Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Shimla - Fit, healthy and ecologically sound (part 2)

The British used Shimla as a holiday town - an escape from the summer heats in Kolkata. Lots of the architecture of the older buildings is a hangover from the Briitish days. The brick building in the background and the sort of tudor looking building on the right could be in Stratford on Avon!

Shimla is built on 7 hills and with such steep inclines at 8000ft it's not a place for the faint hearted! There are steps winding short cuts through spaces between the buildings - there is an elevator in 2 stages for the less energetic but at a fee. Some parts of the city are pedestrianized and to those areas everything, and I mean everything is carried in.
Food and drink carried in - nothing surprising there, except perhaps the number of crates of bottles!! Again note the Brit influence on the building.
But your bed??, And of course if you have a bed you need a mattress!

Apparently the people of this state have the highest life expectancy in India - due to all the exercise, the clean air and local produce - no fertilizers. Shimla is also the only town we have visited (I was going to write in India - but I think everywhere I have ever been) where saving the planet has been a top priority. Maybe as their lives are so closely aligned with climate systems and local ecosystems (economically dependent on tourism and agriculture) they are more aware of  changes to the planet. This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been - and feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to visit - but you can feel how the lives of those who live here are dependent on the fragile balance we have with nature. Thier hold on economic survival is tenuous - knock nature off kilter and not only do we damage this  most beautiful part of our planet but we also destroy our fellow man.  

There was very little litter and non in the city itself, lots of trash bins, road sweepers ( even on the way up the hills) and lots of green signs. Its expensive to smoke here, 200 rupees per fag. Plastic bags are also banned - shopping is carried in recyclable bags.

It is hard life, altho' a long one and the faces of the elderly all tell a story - no botox here - but I thought the old folks here were incredibly beautiful to look at. 
Aren't these old ladies wonderful?

This is also a very educated state, despite not being a rich one, with the 2nd highest literacy rate in India. The old Viceroyal palace (big Scottish baronial influence) is now a post doc center and the program is highly competitive to get into. Our guide was fully conversant on US politics and also happy to inject some philosophy into his spiel. I didn't want to know how many languages he was fluent in. The zest for knowledge and interest in the world as a whole here in India is very humbling and puts my general knowledge and school girl french to shame!!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I love the photos you have taken. I am always too shy to take photos of people, aside from times when I am inside the car and can snap without anyone noticing. Kudos to you for capturing those moments.

    Okay, so yes your experiences here in India are quite cultural compared to mine which have been relatively "social" in nature. And even when I do go away, for example to Mysore, I tend to go to restaurants and for drinks and chill instead of exploring the city. I suppose that will change a bit when my daughter arrives in August though so might come to you for some tips :-)

    Keep up the fab advenures -- angela