Dharamshala: Peak café was not considered as an option because, Yarphel explains, “if you call your place Peak Café it is like you are above all the other places in town and they will feel badly,” other ideas are proposed “yak café, yak coffee, goat tea shop” none of these names were appealing, owners Yarphel and Tashi decided to call their new shop “Rose Café.” Tashi said, “yeah it is a little too romantic for two guys, but the sound is nice.” With that Rose Café was painted on the side of the building and above the door, and Dharamshala had a new restaurant.
There are approximately 145,150 Tibetan exiles worldwide, and 101,242 in India, there are 35 refugee settlements in India, the home department for the Tibetan Government in Exile says that the refugee settlements in India “are based either on agriculture, agribusiness or handicrafts.” Agriculture and handicraft workshops can’t fully employ the 101,242 Tibetan immigrants living in India. Of the approximately 6,000 immigrants that arrive over the Himalayas from Tibet each year, a majority of them are young men from Eastern Tibet.
Rose Café’s two owners are both from Amdo, the eastern region of Tibet. “Amdo boys have a reputation,” Tenzin Tseyang said, “they are here, without their families, they are single, and they have free time, when something happens in Dharamshala they are usually involved.”
Tashi’s mother in Tibet is aware of the realities facing her son in exile, when he called his mother to tell her that he opened a café in Dharamshala, “my mom was shocked since I didn’t even tell her that I had left school,” he said “she asked me if I had stolen the money or if I was involved in bad business, when I reassured her that I had honestly earned the money, then she said ‘well then good’ and she was very happy.”
Rose café is a meeting place for Yarphel and Tashi’s friends who order Amdo tea, (tea boiled in milk) and talk about their plans for the future. Jamyang, a young man from the same region, says “this is a big success for my friends, they have been very lucky to open this café; it is not easy here for guys like us.”
They have tried for a long time to rent space for a café but it was difficult to find a landlord who would rent to them, “I think this must be the sixth or seventh place we seriously considered, it is small and off the street, but at least we have it.” Tashi said, and he added “I am happy, but I am not satisfied, if business improves then I will be satisfied, then I will have a life and a business here.”
Yarphel doesn’t worry about business being slow “I am just worried about my cakes, if my cakes are delicious then people will come.”