Tenzin Tsundue

Tenzin Tsundue is a restless young Tibetan who, after graduating from Madras University, South India, braved snowstorms and treacherous mountains, broke all rules and restrictions, crossed the Himalayas on foot and went into forbidden Tibet! The purpose? To see the situation of his occupied country and lend a hand to the freedom struggle. Arrested by China’s border police, and locked up in prison in Lhasa for three months, he was later “pushed back” to India.

Born to a Tibetan refugee family who laboured on India’s border roads around Manali, North India, during the chaotic era of Tibetan refugee resettlement in the early seventies, Tenzin Tsundue is a writer-activist, a rare blend in the Tibetan community in exile. He published his first book of poems, Crossing the Border, in 1999 with money begged and borrowed from his classmates at Bombay University. In 2001 he won the “Outlook-Picador Award for Non-Fiction”. His second book, Kora, is already in its eighth edition, and his third title, Semshook, is in its third edition. Tsen-göl, his fourth book, first published in March 2012, is in its third edition.

Tsundue joined Friends of Tibet (India) in 1999, and campaigns among Indians to win support for Tibet. In January 2002, while Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji was addressing Indian business tycoons in Mumbai’s Oberoi Towers, Tsundue scaled scaffolding to the 14th floor to unfurl a Tibetan national flag and a “FREE TIBET” banner. In April 2005 he repeated a similar stunning one-man protest when Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was visiting Bangalore. Because of these daring protest actions, Tsundue is often detained and is under police surveillance whenever Chinese leaders visit India.

Tenzin Tsundue’s writings have been published in Indian newspapers and magazines and also in the international media. He is also anthologized in Asian and International literary journals and books. His writings are published online at his website TenzinTsundue.com and at FriendsOfTibet.org/tenzin

As a poet, he represented Tibet in Sahitya Akademi’s Second South Asian Literary Conference in New Delhi in January 2005, during Poetry Africa in Durban, 2005, and at Jaipur Literature Festival 2010. Both as an activist and a writer, Tsundue fights tooth and nail for the freedom of his country and plays an important role in the Tibetan political struggle.

Tenzin Tsundue on TibetWrites

Poetry [14]

  • Betrayal My father died / defending our home, / our village, our country. 26 December 2007
  • Desperate Age Kill my Dalai Lama / that I can believe no more./ Bury my head 20 December 2007
  • Exile House Our tiled roof dripped / and the four walls threatened to fall apart / but we were to go home soon, 20 December 2007
  • Horizon From home you have reached / the Horizon here. / From here to another 26 December 2007
  • I’m Tired I am tired, / I am tired doing that 10th March ritual, 26 December 2007
  • Losar Greeting Tashi Delek! / Though in a borrowed garden / you grow, grow well my sister. 26 December 2007
  • My Tibetanness Thirty-nine years in exile. / Yet no nation supports us. / Not a single bloody nation! 26 December 2007
  • Pedro’s Flute Pedro, Pedro / What do you have in your flute? / Is there a little boy who lost his mother, 26 December 2007
  • A Personal Reconnaissance From Ladakh / Tibet is just a gaze away. 26 December 2007
  • Refugee When I was / born my mother said / you are a refugee. 26 December 2007
  • Somewhere I Lost My Losar Somewhere along the path, I lost it, don’t know where or when. 7 March 2011
  • Terrorist I am a terrorist. / I like to kill. / I have horns, / two fangs 26 December 2007
  • The Tibetan in Mumbai The Tibetan in Mumbai / is not a foreigner. / He is a cook 26 December 2007
  • When it Rains in Dharamsala When it rains in Dharamsala / raindrops wear boxing gloves, / thousands of them come crashing down 26 December 2007

Short Stories [1]

  • Kora (Full Circle) “May you complete the work left incomplete. May you be successful in the struggle and take His Holiness the Dalai Lama back to a free Tibet.” 27 December 2007

Articles [12]

  • The Bounty March The Tibetan activist outlines his people’s crucial history of hope in the half century since the March Uprising 31 March 2009
  • The future is here and the leader has seen it Instead of begging His Holiness to lead us on, we must come forward and take up the challenge he is handing over to us, his children. 13 March 2011
  • GYAMI It has been a long journey of shifting Chinese images for exile Tibetans. 27 December 2007
  • In a muddle kingdom It’s up to India to decide whether to host such a dharma avatar as the Seventeenth Karmapa as a refugee, or to hand the sceptre to a triumphant China. 24 February 2011
  • The Moral Defence Rests For India to keep Arunachal, based on the McMahon Line, the only choice is to recognise Tibet’s independence. It cannot legitimise the McMahon Line border otherwise. 12 November 2009
  • My Kind of Exile Ask me where I’m from and I won’t have an answer. 27 December 2007
  • Now Tibet is not so far The March to Tibet began from Dharamsala on 10th March, the same day similar uprisings happened all around the world, organized by Tibetans and Tibet supporters, even in Tibet — a global Tibetan uprising. 14 May 2008
  • An open letter to Wen Jiabao It’s time the true wishes of the Chinese people be expressed. And there’s no one who can do it more effectively than you, Mr Wen. 18 December 2010
  • Our religion and the struggle When Wen Jiabao comes to India to talk business and border, we must raise the issue that China cannot dance on our backs and yet shake hands with India. 27 December 2007
  • Tibet: A room for hope? “I am Indian, perhaps more Indian than you. Why do I need a certificate?” 28 February 2011
  • The Tibetan Resolution The Special Meeting of November 2008: Whatever we spoke for was all for the freedom of Tibet and our main concern was for our brethren inside Tibet who are living under Chinese occupation. 2 January 2009
  • Why? Though exotic Tibet sells in the West, there are hardly any takers when it comes to tackling the real issue. The issue is Independence! 27 December 2007

Interviews [1]

  • I am a terrorist Interview with Tenzin Tsundue by Miranda Hall: For as long as the West continues to play salesman rather than statesman, placing commercial opportunity above moral rectitude, Tsundue faces a solitary mission. 2 May 2014

Reviews [1]

  • Bread and Freedom Review by Bhuchung D Sonam of KORA: Stories and poems by Tenzin Tsundue.
    Our final kora will be complete when we return to a ’free’ homeland after years of roaming in foreign jungles.
    20 December 2007


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