Meanings in Hoarding?


My thoughts of the possible meaning/s behind “Hoarding” by some of our elders in our community.

I remember sometime back, a Tibetan girl was telling me how the older Tibetans, the pola’s and mola’s, in our community are “kanchoos“, Hindi for “cheap, སེར་སྣ་ཅན།”. How they would rather hoard the money then to spend it on something as basic as health. She was not being vicious and said she didn’t understand why they hoarded all their money (and things) away in their small homes instead of using it to help themselves.

At the time, I didn’t know how to respond to this. I had also known elders who hoarded everything and I had also wondered why. After some time thinking about it, I thought maybe this had something to do with elders in the community having led a very poor life as new refugee’s in India after escaping Tibet during China’s invasion in the 1950’s. Most worked on building roads to earn a meager income during the early phase of the refugee experience. I remember hearing grandmothers and grandfathers sharing stories of the traumatic work they endured and the many that perished as the result of road building, over Tea’s with each other.  They spoke of  the combination of the Indian heat and the vigorous work they were not accustomed to as the reasons behind the many that died.

The other day, some friends and I were having a discussion on Jewish elders who were former victims of holocaust. Studies by psychologists have found the problem of “hoarding” as one of the symptoms of trauma due to the holocaust experience. This made me think about our elders in the Tibetan community in Exile. I came across this article that talks about hoarding as a result of trauma. I wonder if this gives a small insight into the reasons why our grandparents hoard. Is this due to the trauma of loss, escape and intensive labor in unaccustomed conditions? We can never be too sure unless studies are done, but I have come to the assumption that trauma could be a reason that could explain the excessive hording of some of our elder community members. I believe hoarding is also linked to their need to provide their children with proper education. I remember the mola’s in their little groups chatting about the hard work and the money they saved to provide their children with the education they did not have. It is interesting how the significance of hoarding holds the possibilities of many stories and meanings.

On a side note, recently, a friend of mine shared an inspiring story with me. During the road building phase of the Tibetan community as fresh refugee’s in India, a group of Tibetan road builders in the Massuri area pooled together enough money from their collective income, to get His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama a car (first possible car?). They felt he should have one since other leaders of the world had cars.