About Everyday Exile

My photo
Founded 2010 as a platform allowing Tibetans in exile anywhere in the world to share their personal stories, in words and images, with an online readership with the eventual goal of sharing these in print format. Now covering all aspects of Tibetan culture through photo essays and brief explanatory articles. A series of related books is planned.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

On Hold

I am still in what is beginning to feel like an eternal holding pattern regarding a return to the Tibetan refugee communities. 
Airfare to, and expenses in, India have increased, while my resources have decreased. 
I have also been presented with various other possibilities, including helping a Tibetan in my place of origin start and run a cultural center in late autumn 2014. 
Many decisions.
Trying to feel my way into what is right for all involved.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Project in Developement

After a long break, I am resuming work regarding the Tibetan community in India and Nepal.
The Everyday Exile Project was completed, and the book is available in both e-reader format and in print. You can find links to it on this page as well as at: My Bibliography

So...what next? This is what I am in the process of figuring out!
I know my karma with the Tibetan community is not finished. There is work left to do. The nature of that work, and how I can be of best benefit, remains unclear.
I can say with some certainty that the forthcoming features will be cultural, not political or activist.
I feel compelled to do more photography and photo essays, and in the long run, whether it be blog only or more books, to share more writing on this journey.
I know that I very much want to share my experiences, whether negative or positive, with the rest of the world.

If all goes well, I will be back in north India by October 2013. My "at the latest" goal is February 2014. The exact itinerary is unknown, but as before, my desire is to visit Ladakh and Sikkim in addition to return to Dharamsala.

As this blog is already established, I plan to keep the posts here and at the "sister" photo blog.
The facebook page is new, and can be found at "Explore Tibetan Culture"

I want to thank everyone who has shown an interest along the way, and hope you will continue to follow wherever this leads.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fundraising for Return to Volunteer in Tibetan Communities

"Everyday Exile" the book has been available to the public now for just over two weeks. It has sold a total of 19 copies combined between the ebook and print edition in that short time. As of this morning it is ranked #7 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Travel > Asia > India and  #19 in Books > Travel > Asia > India > General

I am so grateful to everyone who has purchased it and shared it with their network.
The first circle of this project is complete.

Now the time has come to look ahead and begin planning for the next trip, the next book.
I need the help of my support network to achieve my fundraising goal.

I have posted more about the specifics of the project and how the raised funds will be used at my main campaign site, and on the Sponsor page of this blog.

Please do not hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

Thank you!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Everyday Exile Book Now Available

“Everyday Exile, Life in the Tibetan Settlements of India and Nepal" by Tammy Winand is now available.

The goal of Everyday Exile is to present a first-hand narrative that anyone from school child to adult can learn and benefit from. It is not intended to be scholarly nor comprehensive. The book is aimed at those with little or no knowledge of Tibetan culture or history. It is the book the author wishes someone had written and handed to her when she first arrived in the Tibetan community.  

Purchase it in Kindle and print formats at:

Amazon USA

Amazon UK

Amazon France

and for ePub format (including the Nook) via Lulu

Look for it at Barnes & Noble nook store this week.

The pieces presented in this book are compiled from a variety of sources including but not limited to my first hand experiences, pieces written by my Tibetan acquaintances for the original Everyday Exile Project blogs, direct interviews with the subjects, and a number of websites related to Tibetan issues. 

It is possible that, due to language barriers and poor translations, some inclusions may be inaccurate or incomplete. However, each piece conveys at least one individual's truth about their personal experience.

The pieces on history, politics, Tibetan Buddhism, food and naming are compiled from my own firsthand observations or from (limited) study, and are "true" to the best of my knowledge. 

If anyone find any errors or grave omissions in the book, please email me so that I may make swift corrections.While I am very excited about the release of my book regarding the Tibetan exile community, please know that my heart and prayers are with those Tibetans inside Tibet whose situation at the hands of China's CCP are the reason there is in fact an exile community at all.

Please pray for human rights, freedom of religion, an end to oppression and torture, and for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

Bhu Gyalo!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Everyday Exile Book Press Release

 Chicago, Illinois, USA, 16 November, 2012 

“Everyday Exile, Life in the Tibetan Settlements of India and Nepal", eBook Release on Kindle Offers Insight into Tibetan Exile Culture.

