By: VARUN RATTAN SINGH
It was yesterday that my mother told me that it was raining heavily in Dharamshala. The Dhauladhar range was covered with snow and cold wind was sweeping the whole of northern India including Himachal. My thoughts immediately went back to the good old days when the whole family would be sitting around an angithi enjoying a cup of Kangra valley tea. I still remember how my mother described conditions for a snowfall. In her words “there is a complete stillness and mesmerising silence which indicates the advent of a snowfall”.
How many times have I waited for that moment to see the white powder falling on my face? This might sound filmy but I have always dreamt of standing on the top of the Dhauladhar’s with open arms trying to catch the snow flakes falling from above. Call it my bad luck or karma, I have never been so lucky to see snow falling in front of me. nvariably it used to be the nights whenever snow fall happened in lower Dharamshala and it was my mother who used to wake me up asking me to come out my cosy bed to see the white carpet spread around us.
It is these small things which make one feel attracted to the place which I once used to call as home. Truly speaking it is my travels around the country which make me realise that what a beautiful place I have come from. People around the world value it for giving refuge to the Tibetans. Many come to Dharamshala to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Still many turn up to celebrate their newly formalised marriages. I know a couple from Delhi who started their courtship when they accidentally met in one of their sojourns in Mcledoganj. Every year, people from all across the world travel to Dharamshala and enjoy its natural beauty. Be it a Rabbi from Israel, a backpacker from USA, a paraglider from France, a trekking expedition from Australia or youngsters from Punjab looking for a weekend break. The hill station has in store something for everybody. It is the arrival of people from diverse regions and myriad experiences that makes Dharamshala a unique melting pot where cultures and civilizations merge.
This combination of breathtaking natural scenery of the Himalayas and the people coming in from various backgrounds makes Dharamshala unique in its own ways. In Mcledoganj one will find shops selling German bakery, Ludhiana made woollens, Israeli restaurants and Tibetan Handicrafts. In a restaurant run by an Indian, you will enjoy the Tibetan delicacies such as Momos, Thukpa and Gyathuk. On the neighbouring table you may find a social science researcher from Brazil devouring an Israeli Falafel with Himachal made apple wine. In the narrow bylanes you will find all kinds of posters put up by Tibetan activists asking China to Free Tibet to bunch of entrepreneurs promoting Kerala Ayurvedic massage therapy in the Himalayas. For those seeking peace, tranquillity and solitude there are temperate forest surrounding Mcledoganj. During the tourist season, evenings become very happening in this small town. There are miniature versions of multiplexes showing pirated versions of movies such as Casino Royale to Guru. You can find small bands representing various countries doing a charity show to raise money for the Tibetan cause.
In the tourism trade many a times what is lost is the culture of the host community. Probably it is more western views which attract the youth in the town. It maybe brings a kind of spirit for exploration which gets embodied earlier in the youngsters. So they want to travel far away seeking employment, education or just adventure. It is like young birds that leave their nests never to come back. Year after year the same trend is followed. Sometimes I fear that in times to come their might not be youngsters left in the town. Than a thought comes, how can we stop this? What can an educated young person like us do in the hills? Our elders wisdom says travel far and don’t ever come back. Our friends by their virtue believe careers are to be made in cities. I am yet to find an answer to these questions. Is it the fear of failure which is stopping us or is it the charms of luxurious life in our polluted cities which keeps us looking towards them. I am not giving answers here. I don’t think i am eligible to give answers yet. But yes I do seek ideas, innovations, support and participation. A solution which is not just driven by altruism but also by economics. Probably I will be able make the most correct decision.
Till than playing in the snow would probably remain a dream!