Nepal – the country of the Buddha and the Mt. Everest

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The little Nepal in Aldershot

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 27, 2011

By Iain Hollingshead

Outside McDonald’s in Aldershot, Hampshire, “the home of the British Army”, the scene is more redolent of a street in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu. Two elderly women no taller than 4ft shuffle silently down the road, their thin shoulders covered by colourful blankets. Behind them a group of equally wizened men sporting a curious combination of Dhaka topis (a traditional Nepalese hat), and Puffa jackets, greet each other with smiles and cries of “Namaste”, their
hands pressed together, their heads slightly bowed.

Nearby, Dave Chamberlain, is cranking up his sales patter on the “Five-a-day” grocery stall. “Susti, susti,” he calls out in Nepali. “Cheap cheap.” As a Nepalese woman approaches, he jokingly puts an empty basket on her head; she retaliates by punching him playfully on the arm.

“We love the Nepalese,” says Chamberlain. “They have great banter, they’re really patriotic and they buy a lot of tomatoes. They’re proper hagglers, and they don’t always understand the concept of queuing. But still, we have a great laugh.”

Not everyone in Aldershot is so relaxed about the arrival of Nepalese following the 2009 campaign led by the actress Joanna Lumley. After memorably ambushing Phil Woolas, the then immigration minister, in a television studio, Miss Lumley’s intervention was a key factor in forcing the government into abandoning rules that prevented members of
the Gurkha Brigade who’d retired before 1997 settling in Britain. Read the rest of this entry »

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