Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I go out walkin' after report writing...

Walk, walk, walk. How I love to walk around Shimla. My legs ache in a good way form all the
walking I do here. Up the hills, down the hills, along the Ridge, it’s great exercise for me. Yesterday, after an extensive report writing section, I went up to have lunch at Ashiana restaurant, a lovely round building with views of the whole town and the valleys below. After that I set off toward the Glen, a quiet spot in the forest about 3 or 4 kms away. Down a windy road through the forest, it was lovely to be somewhere in India with little to no noise. A car, bus or motorcycle would pass now and then but for the most part all I heard was the wind through the
trees. Below me I could see Annandale, the former racetrack and polo grounds of the British, now used for cricket playing. It took about 45 mins. To reach the Glen, and it was worth it. Tall pine trees mark this spot along a hill, a path winding down into the thick cluster of scented pines. I made my way down the path for a bit until I found a bench to rest on. Finally, a place in India where one could be alone in his thoughts with no noise and no other
human being around. All I had was the sun shinng on my face and the wind making a gentle soft noise through the needles on the trees. The British used to say this place reminded them of Scotland and I could see that. Hilly, craggy with lovely views—yeah I’ve been to Scotland, I could see that.
After sitting and contemplating the peacefulness of this spot, I made my way back up the winding road toward the hustle and bustle of humanity. There was some sort of protest going on by the Shimla governent building, which blocked the road so the closer to the top of the hill I
got, the more cars were standing beeping and honking trying to get through. People were yelling and protesting about who knows what and the police were all around. Quite the contrast to my quiet solitude of 30 mins before. Along the way back, two college boys joined me as I walked up toward the Mall. They had just finished an exam and were going up to the Mall to hang out. We exchanged names, where are we from, what do they study and all the general pleasantries. Then one of them asks me how often I have sex in New York. A rather direct question to which I replied, “That’s a rather personal question.” Then I asked him how often he had sex in India to which he replied “Once.” I told the young man that he was the second person to ask me about having sex in America. He told me he read some things on the Internet about all the sex people have in the U.S., to which I replied, “People have sex all over the world.” To which he giggled and replied, “Well not in India.” To which I just laughed and changed the subject. When we got to the Mall I bid them adieu and continued on to my hotel for a bit of a rest and to enjoy some strawberries on my balcony and watch the sunset.
Heading up to the Embassy for a lamb dinner, I noticed a big temple all lit up on the
hillside. What was this fabulous diadem blazing in the night skyline? I must go see this place! So after dinner I made my way through the narrow lower streets of Shimla to find this temple. Most of the shops were closed oas I made my way throught the Lower Bazaar but a few stores and
little restaurants beckoned people in the darkness. Some boys were playing cricket in the middle of the road at one point, people going up and down the narrow stairways that link the levels of
streets here. Further I carried on until I saw some men hanging the sparkly gold garlands above the street. This was a sure sign that I was on the right path. I followed the road, with the garlands as my guide down until I came to my destination. The temple was all lit up like a house at Christmas
time, ablaze in the night. I walked around it taking pictures, basking in its warm light. As I made my way back up the hill, I ran into a procession of holy men heading toward this temple.
They were lead by their main pandit, whose picture I saw on the temple archway. We smiled and bowed at each other as we passed in the road. Further up I repeated this as I passed the local mosque on a stairway heading up to the Mall.
Shimla is really beautiful at night and after dinner it’s great to take a stroll on the Mall to check things out. Christ Church is all lit up and high on the hill Hanuman is aglow and watching over all of us. This place closes down early and by 9/9:30, the streets roll up. So as they rolled up, I rolled
down the hill to my hotel, buying some bananas and strawberries from the fruit vendor who was still out there selling his wares. A few more days here and it’s time to head back down the hill to the big city. Until then I’ll relish every minute here.

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