Back when I was in India I thought that whilst my every-day walk to the bus stop was nothing special at the time, it might be a good idea to photographically document it, because years later after returning to Western culture what was a daily occurrence would once again seem strange and interesting, so I set about taking a photo approximately every 30 seconds of whatever was at that point on the walk.
Am glad I did. Here’s the results:
From the bottom of the hotel steps, you look out to the left and see a view of Shimla.
A quick peek up the hill shows the little stall where I swear they buy half of the room service items from, and the Clarks Hotel on the left.
Turning up the hill the walk commences.
Seeing people carrying things is pretty well the norm. It's unusual for them to be shifting things as manageable as carpets.
Not much is open at this time of day, but the place that cells cigarettes, chips, drinks - and (bizzarrely) refrigerated tennis balls - is going strong.
This is the Willow Banks hotel, which is the somewhat more luxurious option where many of my colleagues stay, and which features the chicken-only restaurant where Shimla's own Borat lookalike works.
Indian sweets place. Why this is open so early I don't know.
The red sign indicates the vegetarian place I've been eating at - it's dirt cheap, and it's fantastic ! Special Vege Thali. Mmmmmmmm.
Can't see what these guys are carrying, but here we are coming up to a big left turn.
Heading up the hill (this is more for continuity really).
This is, obviously, the Levis store and also the little post office. The big post office is only about 500m up the road, so I'm not convinced that their placement system is the most efficient.
One of those tiny ambulances which I've referred to before.
The barber dude's up early ! It's a shame I couldn't get a closer shot of him; he's got the most amazing haircut in the town of Shimla.
Bit of building activity taking place.
Here's the road split (or, "bifurcation", as the locals earnestly describe) to the Lower Bazar.
No idea what this is, but isn't photography marvellous ?
The track on the right goes up towards the church, and The Ridge.
Sneaky shot of a guy preparing his shop.
The electronics shipment obviously arrived that morning and was waiting patiently outside the TV store. Incidentally, crime up here seems to be virtually absent.
All very quiet, but photos at night time don't come out so well. And these places don't open til about 10 or 10:30.
The Ridge up on the right. I suspect I took this to capture some of the local plantlife, but it's so blurry you can't see a thing.
Rotary Town Hall, handily adjacent to underground public bogs.
Christ Church peeking out over the fence.
The underground public bog. I love the whole 'He/She' thing in the labelling here. It excludes options for the hermaphrodites we saw the other night though.
Not a very good shot of one of the myriad stairways leading down to the middle or lower bazar.
These guys were just out washing their venetian blinds. As you do.
I think I took this just cos the shop was open, and that breaks the photos up a bit. The tailor's shop next door is where I got one of my suits, and is (I later find out) run by someone known as 'The Big Cheat'.
Coming up to the theatre, with its crazy wooden scaffolding.
The theatre, and a couple of the local dogs having a snooze in the road. Doubtless they're all tuckered out after being up all night shagging and barking and keeping everybody awake.
More stairs down to the middle bazar.
Good architectural shot - I love that there's all the random ramshackle buildings up here, with the odd remnant from British Colonisation... such as the theatre & police station just further on.
Bank branch waiting to open - they seem to have Saddam Hussein as a security guard. Or the guy from 'Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines'.
I don't know why these guys were organising mattresses out in the street, but that's the sort of CRAZY photo you're gonna see round here.
A bloke shifting propane tanks. Whilst potentially an alarming sight in the streets of London, guys with gas strapped to their back are commonplace here. Every now and again there's a thunderous boom in the distance, which suggests to me another one's tripped and gone over the hillside.
Another dog having a kip.
The firemen, drying out their hoses, I guess ?
And they've got a fire truck, as well. It doesn't fit inside the fire station, so they just park it across the road.
The weird podium thing that the police stand on of an evening. Not sure why, because there's no traffic on this road to direct. Banks and big post office in the distance.
Turning up the hill now, we see the tourism office, and guys shifting stuff. All the more amazing when you see the hill they've had to get up to get here.
The beginning of the descent to the bus stop. You can *just* make out the little green cobbler's hut at the end of the steps.
Looking out over the other side of the ridge, past the delightful refuse options.
On the other side of the hill is the Tibetan Market, so named because the stores are mainly owned by members of the (large) Tibetan community in Shimla. There's all sorts of stuff for sale here, and most of it - from what I've heard - is designer knockoffs. Genuine Rolex sir ! 100 Rupees !
Plenty of food for sale down here too.
This side of the hill seems to be a little less affluent/maintained than The Mall.
I had to grab a covert snap of the dude in the blazer.
More TVs or something being hoiked up the hill. Any thoughts of mugging these guys to steal their TVs are pretty well moot when you see how far they've carried them - chasing down a pasty computer nerd would be no trouble.
Over the rail shot.
More food & people.
As much as people say 'don't eat the roadside food', clearly these guys are selling it to SOMEONE.
I didn't have any pick heads that needed sharpening, or this guy could have been really handy. There's quite a lot of this sort of enterprise here - shoeshiners, knife sharpeners, cobblers, and on the way home the other night I even saw a guy with a barber's chair set up by the side of the road. Anyone fancy a roadside shave in decreasing natural light ? The most confusing ones were these guys with what looked like single-string musical instruments by the roadside. It turns out these things are for beating/rejuvenating quilts. Which explains why they're covered in fluff and why you never hear anyone playing one.
Plenty of fruit & veg around here.
Actually I'm cheating a bit - I took these photos a few weeks ago, as these Diwali decorations indicate. Busted.
Coming here to buy a TV wouldn't have been my first thought, but it's an option.
The last steps down towards the bus stop. I kinda dig the little dude selling spices & grains out of sacks on the left. This shot's also a good illustration of the women wearing bright clothes and the men wearing neutral clothing.
Last few shops and then the buses.
And more propane bottles. When I say 'bus stop', it's just a big open dirt patch where the buses happen to congregate.
A couple of buses, and you can see the ice skating rink as well.
Not sure if there's a numbering system - we just go up to the drivers and ask "Sanjauli ?" until one says yes, and then get on that one.
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