Yesterday, to celebrate my daughter Madeline’s 23rd birthday (!), we decided to hire a driver at a cost of $18 to take us round-trip to Shimla, which is 12 km away. But first it was the clearest skies since we arrived and in the near distance we saw, just north, a snow-capped mountain in Kashmir and then northeast, a small range of Himalayan peaks, very jagged, in what must have been India and then Tibet.
The drive in took an hour and change rather than the usual 25 minutes as it is apple season and in Himmachal Pradesh the fruit is regarded as the nation’s best, meaning lots of buyers. That, plus two overturned trucks, a two lane road washed out in parts from monsoon, and three traffic cops, meant long delays.
The apples, for the record, are delicious and taste like Cortland’s.
In Shimla, which is noted in several books I’m reading this summer, including, “A Passage to India,” we strolled The Mall: Anglican churches, large stones for pavement, many doctors, students, nurses, and staff from the Indira Gandhi Hospital & Medical College.
Just below is the Lower Bazaar with a fine mosque, many vendors of clothing, fruits, vegetables, nuts, shoes, and books. We bought raw cashews and a plastic, orange monkey god.
In town there’s a branch of a first-rate southern Indian veg restaurant; I’d been to the Mother Ship in Defence Colony, Delhi, and this was just as good. Dosas, aloo dumplings, uttapam, etc. Lunch for four? $11. Can’t beat it.
Later, at home, the afternoon rains came and some dozed while others read.
Waking up it was gin and pan seared cashews followed by lamb biryani and a wonderful chocolate cake tasting like PB&J.