“I sniffed it again and took a long inhale,” said Gonpo Kyab, a Tibetan living in Slovenia, as he recalls the memorable moment when a whiff of cow manure passed by him as he walked through an Indian village for the first time after arriving from Tibet. The smell reminded him of the yak dung at his nomad home in Malho County, where he grew up. Like many new arrivals from Tibet, Gonpo Kyap had not seen a yak since arriving in India. He missed the animal, which he referred to as the source of everything that he needed.
Thirteen years later and 8000 kilometers from Tibet, the former nomad once again possesses his own yaks. Two months ago, Kyab had traveled from Slovenia to Austria in order to meet his beloved animals, several of which were being raised by an Austrian family. “I can’t describe my feelings,” he tells VOA Tibet in Review over the phone, adding, “It seemed that there was a sense of closeness from the yaks, too.” Kyab had put on his traditional nomad clothes on that special day. After returning home from the trip, he and his Slovenian wife decided to buy a female and male yak, both two year olds.
Gonpo Kyab had not only become the first Tibetan to immigrate to Slovenia, but also the first person to bring yaks into the country, adding a new species in the Slovenian animal importation regulations.