The road taken in Simla of the Sixties

The road taken in Simla of the Sixties…Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel both

(Simla always offered a life lesson to its people even when we were too novice to learn them but we did imbibe them though unknowingly)

When we walked back from the Lady Irwin School, we had an option right at the front of the school entrance…either to take the Mall road or to give some exercise to the legs by walking steep ascent up through the Kalibari road and paying obeisance to the Mother. As we walked back in a small group, chatting and listening to gossip or the story of a movie running in the local theater, the decision would be based on consensus. Some days it would be through a gentle stroll on the Mall gazing at the people and on some other days it would be going uphill, inclining forward to balance the body and the school-bag. The choice we made, of the road we selected to walk on, held a life lesson for us.Looking back I can see that every single act, however small or insignificant, was in fact a lesson of life to us, the girls!The gentle stroll through the Mall would teach us to walk in the best possible way, the right step, the right gait, the right tilt of the head while balancing delicately the heavy school bag.Rather some of the girls, more conscious of the looks, started carrying books and copies in their arms. Carrying the armload of books and walking delicately was an art to be learnt by the less delicate poor mortals like me. We learnt to keep pace with the delicate and the coquettish so abundant on the Mall. We, too, would pretend to be more delicate and sophisticated than we were in real life. A catwalk on the Mall, it was to be true! Not only the walk but the way we talked was also a little more dignifined than it usually would be!! We would be under a masked presence though at that time little did I know about it… we were just putting our best foot forward, the least to say!But when we chose to walk uphill through the Kalibari road, it was entirely different. As soon as the road to the Kalibari started past the Dalziel estate, we felt like free birds in a jungle, talking and walking the way we loved it to be. Free from all pretension whatever it would be in our walk or the talk! Though while walking uphill we learnt another life skill, though unknowingly. Since the ascent became steep around the St. Mark church, we would incline forward while balancing the heavy school bag on the posterior part of our body…at the upper back or still down. We would put our arms on the waist or at the back to balance our gait. There was no pretension, whatever, to be what we were not! Chatting and laughing aloud was a common practice on this road. We would be wary of the monkeys who would always be sitting at the entrance of the Kalibari temple eating the offerings of sweets made to the stone idols of lions at the gate. Dodging the monkeys we would run or hide or scamper but would enter the temple and would pay our abesiance from outside as putting off shoes and smelly socks would be much burdensome and unladylike to us. And as the goddess is omnipresent so She could understand our predicament and faith as well. Moreover a Chhota Pujari would always be sitting at the entry to the temple with the prasadam and the vermillion which we would put on our forehead. Seeking blessings of the Maa, we would again start our walk back to our home. The stretch from Kalibari Hall till Bentony estate was almost level. Looking at a few beggars sitting on the roadside and putting a little of the prasad in their extended palms we would feel satiated at doing our best for humanity and would walk ahead.There was another choice to be made at the Bentony castle…whether to walk ahead straight or to go down towards the Telegraph office. We preferred the walk down towards the Telegraph office. As both the roads converged at the Telegraph office, it was a great equalizer. The big clock marking time for the Simlaites conveyed a better and more important lesson about Time beijing the biggest equalizer. Though we never thought of such philosophical matters at that time.Again another choice awaited us…whether to take up the road towards the Lower Bazaar or stroll past the Mall gazing at the pictures and wares displayed on the show windows. Starting from the Himachal Emporium with its exquisite Himachali shawls and pure silk sarees adoring one show window, we would walk towards the other that displayed Himachal crafts but we loved watching dolls the most. Small miniature replicas of the people of Himachal. During this walk we would be sombre and ladylike unlike the way we had been on the road less travelled by!This small walk would be a treat to our visual and olfactory senses. The aroma of the freshly brewing coffee from the coffee house would fill our nostrils soothing the very inside but it would be the humble tea that awaited us at home. The aromal of coffee was enough. Looking at other show windows we would stop at the Jankidass and gaze at the both the show windows full of stuff that any damsel would love to own. High heeled delicate sandals, dress material, sarees would surround the twin baby models, one the laughing baby and another the crying baby!! This was a kind of enigma for us to watch as to how it could be…the miracle of science it was for us.The last shop on my way back home would be Devichand’s perhaps….I loved the beautiful silk sarees that they had in their show windows. I never went inside this shop as it somehow looked very mysterious to us.The stairs down from here would lead to my final destination. Beyond this point it would be an entirely different experience. With the spicy aroma and the warm fumes emerging from the Golchas, would beckon me a warm homecoming. The stairs to my home. A few steps down the stairs, the buzzing of the printing machines of the Joshi Mudranalaya and the smell of the paints would make me feel closer to home. Down further, Shonkia uncle with the hammering on red hot iron would endear me to home. The sound of clattering and hammering seemed so familiar and my very own. Still nearer home the Himachal binders with their heavy binding machine that made a thud like sound while binding and the cutting of the pages from sides of the books would produce a familiar ambience.And I would be home by climbing a few steps up!!! The walk from the school to home would be so eventful and an educational tour to prepare us for LIFE. We, the Simla girls, learnt to adjust to a wide bandwidth of possibilities of life. We learnt to be ladylike when we wanted to be all thanks to strolls on the Mall. We learnt to balance the heavy loads of life by changing our mental and physical stance all because of the steep uphill roads and learnt to enjoy the real life in the humdrums of what makes it!! We learnt life is a mixture of all these and we developed the strength to deal with anything that came our way!Thank you Simla for imparting life lessons at every stage through every road that I had taken! How prophetic Robert Frost’s poem has been in my case when I write sharing my views about taking the less travelled road!!!I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.

