The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

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I'm a peace-loving married Indian male on the right side of '50 with college-going children, and presently employed under government. Educationally I've a master's degree in History, and another in Computer Application. Besides, I've a post graduate diploma in Management. My published works are:- (1)"In Harness", ISBN 81-8157-183-5, a poetry collections and (2) "The Remix of Orchid", ISBN 978-81-7525-729-0, a short story collections with a foreword by Mr. Ruskin Bond, (3) "Virasat", ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9, again a short story collection but in Hindi, (4) "Ek Saal Baad," ISBN 978-81-906496-8-1, my second Story Collection in Hindi.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Shimla: A View from Scandal Point

Kufri Hill: View from the Ridge Shimla
Before I could know more about the city, I thought I should ramble on what I saw and heard and felt about the place. Oh yes, I'm only ten days old in the city of Shimla, old enough to experience snowfall, rain, hailstone. I felt like a child learning the first few alphabets eager to write anywhere, the freshly painted wall of the drawing-room not spared. I felt like a photographer trying to capture not only the image but the thought going on behind it. I felt as if I belonged here since the time immemorial.
And now a new place—Shimla, they love to call it Devbhumi, for whatever it means. I would not translate it as ‘God’s Own Country’ for the obvious reason that I’ll be caught violating the intellectual property right. Nonetheless, there is a rhyme in it: India is a great country indeed.
Landscape: on way to IGMH
If one is in a mood to discover, there is no end to surprise a new place can throw up. Like the one I realised while visiting a departmental store in Shimla the other day. It was something like this: in order to go to the ground floor I had to start from the second floor and then go down. Like a fireman or a commando getting dropped at the roof of the building to rescue somebody trapped downstairs. And, again, to come out of the building I had to come up to the second floor and then go straight to the road. It is like a countdown: 2, 1, 0—isn’t it?
Sky is not the limit; one has only to decide to have a house in Shimla. One can skydive his way onto the roof of his own building. 
On the way to Fagu
There is another catch. It is about understanding the distance, say between place x and place y. One has to change the format of information from kilometer to hour and then try to figure it out. Taking kilometer as the unit, every place here is just near, so very near, say at a walking distance: the captivating snow-capped hill seen through the window of the kitchen, the next town situated some twenty kilometers away, the taller-than-mountain statue of Hanuman atop the monkey-infested hill of Jakhoo, the cabin of the greengrocer that I saw selling every item of vegetables for forty rupees a kg, the school the children of Shimla trot up and down every morning, the must-see spots for the tourists, almost everything. Walk walk and more of walk. One’s energy is just spent by leg activities—and I wonder what is left for the brain! The distance between Kalka and Shimla is just 91 kilometer but  that would convey a little. As I travelled, the road seemed to be unending. There were hills to be crossed, and it was a dizy switchback of zig-zags and hairpin bends. And finally when the journey ended, I realised that I had taken almost the same time for that 91 kilometers on road as I had spent in my train journey of 300 kilometers from Delhi to Kalka!
Snow covered hill: Fagu, Shimla
In my childhood our well-wishers used to cite the example of an ant to emphasize the fact that an ant is not afraid of exerting itself. ‘Look, how a small creature like that carries load more than its weight!’ I’m sure similar advice must have been imparted to the people here in their childhood emphasizing the dignity of labour, especially to the coolie folks here. As I see them carry on their back loads of four crates of milk or two full LPG cylinders or even a few sheets of plywood twice their height, I think coolies in  Shimla seem to have taken their childhood lessons on the dignity of labour seriously. They almost effortlessly carry such a load on their back and plod ahead unmindful of horns that toot behind them.
I think there may be more weightlifters in Shimla alone than the combined population of them elsewhere in India!

Shimla is a beautiful city, as clean as a whistle, a city where one never comes across stray cattle on the road. Fine, but this is not the whole story. Think of the ancient folk of monkeys that prowl on the road, gambol on the rooftop, swing on all fours holding on to the television cables, fight among themselves, cry like human child in the freezing cold of the night…and god knows what else they’re up to!
Snowscape: Close-up at Fagu
Everybody has a story to tell about the ferocity of the monkeys of Shimla: they’re many times more intelligent than their human adversaries. They quite fearlessly land on the shoulder of the tourists and snatch their belongings, and need to be bribed to return the articles; they know how to distinguish between the locals and the tourists, an ability that makes them use their discretions as to who is to be harassed and who is not to be; they’re fond of specs and they even frisk their victims; they’re a growing population despite the government applying on them some sham birth-control methods; and above all they are afraid of people wielding stick. They are the wild animals who love to live outside their sanctuary.

