walk more lately, so I decided to go for a bit of a constitutional. While walking down George Street - Aberdeen's second high street after Union Street - I made an astonishing discovery. What's that? A Nepalese restaurant? And it's called the Gurkha Kitchen? And they deliver? They have a website and everything?
Hachi machi. This changes everything.
I still love Lionel's, and eat there once or twice every week. And I've figured out how to order from Papa John's (spoiler alert, it's not that tough!). Even so, the ability to diversify a bit with Nepalese food - which is delicious - is a welcome change of pace. I checked out the Gurkha Kitchen's menu online (web/PDF), and on Thursday night I ordered the momo dumplings, some saag paneer, pilau rice, and two strips of plain naan. The naan wasn't the best I've ever had - more on that in an upcoming post - but it was pretty good, and the rest of my meal was fantastic. I will most definitely be ordering from the Gurkha Kitchen again.
Orkney and Oman. When I worked in the Middle East, one of my duties was overseeing a team of about forty guys, most of whom were from Nepal. I have never had a bad experience with someone from Nepal. They're extremely polite, efficient, trustworthy... I just can't say enough good things about these people. I'm about the most ardent American patriot that most people are likely to find, but I'll admit freely that I'm more likely to enjoy the company of someone from Nepal than I am to enjoy the company of other Americans. My Nepalese team (and their Indian, Bangladeshi, and Sri Lankan colleagues, though most of the team was from Nepal) always had my back, and I took that seriously then, and continue to take it seriously now. Someday, I will visit Nepal.
Nepal is perhaps most famous for the Gurkhas, legendary soldiers - probably the best soldiers on the planet - who most famously fight for the British Army in the Brigade of Gurkhas, but also in the Indian Army and the Singapore constabulary. One of today's best independent journalists, Michael Yon, spent time with the Gurkhas back in 2009 (I, II, III; warning, Yon's website has been subject to malware attacks in recent months, don't click unless your virus software is up to snuff), and noted not only their professionalism and effectiveness as a fighting unit, but also their ability to communicate with Afghans by speaking Hindi. In recent years, Nepalese/Gurkha soldiers have been subject to criticism for allegedly causing a Cholera outbreak in Haiti, and for beheading a dead Taliban commander. I prefer to focus on the legends surrounding their tireless service - and more recent stories, like Sergeant Dipprasad Pun winning the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross by fighting off thirty Taliban single-handedly, at one point by beating them with his machine gun tripod after he ran out of ammunition. The Nepalese are eager to exploit the reputation of the Gurkhas, but the truth is that every Nepalese person I've ever met has embodied the character that makes the Gurkhas so legendary in the first place.
St. Machar Rotary Club (Aberdeen has multiple Rotary clubs!?), GBU-16 and some of her colleagues raised nearly £1500 (their goal was £500!) at a casino night at one of Aberdeen's churches-turned-pubs, Soul Casino on Union Street in the Aberdeen city center. About a week later, GBU-16 and two of her colleagues left for a month in Nepal to deliver the funds and oversee some of the initial construction of a library for a Nepalese primary school. I was in regular contact with GBU-16 during her trip, and although it was a great challenge for her, she had the time of her life. (She was also gracious enough to bring me two gifts: a 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles pin from the Gurkha Memorial Museum in Pokhara, and a Gurkha hat with a Brigade of Gurkhas pin from a shop in Kathmandu. In the very near future, I foresee the two of us having an SND study session in the SOC while eating chow delivered from the Gurkha Kitchen.
Oddly enough, another Nepalese restaurant turned into a pivotal element of the recent debacle in Shetland... But more on that later.