By Anusha Vincent
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 11 March 2013
Growing up, Tenzing Lhamo always thought models in beauty pageants were “such elegant creatures with beautiful long legs.” She wanted to become one, some day. However, as a Tibetan in exile, the option of entering the Miss India contests was shut to her. “I used to wish there was a Miss Tibet pageant. And, when the Miss Tibet pageant was conceived in 2002, I was determined to enter,” says the beautiful winner of the Miss Tibet 2013 contest, whose coronation ceremony was held in the city some time back. However, success has been bittersweet for the lass, who was the only contestant in the competition, no doubt due to the volatile state of affairs of the community.
In spite of her pageant passions, Tenzing’s participation this year happened predominantly because the competition was held in the south, where she is originally from. “Initially, my parents wanted me to concentrate on my studies and thought I was too young for beauty pageants. And then, each consecutive year, I wasn’t ready to compete or a trip down to India during the competition did not fit my schedule. This time, everything worked out fine, except for the fact that I chose a year when nobody wanted to compete,” she rues, “At first, I didn’t feel like participating. After all, the definition of a competition is a contest between two or more entities. But, a bigger vision to use the platform for the cause prompted me to stay,” she explains. As the winner, she is now a role model for Tibetan youngsters the world over, and her duties include inspiring, educating and moving individuals, organisations and nations about the current situation in Tibet. “At international pageants, I will be my country’s representative; I will show the world that Tibet exists,” Tenzing adds.
In India, of course, winning a beauty contest promises a wild card entry into films. Does she harbour silver screen ambitions? “On February 18, 102 Tibetans self-immolated in protest of the illegal Chinese occupation of Tibet. When such dire conditions plague my land, I cannot think of using my title for self-endeavours,” she points out. But, if there is a beauty queen she admires, she can’t think of anyone better than Princess Di. “Even though she didn’t win titles in pageants, she was a beauty queen in people’s eyes — she continues to inspire even in death. She was more than a mere speaker. She was a doer,” she gushes, adding that she is also inspired by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and her brothers and sisters in Tibet who dare raise their voices even under such an oppressive environment.
About her visit to Bengaluru itself, the beauty queen reveals that it isn’t her first time here. “It has always been very close to my heart due to the fact that I am originally from Karnataka,” she discloses, “I think it is so upbeat, fast-paced, fashion-forward and modernised. At the same time, it has such a cosy Indianness to it. The amazing local cuisine and friendly people make it a wonderful city to live in as well to visit,” she smiles.
But, back she must go, to Madison, where she works as a registered nurse. “I love my job, because each night I go home with a tired body, but a satisfied mind. I intend to pursue higher education in the field of nursing,” she reveals. Among her hobbies are reading classic novels (“preferably with female protagonists”), writing poetry and going for long walks with her Boxweiler pup.