Magazine > Issue 6, Spring 2005 >

From the Editor's Desk

"Now, here we were buying stuff as a phoren cousin to give back to all our loved ones in the Himalayas. In most cases, I wouldn’t buy any of the stuff for myself simply because I would consider them too expensive and couldn’t afford them. "
Tenzing L. G. Chadotsang, Editor-in Chief

Two friends of mine went back to India and Nepal recently. Both were going back after years of being here in the States. They both bought expensive gifts for their friends and family, new clothes and shoes for themselves and saved up money for the trip months in advance by scrimping on their expenses. They looked so happy to be leaving for a holiday – a short one at that.

I remembered the times when as a student in India, I looked forward to visits from my cousins abroad. The latest clothes, the expensive gifts that I got flashed before my eyes. We had no Christmas, but the coming of these cousins was no less. Here I am, years after, “abroad” as we so said in India. Here I am helping a friend at a store buying expensive basketball shoes for a ten year old, shoes costing well over a hundred dollars. The child lives in a country where the average person makes less than that amount in a month. Here we are at this sporting goods store buying NBA clothes for another child who watches cable TV in a house in Nepal, goes to a private school there. All expenses for the house, and more, are paid by his mother who works seven days a week as a caregiver – not to her own children but her employers. The child wants a shirt because another of his friends got that as a gift from one of this so-called foreign returned uncle. The cost of the shirt was more than half a month salary of the average person living in the Himalayas.

I had grown up in India and as these gifts that were given to me by my “phoren cousins.” I never saw the amount they shelved out of their pockets for them – they did not mention it. I sometimes asked them to send me some things, which I saw, in magazines or in person on some of my friends. I had cousins and that is all that mattered. I was the cousin back in the Himalayas and they were the ones in the West that would provide.

These “phoren cousins,” I see now are the same as myself. They have regular jobs – they struggle here in the U.S. with the same issues: rents, credit card bills, underpaid jobs and long, tedious hours. They save up to go for these trips back to the Himalayas where they take bags laden with expensive presents while they themselves give up small luxuries like a coffee at Starbucks in the morning or a take-out lunch. Now, here we were buying stuff as a phoren cousin to give back to all our loved ones in the Himalayas. In most cases, I wouldn’t buy any of the stuff for myself simply because I would consider them too expensive and couldn’t afford them.

Anyway, to cut the long story short, this disturbed me. At one level giving out expensive gifts to our friends and family there creates a demand in our communities for items, which are beyond our reach even here in the U.S. Also, evidence of our flamboyant spending while on our visit back creates this impression of an abundance of finances here, creating a desire in our other Himalayan folk to come to here without understanding the situation here – the long hours at work, rents and overcrowded apartments and so on.

Well, life in the U.S. is not all that bad. There are opportunities; there is freedom and an appreciation for hard work. But that is something to discuss at another time.

As for Migyul, the journey continues – lending a hand to all our Himalayan friends in New York in finding these opportunities, assuring the freedom of our people and showing them a path to get the recognition they deserve. A lot of movement has taken place in the past month in the editorial board – friends have joined and some have left. We ask you to join us in helping ourselves or recommend any you might think would be an asset to the magazine and our community.