Tashi Dorji

Tashi Dorji

Tashi Dorji (pseud,48), dreams of “earning more money for my family so that they can have a stable life." Tashi is a former Tibetan refugee. In 2011 he moved to France where he is a hotel cleaner. He recalls the “hell” of Tibet, where he says millions have been put into concentration camps. He says that the Dalai Lama’s teachings have given him strength: “I’m trying to practise it and that’s what makes me happy all the time.” Recalling how he overcame depression after moving to an foreign country, he says: “I started doing positive thing... Meditate at times, trying to calm myself, trying to listen to music, go to parties, try to meet friends.” Tashi is now a French citizen, but he wants to return to Tibet and visit his father who he last saw in 2010. The fear though of being imprisoned, and what that would mean for his family, weighs heavily on his mind. For now he is focusing on becoming a truck driver. “I want to prove that I'll succeed in my dream,” he says.

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Full interview

Hello, Tashi.
Hello.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, like introduce yourself and say, where are you living? Are you living in a house, in apartment, your living conditions? Here in Paris, yeah.
Ok. D’abord (first of all), my name’s Tashi Dorji. I came here in 2011 in France. Mais (but) for the two years is really hard for me to find a place to live in, because we are living in the street, living with some friends like that. After two years and… Not two years, after one year, I got the status of refugee. After that, the life starts happening. Once I got that thing, I enregistre (register) myself in Pole Emploi to find a job. But then it’s really hard because once you don’t speak French, the job is very hard to find. So they send me to do some courses, but then I couldn’t, I couldn’t do it because I wanted to… That time I was in Alsace, Alsace-Lorraine. That’s near Strasbourg. The place name is Hayange. After that I shifted here in Ile-de-France, in… Évry, in 91. I stayed there and I’ve met someone who I can name also. Her name is Marie and she did a great job for me, but she found my job over there. From that day onwards, my life begans changing, you know. After that I got my apartment. After that, I found another job. They gave me CDI. And from that onwards, my life here in Paris becomes a life. Like a French life.

OK.
I’m very happy to be here.

So today you are happy.
Really, really.

Do you live with your family? Do you have kids?
Yeah, I do live with my kids two, have my two sons and I have my wife. I live with them. Yes.

Right. And what do you do during your days?
During the daytime. Oh okay. Actually… I’m working for the society called Accecit. And Accecit, normally we handle only hotellerie and tertiaire (hospitality and offices) “Tertiaire” means… What you call that thing… Cleaning the offices and things like that, that’s the tertiaire part. And we, from the same society, that’s called Accecit, we handle hotellerie and restaurant restauration. We do the gouvernante, you know, gouvernante, gouvernant dans l’hôtel (housekeeper in the hotel).

Yes.
Gouvernante, plus we do IQP,  femme de chambre, we do everything. So from Monday to Friday, we do everything. Like five days a week and two days we’ve got a day off. So every day is like that. But then it depends upon the hotel, you know. In some hotel the jobs are very easy. The hotel that I do right now, it’s quite… It’s really new and it’s not well conceived and organized, but then we have a lot of things to get improve. You know, we are totally new things and things should be changed. But then I’m very happy to find a job like that.

And so what are you doing exactly in your job?
In job? We do nettoyage (French) the hotel.

The cleaning? Ok
Cleaning and helping the clients

Is it difficult sometimes?
It depends. Some day it’s really hard. Sometimes it’s cool.

OK.
The more clients that we have, the more difficult we have. Lots of work to do. But then once you… Once you have a great team, then even if the job is really hard, it makes you happy all the time. Once you have… Once you have a great team. For the time, the hotel that I’m working, we have a great team, you know. Of course we are all human. We have… We have (not audible) we have to discuss few things about… We contact each other a few times. But, you know, we are really happy.

All right.
So we have a great team. I’m very happy over there. That’s it.

Great.
Very happy.

