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DADDY WARBUCKS
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Armed and trendy: Will Gurkha bodyguard fad go Hollywood?
By Christopher Cox
Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Forget chihuahuas or personal trainers. The latest gotta-have-it celebrity accessory may be exotic bodyguards.

We're not talking muscle-bound men in black or former Green Berets. For this detail, only Gurkhas will do.

Supermodel Claudia Schiffer and her husband, British film director Matthew Vaughn (``The Layer Cake''), popularized the personal-security style by outfitting Coldham Hall, their 16th century Suffolk mansion, with five former British Army Gurkhas.

The Nepalese soldiers are famed for their valor, loyalty and discretion.

The British press reports Vaughn's best mate, director Guy Ritchie, and his Anglophile wife, Esther, the children's book author formerly known as Madonna, want their own Gurkha squad, too.

Well, Ritchie needs to do something to make up for casting his wife in that lousy remake of ``Swept Away.''

As History Channel buffs know, Gurkhas are the Hessians of the Himalayas. Their legend began 190 years ago, when the warrior tribe of Gorkha, a small Nepalese mountain principality, gave British soldiers of the East India Co. all they could handle.

Never, ever jerk a Gurkha around.

In short order the Crown had its own Gurkha regiments, who marched to the motto, ``It is better to die than to be a coward,'' and brandished khukris, lethal weapons with curved, 18-inch blades.

Now, that's a knife.

Gurkha units served with distinction in both world wars, as well as the 1982 Falklands dust-up and the 1991 Persian Gulf conflict. Gurkhas also work security details for cruise lines, businessmen, potentates and the coalition in Iraq.

One of the world's richest men, the Sultan of Brunei, reportedly employs more than 1,500 Gurkhas. So it stands to reason that a world-famous supermodel could use her own force of trained killers, especially after several recent stalking incidents by fans.

Could there be a rush on Gurkhas among celebrities on this side of the pond? Well, Hollywood is all about imitation. Remember the Oldsmobile Silhouette John Travolta's character drove in ``Get Shorty''? Soon every actor had the same Dustbuster-shaped ride.

``Gurkhas could certainly be bodyguards in California as long as they had a security-guard license,'' said Kevin Flanagan, a spokesman for the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services.

``There are certain training requirements, and background checks by the FBI and the state Department of Justice. . . . It wouldn't be their Gurkhiness that would get them a license.''

``Anything can happen in L.A.,'' said Thomas Barnes, owner of L.A. Private Eye.

``But L.A. is too hard for Gurkhas,'' Barnes added. ``They drive on the wrong side of the road. And their knives are out of season; here, it's AK-47s.

``We could line (celebrities) up with some Gurkha-looking guys. Out here, it's about show, one-upmanship. It would be another casting call.''
 

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Three Gurkha stories I like

The first being how they came to serve the Brits: They had assaulted a British unit that had invaded Nepal, and the Brits formed up into a square and fought to the last man, the commanding officer. The Nepalese said they would fight for a man like him, and the rest is history.

The second is from WWI. I read somewhere that while everyone else loathed assaults on enemy trenches, the Gurkhas rather liked them because if you made it to the enemy lines you got to lop off heads with your Kukri*.

The third is from WWII. The Brits used the Gurkhas for long-range reconnaissance-in-strength into Burma, and the Gurkha detachment would come back and report having killed fairly astonishing number of Japanese soldiers. The Brits greeted these reports with much skepticism, so the Gurkhas returned from their next foray with burlap bags. Full of Japanese heads.

* I am very skeptical of this story. The Germans during WWI developed the flexible defense and would vacate frontline trenches and fall back to a secondary line instead of stick around to have their heads lopped off.
 

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I'd only want one if he were clad in khaki, putees, and a big ole turban, and carried a Ishapur .308 Enfield.
I have a honest-to-god antique kukri somewhere, I used to take it camping and used to to chop kindling. It was sharper than a razor and sliced myself pretty good one time when the sheath was compromised and it came through, slicing all four fingers of my right hand.
 

