We have our share of crappy little ‘hill-stations’ in this country, but I think this one is at the very bottom of the pile. Mussoorie.
First, it’s not even in the proper mountains. You can see it from Dehradun. Which means you can see Dehradun from there as well. That, apparently, is the highlight of this place – one long stretch of ‘view-points’ where people sit and lick pink softies and stare blankly at the plains covered in a thick layer of smog.
Why would you go to the hills to sit and look at the bloody plains!
Then, there are the Indian tourists. My god, they’re at their best here. Even better than Shimla, which I didn’t think could be beaten. Chhole Bhature. Pav Bhaji. Softy. The stupid ‘trolley’. Horse rides (Yeah, if those are horses, I must be Lord fucking Dalhousie). Chole Bhature. That’s all they’re interested in. In that order. So that’s what they (and along with them, I) get.
And what the hell is the deal with those ‘softy’ machines? How come you never see them anywhere except on Mall Roads in these silly places? At least it gives them a reason to shut up while staring at a Ruskin Bond poster (for whose writing my respect has just grown substantially, considering he’s able to make even this crap look good in his books) wondering if he’s the one who wrote The Jungle Book.
That is until the 4 different members of the family spot simultaneously: an entertainment parlour offering cutting-edge video gaming experiences from the 1980’s, a United Colors of Benetton store, a pure-veg Punjabi restaurant, and an ‘English’ wine and beer shop. Minor argument ensues. Pure-veg Punjabi wins.
I gather the Mall used to be out of bounds to ‘Indians and dogs’ in the old British Raj. Well. Thank God we’re all free now to bury their precious little street under our Fanta bottles and disposable gulabjamun plates. Sweet revenge.
It’s funny how the only handful of places worth a look, just like anywhere else, are the ones built by our former overlords. The same in Dehradun. The IMA and the Forest Research Institute campuses are brilliant. Built 106 years ago. And what do we have to show for the past 64? An overrated pastry shop called Ellora and a hideous little mall.
Ugh. I knew I should have gone to Sangla. The Queen of the (foot)Hills just made me miss the real mountains even more.