Can you imagine going on a very long trip, by foot, in winter, as a child, not knowing what awaits you or if you will ever go home? Can you imagine being separated from your family, in a foreign land where you barely speak the language, able to communicate with them only by phone, and even then only in a sort of code, because your calls are being monitored? Can you imagine going to prison for expressing your desire for basic human rights?

These are among the many issues which are an everyday reality for hundreds of Tibetans leaving occupied Tibet. Most of them end up, at least temporarily, in a small village in the Himalayan foothills called Dharamsala, where their exiled leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama has lived for over 50 years. 

Writer and photographer Tammy Winand spent 16 months between November 2009 and October 2011 living in the Himalayan regions of north India and Nepal, volunteering with various non-profits dedicated to improving life in the Tibetan exile communities there. Her first manuscript from this experience, EveryDay Exile, provides an intimate glimpse into a foreign culture few westerners ever have the opportunity to experience.

During her first visit, Tammy's students, among who number several former political prisoners, monks and nuns, shared stories of survival and hopes for the future which moved her deeply. On her return to the United States, speaking to others about her experiences in the Tibetan community, the lack of general knowledge about these issues inspired her to create a project to make Tibetan voices heard.

McleodGanj, also known as Upper Dharamsala, is a hill station in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, situated in the foothills of the Himalayan Dhauladhar Range. It became the capital of the Tibetan government in exile in 196o and is the official residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet. An estimated 60,000 Tibetan exiles live in the immediate area. There are more than 20 official Tibetan exile settlements in India and Nepal, of which Ms. Winand has visited five.

The goal of Everyday Exile is to present a first-hand narrative that anyone from school child to adult can learn and benefit from. It is not intended to be scholarly nor comprehensive. The book is aimed at those with little or no knowledge of Tibetan culture or history. It is the book the author wishes someone had written and handed to her when she first arrived in the Tibetan community. 

“EveryDay Exile, Life in the Tibetan Settlements of India and Nepal" will be available for download for $2.99 USD at the author's Amazon page.

Tammy Winand has had a lifelong passion for travel, foreign cultures and languages which has led her to live in 7 US states and 4 countries. She began writing in high school, and published mainly fiction and poetry through her 20s. Her passion for photography became a serious hobby in 2004.

Her journalism regarding Tibetan exile communities has appeared on CNN, culled from her Dharamsala iReports, and in The Tibet Post international.

Ms. Winand maintains an author's page on facebook where links to her other sites, special deals, and project updates are posted regularly:

To arrange interviews or inquire about a speaker visit please contact:
Tammy Winand
email:      everydayexile@gmail.com
twitter:    @SupportforTibet
facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/TammyWinandAuthor

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Everyday Exile Project Update

Project Updates:
Everyday Exile Project (founded 2010) began as a platform for Tibetans in exile anywhere in the world to share their personal stories, in words and images, with an online readership, with the eventual goal of sharing these stories in print format.

*After many false starts and interruptions, the manuscript is now being compiled, with a goal of releasing it via Kindle for Amazon by November 2012. 

*Also in progress is a series of discs featuring a wide range of photography from the exile settlements. One will showcase Tibetan Buddhist architecture, another will highlight Tibetan activism and community events which occurred between March 2010 and October 2011. These will be available for $10-15 each. 

*Tammy, the founder of Everyday Exile, is in Chicago, IL through January 2013. If you are interested in having her speak at your school or event, please contact her to make arrangements. She has a special interest in presenting photography of Tibetan culture, activism and community events in the settlements , and Tibetan Buddhism, followed by a Q & A session.

NEW! The new projected date for a return to Dharamsala is the start of February 2013, to coincide with Losar, the Tibetan Lunar New Year. 

My mission for this trip will be to continue to document, visually and in words, a time of change and transformation in the cultures of a region threatened by a variety of challenges.
I intend to look more at the lives of new arrivals from Tibet as well as further explore issues faced by the generations which have been born in exile since 1959. 

