May 30, 2020
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126 Steps

126 Steps
TO get to Salman Rudhdie's house in Solan, you have to climb down 126 steps and the same number up to get back to the road. Since I was not up to it, I had to find other ways to get there. Help came in the form of a short-cut through the backyard of the district magistrate's house. And although it was not 126 steps, it was a pretty steep and narrow bridle path, lined with slippery pine needles, some of which had been helpfully swept aside for my progress. A painful stubbed toe reduced me to flimsy chappals but I somehow slithered up, trying hard not to look at the khud on the left. But having arrived, it was worth it. For one thing, the utter peace, with just a few birds singing and, to my delight, cicadas, just like in Japan. There was nothing between the house and a distant hill, allowing complete privacy. Whoever wants a front view of the house would need to take photos with a telescopic lens from that far-off hill. The lawn in front was beautifully green and velvety, and the young additional district magistrate, who was going to quit the house in a few days, welcomed us on the verandah with cold drinks and chocolate biscuits. Instead of showing any bureaucratic resentment at having to vacate the house, he turned out to be a Rushdie fan. It seemed incredible that the Himachal government, having legally lost possession of the house, was now going to be gracious about it.
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