And besides your work, do you have, like, hobbies? Passions? Something…
Of course. Beside that thing, first of all, I want to I wanted to be an accountant. It was… I was, I was an accountant. I did my my (not audible) and things like that. I was an accountant. But then, since I’m not good in French, so I cannot do any formation (training) on accountancy, but that’s what I really want to do. And plus I wanted to drive poids lourd,  big trucks like that. That’s interest me when I was really small, you know. Even in Tibet, I used to think, ok, if I have a car, if I have a big truck, I wanted to drive like that. That’s… That’s still that… Passion. That’s desire. It’s still there in my heart, you know? And still I want to do that formation, formation, for conduite poids lourd (heavy truck driving). Apart from that.

Poids lourd is heavy, heavy trucks?
I wanted to do that.

So are you doing like a training right now to…?
I’m… Right now I’m pushing it. Because first you have to fill the forms and then you have to submit to your society. Then they accept it. If they don’t accept it, you have to try again. It’s a long process, but still I’m trying it.

But this is your dream. Right? But I mean one of your dreams.
Yeah. Some kind of a dream. You can say some kind of dream. But that’s my de-… desire and that’s my passion, you know.

Okay. But is there something you do, like on the weekends or something?
Weekend, usually… Weekend in a sense it’s pretty difficult for me. Weekend is on jeudi, vendredi, Thursday and Friday. So I cannot spend the time with my family. And… When they have their weekends on Saturday and Sunday, I cannot be with them. So quite difficult… Family wise, the scheduled timetable with the hotel, it’s quite difficult. You know. You cannot just say “I cannot do the work on Saturday” because in the contract I have already signed it. I signed it already. We have to bouge (move) everywhere, you know. If you want to change your planning, like separate… Normally I have my weekdays on Thursday and Friday, so you do want to change it, they, they, they are likely to change it. So that’s in my contract, you know.

But when you have like free time…
Free time, I always go back to my family and try to enjoy with my family. If they are available. If they are not available, I go with my friends, maybe have some drinks, maybe go for a park, right now, discothèques (night clubs) and everything’s closed because of the… I can’t call it the Chinese virus, I  won’t call it the Chinese virus. Because is not a Chinese people that brought the the virus, but the govern that brought the… The virus. So I call it… I can’t say “Chinese”, I love Chinese people but that virus is, itself came from Wuhan. That’s a (not audible)  that’s… That’s under control by CCP, and I want to call it a CCP virus.

Ah the CCP virus, interesting.
Yeah.

And can you tell us – you were talking about China – how… Why did you leave Tibet? Or tell us maybe a little bit more about your life?Life in Tibet, if you don’t talk about politics, if you don’t talk about the Dalai Lama, if you don’t talk about freedom, if you don’t talk about your religion, nobody cares. You can… You can live your life as you like. But then being a Buddhist, for me personally. Personally, I’m not… I’m a Buddhist, but I don’t practice, mh, mh, I don’t read Buddhist scripture. I don’t pray that much. I don’t go to the monastery, things like that. But I do believe in Dalai Lama and Dalai Lama for many of the people they think he’s a great human being. For me personally, he’s some kind of God, if you… Believe it or not, he’s God for me, you know, God who came to Earth to protect human being. That’s why I have my Dalai Lama over here all the time. And this is Medicine Buddha. And this is something that protects from obstacles we face on the road wherever, because of that I always put it here (Editor’s Note: in his car, where the interview was made). So when they try to kill Dalai Lama, that’s really unimaginable. That’s a shocking for us. And same time, my father… He’s a very, very, what you call, religious man. He always just listen to the preaches of Dalai Lama, and that is forbidden over there. You cannot do that thing. You cannot practice Buddhism over there. Even if you practice, you cannot read the Scriptures by Dalai Lama. You can read the Scriptures of Buddha. That’s OK, but you cannot read the scriptures of Dalai Lama, you cannot listen to the speeches made by Dalai Lama, you cannot shout free Tibet, you cannot express what you feel over there. You lose so much of freedom over there. Even people say in Tibet before 1959, Tibet is some kind of… What you call that… Rubbish, or it’s a very remote place where nobody wants to go over there. And Tibetan, they don’t wash the body even once in a year or so: we are so dirty in Tibet. We are so dirty. But then that’s our life. Tibet it’s a very cold country. That’s our life. But then we have happiness in our heart. Whether you build all… Road or bridges, that’s that’s what we call it: that’s material happiness. Material happiness, it comes and goes, it’s ending. Once you have… A year ago, I have my Peugeot 2008, I didn’t like it. Then I bought this Peugeot 3008, and keep changing. That’s attachment to the what you call the that thing?

