Mr, Chumphel, Dhekushoe — The Devil Gambler: A Story of Old Tibet
NOSTALGIA: 1. a longing to go back to one’s home, home town, or homeland; homesickness 2. a longing for something far away or long ago or for former happy circumstances. (Webster’s New World Dictionary)
Societies usually evolve gradually, slowly responding to political, economic, and cultural influences. In the twentieth century, however, rapid technological progress has sometimes drastically speeded up this process. Thus in the increasingly urban and technological United States of the second half of this century, people have found themselves yearning for simpler times, or at least what they imagine as simpler times, in a country formerly of open spaces, exciting and adventurous. We North Americans have solidly enshrined our vanished past as the ‘Old West,’ America’s unique cocktail of history and myth. It’s been epitomized best, perhaps, in the words from the American country tune: “Don’t fence me in.”
This ‘golden age’ developed depth and color directly as nomadic Indians and hardy pioneers yielded to fast automobiles and paved interstates. I cannot speak with any certainty for the children of the 1980′s, but as a child of the 1950′s, I grew up with and thrived on images of the wild west.
So it was with much the same pleasure I’ve taken all my life in Hollywood Westerns, that I listened to Sonam Ngodup, a Tibetan refugee in northern India, tell me the story of his father, Dhekushoe, the famous (or according to some, infamous) ‘devil gambler’ of Tibet. As I listened to him, images flooded my mind of Doc Holiday, of Mississippi riverboat gamblers, of men and women who didn’t like rules and who didn’t like […]