It’s hard to believe I’ve been here for a week already. Another great start to the day with a longer than usual morning walk further down lakeside. I discover even more new areas including the Barahi Temple, the Royal Palace and an army base (not that I can see over the walls of the latter two).
Seeing the army base reminds me of something interesting I read in the Lonely Planet about the Gurkha soldiers. It might seem like an odd leftover from the days of the empire, but the British army maintain a recruiting centre on the outskirts of Pokhara (not this particular army base I walked past this morning). Every year hundreds of young men from all over Nepal come here to go through a rigorous selection process to become a Gurkha soldier.
Prospective recruits must perform a series of backbreaking physical tasks, including a 5km uphill run carrying 25kg of rocks in a traditional doko basket. Only the most physically fit and mentally dedicated make it through and it’s not unheard of for recruits to keep on running with broken bones!
Gurkhas are still considered one of the toughest fighting forces in the world. They have carried out peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Sierra Leone. These soldiers form elite units of the Indian army, the Singapore Police Force and the personal bodyguard of the sultan of Brunei.
The primary motivation for most recruits is money. The average daily wage in Nepal is under $2, but Gurkha soldiers earn upwards of $1500 per month, with a commission lasting up to 16 years and a British Army pension for life, plus the option of settling in Britain on retirement.
Back to my day after that brief interlude into military trivia!
I’m very excited as I have two days ahead of a normal food diet which includes fresh fruit, porridge and pancakes for breakfast and dessert for dinner along with the all the other yummy food they always serve. Yay, no more rice soup – for two days anyway!
My treatments in the morning include another Citz bath, another 90 minute oil massage (Abhyang) and a Pinda Sveda.
A Pinda Sveda is a dry type of sweating. In this treatment, hot sand is prepared in boluses (soft, round balls wrapped in acloth), which are used to stamp on the desired body part after my oil massage. This is performed by two therapist and it treats the following conditions:
- Swollen and inflamed joints.
- Joint pain, arthritis and deformity.
- Muscle aches, cramps and lethargy.
I only have one of these treatments during my stay which I’m quite pleased about, once was enough!
I have the afternoon free so I ask them to set me up a place to do yoga and the only free space is the rooftop. There’s a nice breeze and a pleasant view of the lake.
Later that afternoon, as if I’m not getting enough treatments here, I take myself off into town to get a pedicure. That was quite an experience, I must be used to the efficiency run ‘happy house’ and I have to say this was the worse pedicure I’ve ever had! Oh well, my toes look pretty, at least they do if you don’t look too close.
That evening we have a group meditation on roof top after dinner lead by Dr Samichha. A very pleasant way to end the day.