New to the mission/new services:
Everyday Exile is passionate about introducing Tibetan culture and information about the Tibetan situation to those who are not yet familiar with them. Tammy is offering her services as a local guide for independent travelers who want a little help getting their bearings in Dharamsala. Please email her at the Contact page for a full description of options and fees.

Upcoming Posts 
Comments on Tibetan Language in Exile

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tibetan Buddhist Monastic Life-an Overview

      This piece is compiled from discussions with Tibetan Buddhist monks in McleodGanj (Upper Dharamsala, HP, India), capital of the Tibetan government in exile and residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Most of the monks I questioned belong to the Gelugpa sect. It is not intended to be a definitive study, but simply to provide insight to those outside the Tibetan community who are interested in this aspect of Tibetan culture.

It is not uncommon for a child as young as 5 or 6 to be sent to a monastery by his family. Historically this served multiple purposes, both to fill a religious responsibility and to lessen the household expenses. In large families, there is reportedly a lot of pressure on children to enter the monastery. Families with more than one son may feel compelled to have at least one become a monk, as a sort of offering. A greater number of youth choose to pursue monastic life and education around the age of 12-15.

Young children, and all new monks, attend Basic Buddhism classes, so there can be a wide age range in one class. Students are housed 1-4 per room with one teacher. Their daily schedule includes all aspects of life, with regimented times for sleep, meals, study and play.

A typical day begins at 5:30am when the monks gather for the Refuge and Bodhicitta prayers. A breakfast of bread and tea may be distributed at this time, or there is a breakfast period after prayers. At 8am the monks gather again to recite mantras and sutras (passages from the teachings of Buddha). Afterward, generally from 9:30-11am, a period of philosophical debate is held. Such debate is most common in the Gelug tradition and involves an elaborate series of choreographed moves that appear to the onlooker almost as a dance as a challenger and his opponents discuss major points of Buddhist philosophy. The debate can become very intense and even heated.

After the debate, a lunch of rice, vegetables, bread and tea is served. All monastery kitchens now serve only vegetarian food since a 2001 decree by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In some cases, monks are still permitted to cook meat in their own rooms.

In the afternoon, classes including Tibetan grammar and hand-writing, foreign language (usually English or Chinese), science, and additional philosophy are held. On occasion, these are taught by visiting foreign teachers. There are also optional classes in ceremonial music, torma (a butter sculpture art form used as ceremonial offerings) making, and thangka (regimented Buddhist tapestries) painting. If a monk has no interest or aptitude, these classes are not required.

Dinner is served at 5pm, after which more debate is held until 11pm. Bedtime is midnight.

The daily schedule is observed 6 days per week. Mondays or Tuesdays may be “holidays”, when most monks choose to go to market. In the monastery, it is not permitted to watch television. One of my contacts told me, “Some bad monks sneak out to watch films or sports”. Football (soccer) is a huge favorite spectator sport among monks, so much so that 1999 film “Phorpa (The Cup)”, directed by Bhutanese lama Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, depicts its influence on a monastery in the exile community of Bir.

My main information source, a Geshe from Ganden Monastery in South India, told me that,if a monk fails a particular subject 3 consecutive times, he will be assigned to a task such as cooking or driving for the monastery. I was also told that all monks have the option to discontinue their studies and offer community service work within the monastery.

Those who excel at studies continue towards the Geshe degree, which usually takes a total of 17 years to attain. Starting around the age of 15, the usual course of study is as follows: 5 years of Logic, 5 years in Perfection of Wisdom, 3 years of Middle Way or Madyamika, 2 years of “Middle Phases” or Abhidharma, and 2 years of Vinaya, or the Monastic disciplinary code.

There are 3 levels of Geshe degree, and there is also a limit to how many of each level are awarded annually. At Ganden, 4 Geshe Lharampa (the highest level) are awarded annually, along with 4 lower level degrees.

After attaining a Geshe degree, there are a variety of paths which may be pursued. Some choose to teach at their home monasteries in India, some pursue study in foreign language so they may teach dharma overseas or to visiting foreign students. Some move on to pursue further studies at Gyuto or Gyurme Tantric colleges for 1 or more years. Still others are able to return to teach in Tibet (the legality of this varies from area to area).

