New Delhi: In the empty lanes of Majnu Ka Tila, Tenzing Dikyi feels that he is cut-off from his homeland, Tibet. His only link home was WeChat app, but that app is among the 59 Chinese apps banned by India day before yesterday.
Majnu ka Tila has been synonymous with the Tibetan settlement near the gurudwara for decades. It has been home to over 365 Tibetan families, since the early 1960s, who have settled there.
Dikyi, while recalling his immigration in 1992, said that he is originally from Lhasa. It had taken him a month to reach Nepal on foot. From there, he took a bus to reach the cities of India. He was alone with a group of strangers. His parents and three siblings are still in Lhasa. It was exceedingly difficult for him to speak with his folks for many years. This was because it was not safe and the call rates too, were extremely high. With the arrival of WeChat, the conversation became simpler.
WeChat was released by Tencent Technology in 2011. It is a messaging, social media, and mobile payment app. Dikyi told that Facebook and WhatsApp cannot be used by his family since it is banned in Tibet.
He said that he used QQ for some time. QQ is also developed by Tencent and is an instant messaging software service. He could not talk to them frequently, but it was nice for him to see their faces. His family always called him during family occasions and festivals.
Dikyi is a Chinese translator by profession. He said that there is no work in the lockdown. He also said that in the current situation, it seems like his language skills hold no value.
Three friends, while sitting on the banks of Yamuna, discussed how the app ban will affect local businesses.
Youton (30) used to send Ayurvedic cosmetic products from Delhi to Tibet and China. She said that she used to click the pictures of her products and send them to clients through WeChat. If the clients liked the products, they would order and make payment through the app. Then the product used to get dispatched by her.
Youton said that she came to India when she was 13. She said that her family had started using WeChat a few years ago as the normal call rates were around Rs 40 per minute.
Trinley Rigzi had a client base of 200 Tibetan and Chinese people on the app. He said that it is alright if the app is banned. But there should be some substitute. He used to export Indian medicines to China and Tibet. He has been employed since the lockdown.
The fear of adverse impacts on the export to China and Tibet loomed in the air.
Yangkyi Lhamo said that she had come to India with her brother when they were kids. Her parents thought of Tibet as unsafe. When she was studying here in India, her parents used to send her money through WeChat. Once she started earning, she used to send money to her parents through WeChat.
She said that her income was not fixed though. It depended on the number of items that were being exported to Tibet or China.
She said that most of their business came from China. People do the payment on WeChat after which the boxes are shipped. She also said that she does not know any other payment or video calling app which is available in both countries.