Momo, Pisco Sour, Nepali Songs, and Yorkeli Bros…

I was tired (and sleepy) all day that day. I even came home early from office to take a nap. Just as I woke up from my afternoon/evenig nap, I received a call from a Nepali dai here in York. There was a Momo party at his place and I was invited. I was too tired to walk nearly half an hour to his home or even to get myself on my bike for a 10 min ride. Obviously I tried to avoid going and said I was tired and just wanted to stay home. He said he would come and pick me up, which meant I couldn’t say no. So I agreed. Although a small gathering of only a few Nepalis, the house was buzzing with noise already. They already had a round of Momo (appetiser it turned out later!), and were enjoying Pisco Sour, a Chilean (some might call it Peruvian) drink and the guffs. Whenever there is a Nepali gathering, the guffs usually seem to centre around the political and economic situation of the country, and this was no exception. Once in a while somebody tried to talk about something else, like music and television, but those topics also eventually led to the commentary on economy or politics.

There was this Gurkha army dai who was saying why there aren’t freedom fighters courageous enough in Nepal to get rid of all these corrupt and incompetent politicians who are running the show. He didn’t like the SPA nor the Maoist. Neither did he like the king. He was saying a few ready-to-die-for-the-cause individuals could be enough to rid Nepal of all these incompetent and corrupt leaders. He wanted to see young guns like Gagan Thapa take over. Seeing that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon and realising that his plan to live a peaceful retired life in Nepal could be a long way away, and that probably not even within his lifetime, he seem to have decided to keep only a few immediate links in Nepal. He had already brought his family here and only his mother remained in Nepal. He even sold his house in Kathmandu, at a price lower than what he spent building it, just because he wanted to get rid of it and have a quiet life here instead. I doubt if he will ever go back to live in Nepal after his retirement now, apart from occasional trips.

At the gathering was this Nepali dai, who came here recently (just before Dashain!) on highly skilled migrant program (HSMP). An engineer by training, he quit his job in Nepal to try out his luck here instead. He also wants to bring his family here once he gets a job and finds himself a bit more settled. For hundreds of Nepalis who have come here on HSMP, getting a job relevant to their skills and training seem to be the hardest part. I wonder why the UK government is bringing in all these skilled migrants and not have a system to find them jobs in their skilled areas! Once they come here on HSMP, they are left on their own to find a job and get settled – and they just have a year initially to get themselves into the job here, otherwise their permits won’t be renewed! I had met a couple more engineers earlier this year in London who had also come here on HSMP. One of them was a junior engineer and he was desperate to get a job here. He was sustaining himself in the meantime working at a restaurant. I tried to get him in touch with a senior Nepali engineer that I know here thinking he might get some help, but I don’t know what has happened to him since. I hope he is not still searching for a job to match his skills and training!

Another engineer I met in London who also came here on HSMP was a senior engineer in Nepal with over 20 years of experience. He was obviously a high-ranking official in Nepal and was enjoying his “HSMP-trip” here in the UK. He also hadn’t got a job when I met him but he didn’t seem particularly bothered either. He seemed to be taking the trip as his holiday and had given himself a three-month period to find a “40K+ job” here, else he would return to Nepal (probably to his old job there) as he “could earn close to that amount in Nepal itself”! He talked about his previous trips to Europe and his liking for expensive wines and whiskies. He talked about his kids’ education in foreign countries, all paid for by himself and his dislike of his neighbours because “they gossiped about him being corrupt as he had a couple of private vehicles in his yard, in addition to the one he got from his job”!?! That evening when I heard his story, I too thought – “this guy is spending his corrupt earnings from Nepal here in this country”! How else an engineer (be it a senior engineer) from Nepal can sustain himself in London for 3 months without any work and living almost a luxurious life? I don’t know what has happened to him either but I suspect he is back to his “old job” in Nepal, probably earning for another sojourn in London.

Coming back to this engineer dai on HSMP, he hasn’t even started looking for job seriously. He has just been here for less than a month now, and still seems to be finding his way around, understanding how things work here and so on. I hope he gets a job as per his skills and training soon. One thing he seemed to be very good at is having a good time wherever he went. He played guitar and sang very well and was always humming classic songs. That evening he sang a couple of classic Nepali songs as well as some Hindi songs. Talking about singing, the Gurkha army dai, who was talking about getting rid of every corrupt leaders in Nepal, turned out to be a singer proper as well, with a couple of albums in his name. Needless to say he sang like a pro and treated us all with a ghazal from his soon-to-be-released second album. This dai also talked about his band that he had formed with some of his other Gurkha army friends at the barrack – the Yorkeli Brothers. Nice name I though – and was happy to learn Nepali for Yorkites – Yorkeli! And he talked about his band’s insignia – consisting of a Khukuri, a gun, a guital and a pigeon. When we inquired about the contradictory symbols in the insignia – Khukuri and a gun with a pigeon, he said “we army have to kill sometimes to bring about peace BUT eventually we are all for peace”! He laughed at his own statement, and so did we all – without any further comments on his band’s insignia!

There were a few more rounds of Pisco Sour and Momo, this time as a full course, in between the guffs and the songs/ghazals. The Momo was obviously a huge hit and the Chilean national drink seemed a good match for the occasion as well! It turned out to be an enjoyable evening – more so than I had expected and the night ended in good spirits (literally!). I had asked that Gurkha army dai for a copy of his album just before he left – I hope he remembers even after all those rounds of Pisco Sour!