‘Tibet One’ rides into city with a message of freedom
Crossing 22 countries in seven months, Lhakpa Tsering, a New York-based Tibetan-in-exile, vroomed into Mumbai on his grey BMW motorcycle on Wednesday.mumbai Updated: Oct 22, 2010 00:41 IST
Crossing 22 countries in seven months, Lhakpa Tsering, a New York-based Tibetan-in-exile, vroomed into Mumbai on his grey BMW motorcycle on Wednesday.
Named ‘Tibet One’, the pulsating 1200cc bike, is a symbolic chariot for the 40-year-old Tibetan activist who began his ‘Free Tibet World Tour’ from the United Nations’ headquarters in New York on March 10, which is observed as the Tibetan Uprising Day.
The tour will end on October 29 at seat of the Tibetan Government in Exile in Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, where Tsering grew up in a village for Tibetan orphans.
“The world needs to hear the voice of Tibetans. I want to be the voice for our nation,” said Tsering, who used his savings to buy the $18,000 bike, and fund the world tour.
Tsering faced his first hurdle in Texas. “I was stranded for two days due to a snowstorm,” recalled the ponytail sporting six-foot rider. Driving through Salt Lake City, a windstorm knocked his bike off the road and he had wait till a truck driver stopped and helped him put the 203 kg bike back on the road.
In each city, Tsering would share the story of Rangzen — Tibet’s fight for freedom, with students and people in cafés. “In Canada someone asked me if Tibet was part of China. I explained the ground situation and felt happy that at least I was setting the record straight for some.”
In Europe, the Tibetan flag on his bike attracted a lot of attention. “But it was tough to convey my message to people as I didn’t know the local language.” He flew into Japan, skipping Russia and China. From there he headed to Australia and then to Chennai, where his bike got caught in bureaucratic red tape. The customs department insisted on a document, which required a $18,000 deposit. Finally, a Tibetan family in Canada paid the deposit.
“The world bike tour is relevant when Tibetans across the world are electing the next Tibetan Government in Exile. The world needs to know that every ‘chinki’ face is not always a Chinese. There is a country called Tibet,” said Tibetian writer-activist Tensing Tsundu.
Now, as Tsering nears his goal, he is looking forward to reuniting with his wife and four-year-old daughter. “I hope I can set an example for the Tibetan youth to keep the cause of Free Tibet alive.”