|Our Really Big Adventure|
| Naggy, nangi,
naggy, Poo blared the music for the umpteenth time. Nine male Indian
youths, dressed like American Hip Hop kids out of Fat Boy Slims Praise
You, thrust their chests out like peacocks on the last beat of the
bar, letting their denim jackets slip from their shoulders.
Cut, shouted the director, amplified by the ego massaging public address system. A bombardment of mixed Hindi and English followed, which I gathered to mean that the dancers needed to thrust their chests out even further. Thinking that they needed some encouragement, the director brought out the heroine who, despite everyones western clothes, wore a traditional salwar kameez.
Ready Boy Ready Boys the director blared. The dancers looked earnest as they made valiant attempts to get themselves into character. You could just imagine what was going through their heads Okay whats my motivation, what subtle movements can I make that will portray my character. The heroine looked at her nails.
Naggy, nagi, naggy Poo and thrust
Despite the novelty of seeing the filming of a Bollywood movie, Barbara and I decided that we had seen enough of this particular segment of this song and dance routine. We quietly descended from the castle balcony, leaving the local schoolchildren staring intently and dreaming of discovery and a meteoric rise to stardom.
On the advice of fellow travelers, we had taken a local, boneshaker bus from Manali to Naggar. It is a small village, with fantastic scenery, the castle and museum are also worth seeing they had assured us. Needless to say the Naggy, nagi, naggy Poo wasnt around when they were there.
As we left the area of the castle where they were filming, my myopic eyesight made out familiar shapes. A friendly hand raised itself and waved us to come over and as I approached I recognised the Bhalla family. They were friends of Himanshu, our ski instructor, and we had met them a few days previously in Solang.
Naggy, nangi, naggy, Poo, this time in the distance
Come, come, please sit down, Neeru welcomed. She immediately ushered her son, Aman, off to get us chairs. We joined them, pleased that our paths had crossed again and that at least one relationship would extend beyond the meaningless one-day experiences that dominate backpacker life.
The family, who were holidaying in the region, had elected to stay for a couple of nights at Naggar castle, which had been tastefully renovated into a heritage hotel. Anil, a kindly looking and soft-spoken man, showed us around the remainder of the castle. I was struck less by the castle, and its doubtless significance, than I was by his educated and deeply thought provoking opinions.
The Bhalla family were obviously well-off, however they had given up the rat race in order to run a wildlife sanctuary called Earthstation. We spent a delightful couple of hours with them, feasting on a range of South Indian dishes, which Anil had persuaded the film crew to give us. He struck me a man who knew how to get things done, despite his quiet and unassuming manner. All of this with a backdrop of a 500 year old castle and the tune of Naggy, nangi, naggy, Poo .
As we left they gave us their address, in Chamba,
and insisted that we visit if we were in the area. So feeling at peace
with the world we left them and the sounds of Naggy, nangi, naggy,
Poo to visit the art museum and then home.