Crevices shouting to tell the story of the real Simla of the Sixties
“The facts speak only when the historian calls on them: it is he who decides to which facts to give the floor, and in what order or context” ~ Edward Hallett Carr
Persons or places, both are alike in one way as both have a history of unsaid, untold accounts that have gone into making of them. The persona of a person is the result of dreams, aspirations, trials, tribulations, failures and struggles and so is the persona of a place. The only difference is that a person is in a position to make a choice of bringing all those struggles to light but no such luck lies with a place, simply because it cannot speak for itself except through some relics of the past, glorified for their proud existence or patchworks of lesser-known places coming to surface through hidden crevices in the slopes below the Mall which cry for a voice, whenever they can, in any form they can!
What we know of Simla is described in the words of the writers, the elite writers of the Raj period, who glorified for us its history and persona labelling it as the queen of hill stations, the summer capital of the British Raj, the evening walks of the majestic Mall and the partying in the tudor banglows where the dainty men delicately tangoed the pretty damsels till they pleased. The romance of the Raj in this Summer capital is what we were made to take pride in even when we became free of the Raj.
The crevices from the Lower Bazaar, Gunj and “below the Cart-road” were a bit too below mark for the natives to take note of. Very few writers have taken up writing about life in these less-talked areas, the poor cousins to the rich and influential in the family, the Mall and some other parts.
These days I am searching for any material which would give us a peep in the life of people and history of the much happening yet less talked about areas of the Lower Bazaar and down. Please suggest some material if you have, a letter from your grandparents, an account of life in the Bazaar area, anything would help.
I remember all the accounts that I grew up hearing in the lanes of the Lower Bazaar and it is a pity that I never cared to get more from my Bauji as I, too, like many others was a bit ashamed of coming from the Bazaar area. And now when I am past the age where these sham appearances matter to me, the people who could have helped me to know more are no more in the world!
Still it is not very late. I would be writing about my remembrances of people living in my humble neighbourhood who represent a segment of the life in Lower Bazaar and I trust my friends in the group would provide more details to me.
I have been strongly feeling as if the crevices in the plateau right from the Lalpani, meandering through Ladakhi mohalla, Gunj Bazaar and the Lower Bazaar is earnestly calling all of us in the group to tell their part of story in the making of Simla–the Simla that we all so love!