Material thing?
Material attachment. In Buddhism you don’t believe those things. But I’m not I wouldn’t say no, I’m not a firm believer buddhist, but I was born Buddhist, but I’m not that thing. But then Chinese have built so many buildings, so many road and things like that. But then they didn’t give us any freedom, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of our… Keeping our language, freedom of having a monastery. The life has totally changed in Tibet in that Kham area, in U-Tsang area, we are so many nomads. Nomads, you know nomads? There’s so many nomads. They live all their life in the ancient life, they roam from one place to another to have a green grass for the cattles, you know. They roam from this place to another place to have a green grass for the cattles, and sheeps, and yaks (not audible) and things like that… But right now what they had, what they did Chinese they said: “this kind of life is inhumane, you cannot live like that. You are being back to the old era of stoneage” or something like that, you know. So they just build, they just completely slaughtered all the yaks and all the animals they have, and the shepherds and everything there. They destroy everything. They kill everything. And they put a house over there. In a house like that, how can they live? All their life, all their parents life and now, they spend a life nomading. (not audible) and people died over there. In many places people died… They just build a house… If they build a house, ok fine! Good for them, good for the Tibetans. But they just put up the house over there without showing them what they can do in the future, like a job or to give a training. They don’t do nothing about those things. So people are suffering. See, we have, I think, in… In our record, people say a hundred and sixty five people who are… Who have been… Who had already self-immolate themselves. You know, self-immolate themselves. I think the number of… I’m not sure the number that I’ll give you is correct or not, but then many are unnoticed. So I would say the more than the… More than two hundred or something like that. But what they did, what they sacrifice for them, burning themself, you know, the urges they say they want Dalai Lama back to Tibet. When Dalai Lama goes back to Tibet, we have a unity. We… Our religion become strength among all Tibetans. We always trust him. Maybe people will say: “he’s a good man, but he’s not God”. For us, Tibetans, he’s a god. But… And second thing, they shout for the Free Tibet. Why Free Tibet? Because even they give us an autonomous, autonomous state, they will never let us do… Ever, they never… Will never let us have a free speech. They never ever let us do what we really want to do in that autonomous region. Like Uyghur, what they are doing. Before, they leave it like that. Right now what they are doing, they are putting in concentration camps. And millions and millions of them put in concentration… Their wives are pushed and they are forced to rape. Even the police, they rape the Muslims over there, you know. You read, and that… That those are fact! And some BBC journalist, they could cover some parts of that thing. But in large measure the media, we don’t hear those things. But that’s a fact! It’s a fact over there. So because of them even… What you call that… I’m going to foul those things, I mess up everything. But whatever happened in Tibet, I wanted to go back to Tibet. But then if I go there, I’m very, very, very afraid that either they’ll kill me or either they will put me in prison, even right now. First, when I first apply for the French citizenship, I always dreamed, I always planned I’ll go back to Tibet, meet my father. I lost my mother when I was maybe, maybe, même pas un mois (not even a month old). I planned to go over there to meet my father, to meet my brothers and sister, my relatives over there. But then I thought of… Once I got that thing, then I thought: “oh I cannot go back there”, because I’m really afraid. They might kill me! So what are you assuming, going over there? Then I think… I have two kids over here, also, if I die, what will happen to them? So I’m thinking about those things, you know. But then they keep on saying… Chinese keep on saying: in Tibet before 99 they are barbarians. They call it. They call Tibetans barbarians. Whether we are barbarians or not, there are lots of foreigners who came to Tibet, also before Chinese captured us. They have shown in the book, there everything is recorded, everything is there. We don’t… And we don’t butcher human being like that. And after that we are out of control. We don’t have any freedom of speech, you know. For things like that I already told you.

Ok that was very interesting. But this is like the whole context. Right.
Ok.

