no dates of birth or surname
ensured their migration papers were rejected
asked to help, unsure of my ability
we invented dates of birth and a common surname
in their two metre square paper-mache room
papers completed to bureaucrats satisfaction
migration papers were accepted
Hiking in the Himalaya’s ensured that I met many Tibetan refugees and Sherpa’s. We had a rough idea of their year of birth from their lunar calendar but some would be a year out. The actual birth dates, month and day, were totally fabricated as they had no idea. It’s not important in their culture.
Their first name acknowledged their spiritual guide, their second name was chosen to match their ability and used as their common name. So a surname that illustrated they were one family, parents and two young children, was essential for the Canadian authorities.
And yes they were residing in the tiniest paper-mache room with no facilities or possessions, they needed to be gone before monsoon.