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A letter from Scotland:
How a boy from Palkhu ended up in Aberdeen

To the students of Maikot Secondary School, Takukot, Ward 1

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,


About Scotland and Aberdeen

The World is watching you on your website, and I have seen you on my computer in Scotland. This is your letter from your friend in Scotland.

Do you know where Scotland is? It is part of the United Kingdom and it is north of England. If you travel north from the continent of Europe, first comes England, then comes Scotland. You can see it on the map. London is the capital of England, Cardiff is the capital of Wales, and Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland.

I live and study in a town called Aberdeen. That is in the north of Scotland. So I am very far in the north.

It takes 5 hours to travel by train from London to Edinburgh. Then it takes another 2 1/2 hours to travel from Edinburgh to Aberdeen. That is about 7 hours, the same time that a bus takes to go from Kathmandu to Balu Suara, but the train is much faster and the distance is much greater.

One can also travel by coach (= bus) from London to Aberdeen. The coach journey takes much longer. It takes 12 hours directly from London to Aberdeen.

Because Aberdeen is so much closer to the North Pole than London, it stays light in Aberdeen much longer than in London, or even in Edinburgh. In summer, e.g. in August, in Aberdeen it is still light at 11 p.m. (23 hours). That is amazing. In winter, of course, it gets dark much earlier.

856 Aberdeen harbour

857 Look how much bigger these ships are than the cars, or even than the houses behind them.

858 A drilling platform near Aberdeen

Aberdeen has a big port and is used as the mainland base for many oil drilling platforms in the North Sea. The drilling platforms are used to drill for oil underneath the water. The people who work on them also sleep there. On their day of rest, they will come ashore in Aberdeen. They will also get all their supplies (e.g. food and tools) from Aberdeen. Because of the oil industry, Aberdeen is a rich and busy city.

Scottish men have a traditional national dress which is called 'a kilt'. They wear it only on ceremonial occasions. It looks like a women's skirt. But it is intended for men. There is nothing funny about it. It is just a tradition, of Scotland, but not of England. Scotland and England are different, just as India and Nepal are different. The Scots also have a special musical instrument which is called a 'bag pipe'. In the picture you see a Scotsman wearing a kilt and playing a bag pipe.

You may think I am Scottish. But why do I call you 'Brothers and Sisters'? Scottish people do that only in their own family? What do you think?

I come from Takukot

I call you Brothers and Sisters because I am one of you. I was born in Takukot, I grew up in Takukot, I played in Takukot, I was naughty in Takukot, I was good in Takukot, I went to school in Takukot (in Shree Surya Jyoti Secondary School in Palkhu from Class 1 to Class 8), and I love Takukot.

I am Suraj Paneru. Tell your older brothers and sisters. Some of them may be my friends.

After Class 8, I moved to Kathmandu and studied at Nepal Rashriya Higher Secondary School, Nepaltar, Kathmandu, till class 12.

Then it was time to go to university to get a degree. I went to Chitwan.

At Tribhuvan University (Kathmandu) I studied English Literature and Sociology.

The joys of English literature

English Literature is wonderful. There are so many great stories written in English. They are just as good, or even better, than the stories you see on television. If you all work terribly hard to learn as much English as possible, your English should one day be good enough to read these stories in English (novels and short stories). They are very thrilling and entertaining. You do not have to go university to read them.

But to understand them you have to know English well and know many English words. There is a plan to send such books (English novels and short stories) to your school or to the village library in Palkhu so that you can borrow them when your English is good enough. You will have a lot of fun with them, and you will never be bored again as long as you live.

At the beginning, learning English is hard work, but if you persist (like all Gorkha people do), then, when you know the language well, it will be a lot of fun, for all of you.

Of course, there are also many wonderful books written in Nepali. You must have the ambition to be educated in both. Read Nepali books because they are about our own country of which we all are so proud. Read English books because English is the language which everybody in the world understands. You want to be at home and comfortable both in Nepal and in the world.

Back to my studies

When I had got my B.A. degree (B.A. = Bachelor of Arts), I managed to get a place in a Scottish University, in Aberdeen, where I am now.

859 Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen

This building is part of my university (Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen).

I studied there for two years, and now I have passed my final exams for the M.Sc. (Master of Science) degree in xxx subject.

