Tashi Tsering, exemplar of the dilemmas of modern Tibet, died on December 5th, aged 85
THIS was the way things were, and always had been. The great mountains reared their heads above Tashi Tsering’s childhood village; his stone house, with animals below and family above, stood among the rocks; his shaven-headed paternal aunts, Buddhist nuns, helped to churn the butter and to weave his thickly padded clothes. In autumn the lentils were crushed from their yellow pods; in summer the yaks trudged up to high pasture. Year-round, prayer-flags fluttered in the thin, clear air. For centuries on the highTibetan plateau, nothing had changed.
Foreigners exalted the place as aShangri-La. It was far from that. This brutal world was divided between the nobility, lay and religious, and the common herd, who bowed when their superiors passed. Or, as one aristocrat put it to him once, the world was divided into “those who’ll eat tsampa [roast barley meal, stirred into salty tea] and those who’ll eat shit”.[Source]