Nothing to be Cross about

The Call of Nepal

by J.P. Cross

Bibhotheca Himalayica, Kathmandu, 1998

241 pp, NPR __

An intense account of how a Gurkha colonel made Nepal his home.

reviewed by Mark Turin

Since my first meeting with Lt Col J.P. Cross over five years ago at his modest house in the central Nepal town of Pokhara, I have been loath to use the word "unique". We were sitting together in his front study, in near darkness to ease his failing eyes, and discussing the involvement of Nepali citizens in the British Army. I had asked, somewhat naively, if the position of a particular ethnic group could be seen as "quite unique". Cross was silent for a while and folded his hands together under his chin, as if in silent and contemplative prayer. After a moment he sighed and then said, obviously quite distressed: "Well, I really can't possibly agree with you." I was concerned that I had said something culturally unforgivable, and braced myself for what he would say next. "I mean how on earth can you expect me to agree with such poor grammar: either something is unique or it isn't, it can't be quite unique."

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Himal Southasian