As soon as I arrive in Kathmandu in my twice-yearly visits, I always buy those back numbers of Himal which I have missed. So it is that I have just read "Dukha During the World War"(Nov/Decl994) and' Ronald Burroughs's response (Jan/Febl995):
A few weeks ago, I stood on the hill at Kalanga among the sal trees and the rubble that had once been the fort where the inspired Balbhadra Kunwar held out against a far stronger British force at the Siege of Nalapani. Then I moved on to the Malaun Ridge, where Bhakti Thapa gave his life ait trie very cannon's mouth at Deothal. I felt as much pride as any Nepali to be at those places where the Gbrkhas showed their mettle, and about whose courage pupils still learn in the schools of NepaL So why should Mr. Burroughs find it disgraceful for a Nepali, wearing his Gurkha hat; to have a wbrid-wide reputation as a brave and reliable soldier?
As an officer who commanded Gurkhas in World War 11,1 can tell Mr. Burroughs that when the time comes the Gurkha does not fight for the :; money—although why it should be a disgrace to be paid I do not know!—but for the family honour of his regiment. And he is no fool; like any soldier in any army, of course, he is afraid, arid he tries not to: show it although he knows he can be killed or wounded. And he fights with the skill of good training and not, as John Cross so rightly says in his splendid letter (Mar/Apr 1995),as a psychopathic killer.
Although I found Pratyoush Onta's article most moving, as any ex-Gurkha officer would, it came as no surprise. As John Cross says, it has been written about in other books. With a complete lack of modesty, I would mention my own book of a year or so ago, Beyond the Threshold of Battle, in which I described my personal experiences with Gurkhas on Wingate's First 1943 'Expedirion into Burma where, as we were fighting far behind Japanese lines., any soldier
H1MAL May/Aw 1995
Burmese village arid had totakehis chances with the Japanese—a touch-and-go situation; Gr> if '.. mortally wounded, treated with compassion and given a lethal dose of: morphia.-A fate; I would add, which was iexaetlythe same for the British soldiers. : In the face of this terrible adversity, my Gurkhas: showed; great courage, although obviously disturbed and apprehensive, "-- :
How can Mr. Burroughs have the gall to compare such brave men to prostitutes! I know that if he had; told them this to their-faces, and (here happened to be a khukuri handy, he might well have discovered the true difference between glory:and; gore.
Finally, I have absolutely no hesitation in ending this letter with a resounding: AYOGORKHAL1!!;; Harold james PO Box 9101, Kaihmandu '.
Shocked over Reprint
Anne de Sales in ''Wild Imaginings: French Anthropology in the Himalaya" (Mar/Apr 1995) quotes a book called Mero Bhot-DoshitndiKo AniibkiiV: (1972) bythe iateRudra Bahadur Khatri, as transiatedin French by Brigitte Steinmann in her work LesMarches Tibetaihs du Nepal (1988). It is said that Khatri's book has more than an ethnographic quality to it and that it is an attempt to reflect on the country's culture and to present it to his compatriots.
It is indeed so, but what is Jacking in Brigitte Steirimahh seemsto be intellect ualsihcerity and and a sense^of fairness. The translator, whiie seemingly concerned enough about the need to preserve Nepali heritage to want to translate Khatri's book into French, did not bother to take permission from the publisher.
As that publisher, I was unaware of the French publication of 1988 until 1 was referred to the Himal issue and de Sales' article. Although I have not had the opportunity to see Steinmann's work, I am informed that she has carried the Nepali text in toto alongside with her translation.
While I am happy that my effort to briiig out Khatri's work to the notice of Nepali readers many liow also behifit Western scholars, I am perturbed that Steinmann has not shown the sensitivity to a publisher's concerns over copyright. This, lam
told, is an important priority among Western scholars, Or could it be that the scholar believed so much on the inherent goodness of her deed as far as Nepal was concerned that she thought the matter of copyright inMngment irrelevant?
I would very much likeSteinmariri to get in touch with me through Himal as soon as possible. With this letter I include a copy of the book A^era Bhoi-Dosandhrka Anublwv.
Umesh Rimal .,-..-■ Balttju, KMhinandu :
Worm As Editor
Kanak MariiDixit, editor of Himal, has found a pet enterprise of late: Bhutan-bashing. Nothing is allo^ wed to come in. his way/not eventhe hallmark of his profession: objectivity. Anybody who says anything remotely positive about Bhutan is a worm. A person who has riot been able to get into the country is a "Bhutan Expert" on a sanctified pedestal from which scathing and spurious charges can be launched against the Bhutarjese Government, I have news for Mr. Dixit, Thousands of requests from people who want to come to Bhutan are on hold; hot out of distrust or enmity, but simply because the ■ country cannot cope with as many visitors as it would like to have in the country at any given time. The editor of Hsmalneed Only look at his own backyard to see the tragic impact of lousy gate-keeping on a small, traditional, developing country.
The first time I read one of his voluminous works on Bhutan, I was highly entertained. This guy writes good stories, I thought. With titles such as "Dragon Bites Its Tail" and "House of Cards", they evoked images of Hong Kong martial arts and spaghetti western pot-boilers. But I was shocked to hear that they were hot supposed to have been works of fiction. Some kind of temporary affliction causing delusion,! thought.
But he keeps churning out major productions in the same vein: And I think I finally know his game. He is doing exactly what he has consistently accused others of: iising the exoticism and the 'sexiness' of Bhutan to get attention and sell his magazine.