By Tenzin Dharpo
Patricia Goldsmith (in traditional hat of her husband's native Kongpo) and Dorjee Tsering, Photo- NZHerald.
DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 30: Tibetans and expats in Dharamshala will pass puzzled responses if you ask them about Tsering Dorjee but his alter ego known widely as the “Lion man” is recognized and loved by everyone. The lively and brightly dressed social personality of McLeod Ganj who found love in a kiwi has faced a road block as immigration authorities in New Zealand has questioned the validity of his marriage and reportedly gave him just six weeks to return to India or face deportation.
Tsering married kiwi national Patricia Goldsmith, 26 years senior to him in India after they met in July 2016 here in the town and fell in love. They subsequently moved to New Zealand after he got an interim visa which expired on Nov. 8.
Last month, immigration officers made an unannounced visit early morning to the couple’s home in Dunedin, NZ to inspect their living arrangements and question them about their union, as is standard procedure in some cases of marriage between nationals and foreigners.
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) later sent an official letter to Tsering, in which authorities said they had doubts about the validity of their marriage and that elements of ''credibility, genuine partnership and stable partnership'' had not been met, leaving the couple in distress.
Family members of Patricia has vouched for their relationship and urged authorities to reconsider their stand to deport Tsering. Patricia’s uncle Peter Strang who is the former director of Student Health at the University of Otago told NZ Herald
, ''They made all sorts of assumptions [about their relationship] on pretty minimal evidence. They have had family gatherings with us, they have helped with our garden, we have met for meals and had them for meals: there is no doubt in my mind there is evidence of a good relationship. I think it's draconian and unnecessary: it's upsetting for them, and it's upsetting for us.''
The couple are not ready to part ways and have approached higher offices and appealed to Dunedin North MP David Clark for help.
Here in McLeod Ganj, where people have been entertained and touched by his eccentric way of life and his urge to break into an impromptu theatrical mid-street or during festivities have nothing but love and best wishes for Tsering and his bride. Tenzin Dhargyal who has seen him often performing his unique dance moves said, “Love is love, age should not be barrier and it’s kind of sad to see that a person who have entertained and made people’s life lighter, even just for some moment is facing trouble, and that too by questioning their love. I think authorities in New Zealand should accept him as one of their own. My wishes to the couple. He is only going to make life brighter for anyone around him, that’s guaranteed.”