By Sandy Zimmerman
(Photos by “Tibetan Girl”)
“The Tibetan Girl” depicts Drolma’s life in Ngawa, a small village in Tibet, Sichuan Provence, of China. Just in her twenties, Drolma only knew the life of a herdsman feeding the yaks at 5 am and two more times later in the day.
Many villagers never left the farms yet she wanted more. Drolma’s beautiful voice brought requests to appear in cultural shows performing songs while wearing traditional Tibetan costumes.
Drolma’s father argued about allowing her to travel to Beijing but finally agreed.
Beijing is a large bustling metropolitan city frightening to a village girl. She was annoyed by the thick smog caused by air pollution and had to wear a covering over her nose and mouth.
Facing the different customs and culture in Beijing, Drolma sadly began her new life. Drolma fell asleep and dreamt of the times she was walking or riding a horse in the fields grazing the yaks, milking the yaks and doing the tasks on the farm. Waking up after dreaming about her homeland, Drolma cried thinking how much she missed the yaks.
During the documentary, there are scenes where Drolma sings and her vocals are also heard as background for the story.
Drolma’s paid performances at cultural clubs gave her money to support herself yet she felt isolated and decided to go abroad.
Getting a passport was difficult requiring Drolma to return to her farm in Ngawa.
She was happy to be back with her family and back to work with the yaks. Finally Drolma received permission to travel and a passport. Now the world was open to Drolma, a woman of beauty and talent ready to improve herself.
The scenes in “A Tibetan Girl” surprised viewers with a look at another world, the Tibetan way of life. Drolma faced being forced into an arranged marriage if she stayed in the village. Her family would have received a dowry for her hand.
They were highly religious as we see Drolma praying at home, in the bus, at temples and other places. Growing up in the village, she is a woman torn between her desire to achieve in academics and love for the yaks and farmland. Not many women have the nerve or ability to make that decision.
This touching documentary absorbs the viewers as they watch the story unfold.
Tibet, a country inside China, is surrounded by historic temples of their religious heritage, still adhering to ancient festivals and customs.
By Sandy Zimmerman