I have always been fond of the word freedom, and recently, I have discovered what it means to me. Were it not for my experiences in “China or Taiwan” I would probably still be wondering either where to find it or even what it is. Out of many of my meaningful experiences I had while being in China, I believe that interactions and self-emersion to the culture were an integral part. It allowed me to focus on the commonalities of the country rather than differences.
Having to grow up with Tibetan school in India, I always had a limited perspective about China and Chinese people. Furthermore, as a kid, I painted a one-sided image of China which may not encapsulate the shared history and heritage over many centuries.
Upon my completion of graduation from Delhi University, I developed a passion for learning foreign languages. Initially, it was difficult to choose between Mandarin Chinese and Russian. However, thanks to the support I received from my international friends, who introduced me to a study abroad program in China on Chinese Government Scholarship. With a desire to learn more about the complex nature of language. I am really grateful for these small experience in my life that has empowered me to achieve my set goals. Thereby, I wholeheartedly dedicated my two years studying Chinese language and returned back to India.
During the summer of 2015, I met few of Chinese travel photographers who were visiting Ladakh and and Mo Xizhi (my Chinese husband ) is one of them. One of the Chinese females in the group was very much surprised to see a Ladakhi girl expressing interest in speaking in their native language. This was the first time I met Mo Xizhi . It was a brief interaction as we did exchange our emails.
A year passed, and in the holy month of Saga Dawa, “month of merits”, which is the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, beginning in May and ends in June, Mo Xizhi contacted me about the festivities and celebrations, hoping to acquire more information about the occasion. We set up a meeting during lunch. As I was about to order food he said, ” I am vegetarian” thinking all Chinese are not vegetarian, it was particularly amusing to me.
It has been very delightful to come across his passion for travelling, photography and love for India. By that time, he had travelled so much across the world and had published many amazing travel articles and photographs in Chinese outlets. Unlike other foreigners, Mo Xizhi expressed an abundant knowledge and insights for India, Ladakhi Culture, Buddhism that was intriguing and far beyond my reach. What moved me was his calm composure and stable character. The views he held were inspiring that overarched my personal beliefs.
He spoke about the importance of having deep roots. I couldn’t agree more that there is indeed a special thing about experiences that changes the way we view things in life. It makes you identify not just “Nawang Palkit” from Ladakh but an intricate fabric of connection that I have woven overtime by visiting countries and people. I am excited to see how our journey takes us as we are soon unfolding it in a form of a book, that we are planning to publish for the readers disclosure.
Being raised up in a family that held strong Ladakhi traditional values, which are closely linked with the societal norms; I apprehended the idea of getting married to a non-Ladakhi, as I was well aware of the fact that it will not be well received. It has been challenging especially in a society that has fixed perception of how females do not have much of a say in the matters to choose her husband. It was impossible for others to separate the two in their mind, due to society’s view on normalcy. Any relationship between a man and women outside of the religion, race and country is wrongly deemed abnormal.
Because of this systemic view, I was encouraged to consider a Ladakhi men, even though it did not feel right. But there is no “right.” Identities, race and religion and almost everything else in this world is on a spectrum. Luckily, I realised this and embraced my choices, while simultaneously rejecting society’s views on normalcy. In my opinion, normalcy should be discarded. It creates a mythical standard that forces individuals to have a rigid notion of expectations and ideals. The world should move towards the acceptance of race and identities as a spectrum without barriers. Most of the time we are caught up in our own self-doubt but there is so much more to life.
I was well aware of the fact that when my mother hears about the marriage proposal; her only concern will be: “What will the people say?”
I piled all my confidence to tell my decision to my parents about Mo Xie. Initially, my mom found it hard to recognise and seeing from a conventional viewpoint, I knew she was not wrong. She was perplexed and asked me, “Didn’t you meet any Ladakhi men?” As a traditional protective Ladakhi mother, she then begins to ask lots of questions. Well, my parents are traditional and only knew what they have heard about China on News or from the history of Tibet. However, my father accepted my decision and considered our engagement ceremony (Nyenchang).
I am fortunate to have a strong support from both sides of the families, who demonstrated open-mindedness in fostering a wholesome relationship regardless of race and identity. What struck me the most was their willingness to make a lifetime commitment in accepting, appreciating and celebrating the cultures beyond boundaries as they embraced and abridged the differences.
Moreover, my parents and my relatives welcomed everyone from China as “one’s own family.” It is through moments like these, I am filled with immense gratitude towards my loving parents and how they have raised me to peruse my passion, dreams and happiness. I am sure it was not easy for them to contemplate on the idea that I will be in a foreign country. Certainly, they have never quite imagined the possibility of a marriage beyond the foothills of the Himalayas. Yet again, they stood by me as they always have; supporting me with all my endeavours. In the mean the time, they have acknowledged that they cannot find a well-suited groom for their daughter than Mo Xizhi.
Chinese are fond of planning a destination wedding on an exotic Places. However, Mo Xizhi was considered about my decision of traditional Ladakh style marriage. He understood how crucial it was for a bride to be sent off formally from her home with the blessing of her lamas, parents and relatives.
After three years of relationship, we dart into married life. In no time, both sides of the families became convinced that “Karma“, good deeds, has brought the two of us together. It was the first-time families meet each. And then the wedding day arrived, we had an amazing wedding reception with more than a thousand guests from my side of the family. There was 32 Mo Xizhi’s guest from Shanghai. They were told that the wedding will be held in Leh-Ladakh, India. All of them were very excited to attend the wedding abroad. In fact, some of them had even watched few Indian movies in preparation to familiarise themselves with the Indian culture. Furthermore, Mo Xizhi’s parents imagined me to be a typical colourful Indian girl wearing bangles and sparking sariees. This was the assumption that was portrayed through Bollywood movies. I remember having a hearty laugh when he first told me about it. I am quite sure that I have surprised them all!
Ladakh was very different from
what they preserved India to be. They were surprised to see Ladakhis
as having a strong resemblance to that of the Mongols. They were
expecting the wedding to be like the one in Bollywood movies. But
they found Ladakhi wedding is very much similar to the traditional
Chinese wedding. Like a predetermined auspicious time, which tells
when the bride to leave home. The groom side has to perform certain
challenges to gain entrance in the bride room. The wedding dress
material so-called (Koshen) silk brocade abundantly is also used in
After the wedding, I moved to Shanghai. There his family wanted to have a Chinese styled wedding banquet (what does this mean) and all the people that I have met were surprised that I was an Indian. According to their assumptions, they expected me a darker completion and big eye’s with kajal on.
“I didn’t know there were Indians who look like you.” I laugh aloud and said: “Oh not a big thing! Many Indians don’t know either.”
All of his Chinese friends told me, “Pal, Mo Xizhi has an Indian soul but a Chinese body.”
I stand strongly that the experience of being a Global Citizen will be lifetime phenomenon for me. Being a global citizen means that you leave a place truly connected with people, not just my hometown Ladakh but from all over the world. It made me identify with so many new people around me from all over the world. our continuous dedication we will be able to overcome new challenges.