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.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Beyond Comparison

Khajjiar:A Chocolate-box Perfect Landscape
Kalidas, the great Sanskrit poet of fifth century AD is the Shakespeare of India—so goes the comparison. Huh! It’s not the other way round: nobody ever says Shakespeare is the Kalidas of England! Netaji Subhas Bose is the Garibaldi of India. Fortunately nobody has ever fancied a comparison of Gandhiji in this manner.
The Glade of Khajjiar

Comparing the incomparables can be understood in terms of simple poetic exploration, nay the poetic licence. Nothing more…and nobody should justifiably read insult into it. No! I don’t think there is actually anything very upsetting about who is compared with whom. We do compare, sometimes for humorous effect even, between the persons and between the places otherwise having very little in common between them; and the comparison, once started, goes on. Take for instance, Khajjiar. It’s a place in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh that is nicknamed as Mini Switzerland. What had transpired in the mind of the person who coined, for the first time, such an international sobriquet for the place that became an instant tourist hit? Is it the glade or is it its meadow? Its lake? Or its cool sylvan ambience? Really, one would not know. Wikipedia explores the epithet in the following manners: On 07-07-1992, Mr. Willy t. Blazer, Vice Counselor and Head of Chancery of Switzerland in India brought Khajjiar on the world tourism map by christening it "Mini Switzerland". He also put a sign board of a yellow Swiss hiking footpath showing Khajjiar's distance from the Swiss capital Berne-6194 km. Khajjiar is among the 160 locations in the world that bear topographical resemblance with Sweitzerland. The Counselor also took from Khajjiar a stone which will form part of a stone collage around the Swiss Parliament to remind the visitors of Khajjiar as Mini Switzerland of India. It is the description which Wikipedia has taken from the website of Himachal Tourism and cannot be rejected as an internet hoax. But then again, was it a spontaneous outpouring of the Swiss fellow—a sort of compelling déjà vu—who discovered his own Switzerland in the middle of Himalayas? Or does it mean that the epithet “Mini Switzerland” was a kind of endorsement obtained from the Swiss fellow? Even before the words so said to have been uttered by the Swiss gentleman were showcased and publicised, Khajjiar was referred to as “Gulmarg of Himachal Pradesh”. Really one does not know how the initial motivation behind coining the phrase and comparing the two places really came to him.
Lake Leman: Geneva

Let me explore the expression a bit more with the help of parallels. There are similar nicknames prevalent elsewhere too, and one that instantly comes to my mind is Thali in Krishnagiri District of Tamil Nadu, known as Little England. What we find in Thali is the chill in the climate which is being exploited by the farmers there to grow roses all the year round in polyhouse farming and connect to Bangalore airport and then to international market. Even at Thali there is no signage imparting Englishness to the place. But look at this: in case of Khajjiar, you have even a distance indication: Switzerland 6194 km. By road or by air? The distance information makes it appear as if Switzerland is located so very proximately, say just near Pathankot or Dharmashala. Funny, isn’t it?

Not only that; even one finds a hotel named as Swiss Meadow.

In that manner I can state here that Daringbadi in Kandhmal District of Odisha is “Shimla of Odisha”. I can make the comparison now that I’ve seen both the places. Any takers? If “Mini Switzerland” as an epithet could be accepted why not my statement? Let me repeat it—Daringbadi is “Shimla of Odisha”.

On Way to Lausanne: Swiss Farm
Joking apart, Switzerland is known for her scenic beauty, the highpoints of tourist attraction being her Alpine lakes with limpid waters and her snow-capped hills. And there are meadows, too, with healthy cows grazing happily and blissfully. Looking at them one just cannot help reliving the taste of Swiss chocolates—at least I was reminded of that when I visited that country in the autumn of 2011. I know Switzerland does not grow cocoa yet I had no problem granting the country its brand image in chocolate manufacturing. After all, when liberalisation started in India, Swiss chocolates and Japanese motorcycles were the first batch of things to flood Indian market.

