Nepal is home of Gurkhas, the legendary strain of locals known for their ferocious fighting skills and considered world's most feared soldiers. Their military skills are such renowned and esteemed that, to this day, the UK's Army contains a special brigade made entirely of Gurkhas, known as the British Gurkhas. This unit is sent into the toughest military actions and has seen action throughout the past and modern-day history of the UK's military engagements, from the landing in Sicily during World War 2 to the War in Persian Gulf to the UN-led British participation in peace-keeping operations in East Timor and Kosovo today. Wages and pensions paid to Gurkhas by the British government are now Nepal's third biggest source of foreign currency! To this day, the arms of the Gurkha soldiers comprise a famous Gurkha knife - a broad-bladed curved dagger, which the Gurkhas are known to be the best and most feared users of. I met this retired Gurkha soldier in Nagarkot where he was working as the security at the Club Himalaya Resort.
Funeral processions and pyres
Whilst in Nagarkot we toured the village, right into the valley bottom. The deeper you go the lower the cast of people. However, all seems understandable to the western eye, even if the entire family slepp in one room with the cattle!
It came as quite a shock when a long procession, banging drums and blowing horns, with women wailing, snaked its way up the hill to the grass outside the hotel. They carried a small bundle, the body of a still-born child, which was promptly cremated in front of us.
This was a profoundly moving experience, but something which made us appreciate how very different cultures are when you start to dig under the surface.
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