Study is year round with the exception of major Buddhist holidays. There is a 6 day break for Losar, the Tibetan Lunar New Year. On the 8th day of the new year, a prayer Monlam which lasts 11 days begins. Other holidays include Tibetan Uprising Day in March, His Holiness the Dalai Lama's birthday on 6 July, India Independence Day, and Tibetan Democracy Day on 2 September.

Summer retreat starts on the 16th day of the 6th Tibetan month and lasts a month and a half, during which time they are not permitted to leave the monastery. After retreat, the are given a 6 day holiday.

While I received no definitive answers to questions on the subject, it appears monks may choose to leave monastic life for a variety of reasons. This may be viewed in a variety of ways depending on the circumstances and on the nature of the monk's friends and families. It seems that elders or those who are more traditional and/or more superstitious think it is a very bad thing, while younger and more modern people feel it is perfectly acceptable.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Planning for 2013 Return

My plan for a Sept. 2013 return to the Tibetan communities is just beginning to take shape. 

My mission for this trip will be to continue to document, visually and in words, a time of change and transformation in the cultures of a region threatened by a variety of challenges.
I will look at the lives of new arrivals from Tibet as well as explore the issues faced by the generations which have been born in exile since 1959. 

I will also photograph the cultural diversity of unique Himalayan regions, including Ladakh, sometimes called "Little Tibet", and Sikkim. An exact itinerary will not be available until summer 2013.

Watch for how you can be involved. Updates and fund raisers will be posted regularly at Everyday Exile facebook page .

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Everyday Exile Project on Indefinite Hold

It makes me very sad to announce that as of today, this project will be on hold indefinitely for personal reasons.

I will always be a supporter of HH Dalai Lama and wish for all human rights for Tibet and all oppressed people everywhere.

Om Mani Padme Hum

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

An Activist...to Be or Not to Be...

I never planned to be an activist. When I arrived in McleodGanj, I was seeking respite from unforeseen challenges of traveling in India as a single white female. I had no idea that I would find myself writing profiles of former political prisoners for an NGOs newsletter. I certainly had no idea that the Tibetans' plight would resonate so strongly with me that I would travel back and forth across the globe repeatedly, relying on donations from fellow Tibet supporters, to continue trying to bring these stories to a broader audience.

Being an activist is exhausting work. You speak up for what you believe in, knowing it is something the world “at large” does not want to hear. You pass along information throughout the day every day with virtually no acknowledgment or result. You are told not to waste your time or energy by those who would have you believe its better to accept what they see as inevitable.

I have been “home”, at a desk, collecting and passing on second hand information from internet resources for four months, now, and often find myself examining excuses for not going back to the center of exile activism.

I ask myself repeatedly, do I have what it takes to return to cover the crisis inside Tibet from the exile communities of India & Nepal? Can I face the challenges of living in a community where desperation and despair are below the surface of almost every aspect of life? What about the health issues I face whenever I go to India, and a host of new dietary concerns?

Yet, I am merely fooling myself by staying in the US and thinking this is any easier. Even if I made the decision never to pursue activism on behalf of Tibet again, I have already seen too much to ever be at peace.

Even here, I have visions of Chinese police beating Tibetans and Tibet supporters for imagined indiscretions. Almost every day, I have visions of someone in flames. Sometimes they are strangers, as if I'm watching footage of the self-immolations clandestinely passed to exile media. Sometimes I picture Tibetan friends taking up the action in Delhi or Dhasa. Sometimes I even wonder what it would be like, to be forced to live in such a way that I was driven to take action, myself.

No matter where my body is, my mind will never be free of Tibet's struggle until Tibet itself is “free”. Free, at the least, to choose its own leaders and make its own policy, free enough for all the former prisoners and torture victims to go back home legally and walk in public without fear, free enough for His Holiness to occupy the Potala Palace.

To quote John Lennon's song, “They may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. Some day you will join us, and the world will live as one.”

May that day come in our lifetime!
Bhod Gyalo!