Elsa M. Spencer Shares ESCAPE FROM SHANGRI-LA
Author Elsa M. Spencer found the fruit of a rare genetic combination when she met Kelsang and Dukar Kaiser. Their story, though, is typically more Tibetan, more of the tragedy that befell the people on the rooftop of the world. It took Spencer many months of research to be able to put together their story of personal triumph and tragedy in her new book "Escape from Shangri-la."
Spencer first observes how they had very unusual-sounding names. They are Tibetan by birth and German Swiss through adoption. Their life stories, explained Gloria Spencer, the author's sister, read like a movie plot. From these Elsa Spencer unreels an awesome saga that is colored by exotic Tibet and its serene mysteries. It is perhaps the life on a very inhospitable place that lends Tibetans a calmness, a grounding on essential spirituality. The author was gripped by this spirit and the more identifiable human spirit of endurance represented by the young Tibetans. These are the compelling qualities that permeate her biography-a story that Kelsang and Dukar Kaiser were not inclined to tell at first.
"Escape from Shangri-la" tracks the not-so-mysterious human exodus of Tibetans from Tibet to India. The year 1959 was the "...beginning of the end for the country on the highest mountain on earth." The story unfolded slowly for the author, as who would volunteer information on personal tragedy when a whole nation suffered the same fearful, horrible fate with the world watching? Nevertheless, Kelsang and Dukar Kaiser cast an unusual tone in the proceedings, and this is probably the spark which Elsa Spencer felt and was committed to find out not only for herself but for a wider audience of readers. This is an illuminating memoir of luminescent beings from a people and religion whose depth of spirituality command intuitive respect from people all over the world. Spencer unerringly weaves the spark into her narrative and does a compelling illumination-through hunger and weariness in the long road to freedom-of Kelsang and Dukar's youthful journey.