamps that would say the dates and perhaps times of my travels.

I found my passport with no difficulty. I opened it while the ghosts and my parents looked on. Sure enough I had left India on schedule. Midnight on August 31. Then instead of going to Chicago as I had planned, my next stop was Tokyo. I must have stopped there for about two days according to the stamps. I had no memory of that. After Tokyo, I had gone to San Francisco and changed planes for a cross-country to Raleigh. The dream Raleigh I guess. Again I had details but no memory of any of the travel.

I stared at the ghosts and even at the walls of the rooms hoping that something else would become clear to me. Even my parents were beginning to fade, to become obscure. There was no more sound. That was that. The end of the dream.

Resolution but no resolution. An answer, but no explanation. A reunion with my parents and the unknowns, but not with my wife and my son. A group that seemed concerned about me, but who could not be defined, named or sensed enough to attribute any characteristics to other than concern

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In which we visit a variety of ibiblio contributors, note the need for infrastructure improvement, see a bad monkey and good monks, and even head back down to Delhi.

All this in more in these pictures.

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My guide and I meet the new Deputy Secretary for Communications and International Affairs. He is very gracious and offers to show us the Parliament Building and to introduce us to Lhakdor, the new director of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. We have a good discussion on digital libraries and what he’s up to there. But every now and then he pauses and asks us “What questions to you have for me?” Since we’ve been asking all kinds of questions about the Archives, scanning and access. James asked about the various web opportunities.

As we left, he asked us “What about your questions about Buddhism?” I turned to my guide, who is a devoted Buddhist. He looked blank. I made a little Zen joke and said “I know nothing about Buddhism.” No one got it.

Later I kicked myself. What a missed opportunity! I tried to come up with a worthy Buddhist question, but I kept coming up empty.

Finally I tried one out on my guide. Why is there an eightfold path? Why not seven or nine? My guide was kind but it was obvious that he thought this was a pretty dumb question.

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