Khajjiar has a lake too, but nobody can compare it with Lake Geneva (Lac Léman). Where is water in Lake Khajjiar? Whatever it has in the name of water is so very turbid and so much muddy. And as per some information, efforts are under way to remove the weeds that choke the lake. I wish the project all the best: let there be a lake in the place of a puddle—the sooner the better.
Lake Leman at Ouchy

When I arrived at Khajjiar the first thing that captured my attention was the availability of the cows and sheep happily grazing in the meadows around the lake. Is it done deliberately to give the place a semblance of Swiss meadow? I cogitated. The cows looked emaciated, nowhere near their Swiss counterparts who were robust and lustrous. I was reminded of the unforgettable statement of a colleague of mine who, seeing the cows grazing and lazing on the Swiss meadow, had wistfully uttered, ‘Aha! How I long to be a Swiss cow in my next birth!’ She should visit Khajjiyar even in this birth: it’s my recommendation to her now.

But why compare the incomparable? Even if one does that why should we turn so touchy? Let us enjoy the humour out of it. How does it make a difference if somebody claims that the Himalayas are the Alps of India?
It Hurts My Heart: The Dirt at Khajjiar

Khajjiar is breathtaking in its own way. It is a lake plus meadow plus a glade. Where does one find such a capsule and such a combination? The coffee-table book “Unfogettable Himachal” published by the Department of Tourism & Civil Aviation, Himachal Pradesh 2010 describes it a chocolate-box perfect landscape for whatever it may mean. [Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 8th Edition defines the phrase = very pretty, but in a way that does not seem real] The dense sylvan environs surround the glade and Himachal’s own cedar does not fail to impart majesty to the place. Its bucolic serenity, its cool salubrious breeze, its enigmatic sun and shadow—everything is so very enchanting! The cows and sheep do not mind if they are in no way comparable to their Swiss counterparts. So what? They are happy nevertheless, as happy as or even happier than the cows of Switzerland. They have their grass meals and there is room for every animal to fill its tummy.
For a Photo Opportunity:Khajjiar

And it’s not only the animals that are happy in the meadow of plenitude; rather their happiness is really contagious. The singer with heart-rending folk songs offers his music for a small sum—it’s no fee and it’s for the giver to choose the amount to dole out. It’s only the reward from his satisfied listeners. He can sing the love lore of Chanchlo and Kunjo, or a musical ode to the River Ravi, or maybe the little girl’s love for the place of her birth, one that is not ready to leave Chamba to roll in the grandeur of Shimla. Whatever he sings is enough to leave the listeners spellbound.

I would definitely search Saran Das to listen to his soulful songs if I ever visit Khajjiar again:
माए नि मेरी ए शिमले डिरा ए चम्बा कितनी दूर 
शिमले नि बसना  सबाथु नि बसना बसना चम्बे ज़रूर ...

A N Nanda

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Blogger padmalayaa7 said...

Nice photos Sir. Thanks for cooling our irritated minds with these. Waiting for some more photographs..

8:08 AM  
Blogger Anant Nanda said...

Happy to welcome you back to my blog, Padma. And thank you for appreciating my effort.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Puja Nanda said...

If I ever get a month's worth time to spend somewhere, I would prefer Khajjiar (or Shimla) to Switzerland! :-)

3:05 AM  
Blogger Anant Nanda said...

Thanks Puja.You can feel the freshness of the place if and only if it's less frequented.

4:53 AM  
Anonymous Elvin Abraham,Coimbatore said...

Sir, there can be a possibility that the name 'Kashmir of Orissa' may bring in more tourists to Daringbadi than the name'Shimla of Orissa' bcz of the high esteem which one holds for Kashmir, even if he/she hasn't visited shimla or kashmir.

8:57 PM  
Blogger Anant Nanda said...

Welcome back Elvin. By the way, less visitors will help the place sustain its serenity. Thank you.

1:34 AM  
Anonymous Devaraj said...

Sir, Photo's are excellent....


5:11 AM  
Blogger Anant Nanda said...

Thanx Devraj and welcome back. There are a few photos I'm planing to post shortly.

7:52 AM  
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11:07 AM  

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