106Rohit Yadava, Aruna Mahajan and 104 others106 CommentsLikeComment

Comments

  • Gopal VakilSo lively and poetic☘️1
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  • Neelam SoodVery well said Saroj!1
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  • Indu MehtaHam bhi saath saath chalte gaye..1
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  • Priyanka BerryAnd we walked, and strolled, smelt the coffee and heard the thuds and paper cutting machines at the Printing Press…just as it always had beenLovely read🤗❤️1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply
  • Rajiv Kashyap RosyWe walked and walked reached to this Fb group1
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  • Kewal JollyJust too good 👍1
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  • Manju PahwaSaroj , thanks for walking us through your beautiful journey….!!!!1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·6 Replies
  • Pratap Singh KutlahriaWell presented to enjoy your experiences, similar as mine, on the route described.Pause GIFTenor1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply
  • Ramesh KumarA nice , gripping narrative ! However the balancing act of bending forward and backward has scientific reason and explanation of keeping the centre of gravity in place.2
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·4 Replies
  • Vinod YadavReading Saroj in itself is a lesson in Poetry Prose .It is always a rejuvenating experience for the depleting grey cells .Thank you for taking us down the memory lane and giving us an opportunity to pay our obeisance at the feet of Kaali Maa … See More1
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  • Rohit YadavaWow… Thanks for the lovely walk from your school to home! Enjoyed every word and line that took me back to Simla❤️❤️❤️1
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  • Jiwan Kumarअपने अपने रास्ते , अलग-अलग पहचान ।मौज मस्ती करनी हो तो कालीबाड़ी,जेन्टलमैन चाल को सीधा सपाट रास्ता। विकल्प ही विकल्प2
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply
  • Sudha SuriWow! Thank you for your sharing of your philosophical lessons on your way back home . I also relived my walking back home from S’t Thomas School. Yes Shimla has shaped us in beautiful ways.1
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  • Surinder KarolWell depicted stay blessed1
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  • Subhag DuttaWow what unknowingly life teaches usn8n childhood n the lessons captured in our memory are really indellible.Enjoyed each word n each step mentione d in your down memory lane on the roads of Shimla n made us physically strong by walking miles togethe… See More2
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  • Arun SoodSub theek hai but aap shonkiyan ram ki hammer say golcha tak ki kahani batati ho you never gave a word for Mansu he was the man to be remembered.2
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply
  • Raman SinghBeautifully articulated the minute nuances and observations of Simla life! So beautiful it was and the pleasures it brought to us, in our little decisons! Your heart and soul is embedded beautifully in Simla and that’s how you bring out the flavour an… See More3
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply
  • Siddharth PandeyDear Ma’am, What a marvellous, marvellous post! I am so delighted to have come across everything you write, and this, in particular, strikes a deep chord. It also serves as an excellent case study for me, for I am always fascinated by the practices of … See More3
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    Siddharth Pandey replied ·2 Replies
  • Kailash NathGreat explation seems as I am walking with you coming back from school1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply
  • Ashok ChauhanLife lessons indeed ; a sheer treat for the reader ! Fascinating, refreshing and nostalgic for Shimlaites !! Kudos Saroj Ji for creating yet another jewel !!! 👍3
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  • Bala KhannaYour illustration is magnificent….always love to read…1
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  • Sunita BansAnother vivid a and interesting description of shimla life beautiful write up of coming back to home from school w1
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  • Sunita BansCongratulations for the post
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  • Sarabjit BainsGreat
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  • Mahesh ChanderVery well written. My sister went to Lady Irwin School from 1948 to 1954. First we lived in Summer Hill & she would take a train from Summer Hill to Shimla every day & back & later walked daily from Marina Hotel to school daily. Up to 4th grade it was … See More1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply
  • Hemendra Kumar TewariWhen you talk of walking on the two roads, I feel it is my story.While in School, we shall go to our School in lower Kaithu ,running down the steep slope and while returning walk leisurely via Lal Bagh and on the way try to eat a few fruits from the ga… See More5
