Paula Sengupta  

On 30 March 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama escaped from Tibet into exile in India. Since then, over a hundred-and-twenty thousand Tibetan refugees have followed their leader into exile, fleeing their homeland in an effort to practice and conserve the Tibetan way of life. The ongoing project INTO EXILE reflects upon this deeply problematic situation, especially the eradication and sacrifice of habitats, lifestyles and cultures to inevitable transformations in systems of government and leveling of social structures that became a phenomenon of the modern world. Largely developed from stories of exiled Tibetans, this project dwells on memory as a repository and re-creation of a culture, and the struggle to hold on to a cultural identity that is today severely threatened by two generations of Tibetans in exile who have never been inside Tibet. Free Tibet was comprised of four provinces – Amdo, Kham, U-Tsang and Ngari. “The Library of Exile” is an ongoing effort to collect four sets of stories of exile from each of the four provinces of Tibet. Due to the presence of a large Tibetan resettlement programme at Bylakuppe near Mysore, and also due to the inherent nomadic instincts that the Tibetan people possess, Tibetan refugees travel to Goa and, more recently, south to Kerala in the winter months to sell their wares as the tourist traffic in India shifts from the hills to the plains. Fort Kochi and Ernakulam have about 5-6 settled Tibetan families, running small businesses. The Kochi chapter of “The Library of Exile” has been developed from collecting their stories first-hand. The Library of Exile” is for your access – please feel free to open the manuscript boxes and read the stories of a people in exile whose country functions out of a faraway hilltop called McLeodgunj in Himachal Pradesh in North India.      

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