Kumarhatti about 5km. ahead of Dharampur on Kalka Shimla Road is a small sleepy town in Solan District of Himachal Pradesh. It is about 5000 square feet above sea level. Its forest area is home to lush green, lanky and imposing pine trees. The cool, crisp and balmy breeze which whistles through its vegetation is the highlight of the area.
We spend a few summer months in a small dwelling unit on Nahan road, two km. from main Kumarhatti bazaar. It overlooks a narrow valley enclosed by tall pines and presence of water bodies here and there.
The mornings here are the most pleasant and eye catching. When the rays of the rising sun get reflected in an orange yellow hue, on the mountain tops afar, the scene is surreal and feisty. On misty mornings the mountain tops look wrapped up in hazy mystery. While on a walk in the morning, I sense the air having some divine attributes as it caresses my face benignly, lifts my spirits while whispering soothing notes in my ears.When it ruffles my hair, I close my eyes to feel its gentleness and its sensuousness. Occasionally I pause and listen to swaying pines sharing with me their tales of gray winter, fragrant and breezy spring and not so welcome summer. Cuckoo has followed me here too and enlivens my mornings with its sonorous coo cooing.
In the evenings, I enjoy watching avian families pondering over the nitty gritty of life in their evening community sessions, perched on one of the pines near my balcony.
Generally speaking life here is slow paced and the village folks are poor and illiterate. But they’ve developed stamina because of the physical activity of walking up and down the slopes, roads and pathways.
However, within a few years the economic face of this place has changed considerably. Three private universities have come up on the Rajgarh road and there is lot of activity around them.
But what amazes me is the resilience of the fair sex around here. While having a walk, I particularly observe local men and women in action. They live on the slopes in small hutments. I notice women clad in bright coloured and shiny salwar kameez, moving slowly on slopes carrying sickles and a sack cloth, on their daily mission of cutting leaves for fodder for their cattle and later carry home huge loads on their heads.
Women here virtually run the households single handedly. Though their faces look sunburned and wrinkled due to working in the open yet they adorn sculpted rugged looks with muscled limbs. There is hardly any extra flab on their bodies.
Most men on the other hand look lazy and haggard with unkempt hair. Sometimes I wonder at the variant personalities of the couples walking together. Whereas the wife is all decked up with a red spot on the forehead, nose pin, a couple of tiny rings in her earlobes, bangles, cheap beaded necklaces and even silver toe rings, her man looks sunken cheeked, shabby and a body posture indicative of usage of intoxicants.
The other day I went grocery shopping. I entered a shop where I saw fresh looking vegetables. While selecting stuff, my attention was drawn towards a smartly dressed woman sitting on the stool knitting. From her looks she could be taken for an educated or even a professional woman. She seemed to show no interest in the goings on around. To satisfy my curiosity I quizzed her on some pretext and was surprised to know that she was the shopkeeper’s wife.
On the flip side agriculture here is solely dependent on rainfall. The farmers get ready their small holdings on slopes for sowing seeds or for transplanting saplings and anxiously wait for the rains to come.
Beans, cucumber, capsicum, pumpkin, tomatoes and maize are their main cash crops, which are ready for picking around August/ September. At the moment all look up to the azure sky for the heavenly nectar.
My writing schedule has now gone haywire because I’ve no access to Internet. It is the cool weather which keeps me bucked up.
PS. After excruciating efforts we managed to install a wireless instrument to my computer and I’ve succeeded in posting this.