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Published on Jan 19, 2018
The interpreter's English translation provided during this interview is potentially incomplete and/or inaccurate. If you are not fluent in Tibetan, please refer to the interview transcript for the complete and correct English translation. Read the interview transcript in English at http://tibetoralhistory.org/Interview...
** This interview about life in Tibet was conducted by the Tibet Oral History Project. This non-profit organization aims to preserve the history and culture of the Tibetan people by interviewing elderly Tibetan refugees about life in Tibet before and after the Chinese invasion. Learn more at http://www.TibetOralHistory.org.
** Interview Summary: Kalsang Thakhay was born in a village near Rikong in Amdo Province. His parents eloped to China because their parents opposed their marriage and he was left with his grandparents at the age of 3. Before age 4 he was sent to the local monastery as a monk where he lived until age 12 when he and another monk ran away to go to Lhasa. They spent a year en route in Kongpo constructing roads for the Chinese. Kalsang Thakhay recalls his good fortune of receiving blessings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his journey to China in 1954. Kalsang Thakhay joined Gaden Monastery near Lhasa and worked in a monastery store and as a teacher. In March of 1959 monks were requested guard the Potala Palace. Kalsang Thakhay volunteered and describes how the monks received weapons from the Tibetan Government and were barely trained by soldiers. They were told to go back and guard their monasteries, but Lhasa was bombed that day. The monks were then ordered to join the Chushi Gangdrug guerrillas. Kalsang Thakhay recounts an incident where the Chinese shot at the Tibetans from an airplane and the guerrillas shot back. He witnessed the final moments of the resistance movement when some wanted to stay and fight and others felt it was useless and wanted to flee. Kalsang Thakhay later joined the Indian army with the hope to return to Tibet and fight against Chinese soldiers.