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  • Anil SharmaThe sentiments and emotions flow with ease in your words that create a visual picture at the same time. Great writing.1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply
  • Nandini SharmaWe walk with you,feelwithyou,laugh and cry with you.That is the strength of your writing poweress.Even walking on roads of Simla we get lessons of life.Totally applaud your posts.1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply
  • Dharam Prakash GuptaExcellent narrative as always; you have revived old memories related to many places. I and my elder had meals at Golcha for many years .2
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  • Usha Sharmabadge iconAfter reading this post I was struck first by the simple beauty of your narration and second of how you have been able to connect your journey with life’s lessons. I felt like writing something back to you in response but felt my words would be too ina… See More5
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    Ashok Mangotra replied ·8 Replies3h
  • Narinder VermaNice one, another master piece,Cat walk on Mall Vs free birds in jungle.1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply
  • Arun SeamAfter all the views expressed in the comment box no words has been left for me to describe the way you narrated and related it to the lessons of life.👏👏🙏🏽2
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply
  • Raswinder Singh DhaliwalSaroj Thakur ji 🙏. Your philosophical engagement with your life experiences is thoughtful and redolent of empathy and understanding. The word that springs to mind is verisimilitude ! Your writing is suffused with that truly unique gift. 🙏1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply
  • Sudha MahajanWonderful walk with your post1
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  • Lalita PandeBeautifully expressed ,the beauty of your narration is that you take th e reader along with you .2
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  • Jaswinder Rishi❤️🙏👍1
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  • Jaswinder RishiYou are amazing n wonderful personality my dear God bless you n yr sweet family too1
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    Jaswinder Rishi replied ·4 Replies
  • Narinder Singh FloraWell written Saroj , thanks for posting this especially these photos —I feel that I am back to my home ; our house was across the Joshi Mundranalay and under the golchas ;you mention shonkia uncle ,his daughter Mina was my friend ( if you know anything… See More1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply
  • Jugnu MahajanWow great narration and writing … no words … 🙏1
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  • Alka MisraBeautiful! 💐💐1
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  • Pamela LyallLovely thought inspiring read We too would climb the steep hill from Tara Hall bent over and sometimes just to gain more time with friends would criss cross the road as we had seen coolies carrying heavy loads … See More1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply10h
  • Narinder Singh FloraYes you are absolutely right our house was beneath the Snow White dry cleaners ! I will appreciate if you can find out about these people for me, thanks !!!1
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  • Raksha KaisthaExcellent narration of simpla events beautifully expressed.Those moments relived.wonderful post 👌👌👌👌1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply10h
  • Suneeta SharmaYour amazing narration brought childhood memories back1
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  • Padam GuptaIn fact you have carried us all Simlaites down the memory lane1
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  • Rajiv KhannaSuperbly expressed nostalgic trip down the memory lane…can relate with every word written so beautifully. It’s one of the finest literary expression I have come across in recent times.Such vivid memory and such succinct expression is rare to come ac… See More1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply10h
  • Kapil Dev SoodChildhood memories beautifully narrated and described. You must be tempted to repeat a part of the exercise if not the whole again.1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply10h
  • Jaishree Joshi JoshiYou have an art of creating nostalgia around the reader .Every single piece written by you is worth reading many times and preserving it I am running short of compliments hence many a times read what you have written and silently keep admiring but this… See More3
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·2 Replies1h
  • Rajesh SaxenaFluid, Captivating, Thrilling narrative.So Relatable…Our Wordsmith, Ma’am has once again raised the Bar….… See More1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply1h
  • Arun SeamAgain reading your post and comments.You know,you are the Pied Piper of this group!🤣🙏🏽🙏🏽1
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