I and my sister Neena were planning an outing together for quiet sometime now. Life is good at fifties . We are free birds with grown up children and husbands 😉 who can take care of themselves. 😛 So, we curated a carefree and fun-filled vacation to go back and explore our own history. We zeroed in on Hisar as the city has a very special place in our lives.
We wanted to go to Hisar, to revisit all the eight houses , which were home to us. We wanted to visit our schools to re-live those golden days! Our mom left us to meet her creator here and we somehow associated Hisar with her presence. We wanted to feel the warmth of her presence again. Hence, Hisar.
I had been to my sister’s place in Roorkee, Uttrakhand in India from June end. Every year since last couple of years, I visit Roorkee to drop and pick my father on his annual visit to my sister’s place. Papa , a confident and healthy young man in his late eighties had traveled all alone till he was 86 years of age. It is a train journey of 25 hours. No direct flights between the two cities where we both lived were available. For last 2 years, I am accompanying him. The train journey turns out to be a window into papa’s childhood, college and school days as papa shared so many of his memories. Otherwise a very reserved parent, he opened up his heart on this train journey. 25 hours seems less. I wish, this journey never ended !
This mid July, finally, we set out for Hisar, a small town then and now a flourishing “steel city of India”. This was the city, where we have spent our best days of golden growing years of childhood and teenage.
I left Hisar in 1984 after my wedding. I used to come to Hisar to my parent’s home twice every year. So, the relationship with Hisar was continued during all these years. Hisar never appeared to be unknown then. Hisar was my “mayka”- “abode of mother”, the most carefree place in the world! It was in 1993, on a cold November night, when my mom left for her heavenly abode after giving a tough fight to stomach cancer. My parents were staying alone in Hisar as we both sisters were married and away to our marital homes. So, by the end of 1995, my father shifted to Faridabad with me. My last visit to Hisar was in summers of 1995.
We started from Roorkee in Uttrakhand at 6.30 am for Hisar and had to cover a distance of 312 km, almost 6 hours of drive. We hired a cab from Roorkee with a seasoned middle aged driver who can handle the tantrums and confusions of two old ladies on road and still be patient. 😛
Though we have many old friends who are still living in the Hisar and had their open invitation to stay with them, we wanted to be independent and hence opted for OYO rooms. We reached Hisar around 2.30 PM, after spending almost 2 hours extra on road due to two political rallies on the way. The rallies had only young people and we were dismayed at how they were squandering their youthful years in such wasteful activities. None of the politicians is worth enough to wastes one’s golden time which can be used to improve and upgrade self. I wish better sense prevails on these rally going spectators and hope people stop going to political rallies which is a platform to make fool of public by the politicians and so called leaders .
The Hisar has changed altogether. Wider roads, crowded, big shopping complexes and over-bridges, it has changed from the small sleepy peaceful town we knew to a bustling growing city. The google maps were our saviour in treading the footsteps of our past.
We checked into our OYO room in Banyan Tree hotel in PLA market, which never existed when we were young hisarites. We had brunch on our way to Hisar, around 10.30AM. We slept in our room till 5 in the evening.
After having tea, we started off to revisit our eight houses, where we have lived in our long stay in the city of steel. We started with the last house, which our parents owned (and later sold) in Professor’s Colony, near HAU. The new owner was getting the house razed. It was a shock to us but felt somewhat happy to have the last glimpse before it’s gone into the history books. This was the home where we lost our mom to cancer. We entered the house and found mom all around. The room where she breathed her last. I could see her lying motionless and also felt her presence . Actually she was all around running the household. I could smell the aroma of food from the kitchen. I could see her dressed up to go out. This was the last view we could ever have. The master bedroom , where mom lived during her fight with stomach cancer and breathed her last too.
We met our next door neighbour, Mr. Taneja and his family. They met with such affection and love. They have taken good care of my father after mom’s departure when he was staying alone. It was a very heart warming visit. I broke down a number of times remembering mom and the good times we had with her .
It was time to visit the HAU campus, the place where we have spent a large part of our early life. We had lived in five different premises in the campus. The HAU campus used to be a sight to behold during the times we had lived there. Well manicured lawns, tree lined clean roads, colourful bougainvillea and gulmohar trees adding the colours to otherwise subtle campus was a magnificent view to behold. Mr. Fletcher the then vice chancellor must be a hard task master as the upkeep of campus was excellent during his tenure.
