Mountain Child: Introduction

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
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Submitted: December 12, 2008

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Submitted: December 12, 2008

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Introduction
It’s difficult to start with an introduction. I’ve never written an introduction to anything before. Actually I’ve never attempted to write anything worthy of an introduction before. This time however, the subject (not the content) deserves a proper introduction and so here I am struggling to tie a lot of loose threads together and document the effects of a particular place on my psyche, my life and my understanding of myself as an individual, over the last 15 years.
The place - the hills of Mussoorie. A “hill station” in northern India to many, a home away from home for me.This is not a travelogue that I attempt to write nor is it going to be a geographical guide for the ill informed. There is a lot of information on where to go, where to stay, what to see already available elsewhere. What I attempt here is very personal. Hopefully, as you read on, the message will convey itself.
I was not born in Mussoorie and neither did I grew up there but my many visits to those enchanting hills did contribute a great deal to who I am today and who I am going to be in the days to come.
Incidents, people, books, money and sometimes even places can shape a personality in more ways than one. Sometimes, a moment can pack in more learning than a lifetime of tutelage. I have had a formal education, thanks to my parents. Have learnt a great deal from the people I’ve met. But nothing and no one has taught me more about life and in turn about myself than the hills of Mussoorie. I don’t know how it started or what triggered it but it did happen and everything that you are about to read is true without any bit of exaggeration (to which I am sometimes prone to). Once you have seen Mussoorie from my eyes, you would know that there is no need to exaggerate. Even what appears like fiction in the coming pages is true and can be experienced firsthand by anyone eager enough to explore the hidden wonders of the hills.
Mussoorie is a beautiful place, popular with visitors of all kinds. The “mall road” roamers, the enthusiastic trekkers, the honeymooners, the writers, the journalists, the film-makers, the businessmen, they all find something of interest here.If you search the internet or skim through the pages of numerous travel guides you would get a glimpse of a Mussoorie which boasts of a vibrant mall road, scenic view of the Doon valley, Kempty falls, Municipal garden, Mussoorie lake, Dhanolti, Gun Hill, cable cars, lots of hotels, restaurants, horse rides, Tibetan market selling cheap Chinese gadgets and clothes and Ruskin Bond, an author of some children books who lives in some old cottage in Old Mussoorie.
This is the Mussoorie known to most of the travelers but this is not my Mussoorie. My Mussoorie is different. It does not have a mall road. The “mall road” is a mask. It does not exist. However, I do not hate the mall road. It is necessary to contain the flock of tourists. It keeps them chained, restricts them from aimlessly wandering off to the real Mussoorie. In turn, it defends Mussoorie from people who don’t really care about it. It also provides livelihood to hundreds of locals who sell everything under the sun from their little shops and so for this reason I feel the mall road is important and should stay where it is. For me, however, the mall does not exist.
My Mussoorie has the serenity of the Camel’s back road. It has the charm of Landour, the refreshing walks to Tehri . My Mussoorie has the winter line, the savoy, the Radha Bhawan. My Mussoorie has Mr. Bhardwaj and his family. It has the delicious paranthas of Darpan, the innocent and friendly people of Mussoorie, the clock tower, the sister’s bazaar and pari tibba. And in my Mussoorie too there lives a Ruskin Bond. But he is not an author of some children books living in some old cottage in old Mussoorie but an author who manages to weave a spell with his enchanting and mesmerizing tales of the hills. An author who breathes life into pages. Who pulls you into his world effortlessly and lets you live it through his words. An author who lives in a beautiful cottage which seems to reflect every inch of his personality. The cottage is “Ivy Cottage” and it stands proud on the road to Tehri leading up the Landour Bazaar.
It’s been 15 years since I first visited Mussoorie and as I pen down this introduction on my 27th Birthday, I feel the hills smile down at me. They seem to be asking –“Why you took so long?” I know I’ve taken a long time to write about my experiences and share them out in the open but I recall a little signboard that greets you as you drive up to Mussoorie from Dehradun that says “Better late than never”.
And so, here I am not trying to tell a story but trying to live it all over again through these pages. I hope the hills will give me strength like always. My mind goes back to the mountains. I am a child again and I still don’t know where this walk will lead.

Kshitij Sharma

December 6th, 2008

Mussoorie

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