But in your case, like your personal story, when did you realize all this? Were you like a child and you realize all this, or was it later when you were a teenager or adult?
Since… You know, in Tibet, we have a small, small school. In the small school there are only, I think it’s Tibetan, maths. That’s it. I think we have Tibetan, Tibetan and maths, only. We have only two languages. You know. We… We can learn in a small village. We were learning that. And the Chinese people, the Chinese police came over there and they forced a teacher who doesn’t speak even a single word of Chinese, ask him to teach Chinese, not to teach Tibetan and maths. How he is supposed to teach Chinese? He doesn’t know even… He doesn’t know how to speak even a word of Chinese. After that, he was kicked out of the school. Then someone came over there and… They’re Chinese and they taught us Chinese. But we are never… We never been interested in learning Chinese at all. Because once you learn Chinese, in Chinese these things, they will teach every issue of Tibet, in their… What you call it, in their propagandic way. You see what I mean?

Yeah.
Chinese was… “The Tibet was part of China since that and that that”. It happened, of course, that in our history, we lost the independence with the Chinese. Even in our history, we have captured China also. That, they don’t show. But then they let us believe that Tibet was part of China before a long, long, long, long, long time ago… Chinese professor, they came to… In our village, they come to teach Chinese, not to teach Chinese, but to blackmail us, you know, brainwash us.

And you understood that?
We are… Of course, we understood everything! (not audible) We have Radio Free Asia, that’s a Tibetan radio… The main office is in USA. We have Voice of America. That’s in… Based in USA. We listen. Once a Chinese, of course, is over there, we just shut it off because once you are listening that thing, either you will be put in prison or you will never, ever be able to see your kids and everything. That’s for sure. Either (vocal gun sound) or get in prison.

OK.
And during school, when I was young, also.. Chinese and us, physically, physically, we are totally different, physically, everything is different: the way they eat, how they eat, what they eat. It’s totally different. We know from the very just the smallest, you know. Chinese eats snakes, Chinese eats chicken, Chinese eats pork, Chinese eat everything that they found. Dog, they eat dog also. We Tibetans, we don’t… Before, I’m talking about before 1959, before… We were in Tibet. We don’t eat fish. We don’t eat pork. We don’t eat chicken. We only eat the meat of cow, ox, yak, things like that. The reason behind this: if we eat fish, if you catch one fish, do you think that’s enough for you? Just small fish is enough for you? Do you think?

No.
That quench your, what you call that thing.. that it quench your hungry, hungriness? I don’t think so. So to quench you hunger you have to catch how many, how many fishes? Like ten, small ten or 20. So you are killing ten… fishes to quench your hunger. And for us, we think that we are losing ten souls. That’s… Each soul, everything’s soul, whether the soul of a human being whether soul of a rat, whether soul of a ant, soul of mosquito… Everything, every has a soul. Every soul is totally same. They have heart, they have lungs, they have the feelings, you know. So we believe in that thing. So killing those things, it’s not prohibited, but we shy away from it. We don’t eat pork because pork… I don’t know, that’s… Actually there’s a logic, a scientific reason, we don’t know, but we believe in that. Pork eats only rubbish things. Rubbish. So we don’t want to eat rubbish thing. We don’t eat chicken because… That’s… I don’t know the reason why we don’t eat chicken. I have no reason, but we don’t eat chicken. But once the Chinese came, every restaurant, every day they have pork, they have chicken, they have fish, they kill monkey even. I’ll tell you a story, how they… If you want to listen. How they… In the big parties, how they put monkey, you know, how they kill it. They put a live, they put a live size monkey. They just tie their hands and legs like that. They put a hole like this, monkey is here, underneath the table. They put a hole over here so that only his head is above. The rest is below the table. OK. They have a party, a big party like that. And after the party, after finishing every dishes like that, main course and everything. Monkey’s brain, that is some kind of a dessert for them. So what they do… It’s alive, the monkey is alive. He was tied under under the table. He can’t… He can move like that, but he cannot move that much. So with a sharp knife, the chef will cut (Editor’s Note: knife cutting sound). He’s alive also. He put his… He put (not audible) over here, took off the skull and his brain is boiling, and each client they just do it like that (Editor’s Note: mimics a client eating from the monkey’s brain), for the dessert. How harsh, how harsh. How inhumane they’re doing for the animals! Look at the dogs, (not audible) These things we see every day, even… I love dog, I have a Tibetan mastiff. You know, Tibetan mastiff. Have you heard of a dog called Tibetan mastiff? It’s very big, this much, when it grows, it grows like that. It has a very long… Yes, I know it’s very, very… In USA, they call it… It costs around 10,000 U.S. dollars or something like that. I don’t know whether that’s true or not. But then I have those things, you know, I have my dog. When I was small, I had my dog and the Chinese police was patrolling a village, you know, and they hurt my dog, shouting at them, you know. And he… He was tied. My dog was tied, you know, he was shouting, but they… He cannot go and bite them, you know. They was patrolling our village and I was in another village, that time I was maybe with my friends. The Chinese police came and they shoot my dog like that. I was really, really, I felt very, very, very sad about that thing. They didn’t eat the dog, but then they just killed my dog like that. These these things happen every day. They even catch our dog and they eat it like that. Things like that…

