Tashi Yangchen writes about her experiences
Gangtok, Sikkim, 16 November 2004
My decision to join the Miss Tibet pageant was not by chance, it was by choice, a choice which I made with a firm head.
For me participation was more important than winning. I believe that in life one should never be scared of failure because that fear holds us back from achieving greater avenues in life. LIFE should be a learning process through which one attains wisdom via experience.
I was excited to go to Dharamsala as I had never been there before and heard so much about the scenic beauty. Also the hope of meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama was egging me on. I was brimming with excitement throughout the journey, as everything was so new for me — the place, the people and the pageant.
Early in the morning as my eyes opened, when I was cosily cuddled up in the bus couch, my excitement knew no boundaries as I saw the lovely sunrise amidst the breathtaking scenic beauty of Dharamsala.
As soon as I reached the hotel, I had very little time to freshen up as loads of reporters and photographers and media personnel were awaiting for us. I had to give that Colgate smile and answer the queries even though I was dead tired due to the journey (got sleep for only three hours on the bus).
After that we had a photo session for Miss Photogenic. At the end of the day though I was dead tired but I was so happy as all the girls were really nice and friendly.
For a week we had to get up at 5:30 a.m. and go for Yoga. After breakfast we were given lessons on Buddhism, culture, history, Tibetan opera, current affairs, etc. by eminent personalities. That part was one of my favourites as I got to learn so many new things which helped me be a little wiser, knowledge wise.
After lunch we had to interact with the media or were taken for excursions to places like Norbu Lingka, Tsukla Khang, Tibetan Parliament, TCV Schools and other places or had to attend personality development classes which was coached by Sangeeta, who had groomed Miss India for the Miss World Pageant.
After Tea break we had to practice catwalk, make up and work on our talent round. Dinner was followed by either practicing a group dance choreographed by a Brazilian model Bia or a team get together for discussions which comprised of almost 30 members. After that interesting, productive yet tiring day we got to retire to our respective rooms. That was the time when we girls used to chit-chat and help each other to overcome our weaknesses.
When I used to put my head on the pillow I used to wish there was no Yoga class..he..he.. But then my sleep would always be disturbed by a knock on the door by our chaperones, they were really kind ladies.
There were two great receptions in our honour at one of the best resorts — Asia Health Resorts. We got to interact with great intellectual minds and media during those receptions which really proved beneficial for me.
Within these 7-8 days as we were getting ready for the big day, we were really getting groomed well. We learned so many new things in various avenues and the bond between us girls grew stronger day by day. That was something great and that was one main reason all of us were enjoying rather than feeling jealous or competing with each other. We were working as a team to make the big day a success so it really did not matter who won because we were all learning so many things which helped to add a new dimension to our experience.
On 9 October, I was suffering from fever, cold and throat ache. My cold got no better as i had chosen to sing a Tibetan song (Thuksam Shay, meaning think) for my talent round. I was all jittery thinking about singing with a sore throat and also that I had never sang on stage ever (isn't it hilarious?). I mustered all the courage and thought no matter how badly I croak in front of the audience I shall sing.
Before my turn came I took lot of strepsils and surprisingly I was singing there comfortably and did not make a fool out of myself. It was like a miracle! Deep in my mind I felt maybe that strange power was the prayers and blessings of so many well-wishers and elders. I was silently thanking them.
Presentation round was the toughest of all the rounds. There were different topics that we lottery drew. We were given options from two topics and had to prepare within 30 minutes on the spot and speak on it for 10-15 minutes. Wow! — I got a strange nostalgia back to my college days (Engineering college in Pune) where we had to pick chits for a practical exam. At that moment I was thinking whether it was a beauty pageant or some exam we are taking..he..he..
I got the topic on "Responsibility of Tibetan Youth". Though I was scared of the presentation round but it was one of my favourite rounds because in that round we could really accentuate our knowledge as I strongly feel beauty is incomplete without brains. This round helped me showcase an intellectual frame of mind.
On the finale day, 10 October 2004, there were more than 2500 people in the audience and the stage was made in a very elegant and artistic way. There were stairs and a long ramp covered by a red carpet with fire lamps on both the sides of the ramp.
Introduction round was followed by gown round, after that we had traditional dress round. I was so proud to adorn the traditional dress. Due to this, many people from around the globe told me how beautiful the outfit and the headgear was and some models even wanted to make one for themselves...wow!
Traditional Dress round was followed by the interview round. "I was asked how would I define a beautiful person?
Well, my answer was that I see a person beautiful who has a blend of three qualities. First, as everyone knows — the inner beauty — which comprises of love and compassion. Second, is an intellectual mind, which comprises of knowledge and wisdom. I strongly believe, beauty is incomplete without intelligence. Thirdly, outer appearance. By outer appearance I do not mean how your features are or how you look. But by outer appearance I mean how you carry yourself, your aura and your overall charisma. So the blend of these three things in a person is how I define a beautiful person".
The interview round was followed by a group dance by us, the participants. There were only two titles in the pageant. When they announced my name for Miss Photogenic, I was really surprised. I thought the participant from Dharamsala, Thinlay Dolma, would win the Photogenic title as she is really pretty and tall, and also the ballot voting for this title was held at the venue in Dharamsala where people would favour her.
Amongst the sparkle of fire crackers when they again announced my name for the Miss Tibet title I was surprised again as I was already satisfied with one title. First thing I did after my name was announced was hug all my fellow contestants and when the crown was placed on my head I really honestly felt I was taking it on behalf of all my friends as they all were winners by just participating. I admire each one of them because they were each Special in their own ways.
In the end, I know none of us were losers, we all were winners as we got to learn so much from the whole time.
After that I was stormed by the media and had to answer their queries. I tried to answer as intelligently as possible. All through the pageant I was not well maybe that is one reason I was not that excited about winning the title. Deep within me I was the same old me but I saw myself grow mature mentally by 10 years and a huge sense of responsibility cropped inside me. I knew I had to think twice now before I made any move.
From my side I will first try to improve on those factors where I lack because I know I am Miss Tibet and not Miss Perfect. I know what steps I need to take or do in order to honour my title.
I really found Dharamsala so welcoming. Now I miss that place. The people there are kind, helpful, friendly and good at heart. These qualities which I saw in Dharamsala people are rare and something unique. Thanks to all the people of Dharamsala for making me feel at home. My trip to Dharamsala was finally completed by getting the blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Karmapa. It was like a dream come true. I felt totally blessed.
One thing I wish to do is appeal to the youths to follow the path shown by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and maintain our cultural heritage in thought and action too. Youngsters should give emphasis on their education, analyse their weaknesses and strengths and never be afraid of the word "FAILURE". Believe in yourself. There is one life, one opportunity, so make a place for yourself in this world. Do something good in life so that later when you grow older you can look back with a smile and say 'Yes,I did it!'.
In the end no matter what, be a good human being first before being anything in life.
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