I love to drone our pahari traditional dress, kurta-sutan and saluka, (kurta-a long shirt, sutan-pyjama, saluka-sleevless jacket) for either local/family functions at Kotgarh and while visiting Rampur Bushehar for shopping trips. Rampur Bushehar has one of the best markets in Shimla hills with almost everything under the sun available at very reasonable prices. A trip to Rampur is inevitable after every quarter as things need to be replinshed at home.
The traditional kurta-sutan is ideal for the hot weather at Rampur where the temprature hoovers above 30 degrees. The dress makes going around the shops and bargaining a lot comfortable in the heat. This time I visited Rampur after almost a year. Dressed in my best pahari attire, I was into some shock. I was among the very few dressed in the traditional. Almost everyone was in the shirt trouser mode. I earlier felt comfortable mingling in the crowds wearing the traditional. By way of dressing, it is difficult to guess from which area the person belongs to. But a simple hello can tell easily by the dialect whether one is from Seraj or from Rampur tehsil or from Kotgarh.
It was as if I had landed at some alien place. The regular shopkeepers did greet me with warmth and enquired about my long absence. Mercifully, it was a hot cup of tea which was offered as I was dreading that the hospitality norms would have also changed and I may be offered Coke or Pepsi.
Rampur is a mix of tradition and now emerging into the world of modernity. Best deals you can get for grocery shopping is at the Ram Krishan Jeeva Ram. Another old hand Nandi, who used to sell grocery sitting on a mat has started a new modern self service super store with a dash of mall experience thrown in. The old shop is still there which suited me perfect. An old friend who had started an internet cafe have now converted his place into a snack-bar joint offering pizza, burger, momo and thupkas. Just went in to say hello and was treated with some rap music blaring across. Missed the old calm of the only internet cafe in Rampur.
Jugal Kishore Santosh Kumar, the oldest cloth merchants have changed the interiors and instead of cloth shop it is an emporium now. The shop is full of readymade garments for all age and seasons. A small portion of the store still have the cloth section but the choice is few and limited. For ages, this shop was the favorite to buy cloth for the family. Remembring old days, Grand dad during winters used to buy cloth for the family and it would be transported back home by the Gurkhas as the nearest bus stop was 11 km away then.
The tailor used to be engaged for a month stitching these clothes. Now this man was a store house of all the gossip around the village. The month would pass with so much gossip getting circulated around. Bought my first gift to my then sweatheart and now throned wife at this shop. What memories!
Coming back, ATMs drone the market area. You have the SBI and PNB ATMs on the NH just opposite to each other. HDFC Bank has a full branch operating in Rampur. So no more money worries. Rampur is full of motor repair shops and vehicles of all kind can be repaired. Mahindra has a full fledged showroom and Maruti has two authorised service centres. Rampur has decent restaurants and hotels but I prefer the HPTDC Satluj cafe for its view. The food is nothing great to write about and the service sloppy. Old timers used to crave for the sweets of Thissu Halwai but since the old man is no more, the sons have taken the easier way out and sell the packed Lovely sweets from Jullandhar. Not worth even a visit.
Rampur is well connected by HRTC network. Direct buses ply as far as to Haridwar, Delhi, Jammu, Chandigarh, Ambala Cantt. Dharamsala, Chintpurni and Manali via the Jallori Pass. Haryana Roadways also plies it buses from Delhi and Ambala.
Returning back home, I was not sure whether to be happy with all the ‘progress’ made by this small town. Anything which let us shed our traditions, I do not agree with such progress. Or I think, I am just another sentimental fool who was wishing to find the same town I had visited a year back. Life had certainly moved in this one year!