Ok.
And from those things, we always think that… Me, we as a Tibetan and they as a Chinese we are always different. From eating ways, from comportement (behaviour), from a dressing sense, from the way we talk, the character aussi (also). Everything’s totally, different from the day I was born maybe I knew that I can differentiate Chinese and Tibetan. And they force us to wear… What you call that, a small badge, can I call it “badge”?…

Yeah.
A badge which was inscribed as a Mao Zedong. You know Mao Zedong?

Mao Zedong? Yeah.
The chairman of the committee China. They put out the portrait of Mao Zedong over here. We are forced to wear that thing in in a school. And during… After the Chinese people, the police has gone, all of my friends, we just bang, smashing, smashing, smash, smash because we hated them. We put in dustbin, we never wore them. So much I don’t… I can’t say I hate all the Chinese. I love Chinese because I had my grand… They are not my grandmother and grandparent, but they treated me as their own child. They are Chinese. My grandmother, they are very kind. We are very close, but in the government itself is just… What you call them? They are evil! Most evil, like Hitler, what he did for the Jews… Do to the Jews, CCP is like that.

And when did you leave Tibet then. In 2011, right?
No. I left Tibet, to be very honest, I left Tibet a long time ago. The first my father… And my father wanted me and my sister to be, as I told you before, to be a monk and nun. Because in Tibet, maître de la famille (master of the family),  they prefer to send the children – if they have five children, three children must go to a monastery… Either monastery, or either nunnery. So, it is not an obligation but then… That’s a fashion over there, you know. So they wanted us to join a monastery and things like that. But then my uncle, he was in Nepal doing the same year, he was there for his vacation and he saw us. He said we are too young, to do… To put in the monastery. That you, you cannot force them to put, you know. I don’t like to go in a monastery. Maybe my sister Nita, like her to go to monastery like that. So they asked us whether you want to go to a school, or you want to… Do you, you want to… You want to be put in a monastery? I said, I want to go to a school. I want to learn English and I want to see different things like that. So my uncle decided to send us to Nepal. So in Nepal, I stayed there maybe… That was quite a long time. I stayed there for maybe one year. After one year, the same uncle, he came back for his vacation and he said, these are… This a free school run by the Dalai Lama. It’s called TCV school, Tibetan Children’s Village, TCV, in that sense, the short form, but in full form Tibetan Children’s Village school. And he said “this is the free school for… To all the Tibetans coming from Tibet. If you wish to join them, I can help you”. I was very happy. So I asked… I asked my sister, “would you want to join with me or you want to be a nun?”. She was happy, to go. She said, yes, of course. We will go with our uncle to join the TCV, and we… At the time we joined TCV.

And where was that?
That’s in Dharamsala. That’s in North India. I did my schooling from… In North India.

OK.
Yeah.

And then you came to Europe?
No.

No?
After that I went to college also. I went to university. I went to college and things like that.

In India, still?
In India, still.

OK.
After that… After I finish my… The bachelor’s and things like that, I went back to Nepal to do a… For the… I wanted to do a business. But then in Nepal, finding… You do know business is quite tough, because we have lots of carpet factories run by Tibetan, full of carpet factories run by Tibetans.

