Refugees Struggle With Life Everyday at a Tibetan Old Age Home

While some of them only see their families or children once a year or perhaps decades later, many of them have no idea what happened to them. For them, a senior living facility is the ideal place for comfortable company. They are aware that they will never go back to Tibet in this life. Even though some of them scarcely remember life or Tibet, care, prayers, and consolation are what keep them going.
It is not difficult to locate the Namgyal monastery, a very calm little Tibetan temple, which is perched on a hilltop, just above the bustling Shimla-Kinnaur route. 13 elderly Tibetan exiles who had lived after being uprooted and exiled in India currently reside here but have nowhere to go as they near the end of their lives.

While some of them only see their families or children once a year or perhaps decades later, many of them have no idea what happened to them. For them, a senior living facility is the ideal place for comfortable company. They are aware that they will never go back to Tibet in this life. Even though some of them scarcely remember life or Tibet, care, prayers, and consolation are what keep them going.

They seem to be living out their last days in this immaculate nursing facility, where they will die with unfulfilled dreams of a country.

“What should we do next? We have been an exiled community for 64 years. India is now our home. The trip is ended. I simply want to go directly to the

The old age home, which opened in 1999, has room for 50 residents. It formerly had 30 to 40 seniors, but there are currently just 13, including three women.

The elderly seem comfortable and delighted with the minimum comforts the monastery provides, such as breakfast, two meals a day, tea, and momos. Their ‘exile’ must be carried with them, which is the sole distinction.

They often converse while sitting side by side in the hot heat. But most people spend their time alone in their apartments, reciting Buddhist verses, counting beads (japmala), and sleeping the most of the time.

Former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, whose nameplate is still clearly visible, opened the Old Age Care Home. The house is situated in a perfect location, overlooking Shimla’s best-preserved watershed forest, which delivers cool summer breezes and pleasant sunlight when Shimla is blanketed in snow. A strolling corridor with windows made of glazed, translucent glass provides an amazing perspective of the valley below.

“This is a great location. The Dalai Lama sent me to this location. I hope he lives a long time since I try to live according to his desires. According to Tsering, “He is God to us,” and he continues, “When I hear the news about the situation in Tibet, I tell everyone that I won’t be returning there in my lifetime.” In his latter years in exile, a former soldier who had previously worked as the Dalai Lama’s kitchen at McLeod Ganj claims to no longer have any dreams. He responds with a soft grin, “My next destination can’t be Tibet, but the crematory.”

Tsering is the most nimble of all the prisoners, and he enjoys interacting with most of the visitors. He often leaves the house to take walks or buy fruits at the neighboring market.

“Everybody left. My wife, my two sisters, and my two brothers. I’m just waiting to go. “These are my final few days,” he declares.

The Old Age Care Home-Lobsang Chomophel’s caregiver, a monk, is sitting next to Tsering and is listening to the talk. He points out that he is a former soldier to Tsering.

“You served in the Tibetan army and afterwards the Indian army. You’ll live to be 100. What’s the concern? Lobsang encourages him by saying. Tsering starts to miss things.

“I had just turned 25 when I enlisted in the Army to defend my native Tibet. I had not yet been married when I was sent to the boundaries. Under the pretense of doing business, the Chinese entered Tibet and began mingling with the indigenous populations. It resembled the East India Company exactly. The Tibetans were attacked and killed as they gradually began to reveal their real nature, he recalled.

“There were instances of shootings and gruesome murders. The farms and assets of families were taken over by the Chinese. In the battles, the Tibetans resisted, fought back, and even perished. The army and its facilities were subjected to a significant onslaught one day, he claims.

Tsering claims that in 1958, he engaged in guerilla warfare against the Chinese army. He had gunner training. In the battles, many troops lost their lives. But a year later, he made the decision to give up and go, emulating the Dalai Lama’s flight over the Himalayas.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who was 23 at the time, managed to flee to India by posing as a soldier in 1959. He would have undoubtedly suffered bodily injury if the Chinese had managed to capture him.

Tsering acknowledges that he has lost a lot of information concerning his life and escape. Families left everything behind and trekked for kilometers in search of food and guidance. He stopped communicating with his sisters and other relatives. Years passed before they were reunited in Assam at various refugee camps or houses.

In 1971, Tsering got the chance to serve with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Bangladesh, where he engaged in a 16-day struggle before celebrating his success. He regrets, “I wish this had occurred in Tibetan when I was serving the army in my nation.

One of the Old Age Care Home’s oldest residents and maybe one of the most nimble people who can recount his experiences during the Tibetan rebellion is an octogenarian Tibetan refugee.

Most prisoners don’t speak much, and a small number have hearing impairments or don’t speak Hindi. There is a dementia patient. Everyone gets an own room with all the essential amenities, such as water, kitchenware, storage space, heaters for the cold, and medications. Everyone has access to a personal room for meditation and prayer, or they may go to the monastery, according to Lobsang.

Breakfast is supplied to the prisoners first thing in the morning, followed by lunch at midday, twice-daily tea, and supper at roughly six o’clock. To get food, everyone must go to the pantry. The alert to invite them to collect the meals is a large metal bell in the complex.

“This Old Age Care Home is the best-managed shelter home for elderly people,” claims Rajesh Kumar, state director of Helpage India, a major non-profit organization that provides care for elderly senior citizens who are in need. We attend to all of their medical needs, do the required examinations, spend time with them, and provide them free medications and multi-nutrient products. Some elderly exiled Tibetans who had recollections of Tibet and even a wish to return there passed away here.

So, Kumar concedes, if Tsering refers to this old age home as his last resting place, he is undoubtedly correct.
Another prisoner nods “yes” but quickly stops responding.

“I was a very little child when the Chinese army (the People’s Liberation Army) forcibly expelled the Tibetans from their homeland. I remember certain things about my early years in Tibet, including the appearance of her nation,” she claims.

She claims that in order to support herself, she labored for the PWD (Public Works Department) in Himachal Pradesh, constructing roads. The road leading from Shimla to the Tibetan border (Kinnaur) was one of the highways she worked on for a long time.

Norbu Tsering also had a few fortunate events. After serving in the military, he joined the Dalai Lama’s kitchen at McLeod Ganj and started preparing meals for the spiritual leader.

He is the God of life. He exudes compassion and respect for other people. He has become a global leader, and we are pleased with him. He will undoubtedly open the door to Tibet’s liberation someday. I want to witness that day,” he adds.

When asked about the Dalai Lama’s eating habits, Tsering responds, “Lama ji (Dalai Lama) eats very little. cooked veggies only; no sugar or oils allowed. He like chakki ka atta the most.

Cheemi, an 84-year-old prisoner at the Old Age Care Home, was unable to communicate her emotions in Hindi but was able to convey the suffering of being a refugee and having seen the displacements.

Many young Tibetans raised in exile in India may not even be aware of how their parents or grandparents survived and suffered there. Being a refugee is difficult, Sherop, a chef at the nursing home, acknowledges.

At this point, Tsering enters his room and retrieves a bottle of Fanta, a cool beverage, to serve. This served as a cue to end the discussion so that he could return to his room and get some rest. He exclaims, “Long live the Dalai Lama,” and starts reciting some Tibetan verses.

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