After a long time I walked to the University. The shady forested road begins from Hotel Cecil at Chaura Maidan, to the western part of Shimla, and runs till the rear side of Mount Pleasant. Here it meets the parking lot of the Viceregal Lodge and bifurcates to various directions. In seventies when my father was the Train Examiner of Shimla Railway Station and we lived in the Railway Colony, every morning me and my father used to go for a morning walk on this road. Then there was no traffic. Hardly a person in the town had a car. But now it is difficult to walk on this road.
I passed the left overs of recently pulled down building Willy’s Park, an old English house form the Raj. Till a few years ago this was being used as Press Club and all the press reporters would meet here every evening, when they found the new place at the Ridge. The building became remained abandoned since then and one day I saw if completely pulled down. I don’t know what attachment I had with Willy’s Park. ‘A Tree Takes Revenge’ is one of the stories that I wrote about it and got published in my second book, Shimla Bazaar.
Further, I followed the road to the University to the right of the main gates of the Viceregal Lodge. It is peaceful all along. The forest is beautiful and keeps it cool even during the summer months. When it snow in Shimla, this road remains blocked for longer period as it hardly receives any direct rays of the Sun. Those who want to see snow even when it is not snowing, this is the best place to refer. During last monsoon a tree fell on the front gate of an old English time bungalow and damaged the gate and a car parked near it. The vehicle got completely smashed and remained there for nearly a month before it was taken away to the scrap dealer. Thanks god there was no damage to the house otherwise we would have lost another piece of heritage.
The road is still as peaceful as it remains. A tea-shop to the right side and then after a long gap the building of the Industrial Training Institute are some of the constructed features of the road. The silence remains the highlight of the walk, unless it is disturbed by an occasional vehicle passing it. This is spring time in the hills. The flowers have just started blooming. The most attractive it rhododendrons, the red colored flowers reflect on the entire forest. Many other wild flowers have begun to show up. Perry Wrinkles are there a lot.
The movement of number of cars has increased on this road. It looks like more students from the university have got vehicles and keep running them here and there looking for their girlfriends. I hardly care for them. To my right, below the road is the railway track. I heard train’s whistle at a distance. Perhaps it left Shimla railway station a while ago and now is on the way to its first railway stoppage – Summer Hill. I stopped and looked down at the railway track. It is empty. No movement. The wild flowers are blooming all along the track. This is early spring time and this year there has been no snow or winter rain. The weather had started getting warm in the middle of February and the flower buds had started coming up. Now they are blooming at their fullest.
It sounds like the train is approaching but after a long wait it did not come. A few boy students passed the road behind be and perhaps thought what I was looking at, down the valley. They have no value for this tranquillity. They are the people of modern era with patched clothes and new designs of haircut. Sometime it is funny to see their hairstyle. The sides are like an army soldiers where are on top they have long hair parting apart in all directions. The boy looks like a flowerpot. The jeans pants are dropping below the hips exposing the elastic belt of their inner wear. This appears very erotic but these days this is the best way to look modern and educated.
I was scheduled to meet Him Chaterjee, a famous painter from Shimla. Him heads the Department of Visual Arts and the Department of Yoga in the university. I don’t know how he doe Yoga while painting or how he can paint while doing Yoga but his work is in heavy demand. I dare not ask him and later came to know that he has hired a beautiful girl from the hills to teach Yoga. On seeing her people do not need to do any breathing exercise as her beauty is enough to hold your breath.
I finished my meeting and took a bus back home.