OK.
So to finding an exporter to export the carpet, that’s a very difficult thing. So I was doing petty things like… First I work for a foreigner who is a Canadian. Her name is Andriette and I was working for her as an accountant, side by side. She has two I think two or three companies. So I was giving her account for the three companies, my income was quite bad, but then I apply for another company, which was also a Tibetan company. Then they chose me. And I was… I was the accountant for maybe two, three… Three years. Then one of my friends, he called me, he had a hotel, the first hotel over there. He called me and asked me to do the chief accountant. So I accepted… To do, to do a chief accountant I stayed there for one year. Then I thought, “OK, I don’t want to stay in Nepal”, because in Nepal the political situation is not good, because one from old party that came into power, we Tibetans, we are not even a refugee over there. And they don’t give us the refugee paper over there in Nepal. So I thought “that’s the same life that I’ve been spending, spending in Tibet. The same life I’m spending in Nepal. So, there’s no use to stay in Nepal”. So I thought, “OK, I can’t stay here“. I better either go to America or come here. I applied for the visa in America. They refused it because… I don’t have a valid paper, because neither I have a refugee status over there, neither I have a passport. So I don’t have any valid ID card to show to the visa center. So they rejected my visa. Then I said, “okay, fine”. Then, what it is… I bought a passport. Everything’s fraud. I bought a passport. That’s a Nepali passport, black, you know. Then I gave him… I don’t… I don’t remember. If you bring fifteen, fifteen thousand euros, visa plus passport to get you to Europe. So then I came to Europe.

And you applied for refugee status when, exactly?
I applied for the refugee status in September 2011.

So how did you feel when you applied for the status, because you understood that you could not come back to your country, right?
I… Because first, when I went through the process, I said… I thought: “oh, I shouldn’t have come over here”. You know, the land and to get a land without any place to stay. And the language is a… You don’t understand, even a small one word of French. Of course, right now, when you hear people speaking French, you know English, get a lot of, what you call that?

Similarities?
Similarities. But then when you first arrive here, you don’t hear even a word, even the words that are English. You don’t hear even a single… Then I thought “how am I supposed to learn that… This kind of language?”. A struggle, in the sense I didn’t go to school at all. I was… I had my computer, I bought a computer laptop. I was translating everything. (not audible)  I was learning French all by myself. So… Little by little I thought “OK, this way they pronounce like that. This way they pronounce like that. And these way they pronounce like that.” Then I started to hear more French words. Then after that… As I told you, I found a job, a black job to unload and… Those things. Then I met Marie and her father, a very gentle man, very kind hearted, and he was the first one who deliberately teaches me French. From there I got interested in the French language. But before that I alwas thought of… What you call that? It’s kind of… Just not a hell, but I wasn’t happy over here. Because you have your family in Tibet. Right? You’re all alone here. You’re in a very alien country. You don’t speak the language. You don’t have any friends over there. You don’t have financial support that time. They give us three hundred twenty euros. But then that goes very fast. You buy something, you buy something, then you don’t have a place to stay. It’s a total mess. No, I was really, really depressed. I was depressed also. I had a depression. Then I took medicine also. I showed a doctor and the doctor told “you’re depressed because you suffer a lot”, because I’ve been changing from Tibet to India to… To Nepal, from here. “You changed so many languages, situation, you have so much troubles in your life and these things build up and that made you depression” and I took depression… Even though I’m taking the medicine depression. Still now. But then I’m happy and I’m very, very happy because I’m.. First, I’m a French. And right now I can understand, even though my… When I respond, quite difficult. But then I can understand. And the French people, they treat you like a French people, you know. I don’t feel that… That much of what you call?

Racism?
Racism.

Discrimination?
Yeah, discrimination. I don’t find it over here, but small things happen every day, you know. Once this pandemic came, they think that we are Chinese and they look down on you like a virus and things they call it. But that’s normal because of… You understand, because that came from China and they thought that the we are the Chinese. So because of that I bought a Tibetan mask (medical face mask), and I always put a Tibetan mask when I was going, you know, in transports en commun (public transportation) so that they think “oh, he’s a Tibetan, he’s not Chinese”, so they don’t look down on me, things like that, yeah. The first first year, reaching here in France, that’s very different for us. Because I came here in September 19… In September… September 20, 2011, and the weather wasn’t that cold. But after that it became colder, colder when we have no place to stay. I slept many times below the bridge also, without any shelter. Because of that, I don’t know, even a single person Tibetan over here. I know we have lots of Tibetans and many of the Tibetans, they don’t have the house. They don’t have any lodgement (housing), so we are living on the street. We are under the bridge and things like that

When you say “we”, it’s you and your wife?
No, no, no, no. My wife and my kids, they came after.

