“Ayo Gorkhali!” – “The Gurkhas are upon you!” – is the battle cry of one of the world’s most famous fighting forces. Yet the Gurkha story is not only about bravery in combat. It is also a story of tragedy. In WWI alone, 200,000 Gurkhas out of Nepal’s five million people took up arms for the British cause. A further 250,000 Gurkhas fought alongside the British in WWII. In their 200-year history, the Gurkhas have served in places such as Malaya, Singapore, Borneo, East Timor, Hong Kong, Cyprus, the Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. Although the British Empire’s reign in Asia has ended, some 3,500 Gurkhas are currently serving in the British Army in the UK. Written by a Gurkha, this book tells the Gurkhas’ story from the very beginning to the present day. It deals with their history and its ramifications on the nation of Nepal.
“Gurung describes the Gurkhas as having historically been “simple and straightforward people”, with a degree of loyalty that allowed little to no scope for their own agency. He hopes the book will help people, especially Nepalis themselves, better comprehend more than two centuries of the Gurkha experience. “The impact it had on our people, community and the country was huge, and people need to understand that,” he says.” — Straits Times, Singapore
“Ayo Gorkhali takes us on a journey of the Gurkhas, starting with their induction into the British Indian Army. Impressed by their bravery in the Anglo-Nepal War, the British decided to recruit soldiers from Nepal, and the 1st Gorkha Rifles was raised in 1815. This was the beginning of a 200-year-old legacy that survives till today. … As an officer who has worn the Gorkha badge for 40 years, I can relate to the passion and sentiment of Tim Gurung and his attempt in the book to go beyond the stories of valour and fighting skills of the Gurkhas. He has, therefore, covered a whole range of issues like Gurkha women, Gurkhas in literature, recruitment policy, etc.” — The Tribune, India
“While the Gurkhas have been much celebrated, there is hardly a book written on them from within the community. Tim I. Gurung, who hails from mid-western Nepal and served in the British Army Gurkhas, should be given the credit to be one of the first to come out with the unfiltered voices of veteran Gurkhas. … As an insider, Gurung has a clarity of thought about presenting the life struggles of the Gurkhas and the reasons for them to acquire war skills. To know the past, present and way forward on the Gurkhas, Ayo Gorkhali is an essential read.” — The Kathmandu Post
“Ayo Gorkhali is a timely narrative inclusive of many other battles fought by Gurkhas and their friends for securing, though belatedly, a level playing field for preserving the 200-year Gurkha legacy with Britain and shared with India. To the question Tim poses: were the British fair to the Gurkhas? – the answer comes out clearly. It is difficult not to love the Gurkhas especially if you have served with them. A must-read book of Gurkha valour and their fight for justice in the British Army.” — Force Newsmagazine, India
“Ayo Gorkhali by Tim I. Gurung, a former British Gurkha, is the first work of history by a member of the community and brings alive the story of a people who have served flags other than their own with honour, even as they have attempted to keep their native warrior traditions alive in letter and spirit.” — Hindustan Times
“Very few Gurkhas have written and published their stories in the form of books. And less than a handful have done so in the English language. The scant stories written by retired Gurkha soldiers are generally in the Nepali language and have seldom reached a global audience. I cannot emphasize the importance of such writings enough. They help break the stereotype built by western authors who oftentimes present a skewed image of the Gurkhas by glamorizing and valorizing their bravery, martial prowess, and loyalty. Western authors seldom pick up on or highlight the harrowing experiences faced by the Gurkhas both on and off the battlefield. Ayo Gorkhali disrupts this one-sided narrative by offering a more comprehensive and multidimensional view of the recruitment, pre- and post-recruitment, and post-retirement facets of Gurkha life.
The author has done extensive fieldwork within Nepal and beyond, and talked to over a hundred veteran Gurkhas in order to bring forth many of their unheard stories. The book is also an important addition to migration scholarship as it closely examines the Gurkha diaspora within the context of the larger category of Nepali migrants. Overall, Ayo Gorkhali succeeds in shattering the myth that western authors generally create by romanticizing the Gurkha soldiers while presenting an alternative narrative whose strengths are a combination of personal introspection and rigorous research on Gurung’s part.” — The Record, Nepal