How laphing made it to Kathmandu

Laphing, is originally a Chinese dish – ‘La’ means cold and ‘Phing’ refers to the jelly-like texture of the snack. It travelled to Nepal with Tibetan refugees.

Drishna Sthapit

Drishna Sthapit

The Kathmandu Post

June 30, 2022

KATHMANDU – Laphing is originally a Chinese dish. La means cold. Phing would signify the jelly-like texture of the snack. Popular in Tibet, laphing travelled to Nepal with the Tibetan refugees.

The first time I tasted laphing, I found it delicious. It was sour and spicy. Laphing was the reason I was a regular at the old couples’.An old Tibetan couple here in Boudha who had a small eatery opposite Sherpa Gompa at Tushal first introduced me to ‘yellow laphing’. Soon I became friends with them. I got the idea of selling laphing from them.

My name is Sonam Tenzing Lama. I have been living in Boudha for about 35-36 years now. My shop’s name is CD Laphing Center. I set up the shop in 2003. I sold and rented video CDs. Along with the CDs, I used to sell white laphing. Later on, with the growing internet access, CDs started to become outdated. Then I continued with laphing only.

My mother came to Nepal along with her parents around 1959. Many Tibetans, in millions, fled Tibet after China quelled the uprising. She got married here. I was born here too. After my father’s death, we returned to Tibet. Life was scary in Tibet. We did not know what would happen to us. I was young. I didn’t care much. Adults, however, were scared. Momo was banned. We couldn’t travel afar. There were many restrictions. It was difficult for me to stay alone in Tibet after my mother passed away. I returned (to Nepal).

I had heard that monasteries (in Boudha) offered food and shelter to refugees. I then decided (on my return) to live in a monastery. However, I could only find work for some wages at the monastery but couldn’t become a monk. I first met my wife at the monastery during a big ritual ceremony. She, like me, had also started working for the monastery. We fell in love and started a family, after which we left the monastery.

We then rented a room with our savings. My wife started to work as domestic help. I travelled to Tatopani and other places to do business. It didn’t work as expected.

People judge us for selling laphing. Although people love eating laphing, they don’t value us.

We struggled in the past but we are happy now. We don’t have money to buy a house or car but we provide education and food for our children. I live with my wife, two daughters, and three sons.

Many Tibetan refugees live here. Like us, they have to toil and figure out livelihood opportunities. There is no food without work. I think we will be happy if we get our country back. That’s all I think of.

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