British Tourists

Rhododendrons in the hills are in full bloom. This is going to be the end of the tourist season now as the European tourists will stop coming during the summer. Now the next season will begin in the month of September. For the whole of the season, I have been taking some of my British tourists on Day Walks in Shimla. The snow peaks at the distance to the North are clearly visible. The deep blue sky leaves a different impact on me. Here breaks the day and the light begins to enter my room through my window. The laughing thrush tweets on the oaks and a monkey descends to my balcony. I can feel some signs of life outside.

Winter has been fairly long this year. In the plains perhaps all the fans have begun to twirl but here in the hills, we are still wearing woolens. The quilt is an essential part of the bed and a hot cup of tea is always welcome. The presence of chillness in the weather touches the skin. In the morning one wants to wear a heavy sweater but as the day advances the warmth of the sun shawls around the body and we take off the sweaters and hang them around our waist or around our neck.

Headmaster’s Zoo

This is the best time to go for a walk through a forest. It is better to start early as some flocks of pheasants might welcome me. This season many interesting people came here and went around with me, walking through the woods or to the Cemeteries or just hiking to a hilltop.

One was Mark Slater whose Great Grand Father was the first Headmaster of Bishop Cotton School. He had joined the school in 1856 and continued for the next twenty-three years. When we reached school, the Headmaster Mr. Robinson welcomed us to his house, located within the premises. A round of the school, escorted by the Headmaster, was the real introduction to the history of the school. Mr. Robinson is known in Shimla for his heavy voice, thick mustaches, nine dogs, a large number of pheasants, and a few rabbits kept in the cages on the rear side of his house. Headmaster’s Zoo, as the students call it, was the best part of the visit.

Alan and Pat

Another British couple was Alan Braithwait and his wife Pat. Alan’s Grand Father was the Home Minister to the Viceroy and his parents had got married in the Chapel of the Viceregal Lodge. Alan wished to visit the houses called Ava Lodge and Barnes Court. It was easy for me to arrange a visit to Ava Lodge as it is now being used as Law College but to visit Barnes Court was a great challenge as the building now houses the official residence of the Governor of the state. A phone call to the ADC to the Governor solved the problem. We reached there in time and were escorted to take a round of the house. The visit was followed by a cup of tea and then Alan wished to try his hand on snooker laying in the house. He enjoyed.

Happy Bush

It was fun to guide Christopher Emptage and his wife. Affectionately they are known as Grand Father Chicken and Nana Magic, respectively, by their granddaughters. Nana Magic because she tells magical stories to them and taught them how to find a Happy Bush when they wanted to look for a place to pee in the forest. She said that when they pee near the bush, the bush becomes happy so is called Happy Bush. And Grand Father Chicken because Chris has lots of chicken at home.

Phill, Gill, Rolf and Helen

The most interesting were Phill Levy his wife Gill Levy and their friends, Rolf and Helen. All of them, big-sized Brits, walked with me to Chadwick Falls and then continued to the Art Gallery. Lunch at the gallery organized by the artist, Him Chatterjee, and his wife Anvita Chatterjee, was the highlight of their visit to India.

The trail that leads to Chadwick Fall, through the forest around Potter Hill, is full of birdlife. Gill and Helen hugged me when I said that in birds male is more beautiful than a female whereas in humans it is the reverse case. I was thrilled.

Unregreatful Clients

Frankly speaking and bluntly telling, most of the time I try to avoid guiding Indians, and that is due to their indiscipline and unpunctual schedule. But sometimes there are strong recommendations so it is hard to ignore. The worst of the sightseeing experiences this year was waiting for an Indian Punjabi family in the lounge of Hotel Cecil for one and half hours. They had asked to start at 11 am and I was there fifteen minutes before, as usual. At 11 am they were yet to start their breakfast. After sending repeated messages finally a dark-complexioned thin Sardar Ji appeared in the lounge with his similar-sized wife and two kids at 12.30 pm, apologizing to me for their late arrival. The woman was not regretful about her unpunctual schedule as she felt that she was on holiday. So she had the right to keep me waiting. The wither tourist season is over. The town is going to suffer from the arrival of Indian tourists. The Mall Road and the Ridge are going to be turned into rubbish bins. So, now I am getting prepared myself for my forthcoming Village Walking Tours in the Himalayan foothills.

Written by

Written by

Sumit Raj

Better known as Summit is the founder of Shimla Walks and a qualified tourism professional from Delhi University. Summit is a published author with six books to his credit, now. His seventh on titled as ‘Shimla Walks’ is on the way and to be released soon. Summit loves Himalaya and says that ‘Mountains travel in his veins with blood’. One of his books that he wrote on Kalka Shimla Railway, named as A Journey to Shimla – by Toy Train can be read on Kindle. Contact Him : +917018703170, +91 9459519620

WhatsApp : +91 7018703170

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