Friday, February 1, 2013

Your Happiness and My Suffering: A Song by Khoten (translation)

Dhondup Tashi Rekjong and I translated this song about a year ago and sent it to High Peaks (, the best site for news, issues & commentary coming out of Tibet. Dechen Pemba really liked it and wanted to put it up, and asked us if we could get an introduction on Khoten. There wasn’t any information available online, in Tibetan or English, so Dhondup Tashi asked people he knew inside Tibet to get some information on Khoten. This is how he gets the info on most of the people that Tibet Web Digest translates and publishes online.

Finally we got a brief biographical sketch and then that information just slept in our inboxes (ok, fine, my inbox) for a very very long time until someone on the web put up a translation of this song, which was interesting but a little libertarian, (for instance: instead of ‘the snow is not white’, I believe they had ‘it was not the white snow’) and so we got out the intro and dusted it off, edited it and sent to Hpeaks. We have to thank Dechen, who was so patient with us, and does such a wonderful and necessary job with High Peaks.

You can simply read the song lyrics, but I really suggest watching the video (the lyrics are also embedded). It's an entirely different experience. Of course, the Tibetan audience is uncooperative as always. Maybe another time, I'll share my memories of Phurbu T Namgyal desperately trying to get the Boston Tibetans grooving to Jampa Dolma. They watched him like a documentary. Clearly, the Amdo audience is not much better. 

Anyway, Khoten punched me in the heart with this song. I hope we have done justice to his lyrics. Do watch.