Friday, August 27, 2010

Tibet: Murder in the snow

Back in early October 2006, Smithy and I had just returned to Kathmandu after travelling in Tibet for a month and were staying at the Kathmandu Guesthouse, when a poster on the noticeboard at the Guesthouse caught my eye. It was announcing the deaths of Tibetan refugees, shot by the Chinese as they escaped over the Nangpa La on the Nepal-Tibet border on 30 September.

This is the documentary of that shooting and of the stories of the hundreds of Tibetans who risk their lives every year to escape the Chinese occupation and oppression in their land.

Visit the official website to learn more about this story or to donate to the fund set up in Kelsang Namtso's name.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Living in the Land of Oz

My family marked its 40th anniversary of emigrating to Australia on 1 August. I was just a kid when we set sail from England - 10-pound Poms, we were - and it felt as if we were leaving everything and everyone we knew and heading into the great unknown. At the time, it felt like a terrible mistake. I'd never see my grandparents, friends or schoolmates again. It poured with rain for the first month of our arrival. I couldn't understand a word said to me by the kids at school. The trees looked funny, the birds sounded strange and I couldn't get my favourite comic, Whizzer and Chips, at the little shop up the road - the only shop up the road!
Looking back now, I regret nothing about my parents' decision to emigrate. Who knows how my life might have turned out if we had stayed in England. Sure, I wouldn't have been bullied at school for being English, but I doubt I would have gone to university either. Granted, we never lived in a house big enough for me to have a room of my own, but at least my brother no longer had to walk through our bedroom to get to his. My parents would probably never have built and owned their own home, nor would my siblings.
If I grown up in urban outer London instead of South Warrandyte - on the outer fringes of suburban Melbourne - I would probably never have developed my deep love of nature.
Would I have grown up loving England as much as I love Australia if I had stayed? Probably. Do I love England now more than I love Australia? No. I have no desire to go back. I still have a British passport and I still support England in the cricket but it's not home. Australia is and I wouldn't live anywhere else... except perhaps Kathmandu.