Evening on the Mall

Being all alone these days in Shimla, am back to my favorite pastime of watching people in the evening. I try not to be intrusive but just observe the happenings around. My day or the evening starts at the Shiv Mandir just below the Mall. After darshan the babas sitting outside do not even look at me as I take out the chillars, normally the 1 rupee coin. This is a daily chore to relieve the wallet of the loose change. The best part of this temple I like is the self service feel to it. You do the darshan, collect the parsad yourself and there is no priest standing and looking down at you.

Coming back on the Mall, a round till the Toys shop and a dekko at the Asia Book House for a look at the latest best sellers. This place used to be a great store house of books, magazine and greeting cards. Now no one reads books and sends greetings using the postal mail. The shop has turned into a stationary shop. Their pen sales must be more than all the books combined. Thank god technology still has not taken pen, pencil, writing book from the class room away. There is a decent collection of best sellers from both fiction and non-fiction. The prices are prohibitive though as they sell mostly the international editions with prices mentioned in pounds and dollars. I remember back in college days, I would marvel at all the books. The prices were too steep for my pocket money then which was not even $5. The cover price would give me heart attack. After selecting a book, my hunt would take me at the Sunday market where I would find the same book in the following weeks at one tenth the original price. Now a days, I only find school and college guide books in the Sunday market. Either people have stopped buying books or seldom sell those books, like myself!

Out of the book shop and a glance at the Barista filled with all the PYT and HDG (handsome dashing guys) it is time for a cup of coffee at the Baljees. This place is more relaxed now as earlier it used to be a Barista for the youngsters. Now you get a table easily in the evening. The food is decent, nothing to rave about but the place is good enough for my sensibility. They play the satellite radio old hindi film songs. The owner Mrs. Baljees keep a tab with a CC TV installed at all corners. This is a perfect place for observing people. In evening hours you find the deals being stuck with the babus to get the file moving in the office. The local MLA visits this place regularly and there is a big crowd at his corner table. You have Bengali tourists visiting this place these days. The wife is talking about the shawl she saw in one of the shops and the husband telling her to forget it as it is just waste of money. “You not going to use a shawl in Kolkata”. Some more brooding and then a compromise being reached, “We will get one from Darjeeling as it is cheaper their.” All this is in chaste Bengali and here my four years stint in the City of Joy comes handy as I am quite conversant in the Bhadralok bhasha. Then there are the occasional foreigners nibbling a sandwich and reading all about Shimla in their holy book, The Lonely Planet. Though the first thing they check is all the below 300 rupee hotels listed.

The best part of leaving Baljees is the commotion of paying the bill. As soon as one guy picks up the bill, the other three try and snatch it from him. Two of the three are reluctant actors and there effort is just for the sake of the act. The other two are now wrestling with the piece of paper. Suddenly one guy takes out the wallet and asks the waiter, “Kitna hua?” and hands over the 100 rupee note. Seeing this the other guy pulls the money back from the waiter and instead hands him over his note. Very very funny indeed!! This scene is enacted at least three times over my cup of coffee.

Scandel point is a dampner these days. Remember the tall burly bunch of policemen with the best moustache in the entire force manning this corner. They are all gone and instead there are these chocolate policemen with a new uniform. These boys, they don’t look like men, I would rather call them chikna, as they call in Mumbai lingo. Gone is the elegannce of the khakhi and the big turban with red and white border. Instead these chaps look like the band-baja types in the new uniform. My 20 month old kid goes upto one of them clutching his leg! In my childhood I would get scared just looking at those big moustache and parents would put fear of those men for I being absolutely naughty on the Mall.

Coming back home the Chicken soup-boiled aandey chap is tending to his business, rather brisk business. The horsemen on the Ridge give me company back home and the cows too trudge along through Lakkar Bazaar. It is when all the cows and horses return home that I too find my way back. The family is away in Kotgarh these days so it is a milk and sandwich for dinner.  The house misses the chirpyness of the little one. Sitting on computer is not fun anymore. I miss the mails getting deleted, the keys going missing, my phone getting lost, the walls becoming drawing board. I find it irritating finding things exactly where I left them last evening! Infact I miss the overall dis-order of the house.

So what has been keeping me off from the blog these days. Work of course and then I am catching up with all the reading as I have all the solitude. I am reading a mamoth 933 page Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. I have finished 700 pages and am inching towards the end now. I shall be updating you with my visit to Dalhousie and Dharamshala very soon, once the madness of the house resumes as it helps me concentrate on my thoughts in a proper fashion.

