We came to live at Chaura Maidan in the year 1973. The house we came to live in was spacious, sparsely furnished and secluded. With nobody to talk to, I would stand behind the window so that people from outside would not be able to see me and would gaze and gaze at the horizon outside. The back of the house had a verandah but I could see only the Himachal School Board building (the present Kotshera Boys’ College) and nothing else; so the view from the front was always better. There was a police post, the small round one, in the middle of the open space called by the name of Chaura Maidan. I wonder what would the policeman do throughout the day as he had not to manage traffic the way his brethren do these days on the Mall. The only vehicles that we could see plying on this restricted road would be the ever faithful Mail Vehicle and some ambulance once in a while and the vehicles of the governor’s retinue that would be a sight to behold! One or two black ambassadors of some Brigadier who lived in the vicinity would be seen. To cut it short the police walah had little or no job except to give the place a semblance of a high profile area.
Human memory is really very short. I crossed Chaura Maian so many times in the recent past but did not miss the round or hexagonal structure of the Police post that was a land mark during our days! It was a chance discovery of an old snap that I remember having taken from the window of our Chaura Maidan house which revived all the lost memories about this post. In fact I had taken this picture not as a keeps-sake but since it was the last picture in the roll and I wanted to exhaust it before giving it for developing so I extended my hand out of the window, and without even focussing on anything, clicked the picture.
The old timers talked about a big tree where the Police post was in our times. I remember vaguely hearing to a story about a tree that used to be atthe place in the nineteenth century where we had this police post in the seventies. It was said about this tree that it was abode to a benevolent spirit
and whosoever wanted to have some wish to come true, would hover round this tree! The tree was cut, much to the dismay of old-timers. But we in our times never even missed having a tree in the middle of the Chaura Maidan. It is the same way as the present generation people don’t even remember that there used to be small police check post in the middle of the Chaura Maidan, once upon a time. But as I remember having seen the Police post, I wish to make a record of it so that we remember the evolution of the then Simla to the Shimla of today! And also to invoke the blessings of that benevolent spirit if it is still hovering in the area and is listening to me!