Flights of Fancy at Annadale in Simla of the Sixties

Flights of Fancy at Annadale in Simla of the Sixties

While we were taught to look up high to rise in our life…..all kids of the Sixties looked at Annadale as a dream destination. Was it not diametrically opposite to the rules of the game?looking back at my childhood and how some very banal activities left such a great imprints on my mind, I can say with certainty that we, the kids of Sixties, learnt to weave dreams at the most impossible places and events.
Annadale was situated like a perfect jewel surrounded by thick green jungle. It looked enchanting to us every single day. The classroom of second standard in the Lady Irwin school faced the Annandale side and I would watch such a big plain and round stretch of land with amazement. Especially to kids living in lower Bazaar Simla, where, open space for playing was restricted, Annandale opened up many dreams of vastness that could be imagined. I used to think this piece of land as the biggest possible plain land on the face of earth…. Nothing could be bigger than Annadale….my little mind would restrict my imagination at anything bigger than it.

And Bauji would take us both to Annandale on Dusshera day. We would be so excited right since morning and would wait for the afternoon when we would walk towards Annandale, why walk would rather jump away as it was the day of fun and frolic for us.
More than anything else I would be planning to get a piece of half-burnt piece of wood from the effigy of Ravana to bring home. I knew Bauji would not let me slip away from his strict gaze as it would always be do crowded at the ground. But still I would plan to slip for a minute and get the wooden or bamboo piece believing it to bring wisdom that Ravana had abundance of. There would be many who would be waiting for the opportunity. Easy success has always been a prime motivator for many a misadventures or adventures. And I was no exception.

To cut the story short…I could never go near to the effigies when they would fall down as Bauji would hold our hands very tightly especially as he knew how “rakaat”a vagabond all, I have always been. And I, too, would drop the idea in the fear of carrying the piece from Kumbhkarna’s effigy!!!! So my dreams of attaining easy success by keeping the half-burnt piece from Ravana’s effigy could not succeed. For me no easy road to sucess was opened up. And while walking back to our cozy little house I would listen to Bauji’s simple plain words having the real wisdom.

The other exciting festivity that we, the kids, waited was the school excursions and picnics. School sports day would, invariably, be held at Annadale ground and the annual sports day would turn into picnic day as well. I vividly remember whole of the school marching in twos to the Annadale ground. And once there we would participate in three-legged race, sack race, thread and needle race, potato race and even simple races. I would never win in any of the races.

After the tiring and gruelling physical exercises we all friends would sit in a big circle to enjoy or packed lunch. That day every girl would bring something special in her lunch. Amma,too, would make some delicacy and opening up the lunch box would be so very exciting.

Chandra would bring her Benzo and would play “aur neele gagan ke tale …” on it. How much full of awe all the girls would be for her musical expertise as no one else could play any mysical ornament.

Our teachers would sit in another big circle and it would be great fun for us to watch them in such easy-going frame of being as we would, otherwise, watch them in stiff regimented demeanour at the school. They seemed human enough to us that day.
It so happened, once during this annual sojourn, at the Annadale ground ghat a millitary helicopter had alighted. We all were so excited as hitherto we had watched a hrlixoptr up in the sky or sometimes as a small object at the Annadale as it seemed from distance. But that day it was so near to us. Perhaps Mrs. Goswami could understand our child curiosity and she wxlked to the pilot while we watched her talking to hin in her inimitable sophisticated style.

And imagine our excitement when all of us were asked to make a queue and taken to the hrlucopter where we entered it one by one to have a glimpse of the interior, while Mrs. Goswami stood having a conversation with the pilots.

The incident may seem insignificant to many but it was so big for us…..it opened up a vista of dreams for us. We were the special ones having seen the interiors of a heliopter!!!!

That was the way our elders and teachers made us to dream big and to work hard to resluze our dreams. Bauji made me learn that there is nothing like a magical transformation by keeping a half burnt bamboo piece from Ravana’s effigy to get easy success and Mrs. Goswami who opened up the possibility of developing wings of our own to fly…

These factors made us dream big, make our wings stronger, take flights to soar up in sky and to find tht thete were much bigger jewel line grounds on the face of earth …much bigger than Annadale though but Annadale still remains the biggest and the most beautiful one for me.

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