Tibet is in the news once again. Ever since China invaded and annexed Tibet in 1950's, Tibetians have been stateless people. Many along with their religious leader came to India after Chinese invasion. They were settled in 3-4 places in India.
One such place is Mundagod - small town in North Karnataka. Mundagod is probably 30-40 miles from nearest metropolis Hubli-Dharwad. Being from Dharwad, I got to see Tibetians and their life quite a bit while growing up in Dharwad. Mundagod was also on the way to Sirsi/Honnavar in North Kanara district - my ancestral places. So every time I took a bus ride to the native, it passed through Mundagod and Mundagod bus stand used to full of Tibetians.
Tibetians who were settled in Mundagod wove sweaters. You could see them selling their sweaters on the footpaths of Dharwad and Hubli. Since many of them used to go to Nepal, Tibet etc. they also used to bring along rare items such as imported sneakers, jackets, jerseys etc. Not sure how it is now. But, during my time, most of the sweaters worn by people were made in Mundagod. There may still be some old sweaters at home - made in Mundagod.
It was a different story about the bargaining with these Tibet women selling sweaters. It was funny to watch them bargain with people from Dharwad in their own version of Kannada. It must be appreciated that these Tibeti people, rooted out from their homeland, forced to settle in some totally alien land, starting their lives from scratch, making a honest living by selling sweaters. They also started providing Tibeti medicines later. No experience with that. My dealings with them was over with probably half a dozen of sweaters bought over the period of 10 years.
It was a pure bargain game. Tibeti woman would say some price. You would quote something less than half of that, you go back and forth and then settle at something. Pay money and take your sweater. These Tibeti women were no less audacious than car salesman if you decided to back off after they agreed to sell at the price you asked. If you dared to do that, then be prepared to be humiliated by their entire lot occupying the footpath for being a sissy and what not.
Despite their extreme hardships (at least during initial days), Tibetians have rarely been caught for any criminal activities. This may be due to the fact that entire community was well managed by their religious elders. Absolutely no non-sense and hardworking people. Over the time, they transformed their colony in Mundagod with lush farms, home industries and medical facilities. Dalai Lama visits once in a while. His deputies run a tight ship and Tibetians continue to do well in their adopted country.
Hats off to these people.
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