From Face on the wall to Buddha on the wall….growing up in Simla of the Sixties

From Face on the wall to Buddha on the wall….growing up in Simla of the Sixties

The small little houses, in narrow lanes of Lower Bazaar, invariably had at least one wall that would be damp with plastering peeling off the wall resulting in shapes and figures open to countless interpretations!  The white lime on the wall would discolor, the underneath material would result in various shapes on the wall….filling the fertile little minds with imaginative characters weaving around those shapes. That was a game for us…the kids…  raised in the Simla of the Sixties as fortunately we didn’t have any tele-screens to ogle at!!!

I think this happened after we read the story “The face on the Wall” which, if I am not mistaken was in one of our course books…. though don’t recollect exactly…which class it was!  But after reading that story all the damp impressions on the wall would make me think of clouds, elephants and whatnot on the not-so-plane   surface of the damp wall with bits of upper crust of plaster coming off at places! So when I say sitting with a book in my hand and pretending to do my school work I would be watching for new imaginative faces or objects coming out on the wall and perhaps weaving a story!

It is so strange that this memory raised its head when I was planning, in my new house, to use the space under the stairs. I didn’t want this space to be used as a small bar or a display rack for knic- knacks or worse a shoe rack hidden under the stairs.

The reason was more for practical reasons. I  had carried to Palampur, despite protests from my kids to dispose it off, the big iron sheet box storing some ten big quilts… And I wanted this big “peti” to be put somewhere but not to mar the looks of the mouse, it had to be hidden away from the common view and common space. I was on “Peti Bachao” mission as I knew that if I don’t find an appropriate place for it….the poor thing would find a way out as the quilts had a better place to be stored in…the box beds!!

I thought hard and Lo I got the solution. What a better place it could be then to fit it under the stairs and cover up the front part with plyboard planks in the style of folding doors of old style shops of Simla of the Sixties!
Next was what to do on the plyboard …to cover it with Mica or some other veneer or plain paint or polish?

It was then that I thought of the images on the wall which I loved so much during my childhood. All thanks to Simla memories churning out because of this lovely group interactions.
So it was a big Buddha face which I wanted to adorn my under-the-stairs area with!!!
I started with sketching, drawing on big sheets, cutting those sheets and pasting on the folding door of this area till I was somehow satisfied of the right size and shape.

The project is still going on…I still devote some two hours to it but it has filled my house and my very being with peace and tranquility. The umpteen times when I go up and down these stairs the Buddha face fills me with a feeling which I cannot explain in words … the feeling of being at peace with myself! Is it not what we all crave and live for!

Having come a long way from the face on the damp wall in the small house of Lower Bazaar in Simla of the Sixties….to the serene and peaceful Buddha…is a long journey full of struggles, dreams, failures and intrigues of friends but nothing in vain! Learning my lessons from my life journey I wish you all Happy Buddh Purnima …may Buddha enlighten our life with peace and love!


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