John Philip Cross
Retired British Gurkha officer and author living in Nepal

I have great respect for the British Council because the job is not easy. While some people say the British Council is a ‘nest of spies’, due to their general distrust of the British. In fact, the British Council is as good as it is because it is apolitical. As far as I know, and I think I am correct, the British Council does not touch politics or religion unless there is a book written on the subject in its library.

Some three decades ago, I met with a noted historian at a dinner party hosted by the British Council. He was in Nepal to document the history of the British Council. I forget whose house we were in, maybe it was the Chief man’s house. But I remember discussing the book I had written, which was selected for the British Council library. It was called The Call of Nepal. In this book I portray my profoundly personal journal rooted not only in the physical but in the mental, emotional and spiritual. I am told that more people than usual read those copies.

The older one gets, the quicker time passes. When I was a young boy holiday of six weeks lasted an eternity. Now before I finish blinking my eyes, six weeks is over. Likewise, the British Council has been around for sixty years and has become such an integral part of the scenery that it seems like it’s been with us forever. And that shows the part it has played for the society of Nepal. Especially in the nation’s capital, Kathmandu, where it has been fully accepted as part of the architecture. And I firmly believe the Kathmandu valley could be the poorer if the British Council was not there.