Wishing every one a great Dushhera. Let us all burn the Ravan within and leave this place a better one for our kids!

Pic Courtsey

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28 Responses to "Evening on the Mall"

  1. Chris Moran   October 8, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Nice writing style. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

    Reply
  2. Chris Moran   October 8, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Nice writing style. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

    Reply
  3. Mridula   October 9, 2008 at 7:43 am

    I have not made it to Shimla. Though I have been to Chail but through your post it feels as if I know a little about the place already.

    Reply
  4. Mridula   October 9, 2008 at 1:43 am

    I have not made it to Shimla. Though I have been to Chail but through your post it feels as if I know a little about the place already.

    Reply
  5. Pingback: A quiet life in Shimla at Blogbharti

  6. viplav   October 11, 2008 at 3:30 am

    I have statted to hate you

    u work from home, live in city u like and have time to blog…which is now featured on blogbharti.

    keep up the good work man

    Reply
  7. viplav   October 10, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    I have statted to hate you

    u work from home, live in city u like and have time to blog…which is now featured on blogbharti.

    keep up the good work man

    Reply
  8. arvind   October 15, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    hi! i was in shimla on 9th oct.in fact had been to chail & thought i must visit shimla for 3rd time ! last time i visited shimla was when i visited nahaldehra! i traveled from kandaghat thru train.i could not get place in 9 o clock train & had to travel by 10.15 holiday special in 2nd class, tightly packed with bengalis. i felt as if i was traveling in bengal!!

    the ridge was full of tourist & it seems with passing years more & more tourist are flocking to shimla! when i first visited this place in 2000, I would hang out entire day on the ridge, i was so in love with this place.the (only) shop on the ridge used to sell lovely “espresso” -indian ver. coffee. they today don’t sell coffee anymore rather all sorts of juices & drinks, ice cream are sold here. the salesperson doesn’t care much about you except collect money & deliver the goods.

    there were benches at 2-3 places in terraced fashion. I could not spot them anymore. there was another shop selling ice cream on the opposite side.the whole ridge was jam packed. earlier it used be full of people from Punjab & Delhi but now it seems, the masses from all over India has swamped this place robbing the beauty of this place! then there are horse man luring kids with horse ride. but what has ot changed over the years is the digital display on the ridge advertising Indian oil! earlier it used to display current temperature & time but this time it seemed there was more things to advertise than the temperature & time.there is a new path to mall adjacent to gufa restaurant which has been done up in a nice fashion.

    on mall gaiety theater was closed for renovation. there’s barista & cafe coffee day. there are quite a lot of brand stores of garments, but still one can spot many old shops that have been in business for years.one of them even showed picture of shimla in late 1800’s.

    shimla has been close to my heart amongst all the hill stations i have visited – i don’t know why! probably some mystic charm.but it seems that its changing. I don’t know whether it’ll retain its place or lose to some other, because it wants to join the list of “other” cities! after all why would i want to visit barista in shimla when i am already sick of it in my city? but i still enjoyed having lovely pastry on the mall (of course not the pricy ones that are sold on CCD’s & barista’s)!

    Reply
  9. arvind   October 15, 2008 at 7:16 am

    hi! i was in shimla on 9th oct.in fact had been to chail & thought i must visit shimla for 3rd time ! last time i visited shimla was when i visited nahaldehra! i traveled from kandaghat thru train.i could not get place in 9 o clock train & had to travel by 10.15 holiday special in 2nd class, tightly packed with bengalis. i felt as if i was traveling in bengal!!

    the ridge was full of tourist & it seems with passing years more & more tourist are flocking to shimla! when i first visited this place in 2000, I would hang out entire day on the ridge, i was so in love with this place.the (only) shop on the ridge used to sell lovely “espresso” -indian ver. coffee. they today don’t sell coffee anymore rather all sorts of juices & drinks, ice cream are sold here. the salesperson doesn’t care much about you except collect money & deliver the goods.

    there were benches at 2-3 places in terraced fashion. I could not spot them anymore. there was another shop selling ice cream on the opposite side.the whole ridge was jam packed. earlier it used be full of people from Punjab & Delhi but now it seems, the masses from all over India has swamped this place robbing the beauty of this place! then there are horse man luring kids with horse ride. but what has ot changed over the years is the digital display on the ridge advertising Indian oil! earlier it used to display current temperature & time but this time it seemed there was more things to advertise than the temperature & time.there is a new path to mall adjacent to gufa restaurant which has been done up in a nice fashion.

    on mall gaiety theater was closed for renovation. there’s barista & cafe coffee day. there are quite a lot of brand stores of garments, but still one can spot many old shops that have been in business for years.one of them even showed picture of shimla in late 1800’s.

    shimla has been close to my heart amongst all the hill stations i have visited – i don’t know why! probably some mystic charm.but it seems that its changing. I don’t know whether it’ll retain its place or lose to some other, because it wants to join the list of “other” cities! after all why would i want to visit barista in shimla when i am already sick of it in my city? but i still enjoyed having lovely pastry on the mall (of course not the pricy ones that are sold on CCD’s & barista’s)!