The pathetic entrance to the university was a shocker and was an indicator of what we can expect inside. The whole of the campus is crumbling. No maintenance of residential property, official property, gardens, roads – absolutely no maintenance or upkeep of the infrastructure. The children’s park which were full of children and their laughter’s were looking so sad and alone. No swings, no slides , no jungle-gyms, just vacant land with non-manicured grass land were standing at the places which used to be the well maintained playgrounds. The campus looked sad, very sad and we were heart broken. We saw ourselves running around in the children’s park, with old friends, jumping, rolling on the velvety grass. With cheek to cheek smiles and simple relationships with every one who comes to the park , where have those childhood simplicity and carefree life gone?
The three of the houses ( C-8, C-9 & C-13) were near the central children’s park of university surrounded by type 12 and 10 quarters. The residential accommodations all around were in very bad shape. The large empty ground next to C-13 was converted by my father into badminton and volleyball courts for his colleagues to spend their evenings in healthy and fruitful manner. He started these activities for team building too, much before these have become the “management jargon”. I remember my mom stitched shorts for me and my sister for badminton. Those empty areas have now turned into unchecked growing grass and weeds islands.
We clicked a pic in front of C-8. The present owners were sweet and allowed us to have a look inside the house. There were some additions. This was our temporary home for 5 months, when we were in college and few months were left to finish the academic session. My father was transferred to Chandigarh, hence we had to move to this temporary place. After completion of the session, we moved to Chandigarh.
One of the houses (B-1) was razed to ground. It was our third house in HAU. We shifted here when I was studying in class 6th. Here we sisters get our individual bed rooms. This place has open spaces all around it, which was converted into lawns and kitchen garden. During summers we used to sleep under the sky watching stars, constellations and getting up by the chirping of birds. It has been ages since we slept under open sky. We lived in this house till I finished my matriculation, from 1971 to 1975. We had very wonderful memories of this house. We had organised few cultural programmes in our backyard, where we used to invite a chief guest and all the items-dances, dramas, skit, solo items were practiced, choreographed by we children. parental help was only in getting the children ready for the act by getting/ arranging the costumes and makeup etc. We all used to bring our dining chairs for the audience to sit back and enjoy the evening. Our families were the audience . The thrill of planning and execution was beyond any explanation. Meera Tomar, Rumu, Shumi, Anu Sisodia, Neerja Sharma, rekha Goyal, Sandhya Goyal, Sulekha, Rajesh, Rakesh and so many more, we were all under 14 years.
We next went to a round of the campus and were dismayed at the conditions of the campus in general. The only area in full old glory was the administration block . We then went to see our last home in the campus. B-5, opposite sunken garden. There was a small lake in the garden, in the center, which used to be the center of attraction in those days. The big garden around it was always very well maintained . The first sight of the sunken garden was shocking. The lake has been extended so much that it has eaten almost whole of the garden. It was fenced and there was no water. It was a shitty pond. The fence was broken and rusted at places. It was a very pathetic version of the lake and the garden, where we have spent so many evenings with friends strolling, rolling ( it has a slope) and picnicking.
This was the best location in the campus or at-least we felt it this way. Only 4 residential bunglows on the road, facing a big garden with a lake, tree lined wide road in front. Johnny, our milky white Pomeranian pet was brought in this house. The back boundary was lined with tall poplar trees which gave the feel of hills during rainy season. Since we were in college, late night study sessions till 3 AM and a stroll at early morning on the road was a routine .
We strolled for half an hour, remembering and reliving those wonderful moments again. The whole lot of emotions are getting into mind and heart. Time spent with our parents, friends, our sibling fights and then making up again , it was wonderful to be here again.
This was our last home in HAU. We lived in two more houses in Hisar. One of the houses was in Sector 2, livestock farms, Sirsa road, Hisar and the other one was Jahaz Pul kothi at Jahaz Pul . The Jahaz Pul kothi has since been converted into a museum by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). I will write a separate post on it and the museum.
Our sector 2 residence was crumbling and was unoccupied. Our dearest pet Johnny was laid to rest here. It was a house with lots of gardening and farming space. My elder son had jolly good time in this bunglow, when I used to visit ma and papa. He was 1.5-2 yrs old at that time. He never wanted to come inside. For him, it was a good break from New Delhi’s apartment’ life. We both were very sad to see the degradation of such a pretty and happy vibes house.
On the way back, we met a very dear school friend of mine Davina at her place and had dinner with her and her husband, Dr. Thukral. A short notice , a sumptuous dinner and lots of memory jigging was a good way to end the first day at Hisar. (More on schools and Jahajpul kothi coming next)
Outfit: We wore denim gowns marketed by Pushpneer in grey and blue colours. The fabric is light and most comfortable to travel. Since, it was a day of long and varied travels, this proved to be most comfortable.
Neerja – Bata shoes formal sandles.
Neena : Grey colour pearly slippers bought from USA.
Makeup: All makeup was washed away in the tears of memories, so ignore it.