The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: Chapter twelve. Symphony on Two Floors
caption: Namkia in Calcutta
medium: books
person: Namkia
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: Calcutta's swarming crowds and endless streets frightened the life out of him. He could find his way about the jungle like a wild animal; but one minute on a pavement, and he was lost for good. I had to bribe a hotel bearer to keep an eye on him for part of the time and take him about with me for the rest; which led us into some curious places and situations.
text: I doubt whether the Ladies' Department at the Army and Navy Stores ever really recovered. Even the hotel itself bewildered him. He had never seen or heard of a three- storey building before, and the ramifications of the Great Eastern, in which, as he truthfully said, you could put some half a dozen Zemi villages and still have room for a morung in the dining-room, had him baffled from the start.
text: The very first night there, when I had gone out to dinner and he was sleeping as a guard in the corridor outside my room, he had occasion to go down to the courtyard. He found his way down all right; but when the time came to return, he climbed up only one floor, instead of two, and began to roam round and round in the half-dark, in a state (97) of almost complete nudity, in a search for his own bedding. All round the first floor servants woke and saw this terrible figure stooping over them - hungry, it was to be supposed, and in search of meat. They clapped their blankets over their heads, fell on their faces, and began praying all they knew for deliverance to their several Gods; and poor Namkia, more and more lost, more and more mazed and helpless, drifted on, convinced that he would be arrested as a suspected thief, clapped into jail, and never seen again.
text: At last some bolder spirit suggested he go up one floor higher. Looking in the dimness like an anxious tiger, he padded away up the spiral iron stair. Then, on the second floor, the harlequinade was repeated again, till he came round the last corner (it would be the final one), saw his own bedding, and sank on to it with a groan of relief. He was still lying there in a state of nervous collapse when I came home. From that moment on he insisted in sleeping in my room on the mat below the punkah. It was, he said, cooler; and, more important, his elder sister the She-Sahib could keep an eye on him.