I have spend the first 25 years of my life in Shimla. I was born here so this place is very special for me. Every nook and corner has memories. The “Taka Bench” where every day we would gather before going to school, the moong -fali wala who always sits below the ” wild chestnut” tree on the ridge or the water fountain at scandal point or the shakes and burgers at Embassy. Countless places,countless memories.
Shimla is where I grew up and one place in the world that I love the most. One thing I love about shimla is walking. You can walk anywhere. Its the fastest way to get to anyplace. Choose any other way and you will be stuck in endless traffic jams or parking chaos.
I was here for a weekend to escape the mad heat of Delhi. So I did what the locals do. I went for a walk. I started from my house in Lakkar Bazaar followed the cart road to Lakkar Bazaar Bus station and then climbed up to Rivoli. Oh dear Rivoli- how many english movies 😉 I have seen here.
All my old memories came rushing back to me.
From Rivoli I crossed through the tunnel over to Lower Bazaar. Just ahead of Lower Bazaar tunnel used be the two video parlors where we would often go to watch movies after bunking school. Good old days of VCR and VHP and pirated movies.Thank God both these video parlors are now doing a business in ready made garments. In the 90s they were ” weapons of mass destruction of careers” mine included.
Take a right from the tunnel and after 100 mts one would come to this whole stretch of road where you can buy text books. Every year just before the start of the school scene all the kids and parents will queue up to buy books. I think it used to be Aggarwal book store that used to stock CBSE books. I have spent countless days here getting books. Every year the books used to get heavier and difficult to comprehend.
Next to the book lane is “Mehru Halwai” . Every week my dad would bring us here .It used to be our family outing.We will be asked to choose from Doodh Jalebi, Rasgulla and Rasmalai. I got addicted to Doodh Jalebi because someone told me that its good for “body-building”. The good old days when the only mention of calories was in physics text books.
Walk straight ahead and you will pass iconic shimla stores like – Delhi stores. Delhi stores used to have an awesome collection. Another old shop used to be DCM stores. If we wanted to buy bedsheets then this is where we would come.
Today my next stop was Subzi Mandi. Subzi Mandi is a special place for me because the first time my mother trusted me with money was to go and buy Subzi from here. Very soon I graduated at the top of my class- I became an expert in buying vegetables and in the art of haggling. I still do. What is surprising is that 20 years later Subzi mandi is still the same. And going by standards in Delhi- Its quite clean too.
I know Shimla is not what it used to be 20-30 years back. A lot of people complain about how Shimla has become very crowded. I hate to agree with them. But I would suggest that next time you are in Shimla ditch the mall road, buy this book by Raja Bhasin” Heritage Walks in Shimla” and go on a walk. And after that If you don’t fall in love with my hometown I will personally treat you with Doodh-Jalebi at Mehru Halwai.