Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Love-Hate Relationship

Simla - The Queen of Hills. The beauty of theses hills was such that it pulled out an entire government towards itself every summer. The British have long gone, but the attraction towards this lady has carried on. To the extent that to cash on this very beauty, somewhere the beauty itself got marred. Instead of trees, an endless expanse of walls, doors and windows greets you. And except for the winding roads and parking woes, little else reminds you that you’re in the hills. The flood of tourists that throng its streets take away the quiet charm that once lured the Brits. All this and much more on these lines make me detest this city.

Ironically, a love stronger than this hatred exists in me, which draws me in. I curse one and all, the moment I enter the city limits, but once tucked in my room cosily, there is no better feeling. The endless abuse meted out to the hills here has failed to take away the peace that they bring.

Leave out The Mall; there still exist a few quiet roads that are best experienced on foot. These are beautiful walks and a wonderful way to explore this erstwhile summer capital of the British India. The light plays hide and seek as you walk through the deodars and the oaks. Perfect remedy to heal the soul.

Buildings from the time of the British still exude an old-world charm that is difficult to ignore. Even amidst the concrete jungle, they stand apart, on their own, with an elegance that can only be termed Royal. They stand in all their regality, reminding of an era gone by that shall not return. I call them ‘Time Machines’, for they bring the present to a stand still, and are the only one’s that can turn the clock’s hand to the left, giving you a taste of a world lost in time. Urging you to feel it in your bones and forcing you to imagine and experience what it must have felt like then. And lo! You are transported back in time to see the city in a different light, a light a hundred years old – minus the claustrophobic, lifeless concrete, add verdant hills; minus the pollution, and add the freshness and chill in the wind; minus the crowds, and add the calmness; minus the hate, and add the love.

And that is when I love this city like no other.

The latest Bollywood track plays. Something is not right. The puzzlement is over as the reverie is broken. It’s a mobile ringing. And lo! You are back in Shimla 2009.

And that is when I hate this city like no other!