‘This is My Shimla. Why do I call it My Shimla? Simple, because this is mine’. These are the opening line of the introduction of the book ‘Shimla Days’ authored by Sumit Raj Vashisht. Sumit, a local writer is passionate about penning hill life. Having born here Shimla is his first crush and the mountains flow in his veins with his blood.
He says that the words about the stories from Shimla emerge from his mind as the steam emerges from the boiling water and the warmth from the fire. Once, as a child he had got lost at the Mall Road. And now he writes, ‘That was nearly forty years ago and now when I walk through this busy street, still meant only for the pedestrians, twice or thrice a day and every time I get lost’.
Shimla Days is his forth book. Once again this Master story-teller is here with a bunch of some real tales from his hometown. A collection of short stories, a few memories from his childhood habitat – a railway quarter just below the Shimla railway station, something about the wildlife around Shimla and a few tales about the spine chillers of this, as he calls it, A British Himalayan Town.
The book talks about the characters of some of his days in Shimla that he spent during his childhood. Shimla has been famous for some of its interesting but eerie figures – the Ghosts. Sumit has a different opinion about them, ‘I never heard them harming anyone except one or two. They either asked for a help or extend some help to those who were in trouble. Those who asked for help actually made people nervous with their sudden appearance and finally they had to melt away’.
Shimla has always attracted various writers, painters and artists. Many of them moved out of it and reached the starry heights. But, ‘There have been some people in Shimla with an unusual spirit. They were famous for their different character; funny, miraculous, artistic, strange or mysterious. But surprisingly no one ever mentioned about the characters of modern era. Those were simple, and some of them even belonged to the labor class or the lower class of the society but they earned great fame among the residents of Shimla that they simply can’t be ignored’.
A chapter in the book is dedicated to the wandering leopards of Shimla hills. ‘Although Kaana Biraagh had never attacked any human but, was a terror in that region. Well that was his forest and we were the intruders, so we had to be careful.
Another chapter deals with the tales about the Mall Road and at the end Sumit awaits for your response on his book. So he does not forget to tell you how to send him a word of thanks.