POKHARA – 23 to 27 February 2017
During the 2013 Durbar gathering people were very enthusiastic and overjoyed at seeing long lost friends in the quiet and serene environment of BGP Camp. During the bhela I happened to overhear Brian talking with one of his old sathis about the possibilities of a further Durbar. The idea began to grow and pretty soon began to take root. By the end of 2014 the seeds for the 2017 Durbar began to germinate.
The first couple of meetings took place at Gurkha Haven Hotel after which we were able to select a working Durbar Committee. Our meetings entailed committee members travelling from all over Nepal every time a meeting was held. Quite a few were on active GWS service and we had to ensure that the meetings were scheduled on Saturdays to ensure the participation of those on GWS service. The following were finally selected as the Durbar Working Committee:
- Coordinator: Major Gopalbahadur Gurung MBE
- Deputy Coordinator: Captain Kamalbahadur Gurung
- Advisor: Major Gyanbahadur Gurung
- Chairman Regimental Association Nepal: Captain Bhuwansing Gurung
- Vice-Chairman Regimental Association Nepal: Major Chandrabahadur Gurung MVO
- Secretary: Lieutenant Purnabahadur Gurung
- Assistant Secretary: Captain Pimbahadur Gurung
- Editor: Major Lalit Dewan MBE
- Treasurer: Colour Sergeant Jaibahadur Gurung
- OIC Food: WO2 Prembahadur Gurung
- OIC Decoration: Captain Dholbahadur Gurung
- OIC Drinks: Captain Balkrishna Gurung
- OIC Transport: Lieutenant Arjun Gurung
- Asst OIC Transport: Rfn Bhobar Gurung
- OIC Entertainment: Sergeant Moti Gurung
- OIC Seating: Lieutenant Thamansing Gurung
- OIC Security: Sergeant Tekbahadur Gurung
- OIC Accommodation: Sergeant Suman Gurung
The working committee met once a month and updated each other on the problems and suggested ways and means of combating the various obstacles that surfaced. In essence the modus operandi followed much of what we did with Durbar 2013 with the exception of the following aspects:
- We decided to print camp entry ID Cards to prevent gate-crashers which we had in 2013. This idea was proposed by the Secretary and was well received by all. This prevented gate-crashers from entering under false disguises and in the end proved to be of great value for the command and control on the main day and for the beating of the retreat.
- The reception party, normally held at Gurkha Haven, would be held at The Grand Central Hotel in Pokhara as the space at Gurkha Haven was not going to be big enough.
- 24 Feb 17: All those attending the Durbar reported at AWC Kaski and were registered and issued with ID tags. Later on in the same evening a reception party was organized at the Grand Central Hotel in Pokhara to welcome all he British Officers, their families including all the Gurkha rank and file who came from the UK for the gathering. During the Dubar of 2013 the Gurkha element was excluded which caused minor dissatisfaction. The change of venue from Gurkha Haven to the Grand Central was unavoidable due to the lack of space.
- 25 Feb 17: The Main Day.
- 26 Feb 17: Beating of the retreat would be held. This was preceded by a golf match in the morning which was held at The Himalayan Golf Club. Our thanks goes to Major Rambahadur Gurung MBE for allowing us to use the club for our competition. Those who had nothing to do were taken around Pokhara valley for a sight-seeing tour. Lieutenant Arjun Gurung organized this trip exceptionally well and everyone had a very enjoyable tour. The Beating of The Retreat and the Pokhara tour were additional aspects for the 2017 Durbar.
- 27 Feb 17: Dispersal.
A separate programme, in the form of a modified dinner night, was organized by the British Officer elements at Tiger Mountain Lodge on the evening of 23 February 17. The lack of a piper to play during the dinner caused some concern but the initiative taken by the AMA Major Dhanbahadur Gurung from the Embassy saved the day and we have much to be grateful to him for this. Naturally the diners had to bear the travel cost as well as the ED pay. Marcus Cotton kindly gave him free accommodation for the night.
I will only cover the main Durbar on 26 February 17 and The Beating of the Retreat on 27 February 17. The setting within BGP was completed in a typically 6 GR style and kaida. A grand and regal gate was completed by Captain Dholbahadur Saheb and his men. The panche baja group from The Magar Group was ready to play by the gate. As soon as you entered the gate there were tables for checking ID tags and further tables for issuing the 6 GR hats. Amidst gaph saf, hello, are kasto chha etc. people entered the camp. Light standing breakfast was issued to all and people slowly made their way to the football ground where the commemorative badges, so nicely designed by none other than John Mackinlay, were presented to all. Senior officers were detailed one to each rank. Rachel Mackinlay was requested to give the badges to the widows.
After the presentation a fit and spritely ninety-six year old Subedar Major and Honorary Captain Saheb, Kulbahadur Gurung MM of 5/5 Gurkha Rifles and the father of Sergeant Gokul Gurung (Int Sect) presented the badges to the senior officers. He was in the 3/6th prior to partition.
The group moved slowly back to the main arena of the Chautara where the President, Brigadier John Anderson OBE, the Coordinator and the Chairman of The Nepal Branch gave short speeches. Thankfully all speeches were short and to the point.
It will be wrong of me not to mention General Ray Pett (sadly Marie could not be with us), General Sir Richard Shirreff and his other half Lady Sarah Jane. All will remember General Richard as a young dashing Captain from 14/20 King’s Hussars who was with us in Gallipoli Barracks.
The rest of the day was spent meeting long lost friends and talking about the past. Lunch was followed by nautch, ably organized by Sergeant Moti Gurung (Pipe Major) and after a very enjoyable day the old and bold left BGP happy and content.
The following day, 26 February 17, people were taken to places of interest. This was conducted in a round robin fashion and people, even from Pokhara, had a very enjoyable day as they had never been to these places.
The Beating of The Retreat was held in the evening. The Committee was a little concerned regarding the performance by the Pipes and Drums of The Nepal Army but we need not have been worried because they presented a fabulously entertaining programme lasting for an hour.
The girl pipers made it interesting. The playing of lively Nepali tunes were particularly well received by the Buros. The attendance was far greater than expected but we coped with the seating. The pipes and drums were all invited to drinks and bhat after their performance and talking with them afterwards it was obvious that they were never treated like this elsewhere after their performance. A very memorable evening for us all.
Earlier during the day the golfers flexed their muscles at The Himalayan Golf Club where we had a very enjoyable game. Jack Furtado managed to finish the game with plenty left in reserve. The golfers were treated to a sumptuous dal bhat after the prize distribution.
Gerald Davies and a few others were taken by Major Balkrishna Gurung MBE to his fishing club and despite not having caught any fish the anglers had a very enjoyable day. Balkrishna Saheb must have forgotten to issue a warning order to the fish telling them to be cooperative!
As the coordinator I have very happy memories of the Durbar. The planning from beginning to the end went smoothly only because I received full support from all my committee members. The whole process involved ideas being thrown in the middle and selecting the best option, not you will do this my way. I was fully backed by John Anderson and Brian O’Bree from the Association which made me feel tension free throughout.
There are faint writings on the wall of yet another Durbar post 2021? I wonder if the writing on the wall will become legible in time to come. We can only keep our fingers crossed.
In ending, I would humbly like to thank my two brothers from the UK for their help, assistance and wilco attitude, and all my committee members who went out of their way and beyond to execute their responsibilities so very well.
(Article from Journal 2018)
Some more photos of the day ..
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