Retirement celebrations were a big deal in the our village of Tangbe in Mustang District. But before 1990, even with a sizeable number of the people living in Pokhara, I don't think many held their celebrations in the city because of the shame they felt in being ethnic Tibetan. Things have changed a lot since then. Here's a glimpse into a celebration that I attended last month.
Since 1990, little by little, my people from the little village of Tangbe in Mustang District have been reclaiming their identity. Here's one of the ways they are doing that.
I used to really feel uncomfortable introducing myself as "Dorje Gurung" to fellow Nepalis as a young student growing up in Nepal in the eighties.
I still do...but for the exact opposite reason!
I may just have found a way around it thoug!
The first experience Mustang had with development aid was in the nineties, some of which I saw first hand. And they failed miserably! Part of the reason was the condescension with which Kathmandu has always treated Mustang.
The influx of tourists to Mustang bring little benefits to the local people. On the contrary, the visitors not only have little regard for the ways and values of the locals but also question and threaten the most important aspect, and therefore, the very basis of their way of life: their religion (their spirituality).
Our political leaders and the Kathmandu elite have always been arrogant, self-righteous and patronizing when it came to the way they treat marginalized Nepalese.
Here's an example of that going all the way back to the early nineties when they opened and served up Mustang district as consumer products to trekkers and travellers.
Is it any wonder they are treating the people in the southern plains as they are now?!