We got to Shimla 13 hours after leaving Delhi on the Himalayan Queen. The toy train from Kalka up the hill (2000m) to Shimla took in views over the plains and the greenery of the Himalayan foothills. I was so glad to be here, Cool weather, rain even. Such a feeling not to be stuck lying under a fan or constantly on the look out for aircon – in fact in Delhi it was a treat to go into the ATM booth because you could be cold for just two minutes.
We spent our first night in Shimla taking strolls along ‘The Mall’ with all the rest of the tourists – this seems to be the most popular pastime in Shimla and the strip is thronging night and day. They even put on a huge Karaoke for those who wanted to make a fool of themselves. A very festive atmosphere!
The next day we woke up to find everything shut. All the people milling around, but no shops – or restaurants/bars/everything. Except for one government restaurant. Which after we got a seat in we weren’t giving up for love nor money.
Apparently an all India Bandh had been called by the opposition because of the cut in fuel subsidies. I can’t really see how this helps the situation for most people, and speaking to some it doesn’t seem to be a popular move, but nobody wants to defy the sometimes militant left-wing parties. I even heard that Rickshaw and Taxi drivers in Mumbai are afraid to go out in case people vandalise their vehicles – some local buses in Pune were even stoned as they left their depots. Sometimes things are complicated in the Worlds biggest democracy.
In Shimla the show must go on and today the queens baton relay for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi hits town so all the local kids are out cheering. And its nice to see everybody having fun and not letting the strike affect things.
By sunset all the shops and restaurants are open again and it’s almost as if the strike never happened. Bit pointless then?