Like everyone I have spoken to, I am devastated by the dreadful situation in Nepal, especially as I was there earlier this month, so I have been in touch with some of the people I met over there.
There is so much to say that I have decided to publish a rather lengthy poem that I wrote as it tries to tell of the celebrations of the Second Gurkha Regiment, in which I was privileged to attend.
I have underlined the words to stress their emphasis – otherwise it doesn’t scan (sometimes it doesn’t anyway) It is rather long!
SIMOORI CELEBRATIONS – NEPAL 2015
Off we set, upon a jet, to join the Ashleys’ group;
It took much preparation, and they kept us in the loop.
2 GR’s Celebrations we had gone out to attend:
Two hundred years of faithful service – and they are loyal to the end.
We learned to say Namaste – that is their way of greeting;
And bowed our heads with prayerful hands to all whom we were meeting.
I love the colours; the atmosphere; the religious toleration –
(‘twould be good if the affluent West would learn things from this Nation.)
CANCELLATION IN KATHMANDU
For the first Durbar – hoorah! hoorah! we donned our finest clothes;
There was hot sun in the morning, then heav’n turned on its hose.
Wondrous things had been prepared with bands, parades and staging.
Alas it had to be abandoned - a mighty storm was raging.
But it dampened not our ardour, though we were soaked through,
Happily we’d just begun, and there was much left to do….
Next day we made the journey – seven hours on a minibus
Through the beauty of the foothills of the great Himalayas(s).
PARTIES AT POKHARA
There was a Luncheon function when they fed three thousand people;
the unveiling of (the) Memorial Arch by Field Marshall Sir John Chapple.
Sirmoori Medals were presented, and we listened to the Band;
the Queen’s Truncheon* was marched in – for which everyone would stand.
*The Truncheon is the equivalent of a Regiment’s Colour; hence it’s huge importance
Sirmoori Club Nepal, at Pokhara Exhibition Ground
Was where the next event and excitement could be found!
It was a most important day and nothing was delayed
at the Second Goorkhas’ Two Hundredth Anniversary Parade.
But the icing on the cake and a veritable treat
was when we gathered in the dusk to watch them Sound Retreat.
The Brigade of Gurkhas Band and Pipes marched and played beside
The Nepalese Army Band – they all took it in their *stride.
*The unique double quick march adopted from the 60th Rifles after 1857.
Huge and fascinating photographs along one end of the (Parade) Ground
Showed their exploits in far countries where their reputation does abound.
Depicting the history of the Regiment in vast pictorial form;
It was beautifully presented, and way beyond the norm.
There were dancing girls, whose skirts did swirl, with each graceful movement;
then some sang, and the mountains rang with music and emotion.
It was poignant and nostalgic, in a magnificent location,
For the great family of Goorkas to host this last and great occasion.
We met signalmen and riflemen and several Gurkha Majors;
I tried to learn the Regiments and all their different stages:
i.e. the joining of Two, Six, Ten and Seven,
and now there are eight Regiments instead of the eleven.
They fought in Singapore and Brunei, Borneo and Burma;
Afghanistan, the Falklands, Tobruk, and even further.
Prince Harry said: “The safest place is at a Gurkha’s side
in warfare”. In peacetime too I’m sure ’tis true – this cannot be denied.
For five whole days, in a blissful haze, we enjoyed the celebrations
Of K.E.O Goorkha Rifles, who are drawn from several regions.
All the Gurkha Regiments are held in high renown*
But I sense the “Second Goorkhas” is the jewel in the crown.
*Having been witness to this historic and unique occasion, the words with which I would describe the Gurkhas are: camaraderie; commitment; courage in battle; discipline; grace; loyalty; true humility without arrogance; and, last but by no means least: mutual respect and friendship.
GOLF AT GHANDRUNG
The Golfing Day at Ghandrung: ‘twas great fun, but sad no sun…
The teeming rain had come again, before they’d e’en begun.
Poor Ches looked glum and very wet, and Cees was a little better!
But Gerrie’s birdie and her trophies helped defeat the weather.
The Course is picturesque and challenging: one of ten outstanding in the world.
The only pity that day was that umbrellas had to be unfurled.
It was the inspiration of one, Major Rambahadur,
involving sev’ral river crossings, just to make it even harder!
HIMALAYAN HeAVEN at TIGER MOUNTAIN POKHARA LODGE
Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge, run so ably by Marcus Cotton
Surely we took a voyage nearer heaven when we reached TMLP*
and as I sit here by the pool, there’s NOWHERE I’d rather be.
It’s like a private party, each one doing their own thing,
With Marcus, our most gracious host: attentive and charming.
The only trouble here is that it ’s so difficult to tell
Whether ’tis a Brigadier – or Lieutenant Gener-al
sitting there beside you, quietly drinking in the scene –
Or even a Field Marshal it could so easily have been!
The Chapples and the Duffells, and the Thomases of course –
They’d all been inspirational in gath’ring the Sirmoors –
And yet it was so kind of them to include us in their midst
within the Gurkha family, and make us feel at ease.
The staff were grand, right there at hand, always ready with a smile;
They all seemed absolutely willing to go the extra mile.
I say Hooray to be away from the U.K, pre-election,
especially in this glorious place, which to me is near perfection.
We saw some Himalayan haystacks, and woodpiles two a penny,
and some very simple homesteads, but there were not very many;
It was terraces, not palaces, that we did there espy
and the tilling of the land in true tranquility.
MOUNTAIN MAGIC (Still at Tiger Mountain Lodge)
We had sneak peaks of the mountain peaks when the sun dispersed the cloud,
But you had to be quick to catch these chinks, not always readily allowed.
I gazed around at the awesome sight and basked in Nature’s glory:
How could one wonder or have doubts about Creation’s story?
The mountains and the clouds took turns to fill our view,
Like actors’ entrances and exeunts – when it was their cue.
Suddenly a shaft of light shone down from the sky:
it almost seemed that it was beamed – like torchlight from on high.
Cees went on a three hour trek and saw a cloud of vultures;
Some folk tried to read a bit to learn of other cultures.
Marcia did her painting with impressive dedication
While the rest of us did *‘Hawa Khane’ as if ’twere our vocation!!
We did go on a mini trek, though it wasn’t very long.
Oh! the beauty in these foothills and melodious birdsong.
Who needs quadrophonic sound with all those birds around?
It surely does one’s soul some good to hear those clear, sweet sounds.
Its going to be so difficult to tear ourselves away
From your ever changing mountains – and their dazzle-ing display.
To Machhapuchre the Magnificent, a.k.a. Mount Fishtail,
To Annapurna and Lamjung, soon we have to say Farewell;
To the bulbuls and great barbets, and the white crested laughing thrush.
We heard them all, but to hear them call we had to hush, not rush.
The long-beaked Crimson Sunbird; the minivet with yellow breast
and the green-billed Malcoha were among the rest.
Then Geoffrey went with Hari – to find Picus quamatus:
That’s the onomatopoaeic name: scaly bellied woodpecker to us!
Of Hari’s orn’thologic(al) knowledge one would simply never tire.
But now you’ll have to be content with the Rhayader Male Voice Choir!!