By Tenzin Sangmo
Members of RTYC Kalimpong clearing the fire wreckage
DHARAMSHALA, May 5: A fire broke out last night at Gyalo Thondup’s noodle factory in the three-acre compound off 8thMile area in Kalimpong.
It was doused by firefighters around 9 pm.
“Taktser house,” a single storeyed house in the compound was not affected by the fire.
Named after the birthplace and home town of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s family in Tibet, it has seen multiple visits by His Holiness over the years.
The factory became well known after the publication of the book “Noodle maker of Kalimpong: The Untold Story of My Struggle for Tibet” by Gyalo Thondup and Anne F Thurston in 2015.
Conversing with the members of Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC) who have come to clear the wreckage this morning, the 91-year-old Thondup is seen in a video thanking the members and reasoning why the factory workers should not worry.
“It has stood for 50 years now and with this fire engulfing the foundation, it may be time to slowly rebuild it.”
The cause, he said, seem to be the result of a pile of wood near the main stove catching fire which then engulfed the pillars.
Seven years older than His Holiness, Thondup served as a key figure in the exile politics, as the former's unofficial envoy in the Sino-Tibet peace talks and as an interlocutor with the host country and countries across the world for four decades before retiring in 1999 to settle in Kalimpong.
The hill town in the Himalayan foothills of West Bengal, across the border from Tibet
served as an important hilltown for Tibetans before and after 1959, first as a trading center and later as the exile base for the CIA-backed Tibetan guerilla resistance in the 1960s, brought into existence by Thondup’s acceptance of CIA’s help.
In an interview with The Telegraph
in April 2017, Thondup termed his decision to accept the CIA's military aid and training to raise as his biggest regret.
He had said he is a firm believer in dialogue as the best way to resolve the issue of Tibet although rounds of Sino-Tibet dialogues have come to an indefinite halt for a decade now.