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Himalaya

Day 47: Lekhani

Lekhani, Nepal 
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Before it all went wrong. Adrian Griffith talks to the galla, the recruiting officer, prior to addressing the village in fluent Nepali. In a concession to the glare of the mountain sun, Iíve been persuaded to wear slightly silly hat.
Michael Palin - HimalayaAt breakfast Adrian tells me about Long Noses and Flat Noses, something I've heard our Sherpas talking about. Nepal, he says, has a fundamental ethnic division between the Indo-Aryan with origins in the south and the Mongolian who originates from the north. Sherpas think of themselves as Flat Noses and superior to the Long Noses, who in turn think of themselves as more urban and intellectual than the Flat Noses.

'Traditionally, but not exclusively, it's been the Mongolian hill men who we've recruited,' Adrian explains.

'The hill farmer lives a very hard existence, and he comes from a hierarchical society and if you superimpose military discipline and military training you've got the makings of a very good soldier.'

He reckons there will be 100, maybe 150 potential recruits today, many of whom will have walked as much as eight or ten hours to get here. There seem to be many more than that already, clustered in groups lower down the hillside, around the old volleyball pitch, which has been adapted for the recruiting, with gallows-like structures put up for the exercises and schoolroom desks brought out for the officials.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 47: Lekhani
  • Country/sea: Nepal
  • Place: Lekhani
  • Book page no: 105

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