DOLKAR, a 26-year-old Tibetan woman, lives in New Delhi where she works as a beautician in an upmarket salon. Outwardly fun-loving with a busy social life, she is secretly haunted by a deep sense of guilt over an incident that occurred when she was a child. 18 years ago, she escaped from Tibet with her father, making a hazardous trek across the Himalayas that ended in tragedy.
One evening, in Majnu ka Tila, the Tibetan refugee settlement in North Delhi, Dolkar suddenly comes across GOMPO, the guide who led them from Tibet, only to abandon them before they crossed the final pass to freedom. He doesn’t recognise her but his unexpected appearance shakes Dolkar to the core. Memories of her escape and her feelings of guilt are reignited. In her mind, she has always blamed Gompo for what happened on the journey.
Gompo is a political activist who has recently escaped from Tibet. Two Tibetan men who are Chinese agents – catch up with him in Majnu ka Tila and confront him with a stark choice. Gompo has to make a decision that will determine the fate of his wife, imprisoned in Tibet for his political activities.
Mentally unravelling under the stress of seeing Gompo again, Dolkar is unable to accept him as an activist and is propelled by an ambiguous desire for retribution. She follows him obsessively through the narrow, ill-lit alleys of Majnu ka Tila, and discovers his meetings with the two Tibetan men.
Her increasingly urgent tracking of Gompo is interspersed by flashbacks of her desperate journey with her father and a small group through a harsh and desolate Himalayan terrain. These scenes – as they trudge, frostbitten, without food, constantly shadowed by hostile mountains and the fear of detection by Chinese border patrols, relentlessly pushed on by an increasingly panicky Gompo – punctuate Dolkar’s growing predicament in the present.
Caught in a web of political intrigue that is much larger than her personal quest, Dolkar must reconcile Gompo’s act of treachery that has troubled her all her life with the life-or-death situation he now faces.
The two stories moving in tandem, both determined by a series of fateful choices, reaches its conclusion as Dolkar finally confronts Gompo and the source of Dolkar’s long-buried anguish – her father’s murder by Chinese border guards on their final dash to freedom – is revealed.