    Reply
  10. Himanshu khagta   October 17, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    “They are all gone and instead there are these chocolate policemen with a new uniform. These boys, they don’t look like men, I would rather call them chikna”

    Lol! described them very well.

    I used to get up early at around 5 am and walk all the way from Chotta Shimla to the Ridge to get some good shots of the local dogs, lost in their own thoughts, sleeping without any worries. After the photo session, hot tea at Verma Sweets and then I would be found sitting on the bench right in front of ICICI bank’s ATM where people would never notice me looking at them.

    Reply
  11. NITYIN   October 28, 2008 at 9:26 am

    @Chris – Thanks!

    @Mridula – You’ll love here in Shimla these days.. with the winters settling in.

    @Viplav – He..he..he.. Witty as ever!!

    @Arvind – Thanks for your thoughts.. Shimla eventually takes you in its spell.

    @Himanshu – Nice pics! These days the dogs can be found in front of the Christ Church early up in the morning.

    Reply
  12. NITYIN   October 28, 2008 at 3:26 am

    @Chris – Thanks!

    @Mridula – You’ll love here in Shimla these days.. with the winters settling in.

    @Viplav – He..he..he.. Witty as ever!!

    @Arvind – Thanks for your thoughts.. Shimla eventually takes you in its spell.

    @Himanshu – Nice pics! These days the dogs can be found in front of the Christ Church early up in the morning.

    Reply
  13. Saroj Thakur   November 1, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    I enjoyed every bit of the description that you have written so well. I literally prayed at the Shiva temple and had a cup of steaming coffee at the Baljees! I missed Shimla all the more after reading this post. Keep us posted.

    Reply
  14. Saroj Thakur   November 1, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    I enjoyed every bit of the description that you have written so well. I literally prayed at the Shiva temple and had a cup of steaming coffee at the Baljees! I missed Shimla all the more after reading this post. Keep us posted.

    Reply
  15. Saroj Thakur   November 1, 2008 at 6:18 am

    I enjoyed every bit of the description that you have written so well. I literally prayed at the Shiva temple and had a cup of steaming coffee at the Baljees! I missed Shimla all the more after reading this post. Keep us posted.

    Reply
  16. NITYIN   November 1, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    @Saroj ji – Thanks for dropping in. Glad you liked it here.

    Reply
  17. NITYIN   November 1, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    @Saroj ji – Thanks for dropping in. Glad you liked it here.

    Reply
  18. Neetika   November 6, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Your writings are always such a pleasure to read, even if I am reading them for the nth time.
    Mall you describe is just so close to the Mall I knew, not the new “Maul” but the plane old “Maal road” where DCAR was a holy shop, always to be visited by every self respecting khadu, and Himani’s was the next best thing to gaiety theatre.
    With every visit back home, I get more and more alientated…. Although change is good, and inevitable, but producing carbon copies of the metros is a tad too much to bear, even my own cousins seems unrecognisable, they are more “cosmopolitan” than i could ever imagine myself to be.

    Reply
  19. Neetika   November 6, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Your writings are always such a pleasure to read, even if I am reading them for the nth time.
    Mall you describe is just so close to the Mall I knew, not the new “Maul” but the plane old “Maal road” where DCAR was a holy shop, always to be visited by every self respecting khadu, and Himani’s was the next best thing to gaiety theatre.
    With every visit back home, I get more and more alientated…. Although change is good, and inevitable, but producing carbon copies of the metros is a tad too much to bear, even my own cousins seems unrecognisable, they are more “cosmopolitan” than i could ever imagine myself to be.

    Reply
  20. Neetika   November 6, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Your writings are always such a pleasure to read, even if I am reading them for the nth time.
    Mall you describe is just so close to the Mall I knew, not the new “Maul” but the plane old “Maal road” where DCAR was a holy shop, always to be visited by every self respecting khadu, and Himani’s was the next best thing to gaiety theatre.
    With every visit back home, I get more and more alientated…. Although change is good, and inevitable, but producing carbon copies of the metros is a tad too much to bear, even my own cousins seems unrecognisable, they are more “cosmopolitan” than i could ever imagine myself to be.

