Winds of Change – An Autobiography of a Tibetan
By Tsoltim Ngima Shakabpa
Paljor Publications Pvt. Ltd.
This is a poem of pilgrimage and transformation as, through the evocative recollections of the Author, we journey across a dramatic and emotional landscape, one that exerts a profound resonance. It is essentially a tale of personal alchemy, where the loss of a nation, challenges of exile and physical frailty are transmuted into a moving and eminently readable testimony.
Tsoltim Shakabpa’s fascinating account is also a stoical celebration of life and an acceptance, without condition, of the twists and turns of Karma. These he lays bare with style and enjoyable poetic invention and expressed with genuine modesty, yet the procession of events and emotions presented invoke admiration and respect. Winds of Change – An Autobiography of a Tibetan is no ordinary biography, either in terms of form or content, and the reader will find it a highly captivating and remarkable saga. It contains many pleasant and surprising layers but it’s the open-handed generosity of the Author to share, with genuine candour and sincerity, his essence, that most impresses itself upon the reader.
The intimate narrative style provides a close and revealing insight into those forces which have crafted this biographical voyage from a carefree and privileged childhood in independent Tibet, the loving inspiration of his father and mother, encountering the innocent joys of youthful courtship, adapting to university life in America, financial power-broking in the Far East, to the riches of marriage and family. Although the kaleidoscopic nature of the poem documents, with humour and wit, such change, we can nevertheless detect within the personality of the writer a rich vein of stability. This is particularly interesting given the seismic nature of the personal and stoical revolutions he has encountered.
What adds to the enjoyment of this autobiography is its cinematic quality, tracing the Author’s skillfully woven tapestry and shifting from scene-to-scene with an easy transition. Yet, despite its considerable array of experiences, many forged in the so-called developed world, we are reminded by the Author’s obvious dedication and affection that this poem owes its origins to his beloved homeland, Tibet.
The essayist Thomas Carlyle once noted that without love it was impossible for a poem to exist, either physically or metaphysically. Winds of Change – An Autobiography of a Tibetan proves that point and is a timely message of hope and belief. We may indeed be subject to change and the ever fragile moment but as Tsoltim Shakabpa’s autobiography reveals how we respond to those unforgiving currents that determines our condition and happiness. In composing this account of his life he has, with rare understanding and charm, touched upon the aspects of our existence which all may recognize.
Jeffrey Bowe runs the website Tibet Truth
*This review is dedicated to those inside and outside Tibet who, with courage and sacrifice, continue their legitimate and historic struggle for a independent nation. Bod Rangzen!