Those were simpler times, when I could see the tip of the Clock Tower of Dehradun at daytime and twinkling lights of Mussoorie at night right from my terrace. Now multi-storeyed houses around block the lovely view.
When in summers a ceiling fan was a luxury and not a need. Climate was ideal. Mornings used to be cold, afternoons not very hot and around 4'o clock every evening there used to be a shower which would make the evening and nights pleasant.
When mom could leave me and my brother with an elderly neighbour while she went for shopping :
We lived in the famous Ghosi Gali which opens in Pultan Bazaar, the heart of the city .The ground floor of our house was given on rent to ‘R R Tailor ’ and other shops included ‘Joshi tea stall, a photo studio, a bakery and a dental Clinic.Some of the shops are still there.
When weather used to be unfavourable to play on the terrace, my brother and I were allowed to sit at masterji’s shop and watch the passer-bys. There used to be a blind flute-seller who would chat with us and play flute. I have a vived memory of masterji, the bansuriwala and a faint memory of blackouts during the nights of ’71 Indo-pak war.
After a few yrs we moved to another city but dad used to visit the place quite often to look after the house .I remember receiving wooden toys sent to us by bansuriwale uncle.
Last week I visited Dehradun to attend 50th Wedding Anniversary of my parents. After the celebrations all my cousins sat together and talked about many things which were common and belonged to our childhood.I wondered if Bansuriwala was still alive. A cousin informed me that she saw him a few years back.I was told that he lived in a room in a bungalow which belonged to the Bollywood villain of yesteryears, KN Singh.
I couldn’t sleep that night. Got up early. Begged God to fulfill my wish. With my fingers crossed, I went to meet him. From the distance I could see him sitting in a chair.Overwhelmed to see him I
wondered if he would recognize me, I asked him:
‘I’m Babli. Do you remember?
Before I could blink my eyes he responded;
“Haan, haan,Ghoshi galiwaali” (Yes,yes the one from Ghosi gali”)
He told me that KN Singh had passed away and the bungalow belongs to Mr Mittal now, who takes good care of him.
He was neat and clean and looked content. While I chatted and recorded two melodious tunes he played for me, some passers-bye looked at us curiously and others came and wished him and put money (minimum Rs 10/) in his box. I bought a few Flutes made of wood and metal.
He blessed me and others by saying, "May God keep you happy". (Bhagwan aapko khush rakhe ).
He didn't know that God has already made me happy by making our rendezvous happen.