OK.
They came here in 2015.

OK, OK.
I was alone. Because at that time I was depressed

OK.
Because I faced so much difficulty over here. I faced so much difficulty over in Nepal, I faced so much difficulty in Tibet – that’s… That’s the worst difficulty that I faced is in Tibet. Then I came here, I find a totally different country that I’ve never visited, the language, the things that… Even the pain (bread), that when you eat is so hard, you know, it’s so hard. You can’t… You are not used to it. But right now I really like it. Every morning I buy that thing, put butter, cheese, whatever. I eat like that. That now, it’s become normal. But first, the first time when you come here people offer you sandwich… Baguette, you can’t… You can’t just bite it because it’s too hard. Then it’s normal, you know. Once you are here, integrated here then you think everything’s normal.

And what helped you get out of the depression? And even if today, still, you said you were taking medicine, but what helps you?
Helping me from first the – what you call that thing?… Marie, she’s the one. She’s always… We are always keeping in touch with the phone, email… I think… Second, my daughter. My daughter keeps on telling me that life is like that. You have to face it. You don’t look down. You… Look down on yourself. You think everything positively. Everything happen, small things that can… Can happen to everybody, not you, not… Everybody can happen, so think positive things. Then I started doing positive thing, tried to do… Meditate at time, trying to calm myself, trying to listen music, go to parties, try to meet friends. In that way, right now I’m become much, much, much, much better. When I first got this depression here in France, I started drinking lots of beer and wine and things like that. Even I close my door, I don’t go out also. Because that was really hard for me to handle. I got my wife over there, I got my kids over there, I cannot meet, I cannot contact my father. I cannot reach them, because all the phone in Tibet they block everything in my country. Even now… Actually last… Last year before March, I’ve been videocalling my father in Tibet. Videocalling my father, we have an application called WeChat. We’ve been videocalling with my father, my brother and sisters. They are there. And right after March, my brother, he was… He was, he is still in a monastery just near the capital, Tibet, Lhasa they call it, Lhasa. And he asked me, “Jojo” – in the sense, in Tibet “Jojo” in the sense “brother”. “Brother, please don’t call us. Don’t videocall us, because right now Chinese has already patrolling our village. They have already confiscated many of the mobiles, so please don’t call us”. From March, l’année dernière (last year)  up to now I couldn’t… I couldn’t touch… Keep in touch with my family in Tibet. You see these things happen, you know.

And it’s difficult.
Yes, really difficult, you know. And I miss my father because he’s my angel. He’s everything for me, you know. When I met him first after such a long time, the first time I met him was in 2010 yeah… 2010, I left… 1991… After that, I didn’t meet him

After 1991?
Yeah. That was (no audible) that was…

And he is still in Tibet?
He is still in Tibet. When I was in Nepal, I have tried to meet him. It was Nepal, Nepalese here they have friendship bridge. They call it the Chinese, Chinese-Nepal Friendship Bridge. Actually it has nothing to do with Chinese. Who said that? That’s a Tibet-Nepal Friendship Bridge. So, my father came from Tibet to meet me here. I came from Nepal to meet my father over there. OK? That is before I came here to… To France. So when I reach there, he was there and we cannot see… It’s like…. It was, the bridge was very long, you know. You can see far, there was your father and he can see me that… That it’s his son. So we cannot see each other. I went, I got the guts, I went there, I crossed it. And the police, the Chinese police tell me like that “you don’t have a paper to show. Where are you going? You are Tibetan, Xizang”, they call it Xizang. “Xizang! You are a Xizang. Get out! Or, you go to Tibet, I’ll put you in prison!”. I was really terrified. I said: “I cannot go and meet my father.” I went there and my father was crying over there. I saw my father, my father was crying. He couldn’t help, I came there to Nepal side. Then I call my father: “please don’t cry. You won’t be able to meet now, I’m afraid to come over there. So you also don’t try to come back to Nepal. So if you want, if you try to come here, they might shoot you here in the middle of the road.” So I told him not to come. We – if God willing – we can meet in next life or maybe in future. God knows. So I thought, once I get in French citizen, I’m planning to go to Tibet. Right now I’m really afraid… Of my life, I’m very afraid for life of my father and things like that. Because in social media they keep every record of social media, all the Tibetans and things like that. So I’ve wrote so many bad things about Chinese and the virus and things like that. (not audible) everything. So because of that that I’m really afraid.

