“No creases on your bed. Even if a fly tries to land, it should slip and fall”
When Tilak arrived in Singapore, he endured his greatest tests. Gurkha recruit instructors, unlike the recruiting officers back in Nepal, swore, pushed, and demanded perfection from Tilak and his peers. Tilak remembers “always racing against time” while going through jampacked training days. Through long military drills, he remembers learning the value of patience and the will to get things right not just once but consistently as he and his peers were made to repeat the same drill over and over again until every member of the group got it right. It never took Tilak more than a minute to fall asleep after these long days of training.
Like any good story, there were trials and triumphs. One of Tilak’s biggest trials in Gurkha recruit training came during swim tests. Having never swam in his life, Tilak sank straight to the bottom of a deep swimming pool. With the help of an instructor (and a much shallower pool), Tilak learned how to stay afloat and swim well enough to continue through the Gurkha tests.
Tilak (left) with a fellow recruit during a jungle training exercise.
While swimming wasn’t his strongest area, Tilak was naturally gifted at another part of his training: marksmanship. At 100 meters away from targets, Tilak put his first five rounds in a 43mm spread – an impossibly accurate task for many seasoned marksmen, let alone a 15-year old firing his first shots. Tilak continued to practice his marksmanship throughout training, becoming the only recruit to achieve marksman status in all four different weapon classes. (Editor’s note: Tilak is also a phenomenal bowler, scoring in the 220’s during the last team outing with a series of precise, soft, and terrifyingly straight rolls applying skills which may have been drawn from his talents as a marksman. You’ve been warned.)
The lesson of teamwork, which Tilak had a taste of from his younger days on the volleyball court, was reinforced throughout Gurkha training. The group succeeded and failed together. They were punished together – including a time Tilak succumbed to his fatigue, fell asleep and “lost” his gun, which made its way into the hands of an officer. During his last physical test, Tilak and his comrades carried 16-kilogram bag on a 16-kilometer run in full gear, which they were required to complete in under two hours. Tilak remembers this being one of the more difficult tests in his training and it helped him develop a quiet confidence: “when the going gets tough, keep going and you will succeed!”
Following this test, Tilak and his fellow recruits became full members of the Gurkha Contingent and began their official service, which for Tilak would last for the next eight years.
Tilak (front row, third from left) at graduation, the final step before becoming a full member of the Gurkha Contingent.
Always a Gurkha
Tilak (right) as a member of the Gurkha Contingent
Post-graduation, Tilak continued to excel at shooting, representing the Gurkha Contingent in competitions against other branches of the Singapore Police Force. The lessons he learned from training and the contingent – razor-sharp focus, discipline, persistence, and resilience – have followed him his entire life, including his educational pursuits. He began teaching himself English, science, and math, eventually earning a GCE O Level certificate from Cambridge before retiring voluntarily to pursue higher education in the United States. After a brief stint at the University of Idaho, Tilak attended the University of Washington and earned a BS in Computer Engineering before pursuing an MS in Computer Science from Seattle University, which he completed in 2015. Throughout his life, Tilak has applied his Gurkha values to each and every project he takes on, be it his own education or his integral role here at BitTitan as a Senior Software Engineer.
I’ll end as Tilak did. There’s a connection between learning and opportunities: “what doesn’t kill only you makes you stronger.”