20 June, 2021

My Friend, Ngodup

Patrick French remembers the man who brought Tibet back into international headlines

My Friend, Ngodup

I first went to Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh in 1986, a few weeks after my 20th birthday. I liked the village of McLeod Ganj in particular—the tranquil atmosphere, the Tibetan tea-shops, the monks in their maroon robes, the simplicity of village life with the mountains rising in the distance. I resolved to go and live there during my summer vacation from university the following year.

I took a room in a hillside monastery called Tse Chok Ling, just below McLeod Ganj, and remained there for several months. Each day I would attend Buddhist teachings for a couple of hours, and then read and write in the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives for the rest of the day. I was at that time especially interested in Tibetan history and culture, and the way in which it was being eradicated by the Chinese. So, apart from writing a desultory novel, I spent most of my time reading books and talking with Tibetan refugees.

At Tse Chok Ling there were perhaps a hundred monks. Some were grizzled old veterans who had escaped over the Himalayas following...

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