And this was the last time you saw your father, right? On the bridge?
That was… On the bridge. That physically I saw him.

From a distance.
Away from the distance.

That’s really sad.
Yeah.

So you think often about Tibet, today?
Of course. Of course. I want to go to Tibet. I want it. But I’m very afraid of my life. If if… Something happened to me, my kids over here, what will happen to my father over there? He would die. Once he know that I’m in prison or something, he will die. Definitely. So I don’t want to risk capturing, risk losing my dear one’s life. I don’t want to do that one.

So you were mentioning Marie, you were mentioning your daughter, your family. Is there anything else that that keeps you like this… That gives you strength? Is there something inside you?
Something inside yeah, because of Dalai Lama. Because always, once I get the time, I always listen his preaches, always says “do good things for others. You don’t expect others to do good to you. Do what you can do for others, but don’t do anything if you can’t do any good thing. Don’t try to do bad thing.” That’s… I’m trying to practice it and that’s what makes me happy all the time. So whenever I got spare time and things like that, I try to help… Because, my friends that they do… Who doesn’t speak a word of French and he doesn’t speak a word of English, we have so much problem here in France, you know. We have a problem with CAF (Caisse d’Allocation Familiale- Family Allowances Fund), we have a problem with Pole Emploi, reading letter, submitting letter. And they don’t know anything and they keep on calling me. I’m very happy to help them. Once I know I’m… Because I’ve went through such things, you know, so I know the procedure. So I took my car, I took them, then I filled the form, get back to their home. These things make me busy and makes me happy, also, you know. Things about those things makes me happy. Ma fille (my daughter), friends and things like that, you know..

OK, good. Thank you very much. Thank you, Tashi.
Oh, no. Yeah. Thank you.

I just have a last question.
Sure.

It’s about the dreams of people.
OK.

So, when you realized… I mean, it’s it’s a hard question.
No problem.

How can I turn it? Because usually I ask people before you and… “Before you had to leave your country, what was your dream?” But in your case, it was it was a very hard situation from the beginning. Right?
Right.

But maybe… Before… Before you applied for refugee status here, what was your dream? Can you say, you know, “before I applied for the refugee status”?…
My dream is simple. It was I just don’t want to go back to Tibet. I don’t want to live the hell over there. And I don’t want to go to Nepal, also, because Nepal, they treat Tibetan… Not bad as the Chinese, but they treat Tibetan very badly. I don’t want to go back to Nepal. I don’t want to stay in Tibet. I don’t want to live… I want to go outside of those countries, whether I belong… Whether I reach Amsterdam, whether I reach Belgium, where I reach America. I’m outside of Nepal and Tibet. I will take any way. That’s… That was my first dream. But luckily, I landed here in the land of Freedom in France.

And today. What is your dream?
Today? Right now, I just want to earn more money for my family so that they can have a stable life. And that is my dream. And to do that one, as I told you, my passion is to drive poids lourd, driving poids lourd.

Poids lourd? Heavy trucks.
Heavy trucks. So if you have that thing, minimum salary would be 2000… 2800, two thousand eight hundred. So that I think that’s quite enough for me. And to have that thing, if I succeed in getting that thing, I think I’ll have my family happy. And that was my… That’s my dream. I want to… I want to do that dream and I want to prove that “OK, I’ll succeed in my dream”.

Great. Thank you very much, Tashi.
I no problem.

OK.
Most welcome

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Transcribed and translated by:

Edited by:

Lucia Zambrini

Alex Jones

Transcribed and translated by: Lucia Zambrini

Edited by: Alex Jones

Many 1000 Dreams interviews were not conducted in English. Their translation has not always been performed by professional translators. Despite great efforts to ensure accuracy, there may be errors.