The first time I visited a hill station was five years back when I was just six years old, and we went to Shimla. This programme was made during the summer vacations when all of us children had our summer vacations.
I did wonder how, a hill station could be any different from any other town that I had seen. All the time my thoughts took flights and wondered what it would be like up there on the hills.
Would we be on a mountain peak, and if so, how would we live there how could houses be made on the peaks of mountains, how could there be roads for movement on the tops of mountains. A galaxy of such awkward questions continued to arise in my mind ever since I heard that we were going to Shimla in the vacations.
At last the D-Day came, it was the 18th of May in 1994 and oh, there was such great excitement from the morning though the train called the Kalka Mail was to leave Delhi at night at 9 p.m. It was not only I, but my elder brother and sister also seemed to be very excited about the trip though they had seen the town at an earlier trip when I was rather small.
Since they had been to Shimla before from the early hours of the morning, I started a volley of questions at them. I asked them as to how the train would move up the hill slopes, will we be safe in that train, what will we do there, and above all, what will be the difference between Delhi and that town of Shimla. These questions and many more I flung unabated at my elder sister and brother till at last they scolded me and asked me to wait and see it all by myself.
After a long wait through the day, night came and we left for the station to catch the Kalka Mail, which we boarded at 8.45 p.m. The train was like any other train and I was disappointed in my mind as, I had expected a difference from the very train.
In the morning we reached Kalka, and lo! And behold! This was also like any other town, so now my spirits were as if quite dampened as, I started believing that there was going to be no new experience.
We took our breakfast at Kalka and then took a taxi to Shimla. Now the experience was to start little did I know this? I was excited to see that the taxi, instead of moving on a straight road as in Delhi, was continuously winding round and round hills. The roads were very good tarred ones like ours in Delhi with the great difference of having huge hillsides on one side and, deep khuds and gorges on the other.
This sight did frighten me a little as, I realised even at that young age that, either side was danger if we do not move carefully. Though my excitement knew no bounds yet, I dare say that at times the scene did give me the creeps and my heart missed beats especially when I saw the very deep gorges. My next surprise came when we reached the town of Shimla and found it no different to any other town or for that matter even Delhi. This was because once at Shimla one did not feel the difference of the layout of that town and any other.
At this time, my immediate question to my mother was that, when this town is just like any other, why did we at all come here? She told me that we had gone there because at that time of the year while Delhi is very hot, Shimla is cool and pleasant. Mummy told me that thousands of people come to Shimla and other hill stations in the summer months to avoid the heat of their own towns.
To this answer, I remember the obvious question I flung at my mother. I asked her why; towns on hills which are closer to the sky and the heating sun are cooler than the towns further away from the sun. At this she was happy that I did have the power to think and replied to me that, the answer to this question of mine will be answered to me when I reach a senior class.
After this series of questions my mind was finally put to rest and now, I started enjoying my stay. I started enjoying the cool of the weather and the pleasant breezes of the hills. Every day we would go out for long walks and I realised that there, we did not get as tired as we get in Delhi. This was because of the weather I think.
The houses there are made with sloping roofs, which is because there is snowfall in the winter months, and the snow just gets blown off the roof and if the roof would be flat like ours in Delhi the snow would just accumulate on it and, with the weight of the snow the roof could collapse in time. The shopping complexes in the town were as good as those in Delhi and the roads very neat and clean.
There is no congestion on the roads as, cars and other vehicles are not allowed in the town that is why there is no pollution, no traffic jam and no crowding on the roads. The major difference I found there was, in its people. The hill people I felt were a very sweet and simple crowd, they were very beautiful and of course, very hard working. The air there was clean, the people good and the atmosphere charged with calm and quiet.
There we visited several places, the names of which I have even forgotten by now. The only special thing I remember about the outings there was that, no matter where we went we had to walk on slopes, slight or steep, there was no conveyance except horseback or man-pulled rickshaws. This again fascinated me though I did wonder how men could pull rickshaws and further more how able bodied people could sit on them with ease and comfort. This was my first trip to a hill station, i.e. Shimla and that is all I can recollect about it now.