As a child, I had an opportunity of staying at many places because my father had a transferrable job. But I was always fussed about the fact that he had a state government job, which meant he could never be posted out of the state. Those were the days when it was not common to go on vacations to hilly states or seabeahes like today, so our school vacations were spent in our grandfather’s house. I remember telling my parents that blessed would be the day, when I would see the world out of Madhya Pradesh.
A central government job gave me opportunity to venture out of the state, but not much impact was felt during the time of probation, as the life was mostly limited to training institute only.
So, when after probation I was posted to Shimla, it seemed like a complete change in my world climatically, socially and culturally.
This posting was not totally unplanned, as by this time my marriage was fixed and my future husband was posted in Shimla, but it was the period from posting to marriage which was going to teach me many things in life.
For the period before marriage, I decided to stay in a working women’s hostel. I was little apprehensive about adjusting with the girls of totally different social and economic backgrounds. But once there, I never regretted the decision. Despite being of different age or background I got along with the girls very well. I realized that the girls were very innocent helping and co-operative.
Not only in the hostel, I felt the difference everywhere. At times, I found it difficult to understand the Punjabi mixed Hindi, while the locals sometimes found it difficult to understand my Shuddh Hindi. I remember when I went to a grocery shop and asked if it had Shakkar(sugar). The shopkeeper thought for a few moments before saying no. at first I was puzzled at the thought of a grocery shop not having sugar. But then, I realized my mistake of using the term shakkar for sugar and asked for chini instead. The shopkeeper promptly gave me sugar saying, “ shakkar yahan jyada log pasand nahi karte hain ji,isliye hum nahi rakhate( not many people like shakkar here, so we don’t keep it)
Another great change I felt was the climatic change. Though I had seen the snowfall scenes in the movie, I had never imagined how cold a place like Shimla could be. I joined at Shimla in the month of January. My hostel warden used to joke that whosoever comes to Shimla from outside comes in winters only. Having come from M.P., I had never imagined myself wearing woollen socks. Nor had I imagined wearing sports shoes with salwar suit, which were a must in Shimla during winters.
In the extreme cold weather of January, I use to wonder how I was going to survive there.
One day, it started raining from the morning and didn’t stop till I went to sleep. At night I guessed from the diminishing sound of rainfall ultimately going to zero, that the rain had stopped, but was totally unaware of the surprise that awaited me.
On getting up the next morning, when I looked out from the window, I was mesmerized. It seemed that whole world in sight was covered with a white sheet of snow. Buildings, trees, cars all the things were covered with snow and still the flakes of snow were slowly and silently contributing to thicken the white layer on the objects. I felt so happy that I ran out of the building. I felt the snow, touched the snow and even sat on the snow clad bench. The inmates of my hostel were smiling witnessing my excitement. Few of them came out and we played with snow throwing snow balls at each other!
True, before coming there, I was apprehensive about starting a new life in the extremely cold weather and totally different environment in Shimla, but that was a moment I had never imagined in my life back in my own state(M.P.).
After that I stayed in Shimla for more than 12 years, and witnessed many snow falls. I enjoyed the snow season very much, latter with my kids also, but it was the first snow fall of my life which taught me never to be afraid of a big change! Be it changing a city, a house or a job, though you might fear a change at first, ultimately it could prove out to be for betterment!