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I've been around some Gurkhas, Indian Army version. They are absolutely fierce, very professional, and despite the fact that I am a good foot taller and 100lbs heavier than the largest Gurkha alive, I would prefer not to tangle with one.
Dez, that story about WW1....they were referring to Trench Raids, not the all-out assault. Believe it. It's the truth. The Germans were absolutely terrified of them. Unfortunately, so many Gurkhas died, mostly from disease, that they were withdrawn.
The Germans in WW2 were also terrified of them as well.
The Hollywierd types don't know what they are getting themselves into though. Gurkhas have a real hard time working for people they don't respect. They are mercenaries, but with a code of honor.
I suggest anyone who wants to know more about Gurkhas in WW2 read John Masters excellent book "The Road Past Mandalay". If you can find a copy.
 

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cammobunker said:
...I suggest anyone who wants to know more about Gurkhas in WW2 read John Masters excellent book "The Road Past Mandalay". If you can find a copy.
Thanks for the heads-up!
 

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Good informatiom about the Gurkhas and some of their history on the HI imports site, at Blade forums:

http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=739

has links to the HI commercial site, with more of the Ghurka story.

find the story Uncle Bill tells about the Argintine guy at a knife show in California.

Also The place to get the finest REAL Khukris in the world.

Regular discounts and sales, only listed on the Forum, and usually gone within an hour or two of listing.

Using an HI Khukri once, puts all the copies into perspective.

I've used other Khukris for over 30 years, bought my HI Ang Kohla last year.

Gave all the old ones away, with thr warning that they were actually tourist crap or cheap copies of the real thing..

No affiliation, just a totally satisfied customer.

Absolutely great people to do business with, and one of the friendliest forums on the web.
 

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When I was playing starving college student I shared a rooming house with, among others, a couple of Nepalese students. We used to take turns cooking dinner for the house, and they invariably cooked curried chicken loudly and quickly cut into chunks with their Kukri knives.

I remember the night they put on a slide show of photos they had of their beautiful country. I kept my own counsel, but I was taken by how apallingly ugly and bleak it was. Broad mud-colored mountain valleys utterly devoid of vegetation.
 

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Second or third poorest country on Earth!

You can tell an upper middle class prosperous man easily, he's the one with shoes AND a wristwatch.

Basically Buddhist I think, with some Hindu and tolerance for other brands, I wouldn't call them mean, I would call them loyal, determioned and fierce!

Still considered to be the finest Light infantry in the world.

Their performance in the Falklands was incredible, just ask any surviving Argentine vet!

I like Nepalese food, but 700 ways to cook curried chicken does get old after a month or two.

Those retired Army vets, working as security, make more in a year than they did in their entire 20 year plus Army carreer. Most of it gets sent home to the family.

A great people!
 

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The Nepalese I was yattering about, while I have no idea whether or not they came from the Gurkha tribe or not, were really nice guys. But, yeah, what's the deal with curried chicken?
 

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Dzerzhinsky said:
The Nepalese I was yattering about, while I have no idea whether or not they came from the Gurkha tribe or not, were really nice guys. But, yeah, what's the deal with curried chicken?
Mr. D.
The curried chicken is only if you're rich enough to have chickens, otherwise it's the same curried vegetables, maybe with noodles.

But it will have curry.

Ghurkas come from many or any Nepalese tribe, couple of main ones but I can't remember the names. Not unusual to find families with a three hundred year tradition of service in the British Army.

Man enlists, comes back in 20 years, has a family, and his sons do the same in turn.

All Officers are (or were) R.A. never Ghurka.

Their pay is less than an English soldier, they cannot rise above Sgt. Major, and even their retirement is less than an English soldier.
But it goes a long way in Nepal.

Recent visitors tell me they even have a paved road or two now, a problem with Communist Guerrilas (financed and instigated by the "Peace Loving Chinese Peoples Government"), and that the trail/path to Mt. Everest is bordered by miles of trash, deposited by the "Climbers".

Apparently climbing Everest has gotten to be like rafting the Colorado, with the climbers and "Expeditions" getting in each others way.

Their only real export is the Ghurka soldiers, and their only other real income is from the Tourist and climbing trade.

And there isn't much other tourist business, it's too difficult and expensive to get there, and when you do, other than get drunk, rent a girl or stand around and watch people struggle to stay alive, there isn't much else to do.

:)
 

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Ive got a nice Khukiri made in Nepal. Its a hell of a bushwhacking tool but I have it on display most of the time. You could only imagine the damage that thing could do if you whacked them with it.
 
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