22 September 2005

Gurkhas In Hong Kong

I was in Hong Kong for the night when I was writing this. As all travel-savvy persons would know, we never drink anything from the hotel room unless it has a tag that says "complimentary". Otherwise, it is a walk outside to the nearest 7-11 or any similar convenience store and buy the very same bottle of water for four times less.

So there I was just stepping out of a Pakistani restaurant for my curry fix, I entered the 7-11 to the familiar chime of "Ding Dong!". I was greeted with 2 kids running around, playing catching within the store. As I got my two bottles of water, I heard them speak and it wasn't Cantonese, which got me to look up at them.

Judging from their speaking tones, facial features and complexion, I would think that they were Nepalese, probably Bhanjas and Bhanjis as they are commonly known i.e. offspring of the Gurkha soldiers here.

The fate of the Gurkhas here is a sad story. The Gurkhas are highly respected soldiers in the military world and were brought in by the British forces during the colonial days. So much sought after for their services that they were not only brought in at high wages but they were also offered excellent welfare benefits for them as well as their wives and children.

It's been more than 100 years when Britain took Hong Kong and many of these Gurkhas today, could have been second or even third generation soldiers, serving Her Majesty's armed forces faithfully all this while.

Then came the fateful day of 1st July 1997, when the British returned Hong Kong back to Ch1na. Here are the kicks in the teeth.

1) Once Hong Kong was once again Ch1na, the People's L1berat1on Army is now the military of the land, which means that the Gurkhas are now redundant to the extend of not wanted by the Ch1nese gahmen.

2) British Forces based in Hong Kong retreated and returned to their homeland but did very little to bring all the Gurkhas back to UK with them. Think about it, I doubt if the British gahmen really regarded them as one of their own to begin with. Knowing that they would be treated as second-class citizens in the UK, many chose to stay behind. Even more so when the British government are bringing them in half-heartedly, which made many of these abandoned Gurkhas lagi skeptical of the gahmen's sincerity.

3) Staying behind isn't exactly a bed of roses either as not being Ch1nese does has its disadvantages here in Hong Kong, unless of course, you are a gweilo.

4) Soldiering is all the Gurkhas know and once that is taken away from them, What can they really do? To spot them these days is really simple. You can find many of them in Kowloon areas, serving as security guards.

From the once mighty and revered warriors, to that of a struggling security guard. Oh, how far they have fallen.

As a Singaporean, I have a lot of respect for these fearless warriors and I really do appreciate them for their services even before Singapore was born. They kept our homes safe.

However, I chanced upon this forum where the Bhanjas and Bhanjis in Singapore lamented about our gahmen not playing ball as well. I just hope that there is some kind of misunderstanding there but what do I know? I am just an average joe who had to go overseas coz average joe here cannot find work in Singapore. Sigh...

Anyway, to the Gurkhas, I salute you and I thank you for your services to our homeland.

Disclaimer: This is just my own personal observation and I concede that there may be a high chance that I may be totally wrong. I'll learn as I go along. I welcome those who are able to enlightened the ignorant in me further. Thanks in advance.

- Jaywalk

1. milktea left...
Thursday, 22 September 2005 9:39 pm ::
honestly, i don't know anything about gurkhas. and so i'm thankful I read your entry. I am awakened.

2. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 22 September 2005 10:23 pm :: 
milktea: I am not sure if I am entirely accurate here but this is what I gathered so far.
I may be totally wrong though.

3. Pam left...
Friday, 23 September 2005 12:32 am
hey Jay, the Gurkhas aren't very welcomed over here either. there was a bit of an issue a couple of months back re Gurkhas, their families and the pension that they ought to get but didn't get... something about serving in HMS but not really...! buggers. sorry about not being able to chat just now - today first day back at work and all hell's broken loose. speak soon.

4. JayWalk left...
Friday, 23 September 2005 12:01 pm ::
Pam: That is the overall sentiment that I am getting from what I have read.
Anyway good to hear from you again. Got photos to show?

5. chendeneng left...
Friday, 23 September 2005 1:25 pm
wah liao eh! must put disclaimer ah? covering your ass ah.
nowadays, really dunno what shd be blog and what shd not be blog. *sigh*, so the best is dun blog, just comments lor....
wait! ...commenting in others' blog must put disclaimer or not har?

6. JayWalk left...
Friday, 23 September 2005 2:02 pm ::
Chen Deneng: Bor bian.... these days anyone can bor tai bor jee kene sue one.
Just wanted to make it clear that this was merely expressing the doubt in my mind.
An open invitation to discuss and hopefully able to learn something from here.

7. Pam left...
Friday, 23 September 2005 5:48 pm
not yet - will get website details from photographer and email over. sometime next week i was told!

8. JayWalk left...
Friday, 23 September 2005 8:19 pm :: 
Pam: Keep me posted!

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