The video shows a wedding, but when he visits his family you can see remote areas are still very poor. His family’s house has a stone fence courtyard, and the house itself is made of mud mostly. Toilets are still outside (imagine going there in winter).
Weddings are usually arranged so that the bride has a chance to live in the city and escape poverty – in fact they say as much in the video. People in Tibet are learning Mandarin for the same reason. If you only speak Tibetan, you’ll only get to live in Tibet. If you speak Mandarin, you can live anywhere in China pretty much. It’s not unheard of that Han Chinese living in Tibet will speak Tibetan better than you.
And most of all, you can still see the remnants of their traditional culture. Now I’m not one to say all traditions must be put to progress, but it feels weird when you know Tibetan history to see the monk get first dibs on the food.
I’m sure China is making some efforts but it paints a very stark picture between what we see in Xinjiang where most cotton production is mechanised (the tractors even drive themselves, I shit you not) and Tibet where people still live somewhat traditionally – yeah sure they get a car instead of a horse now, and they get electricity and easier access to groceries, but that seems to be about it.
Keep in mind China is still allievating poverty in Tibet: you can see modern roads leading to towns and villages, and from my Tibetan friends who go back sometimes, they say things are moving. Old villages with the mud houses you see above are destroyed and replaced with modern towns a bit further away. I think one problem China faces in Tibet is the climate; most towns are more than 3km above sea level. Another problem is that there is still a traditionalist sentiment in Tibet, and people are attached to their way of life and see Chinese intervention as unnecessary meddling. Things have calmed down since some years ago however.
The mother seems generally supportive of China’s arrival in Tibet. She says life was very, very hard when she was a kid (born in the late 50s or early 60s) – but she also regrets the carefree life she had as a child, where you could go to any door in the village and they always had food to give you. But who doesn’t regret their carefree childhood?
After the age of 15 her father stopped her from going outside unaccompanied because it was dangerous for young women. She claims even today Tibetans from the rural areas are hardcore and will pull a knife on you if you insult Tibet for example (used to be a sword), even in the diaspora.
I’m also sharing this channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjnS_BBQwl1ro5rN-xqhLlQ. He makes quick and easy Tibetan recipes (the chili oil especially you must make, but feel free to cut back on half the oil. Check out his restaurant style momos too). Tibetan cuisine is really tasty, but it’s mostly oil, butter, sugar and other dairy products. A ton of people in Tibet have cholesterol problems due to their diet.
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