There were some really nice moments in Naggar, as I had intuited there would be. Situated halfway up the Kullu valley in the foothills of the Himalayas, the air is perfectly clean and the views predictably spectacular. And then there are the people who live and come to stay there.
I’m not sure if you’d explain what happened to us there as ‘synchronicity’, or simply the logical outcome of deliberately fetching up in such a fabulous location – with the Roerich cultural centre just a few hundred metres up the road.
You can judge because this is how it was.
First, the yoga-teaching French Canadian guy Anton in his mid-twenties who I discovered reading Alice Bailey, even though he knew nothing about her, but whose Theosophical writings were clearly an inspiration to the Roerich’s at the time of their travels through Asia and settling down to maintain the Agni Yoga society in the village.
Not to mention the fact that the previous evening I’d been listening to a poorly-known and rarely-played piece by Todd Rundgren, ‘A Treatise on Cosmic Fire ‘, also based on the Englishwoman’s work. Admittedly, I was thoroughly aware of the connections and had deliberately chosen it to accompany the setting of the evening sun behind the distant snow-capped mountains…
Then there was Jean-Claude, travelling with his partner through India for the umpteenth time, who I got talking to over a bowl of porridge at the guesthouse next morning and discovered had a been a member of the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis at the very same time I had been actively involved. He informed us of his continuing belief in the appearance of Maitreya, the reincarnated Buddha and spiritual master spoken of by the Agni Yoga society, Theosophists and Rosicrucians. He provided us with photographs and literature concerning the imminent event which will augur peace and harmony on our Earth.
Two days earlier we had gone up to a rooftop restaurant in the village centre to place an order for fresh trout from the Beas river which flows through the valley to be prepared for our twenty-eighth wedding anniversary the coming weekend, and met a couple who were staying at the guesthouse. We promised to meet up and maybe visit the local Hindu temple. In the meantime, we teamed up with the restaurant-owner and his friend, who suggested we get together the following morning and take a day-long walk through the surrounding countryside. This invitation was extended to the couple we’d just met.
On the walk, we got talking and Ignaty – who is Russian and whose voice I thought perhaps I recognised – explained how he had left his job as a linguist at the prestigious St Petersburg university following the insertion of new academics by Putin and made his way to the UK in an attempt to try and make a living there. I really admired the manner in which he had overcome various adversities in order to do so. Among his many schemes was an original idea to write a set of mildly comical stories in everyday Russian that would help learners develop their language skills. In addition, he provided downloadable audio readings of the works.
Which was why I recognised his voice.
I had bought his books a couple of years earlier in an attempt to revive my languishing Russian language skills, would have brought one of them along for the journey if we had not had to be so insanely limited with our packing, but at least had the audio-scripts loaded on my laptop.
So now Ignat is moi russkii brat – my Russian brother, at least that’s how I think of him.*
Gilbert is a Frenchman who came to the village as a curious hippy some forty years earlier, married a local woman after winning over her family, and made a precarious living selling local handcrafts in Delhi, a twelve hour bus journey away, before setting up the guesthouse which has grown to accommodate his extended family, and which he now runs mainly with his daughter Eva.
Quite by chance, when the horrible news came through concerning Anne’s mother’s death and arrangements had to be made for our immediate return, Gilbert informed us that he was making his way to Delhi to meet a group of guests and so organised our Volvo bus seats and a place to stay until our flight was due.
The people we met in Naggar who lived there or were closely connected with the place were absolutely wonderful – the only reason that I won’t go into any more detail here (especially concerning both Manojes and Svetlana) is because I am certain we will all meet up again in the not-too-distant future and that will then be the cause of another, particular blogpost. I promise to make it special.