Name: Dolma Choezom
Interview Age: 88
Date of Birth: 1924
Birthplace: Ganzi, Kham, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1951
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 15D
Location: Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India
Categories: Culture and History
Keywords: childhood memories, customs/traditions, festivals, Chinese -- first appearance of, Kham, pilgrimage, trade, childbirth, children's games, Chinese Nationalists/Kuomintang
Dolma Choezom was born in Ganzi in Kham Province. This region of Tibet was under Chinese rule and taxes were paid to the Chinese rather than Tibetan government. Dolma Choezom's father was a trader and traveled to nearby Chinese cities to buy tea in the form of bricks, which he then sold in Tibet. She fondly remembers awaiting his return because he brought candy for the children. She talks about games she played and festivals that she enjoyed as a small child.
Communist Chinese first appeared in Ganzi when Dolma Choezom was 12 years old and she recalls people fleeing to the mountains, though the Chinese did not do anything oppressive during their first arrival. Her mother died when it snowed heavily on the mountain where they were hiding. Dolma Choezom was then cared for by her grandmother and aunts. She decided to run away to Lhasa when she was 20 years old. She describes the difficult journey on foot that took two months and her embarrassment begging for food. Dolma Choezom visited pilgrim sites around Lhasa and Shigatse.
Dolma Choezom then met her husband, a soldier in the Tibetan Government army, and lived in the army camp passing time by knitting sweaters. She describes the birthing process of her seven children, which was done at home often without help. She and her husband chose to visit Kolkata, India, but they instead ended up in other parts of India and never returned to Tibet because in the meantime the Dalai Lama had fled to India in exile.
- Martin Newman (Interviewer)
- Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
- Pema Tashi (Videographer)