The Roadshow visit to the Nepalese Help group in Farnborough was an exciting and extraordinary occasion. We presented the website to 150 Nepalese men and women with the expert help of interpreter Mr Kamal Bahadur Purja.
However, the event took an interesting turn when poet Matt West revealed an unusual heritage item of his own. Matt started by telling the audience how he had been talking to his mother the night before and had told her that he didn’t know what on earth was he going to show that the Nepalese people might find interesting?
His mother had replied something along the lines of, oh well, he could tell them about his great grandfather on his step-father’s side who had been attached to a Ghurkha regiment during the war, and perhaps he might like to show the group the memento that this great grandfather had brought back with him.
Then with a superb theatrical gesture, Matt pulled out an enormous great dagger (in a leather sheath we are pleased to say) and held it aloft. Through the interpreter Matt asked if there was anyone in the room who could explain its use. With a theatricality almost to match Matt’s, a man on the front row jumped to his feet, took hold of the knife and, wielding it in the air, began to talk with great animation.
The interpreter explained that this knife was called a Kukri and the leather sheath was actually designed to hold three knives of differing sizes. Matt’s sheath also contained the smallest knife of the trio but the middle one was missing and apparently these knives had been used both for cooking – and (in the old days!) for killing people.
A second man got up, took hold of the small knife and seemed to be demonstrating to the audience how this too was used as a lethal weapon – and a cooking tool.
Matt then showed a small tin box given to him by his mother that had been given to all British Soldiers during the war and inside was a picture of the young princess Mary. One person in the audience said that he remembered his grandfather having one of these.
Matt had also brought along his great grandfather’s Soldier’s bible and read out part of the Soldier’s Prayer, which was interpreted for the audience.
One Nepali man had brought with him photograph of the British Memorial to the Ghurkhas which is near the Ministry of Defence in London and was unveiled by the Queen in 1997. This meant a lot to everyone in the room.
The leaders of the Nepalese Help group very kindly garlanded each member of the team with a yellow silk scarf, which is a Ghurkha tradition of honour and then gave a very warm thank you followed by applause.
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