I am more of an Indian.
Except for my chinky Tibetan face*.
Having been exposed to Tibetan culture at a very young age, I was always keen on exploring the same closely. Soon, I became aware of Tibet’s long struggle to break free from Chinese control, and that made the interest grow further. After I shifted to Delhi in 2014, a visit to Majnu-ka-Tilla, a Tibetan colony in the northern region of the Indian capital, gave me a whole new view of the community I have been drawn towards since childhood.
Everything is fragmented – not just communities, but the spaces they occupy. When I asked my friend, Thinley, to help me with this project, she told me about the difference of opinion I would encounter. And so I did – from “I would stay here even if Tibet becomes free tomorrow” to “I long to live with my family in Tibet”, I tried to come to terms with what it is to be born a refugee. The notion of home: a space inhabited physically, or one created in the mind by others who have a home in memory, is something that is questioned every moment.
Thinley had introduced herself as “an Indian of Tibetan origin” on the first day of college. Did her introduction stand correct or was it supposed to be the other way round is what I think about now. She explained to me how people who have never been to Tibet either want to actively participate in making sure that they get that space, or they want to do nothing about it because this is their home, the Indian land.
With two visits to Majnu-ka-Tilla and some time spent with my friends with ‘a Tibetan face’*, Diaspora Greys is the product of my childhood curiosity consuming me through the viewfinder of my camera. Because all that my camera could capture was the colour grey in all its shades.