Recruit Intake 23 venture into the community on Exercise PAHILO KADAM

By Trainee Rifleman Nischal Laksam, 5 (Helles) Platoon

Since our arrival at Catterick, we have been wondering what life in the UK would look like. Exercise PAHILO KADAM was therefore, without a doubt, one of the most awaited events for us. Finally, on the 21st March we left Helles Barracks for the first time to visit Catterick Garrison and Darlington. This visit was our opportunity to see and live the dreams we had had since childhood, and we were very excited to see new places and learn about the way of life in the UK.

As soon as we left camp, the first thing we saw were the road safety signs and our Section Commanders briefly explained to us the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of using public footpaths. It was a new thing for us as we found out that we needed to use the left side where possible to let other pedestrians pass us. We made our first stop at the Garrison Church where we had a quick brief about the church, its importance, and the various religions being practiced in the UK. We then headed towards our second stop, which was a local primary school where we learned about the education system in the UK. We then headed towards the memorial roundabout where we came to know about the Catterick Garrison and its history before heading towards the Tesco supermarket to familiarise ourselves with the use of bank cards before buying some essential items. At the library we were issued a library card and were shown different facilities that UK libraries could provide.

After a quick stop at McDonalds, we headed to the bus stop, where we purchased a return ticket to Darlington and learnt how to find information about routes and timetables. At Darlington we stopped at the train station. The architecture of the station was astonishing and historic. It looked like it was from the movie set of Harry Potter! Our Section Commander quickly showed us how to purchase a train ticket and then we went for lunch at Nando’s. We tried chicken wings and different items which we had never tasted before. One of my numberis quoted that it was spicy and tasty at the same time and then ordered a second portion. With our taste buds and tummies happy we moved towards the bank and sorted out our bank cards.

Our gurujis briefed us about the importance of Nepalese festivals and their contribution to the core values and the moral component of fighting power within the Brigade of Gurkhas. After that, the celebration of the Nepalese New Year began. For the first phase, we gathered at Bhanbhakta Square where we welcomed our guests and families. We had a lovely chat with the families and guests about New Year and other different topics along with a delicious starter. Coincidently, one of our gurujis had his birthday on the same day. It added more joy and happiness to the celebration and we felt like a big family.

After a delicious main meal in our cookhouse, Phase 2 was initiated where all the Platoons performed to exhibit their talent through dancing, singing and drama. All the performances were brilliantly choreographed and every individual who witnessed the event thoroughly enjoyed it, and cheered for the performers. At the end of the event, there was a cocktail dance which everybody participated in.

It was the first time that we celebrated Nepalese New Year in the UK. Although we are far away from our families, we felt like a big family due to the care and support received from our Sahebs and Gurujis throughout. It was a great moment for us and one of the most enjoyable days of my life.

We roamed through the streets of Darlington and were amazed by its cleanliness, beauty, and historical architecture. We took a group photo of the platoon in front of the statue of Joseph Pease and spoke with some elderly people who kindly took a few photographs gave us compliments. They talked about our shoes being well-polished and thanked us for our service as Gurkhas in the British Army. It was very heart-warming to hear from them. We also wandered inside the town centre shopping centre and bought more essentials before heading back to our rendezvous point and our transport back to camp.

It was an amazing day of cultural orientation and familiarisation with local places for Recruit Intake 23. We were grateful to get this opportunity to explore and looking forward to deploying on the remaining KADAM series.