Remembering Tendrol la

Yesterday, Covit-19 came closer than ever with the death of a friend. Tendrol la was only a few years older than me, born in Tibet, raised in Switzerland. Our families had known each other for years and when our children were young, we would visit them in Switzerland. In the early 90’s Tendrol came to see us in India, and she told me she was quitting her job as a nurse and starting a project in Tibet, a hostel for orphans and children in need. We had in common this drive to do things that people admired but felt were risky and somewhat unreasonable. She began splitting her time between Tibet and Switzerland and within a few years, had built two thriving hostels, one in her husband Gyazur Lobsang Tsultrim’s area, Gyethang, and another near Lhasa, and had created a whole network of sponsors to support both. Sochoe and Dechen visited several times, and in 2018, Tendrol came to see us at Norden Camp with her husband and their son, Songtsen, who had settled in Gyethang and built his life and business there.  Tendrol la was full of energy and we spent happy hours catching up.

Yesterday, a friend in Gyethang told us the news. She and Lobsang Tsultrim had both been ill in Switzerland, but she had not made it through. She was the younger and stronger one, another of this pandemic’s mysterious antics. I just wanted to remember her and let her family, her husband, and sons Songtsen and Gala, know that we are all thinking of her, of their loss, and the moments in our lives spent together.

Tendrol la, Lobsang Tsultrim and Songtsen with Kalsang, Switzerland, 1988
Kim Collection-053
With Kalsang and Noryang in Switzerland, 2002
With Dechen (and Norbu) at Norden Camp, 2018 

Covit-19 Chronicle 4

The days slide by, Monday slipping into Tuesday, and suddenly the week is gone. We are now in our 7th week of lockdown. Tomorrow, the second round ends, and the third round, announced for two weeks, begins. We are considered an orange zone, so still no vehicles, and a curfew of sorts. The policemen are more relaxed, and some have become creative, donning extravagant robes to direct the covit-19, mostly pedestrian, traffic during the non-curfew hours. More shops are opening and yesterday, we found cheese. Around us, the weather is growing warmer, the cicadas and barbets louder, and the violent thunderstorms, precluders of the monsoon, more frequent. Mango season is here, we are getting increasingly creative in the kitchen, with Tenor making a whopping chocolate cake, and my trying my hand at smoothies and banana tea bread. The children are happy, finding new games, being artistic, inventing birthdays, and organizing treasure hunts.

On the news, we see the pandemic plateauing, people becoming restless, hopes for a vaccine rising, finger-pointing, and people still dying in frightful numbers. We feel safe in our little haven and in the back of our minds, wonder what will happen when it all starts again, not like before.

Our animal visitors are more rare, busy elsewhere in areas neglected by humans.  For more than a month, we had an old macaque rhesus monkey visit our terrace every afternoon. He was small for his age and had a lame leg. He limped his way up, then found a peaceful spot to nap. If I came out, he would retreat into a corner and look at me in a pleading way. A few times, I gave him the leftover spoils of Losar, khapses, and he ate them leisurely. Then he stopped coming. The langurs didn’t show themselves for over a month, Each year, the Kachnar tree in our garden blooms, an explosion of exuberant white flowers tinged in pink. Everyone loves these flowers, more to eat than to look at, and in usual circumstances, I don’t get to see them in their full glory. The gardeners climb the tree to collect a sack or two and the langurs take care of the rest unless a hailstorm does away with them.  This year I wondered if they would come and go undisturbed, but the day before yesterday, the langurs were back. From early morning, the ladies and babies feasted on the flowers, while the teenagers jumped about the terrace, upsetting the chairs. They took a noon nap in the trees, then spent the afternoon frolicking on the lawn before discovering the children’s plastic pool. It soon became like a waterhole in the jungle. By evening they were gone, and all was calm.

Baby in the katchnar tree
The tree before the langurs
The treasure hunt


Art time
The fake birthday.. I made a cake but she couldn’t wait, so we used flowers
Children pool party. The drowning Barbies are, according to Baby D, sleeping mermaids. 
Langur pool party 
Policeman in Covit-19 garb, couldn’t miss him