Shimla hides many charms. One of them is creeping out of the cozy quilt on a chilly Sunday morning, walking through the shadowy roads and walking towards the sun-kissed hill tops. Many can find this charm alone; lesser souls like me need some company to make this effort worthwhile. Coaxing a lazy person to do this Herculean task is, well, Herculean. But when you coax a senior person to accompany you, you better make sure you are there on time. That requires a fidgety sleep waiting for the early alarm on the cellphone in the morning, and then getting ready with a stomach-full of maggi – the bachelor man’s best friend (after internet).
My companion is a veteran on the streets of Shimla. I am told he has a team of like-minded enthusiasts who are in the habit of jumping out the quilts on chilly Sunday mornings – my, my…just what I needed to evolve beyond Homo Sapiens.
This day we planned on hiking to Jakhu, a small Kali temple on top of a hill that has seen all kinds of monkeys and British folks from the earliest days. The British left Shimla to chaos; monkeys remain. Jakhu is a temple for Kali, also called Shyamala (or, the dark one) – I am told Shyamala gave us the name Shimla, earlier called Simla. We decided to make our way up from the outer Mall Road, diverting from the right fork from the Rahat Hotel. We walked beyond the SP residence, the Radha Soami camp, the BSNL office, and then to Jakhu hilltop. I couldn’t see much of birds, and my deaf ears could make very little of the birdsong going on around us. But the sweet company, and the little exercise made my day.