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Book Launch – White Crane, Lend me your Wings | late Dr Tsewang Yishey Pemba
Co hosted by the The Modern Tibetan Studies Program of Columbia University
Book Launch – White Crane, Lend me your Wings
Author: late Dr Tsewang Yishey Pemba
White Crane, Lend me your Wings is a historical fictionset in the breathtakingly beautiful Nyarong Valley in the Kham province of Eastern Tibet in the first half of the twentieth century. Dr Pemba skillfully weaves a dazzling tapestry of individual lives and sweeping events creating an epic vision of a country and people during a time of tremendous upheaval.
The novel begins with a never-told-before story of a failed Christian mission in Tibet and takes one into the heartland of Eastern Tibet by capturing the zeitgeist of the fierce warrior tribes of Khampas ruled by their chieftains.
This coming-of-age narrative is a riveting tale of vengeance, warfare and love unfolded through the life story of two young boys and their family and friends. The personal drama gets embroiled in a national catastrophe as China invades Tibet forcing it out of its isolation. Ultimately, the novel delves into themes such as tradition versus modernity, individual choice and freedom, the nature of governance, the role of religion in people’s lives, the inevitability of change, and the importance of human values such as loyalty and compassion.
Saturday, November 18; 2-4PM | CLICK HERE TO RSVP
About late Dr Tsewang Yishey Pemba
Dr. Pemba was born in 1932 in Gyantse, Tibet. His father was Rai Saheb Pemba Tsering, a prominent member of the British Political Office having served as British Trade Agent. The Pemba family had also made Gangtok their home, living in the residence of late Tashi Tsering, President of Sikkim State Congress.
Tsewang “Yishy” Pemba had no formal education until the age of nine when he started in 1941 at Victoria Boys School in Kurseong where he was until 1948. Decades later he wrote about his experience. In 1949 he went to read Medicine at London University at University College and University College Hospital. In 1955, Tsewang Pemba graduated with M.B. and B.Sc. degrees, the first Tibetan student to receive British medical qualifications. He then was recruited by the future Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji, to establish that country’s first hospital and worked in Bhutan from 1956 to 1958. In 1959, Dr. Pemba moved to Darjeeling where he worked until 1965 for Dooars and Darjeeling medical association hospital (DDMA) run by the Indian Tea Association when he also looked after the Tibetan Refugee School and the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center. In 1959, the uprising in Lhasa, Tibet, against the occupying Chinese forces caused thousands of refugees to India, and many to Darjeeling. Pemba volunteered to work at the Tibetan Refugee School and soon became a well-known figure amongst many high-ranking Tibetan lamas; those he treated included Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa; Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche; Dudjom Rinpoche, an incarnation of a 1,000-year-old line of spiritual masters; Great Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö; Chatral Rinpoche; Kalu Rinpoche; Tai Situ Rinpoche and Shamarpa.
In 1965 he returned to Britain to specialise in surgery and in 1966 he was awarded the Hallett Prize for coming first in the primary examinations of the Royal College of Surgeons; he became a Fellow in 1967. He returned to Darjeeling to work until about the mid-1980s, at this time he befriended Thomas Merton. Dr. Pemba, then returned to Bhutan to become Superintendent of the National Referral Hospital, Thimphu. He was also appointed to be a United Nations certifying doctor and sat on the committee devising a Bhutan national formulary. In 1989, was a member of the Bhutan delegation to WHO in Geneva. While in Bhutan, Dr Pemba served as consulting physician to Bhutan’s royal family in this period as well.
Dr Tsewang Yishey Pemba died at Siliguri on November 26, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Tsering Sangmo, and four children. A fifth child predeceased him in 2009.