For the last Survival Nepali Culture and Language Course (SNCLC) number 22/02, 14 British and two Singaporean officers descended upon British Gurkhas Pokhara (BGP) to take on the course, which all new subalterns must complete when serving in the Brigade of Gurkhas
With the monsoon drawing to a close, we got stuck straight into the Nepali language guided by our excellent instructors Sergeant Shankar Gurung, Queen’s Gurkha Signals and Sergeant David Rai, Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment. Initial progress was varied. Some of us excelled due to their hard work before the course while others were more a little distracted by the bright lights (and cheap pints) of Lakeside. However, little by little we all got to grips with ‘ho, chha and hunchha’ and the basics of the language under the watchful guidance of the SNCLC instructors. Cultural activities included trips to Durbar in Gorkha as well as the Gurkha Museum in Pokhara. Although none of these could top the fantastic Dashain celebrations led by the team at British Gurkhas Pokhara.
Towards the middle of course came the day many had been dreading; the Doko Race. In the early hours one autumn day when the fog meandered sleepily through the steep valleys, the serene morning tranquillity was shattered by the thunderous steps and laboured breathing of the SNCLC course students. In a matter of minutes, Lieutenant Harry Davitt, Queen’s Gurkha Engineers crossed the line victorious much to the chagrin of his infantry colleagues. Is he any good with weight I hear you ask? Yes, he clearly is.
In the week following the Doko Race, the students were paired off and sent to various Area Welfare Centre locations around Nepal to practice their language and meet some of local pensioners. It was a memorable experience, and we certainly learned a huge amount. As the course began to draw to a close, the final examination loomed as the culmination of our linguistic venture. After late nights of vocabulary learning and speaking practice, the course was finally complete. A mention must go to The First Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles and our Gurkha Contingent Singapore Police Force colleagues who between them filled out the top five places.
Our minds finally turned towards our duty treks; two weeks in the hills of Nepal visiting pensioners and their families. This was the absolute highlight and a truly unforgettable experience for everyone who took part. While we were all scattered across the country, everyone shared the exact sentiment and we cannot wait to come back to Nepal.
By Second Lieutenant Alex Combe, The First Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles