Pramod Ranjan

Book Review

Shimla Diary : A gypsy’s account of the times gone by

Shimla Diary is a literary-cultural chronicle and documentation of its times and society, with a keen focus on the world of Hindi journalism. Well-known poet and journalist Pramod Kaunswal, who has seen Hindi journalism in Shimla, Chandigarh and Punjab at close quarters, pens his impressions of the book. This is not just a book review but a brief and captivating account of the journalism of those times and of the cultural-literary scene in the Chandigarh-Himachal region.    A gypsy’s account of the times gone by –PRAMOD KAUNSWAL Ek duniya hai kitabon ke bheetar Ek kitabon kee apnee duniya Gar chahein to kahein Duniya bhi hai ek badi kitab Aadyantaheen (Poem titled Kitab, Shimla Diary) (There is a world inside the books. And there is a world of books. If you wish you can also say that the world is a big book – with no beginning and no end.) For me, Shimla Diary is not just a book. It reminds me of shimmering ice and of friends, who, for me, are like so many pieces of dazzling diamonds strung together. It is another matter that I have myself scaled the Dhauladhar ranges which find mention in the book – from the Kangra Valley and from Palampur. Years back, I had seen something poetic in Dhauladhar. The description of Sobha Singh Art Gallery at Andreta is so vivid – I may well have written it myself. Now, of course, no one talks to me about Dhauladhar and not a shred of colour from Sobha Singh’s paintings remains in my life. I remember the faces of the Tibetans I saw while climbing the hill at McLeod Ganj, their Parliament and their so-called confrontation with the locals. The writer describes how he landed in a small town of Himachal, carrying a sack full of books, a bulky camera and eyes full of dreams that were yet to acquire a concrete shape. Weary and half-asleep, I, too, had got down from a bus with some luggage and a friend on a sloping street in Dharmashala one fine morning at 4.30. Nothing became of that ‘story’,…