Lower BazaarTunnel…. Running towards the light at the other end…Growing up in Simla of the Sixties
Surang was a much-in-use word, in common parlance amongst all Simla inhabitants, to refer to a landmark for all of us growing up in lower Bazaar of Simla of the Sixties. Surang was a landmark for the lower bazaar people and for us, the kids of the Sixties, it was an enigma. Whenever I would pass through the bazaar I had to stop a while near Surang….sometimes I would squeeze myself through the crowd around the man who had panacea for sealing all holes in all kind of metals! To my little mind he was a magician. How I wish to have that magic “Tikki” melting like pour liquify silver and closing all holes….all imperfections! Perhaps deep in our heart, even during those simple days, we all were searching for a panacea for all that troubles our lufe….sadly we still are running in search of a shortcut…at least I am!!
Then, there would be a Pathan displaying all sort of the herbs very neatly on a cloth spread on the road. Never could understand what was he selling but it sure was something from distant lands of Kabuliwallahs…perhaps! Sometimes the word “Mardana Taquaat” would baffle me as our generation of kids were pretty ignorant of all kinds of power plays …pure simpletons we were!
But the colourful and fancy world of filmy posters would attract me more than anything else.
There were the latest filmi posters…the biggest ones possible, payed one over the other, on the entrance of the Surang….so colourful and of a world which was un-approachable for us!
I would watch those big hoardings for some time but carefully avoiding the opposite side of the Bazaar where a man sold women innerwear hanging in most atrocious manner for all eyes to ravish!
How funny it seems today to think of secret “Mardana Taqaat” herbs being sold on one hand, out-of-reach filmy damsels in most scintillating poses watching from above and the poor seller sending women inner wears hanging from nails on a big pole…… That was the mesmerizing entrance to the surang!
I would go through the tunnel but only with other kids….it was a strange place to be in. Water drops seeping in from the roof of the tunnel, water running from the sides, mules loaded with big sacks vying with human beings for space. The sound of tinkling of brass bells, adorning their necks, would herald their proximity to the pedestrians when the yellowish bulbs caged in wire mesh would hardly provide enough light to see. The whole Surang would be littered with mule littering. The stench of mule excreta mixed with human perspiration emitting from coolies carrying loads on their back and the humid smell of seeping water from the top would make the tunnel a world much different from the lively lower Bazaar. Not to forget the echoing sounds of some boys who made queer sounds to see how would it echo in the Surang!
The only light at the end of the Surang would make my fluttering heart stabilize and the bigger this light would become more at ease would I be!
The other end of the Surang near the Sood Junj Ghar would be much colder. But the Sood junj Ghar would always be full of band-bazaa and baraat ..an event we all so excitedly looked for!! The event for which we would traverse the dingy, seepy and moisty surang of the lower Bazaar!!
Something about the band-bazaa and baraat in my next post!! Growing up in Simla of the Sixties and roaming the length and breadth of the most happening lower bazaar is a treasury house of memories….just like crossing over the Surang….to the Sood Janj ghar!