Sunday in Chandigarh !!
No great movies to be scoped , on the silver screen in Jagat -Neelam-Kiran or K.C !!
The Hills !
Lazy breakfast done , bikes and scooters topped up and the move towards the Hills would begin by noon .The overcrowded roads that confront us today were mere single tracks lined with trees that Pratap Singh Kairon – the Chief Minister of Punjab had planted to facilitate the movement of army troops in case of war ,with the neighbour .
There was no Panchkula – no Cantonment ,and getting to the Simla highway was merely a matter of minutes as there was no traffic , but for a few trucks from Himachal and a few buses and taxis plying the route .
We rode with our hair flowing in the breeze and with the wind in our faces , for the concept of helmets was simply non existent .There were no such things as traffic cops or speed controls , it was a time of total freedom and chill ,the likes of which only remains a memory ,compared to the road rage conditions that exist now .
The road would pass under the awesome sight of the stone carrying trolleys on the wire ,like cable cars ,carrying stone from the river bed of the Ghaggar to the cement factory in Surjapur . It was a mystical sight and would never fail to awe all those who saw it even for the nth time . The HMT factory would be city in the wilderness and the sight of the then dilapidated walls of Pinjore ,evoked visions of old Mughal emperors feasting and relaxing in the fabulously laid gardens ,then gone to seed .
Kalka was a quaint old town with dark and dingy mysterious shops ,which all carried signage that indicated that the owners were brothers or fathers and sons ,running their establishments . Even to this day those sign boards still exist — Gainda Mull Hem Raj , Ram Lal Om Parkash , Swaran Singh Pritam Singh and many more . The new bypass has stolen this memory from those who now foray to the hills .
Beer and Pickle at Dhalli was a staple , and you could find the father of an illustrious – present day cricketer , sitting drinking beer in his open Wileys jeep . with his cronies .There was no Timber Trail – no Cable Car , just a virgin mountain side ,and the only place one could do a picnic would be at the Guest House at Koti. The roads would be devoid of traffic , and if one turned off the engines of the bikes and scooters, one could hear the river in the valley below .
The railway crossing where the pine line would begin would suddenly be a cooler place ,as the temperature would drop suddenly and the smell of the pines would be a heady mix to the wind whistling in the pines .Gathering pine cones would be a tradition , for reasons I still cannot fathom – but we just did it – every single time . Some would bring them back and paint them and put them in their window sills , to remind them of the foray , to the hills.
This point would be the optimum , one would venture up to , as there was nothing to do any further , as there was no Gianis or Modern dhabas , no dhabas at Sanwara , no khokas offering edibles . It was pure and simple rustic nature at its unspoilt best . The silence of the hills was a golden reflection of the sunset that would cast its hue over the hills, as we would ride back on empty roads and feel contended at a day well spent.
These are all gone now !
You have experienced the present day scenario – takes little to highlight the mess it is now !
Traffic – drunken brawlers – bad drivers and road rage and more !
I am sorry you missed , what is now a fabulous memory for those who were lucky to have been a part of the Hills of yore .
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