    Reply
  21. Vikas   November 19, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    It as been a long ( Very Long . . . . . . ) time since I have left Simla . Missing the strolls on the Maal . . .

    Recently I visited Simla during Diwali & was surprised to see the changing attitude of the Maal. New shops with latest brands have come up & the old & beautifull attire of the Maal is getting . . . ? ? ? The Maal with which we have grown up & the fond memories of the childhood which we used to cherish is no longer there and the young generation treats you as if u r an alien. Walk through Lakkar bazzar to the ridge is Ok but the ridge is now being neglected and is sinking & nothing being done to save it. As u pass the ridge new building of the Gaiety theature comes up. This is first of the changing attitude of Simla. Scandal Point greets with the evergreen HPTDC counter. Stroll on the Maal now Maul greets u. The age old Phililps shop is is no longer there, it has been converted into the the Allen Solley Brand Shop. Move forward the WoodLand store has come up. The Famous Chat shops are still there. The New DCAR shoppe has come up & the new Gainda Mull Hum Raaj greets u. Kali studio has been replaced with the Airtel Relationship Centre & lift greets u up with the new Lal & Sons & Samsung store. Clarkes is as good as ever, the next Simla club is great to see.

    The changing face of Simla to Shimla can be seen very clearly & the childhood memories dimnish . . .

    Reply
  22. Vikas   November 19, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    It as been a long ( Very Long . . . . . . ) time since I have left Simla . Missing the strolls on the Maal . . .

    Recently I visited Simla during Diwali & was surprised to see the changing attitude of the Maal. New shops with latest brands have come up & the old & beautifull attire of the Maal is getting . . . ? ? ? The Maal with which we have grown up & the fond memories of the childhood which we used to cherish is no longer there and the young generation treats you as if u r an alien. Walk through Lakkar bazzar to the ridge is Ok but the ridge is now being neglected and is sinking & nothing being done to save it. As u pass the ridge new building of the Gaiety theature comes up. This is first of the changing attitude of Simla. Scandal Point greets with the evergreen HPTDC counter. Stroll on the Maal now Maul greets u. The age old Phililps shop is is no longer there, it has been converted into the the Allen Solley Brand Shop. Move forward the WoodLand store has come up. The Famous Chat shops are still there. The New DCAR shoppe has come up & the new Gainda Mull Hum Raaj greets u. Kali studio has been replaced with the Airtel Relationship Centre & lift greets u up with the new Lal & Sons & Samsung store. Clarkes is as good as ever, the next Simla club is great to see.

    The changing face of Simla to Shimla can be seen very clearly & the childhood memories dimnish . . .

    Reply
  23. NITYIN   November 26, 2008 at 11:04 am

    @Neetika – Glad you mentioned it here. The mall here looks like any other Gurgaon Maul..!!

    @Vikas – Liked this one – the childhood memories dimnish.. There has been a generational change and the grandson has taken over at the ol Philips. So now you find the Allen Solley there and the same third generation Nanda has taken over the Kali Studio and running a Airtel ARC now. Clarkes and the Simla Club still hold the memories of the ol Simla. I wonder, till how long?

    Reply
  24. NITYIN   November 26, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    @Neetika – Glad you mentioned it here. The mall here looks like any other Gurgaon Maul..!!

    @Vikas – Liked this one – the childhood memories dimnish.. There has been a generational change and the grandson has taken over at the ol Philips. So now you find the Allen Solley there and the same third generation Nanda has taken over the Kali Studio and running a Airtel ARC now. Clarkes and the Simla Club still hold the memories of the ol Simla. I wonder, till how long?

    Reply
  25. HUNNY SHARMA   June 2, 2009 at 7:03 am

    There has been a generational change and the grandson has taken over at the ol Philips. So now you find the Allen Solley there and the same third generation Nanda has taken over the Kali Studio and running a Airtel ARC now. Clarkes and the Simla Club still hold the memories of the ol Simla. I wonder, till how long?

    Posted by HUNNY SHARMA, 2009 MAY, 4:34 pm

    Reply
  26. HUNNY SHARMA   June 2, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    There has been a generational change and the grandson has taken over at the ol Philips. So now you find the Allen Solley there and the same third generation Nanda has taken over the Kali Studio and running a Airtel ARC now. Clarkes and the Simla Club still hold the memories of the ol Simla. I wonder, till how long?

    Posted by HUNNY SHARMA, 2009 MAY, 4:34 pm

    Reply

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