"Live slow, live long". Unveiling Gilbert Veyrard.
As a silent, but active, participant in Naggar's growth over the last forty years, Gilbert offered me a truly unique perspective. The moment we sat to talk, Gilbert transformed into a living, speaking, opinionated encyclopedia. Not a single memory has escaped his mind, and the emotion in his speech suggested to me that they have been waiting to be shared for quite some time. After leaving his home in France at age 17, in 1971, he traveled through Europe, North Africa and Nepal before settling in North India in 1982 with no money, and sleeping in a wooden shed throughout the Himalayan winters. The area had no modern development or economy, and he described its similarity to European middle ages. Food was grown for nourishment; clothing was woven for warmth. The people were the poorest he had ever seen.
Soon after arriving, he married the daughter of the family who owned his wooden shed. Realising that Naggar was going to have to develop some kind of economy to keep up with the demands of a growing India, Gilbert created the Destitute People Welfare Society, wherein the agricultural and textile skills of the local community were fostered in order to trade wares with economic hubs such as Delhi. At this moment, with a wink, Gilbert told me that the most traded commodity wasn't the apples that the region has become officially famous for, but the plethora of high quality Hashish that grows in the Kullu Valley. His participation in the Hashish trade wasn't confirmed.
Now a relatively wealthy valley, due mostly to growing tourism and the local Hydroelectric projects, Naggar is a bustling town, and Gilbert has resigned himself to the management of his tranquil, family run guesthouse. But it seems to be no secret to me that his efforts over forty years have guided the economic growth of this town with an invisible hand.
Beyond his recount of local history, Gilbert entertained me with comical French antics, particularly with his opinions on hypocritical religious morals, yet I still marveled at his respect for spiritual customs.
Live slow and you'll live a long, meaningful life. The proof seems to be in the pudding. - 6 minutes ago