852 This me outside His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen


Here I am enjoying the Scottish countryside. Scotland is beautiful and has many hills and mountains, but they are not as high as ours in Nepal.

854 Suraj with graduation gown and mortar board

Look at my picture here in my academic gown (graduation gown) and the mortar board (academic head covering) on my head. This indicates that I have received my university degree.

I am so happy to have achieved that, after so many years of study. But as you can see, it is possible. Just work hard and never give up. You are as clever as everybody else in the world.

Some of you may be poor. But that does not mean that you can not study and succeed. You are as good as everybody else. So keep working and studying, as I did.

There is an English proverb: "God helps those who help themselves". So do work hard, and Ishvara and Saraswati and Laksmi Devi will help you in your life.

I know that you are having your exams right now. My heart is with you, and I hope you all will do well, so that you can be happy, and your parents and teachers can be proud of you.


Let me think back a little about my career so far, even though I am still really at the beginning of my adult life.

I am so grateful to the school where I learnt the first letters of the alphabet. The school where I started doing athletics. All the knowledge I have today is possible only because of the school where I learnt to count, to add, to subtract, to multiply and to divide.

I am so grateful to my parents who made me go to one school after another and to the teachers who taught me there.

Whenever I make a plan I remember the school that lies at the top of the hill, the school that plays hide and seek with Mount Manasalu in the clouds.

420 Shree Jyoti Surya Secondary School, Palkhu

425 Mount Manasalu

Shree Maikot Secondary School - new status

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I am so glad to hear that your school is now a secondary school.

Some years ago your elder brothers and sisters, when they had completed class 5 at Maikot, had to continue their studies at Surya Jyoti in Palkhu. In the morning they had to walk down the hill to Surya Jyoti. In the evening they had to climb back up the hill and then probably go to the fields to bring grass for the cattle, or help Mother carry the water.

This reminds me of a funny English song (nursery rhyme, i.e. a song for children). Perhaps you have learnt it in your English class.

Oh, The grand old Duke of York,

He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.

And when they were up, they were up,
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only half-way up,
They were neither up nor down.

I give you some links where you can hear it sung as a Youtube video. If your teacher can download it for you on the memory stick and play if for you on your new laptop, you can sing it when you are climbing up or climbing down any hill in Maikot, or even in Palkhu. Make it your 'National Anthem' for the English class. Imagine the Grand Old Duke of York teaching you English, as if you were Gorkha soldiers. :-)

Link 1 | Link 2 | Link 3 | Link 4 | Link 5 | Link 6 | Link 7 | Link 8

If you mention my name at home, you may discover that some of your brothers and sisters are my friends.

Now can be so happy that you have a school in your own village. You will have more time for doing homework and helping your parents and you will also have some time for playing every day! :-)

Never, never, never give up

You know one thing? We Gorkhas are the race that never gives up! I want you to dream a big dream and never give up!!

When I was a little boy of 6, I used to see the planes that passed over our mountains and thought: 'I would like to fly to London one day to see my cousin'. And see! I have done that!

Don't worry if you don't have money.

Don't worry if you aren't good at mathematics.

Don't worry if you are poor at English: you can study to make your English better. Your teachers, and soon friends all over the world, will help you to make your English perfect.

You will practise your mathematics and become better at it. Older children can help you.

Always help each other. Together we are stronger.

All you need is courage like our forefathers who fought against guns with their khukuris (famous curved Nepali knives).

We don't need to study in private schools to become lawyers, politicians, doctors, engineers or other 'big' people.

All you need is a dream. Then follow that dream, even if you may have to give up something you like.

I can remember that once I sold an egg-laying hen to buy my first calculator. As a result I no longer could have omelette for breakfast.

A poem

Let me tell you a little poem which my lecturer (teacher) in Chitwan gave us. I have never forgotten it.

Hold fast to your dreams:
If dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird
that cannot fly.

Hold fast to your dreams;
If dreams go,
Life is a barren land
covered with snow.

Do you like it? Think about it every day.

I believe that one day you will reach the stars. You will kiss the first ray of dawn and make our Manasalu Himal proud of you!

Now, I wave you good-bye. I say a big Namaste to all of you and your parents and teachers.