Nay, we the humans have encroached upon their territories and they the monkeys are protesting as much as they can, and as tenaciously as it behoves them. They have been protesting since the days of the English people who first decided to defile this virgin territory and they continue to protest to this day. The Englishmen had their own compulsion to come to a place where there was a cold climate and they’re now gone. But we the humans continue to live here, refusing to be cowed down by the primates. Or is it because, we Indians still believe that doing exactly what the British people did would make us look as gracious as the Britishers! Don’t we close our windows and air-condition our rooms in the plains, just to be able to wear suits to look like the Britishers? Don’t we think that the educational institutions built atop the cold hills will groom our children to be able to speak English with an accent immaculately British?

The city has very few parking lots, and so the roadside parking at every conceivable point of the road is an usual scene. The concept of a multi-storey car park is not an entirely metro one. We find several rooftops dedicated for car-parking and cars can go there straight without having to cross the levels below, like I went the other day to the departmental store starting from the second floor.

Sunset in Shimla: the Closest I could go.
February should have been a pleasant month but this year, as the weather-observing Shimlaites are unanimous about it, it has brought successive spells of bad weather. It has brought us rain, snow, wind, hailstone—every unwelcome and untimely features of the elements. I witnessed a scene of mild snowfall the other day, and it was enough to give me some photo opportunity. The hill at Kufri side seen through my window has changed its hue from snow-white to normal craggy grey several times during the 10-day stay of mine in this place. It is like people changing their profile pictures on the social networking sites! Again it offered the photo opportunity: some snaps from the Ridge are ready to adorn my blog—The Unadorned. And a little far from the city, say towards Fagu, the snow is everywhere and god knows when the whole thing would melt and the leafless trees would be verdant once again, with fresh leaves on their branches. People say the apple trees do not wait to flower until all their branches are full of leaves. I’m waiting to catch the scene of trees with all flowers but no leaves. I had once seen such a brilliant scene of an amaltas tree [Cassia fistula] laden with golden flowers on every branch and it was in the campus of MDI Gurgaon way back in 1989 summer when the poor me had no camera to catch it. Yes, I still remember that unforgettable scene. Coming back to what I was rambling, I expect here many such scenes where the sequence is shuffled, say like going to the ground floor starting from the second floor or the trees flowering before there are leaves in them
A Panorama: View of Shimla from Tara Devi Hills
And now, here is the best thing I observed…and cogitated on. Is it that people become happy after coming here or is it that only the happy people happen to come here? In any case it is happiness in the air that affects one and all. It is both the ethos and the building block of the ambience. Happy couples holding hands, happy kids sitting on the prams and playing pianos, happy teenagers clicking their snaps in turns, happy people riding horses without ever minding the cost of their horse ride…all are fashionably dressed and dressed for the occasion. The Mall is boisterously crowded with the shopping activities and gossiping reaching new height every day. And what is more, the happiness here is just so very contagious!    
A N Nanda

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Blogger Akansha Sirohi said...

hello admin,
you post has been very enlightening and full of learning...
I've been greatly motivated by your post....i m a new blogger and would greatly appreciate you advice and important tips regarding blogging
thank you :)

6:16 AM  
Blogger NS said...

Dear Sir,
The beauty of Shimla as diplayed through seven pictures are quite interesting. A picture tells more than that of several words.The hard work of the people there and their enormous mussle power is wonderful. I have visited there once and enjoyed much. Now I feel I have visited again through this post.
Thank you sir for bringing Shimla to Tirupur
-- NS Tirupur

10:28 AM  
Blogger A_N_Nanda said...

Thank you NS. As for photography I'm trying to refresh the old lessons of co-ordinating shutter speed, aperture and ISO to raise my difficulty level. Getting photographs clicked in digicams looses charm because they are even programmed to detect smiles.

7:39 AM  

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