I just returned from a trip to Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, and to Rohtak. That was the end of the month of February. Pune was burning in 37 degrees and Bombay was too humid for me to stay there any longer. It was fun to have a ferry ride to Elephanta caves with my daughter, in the Arabian Sea but was hard for me to agree to the heat.

Visit Bombay

My visit to Bombay, I will still call it Bombay as this is what rings the bell, was a memorable experience. My daughter, Tanwangi, who is studying there in the first year of the degree of Hotel Management, I am sure she would be a hardcore professional, took me around as an excellent Guide. She knows the city very well. This was my first visit to the Economic Powerhouse off India. I had heard a lot about it through Bollywood during my student life and was amazed to see all those famous names of the localities of Bombay. Collaba, Churchgate, Khar, Mahim, Worli, Gateway of India, Santa Cruz, Bandra, Marine Drive, and much more. This city used to be the third world for us and whenever someone talked about it our keenness was to know if he met some of the actors from Bollywood.

In Delhi and in Rohtak

A large crowd of people from various parts of India and abroad had gathered around Gateway of India. I enjoyed being there but one short visit was enough for me. Soon I took an overnight train to Delhi where I spent two days with a friend. The major reason to go to Delhi was to make a visit to the Travel and Tourism Fair. This year they had changed the venue from Pragati Maidan to Indira Gandhi Auditorium near the Income Tax Office.

It was a total flop show. I entered the grand hall and was surprised to see that all the participants got alert on their seats. Perhaps I was the only visitor to the exhibition. They took me as a customer whereas I was there to look for the customers for my business. I found no one and left it soon.

Photo Courtesy – Vishvjeet

The next morning a bus took me to Rohtak, the city where I had spent my youth and most of my student life. I never liked the city much but I still have some attraction for it as my best friend Vihvajeet lives there. It was his invitation for me to visit him as he just moved into the new house that he designed on his own. His mother told me that her husband had bought that land in the early sixties at the cost of rupees forty per square feet. I was stunned to know the rates. Now the cost of that lad is in millions. Vishvajeet’s wife and their two daughters now live there happily.

In Rohtak a sweater without sleeves was enough to keep yourself warm during the late hours of the day otherwise the day was warm.

Back to my Hills

And nowhere in the hills, we are still in heavy woolens whereas in the plains people have begun to wear tee-shirts. It snowed here last night, a bit but was enough to turn the weather around. The festival of Holi – the festival of colors is drawing near. People are worried about how to play Holi as a lot of water added with color is thrown on each other to have fun. In this cold weather, nobody wants any water to be thrown on him.

I remember a Holi of the decade of the eighties of my college days in Rohtak in Vishvajeets’s house. On that day of the festival, I and Rajesh, another friend of ours, climbed up to the rooftop on the second floor of Vishvajeet’s house to escape his newly married brother’s wife’s plans to paint us badly. As she arrived with her friends and all of them rushed towards us with their water balloons and buckets full of colored water, we thought of nothing and jumped from the roof to their courtyard. We landed on the ground, rolled a bit, got up, and next moment we rushed to the stairs leading to the rooftop, closed its, and put the latch. The girls got no chance to fulfill their wish and kept looking at us from the roof. Later we kept teasing them with our naughty mockery. Now that rooftop has been merged into the multistory apartment in which one of them Vishvajeet lives with his family.

The sky is overcast with cumulonimbus. It has been snowing here mixed with rain since last night and the temperature has dripped to 2 degrees centigrade. This is not unusual around the festival. Every year we expect to have clear weather around the festival but it goes with its own moods. In the plains, it is springtime and the students are having holidays after their final exams but here in Shimla, the schools have just opened with their new session. A crowd of parents is visiting the book shops and the uniform sellers to buy new books and uniforms for their children.

It is still cold in the hills

Rhododendron flowers are in full bloom. The road leading towards the Viceregal Lodge from Hotel Cecil offers a lovely view of the snow peaks at the far distant but soon my tourists get attracted to the flowers of rhododendrons. These high rising trees are a matter of attraction for them as in Europe they rather have shrubs of rhododendrons. They surprise on the information that we make squash of the flower petals. The petals are boiled and then the water is separated from them. In the water, we add essence and the preservative to protect the drink from the fungus. The healthy drink is the best to fight against the disorders of blood pressure.

The drizzling is good to get the dust settled. Electricity in Shimla is not a problem so sitting next to my electric heater with a book in my hand I look out of my window. Mist is rising up from the valley. Soon the landscape gets veiled. A wave of wind comes sweeps away the mist and suddenly treetops appear. The mist behind the trees appears like a cyclorama for this dramatic scene.

The dusk falls and the western sky becomes red. Tomorrow morning I have to go to the office of the Literary Academy. A function has to be held to review my latest book so I need their help to organize the function. I must prepare for my dinner and go to bed now.

Sumit Raj Vashisht

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