Ngawang with his sponsor Frieda, in 1997
"I deeply believe that one day Tibet will be free. The Dalai Lama says that we never know when it will be. My life is physically here in Auroville where I live as a refugee, but in my heart I'm always Tibetan. If ever Tibet is free, I will have to live there."
Ngawang came to Auroville as a teenager, having lived the life of a Tibetan refugee till then. His family were Nomads and left Tibet when the kid was six. Grandmother, mother, aunt and little Ngawang went to Nepal, while his father and elder brother stayed on in Tibet. At 7 Ngawang attended boarding school in Dharamsala, India H.P. Up to the tenth class he met his family only every ten months for a two-month vacation.
When his mother re-married, Ngawang didn't get along very well with his stepfather. While in boarding school, he got word that his mother was sick, but was not aware of the real background of her illness. It was only during the next holidays that he could go to Nepal and found that his mother had died of food poisoning. This led to the final break with his stepfather and Ngawang moved in with his aunt and her son.
Back to school he failed his exams and was faced with three options: study further and try again, go home or go for a training..
Connection with Auroville
"I knew I would fail again and didn't wanna
go home either. So I chose the training. The options were a training
for cook or gardener. So I chose for cook and
Kalsang for gardener. I always lived in the north and our school
principal told us that the training would be in Auroville, near Pondicherry.
He explained us all the details and there we went - Kalsang, Tsering
and me. The journey was a crazy time.., it was difficult to talk to
the newcomer Tibetan guy, the tickets were wrongly booked (to Madhurai
instead of Madras), only seats and no beds and when we finally arrived
in Kottakarai Guesthouse I was so happy to see Ann..!!
Kalsang started in the Nursery and Ngawang in Ganesh Bakery. "Gradually I started to get in touch with the Auroville youth. They were not allowed to smoke at school and drinking was strictly prohibited. Out of school I felt more free and did not go to the training properly. Ann scolded me for being naughty.. I couldn't control myself until a man called Penpa (member of theTibetan parlement) called for me for a very last meeting and said: If you do good, you stay, if you don't, you leave!"
Then one night of serious thinking opened Ngawang's
eyes a bit. He moved to the Youth Camp, started to learn English and
found a job at Papyrus, a handmade paper workshop in Fraternity.
Finding a partner
"Then I met Lila and moved to her place. After a while we built a small capsule with some contributions from the Housing Service. We went for holidays to north India, where I went to visit my school director, who was very pleased to hear my improved English. We talked about sending more students to Auroville to learn English. My sponsor (Frieda from Switzerland) gave me some more money for holidays and back in Auroville I bought a new bike..!"
We have to keep up our Tibetan culture
Later Ngawang applied as newcomer to Auroville, kept on changing jobs, behaved well and became, in 1997, an Aurovilian at heart! "It feels great to be in Auroville.." he says now. "By becoming Aurovillian I found a new home. It's like paradise. I can live on my own, and don't have to deal with my stepfamily at all. Although the rest of my family now lives in the States, I have never been abroad. There is a tendency for young, modern Tibetans to become too westernised in exile, but we have to keep up our Tibetan culture. I pray for Tibet every day, in my own way, with my own wisdom. I want to build up my own life..."
And yes, maybe one day, Ngawang can return to Tibet..
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