MUSSOORIE, Jan 24
Legends! That’s what the days of snowfall in Mussoorie seem to have become for the past few years. Or so it seems at least.
For after a month of wait when the stay snowflakes finally floated from the blessed Mussoorie sky on Wednesday evening, they were not enough to stay.
For what was once a regular feature has now become a rare blessing. So even when it is autumn, they begin. The speculations, not the snowfalls!
“Would it snow this year, or won’t it?”, “Well it snowed last year, so maybe this year, it won’t”
Interestingly even till 2005-2006 the snowfalls were regular and one saw at least one good snowfall each year if not more.
But then things changed and changed fast, sadly not for the better.
Thanks to the construction, the growing number of vehicles and not to forget the climate change, the erratic snowfalls are becoming the norm.
Like Professor Satish C Aikant, an old timer puts it, “The seasons now come not only erratically but also without their defining essence. So whereas winter in Mussoorie at one time in the past was inconceivable without its thick snow cover it now has a barren look sans snow or rains. Until the late nineteen -sixties one could witness the onset of snowfall with unfailing regularity, by the third week of December, making Christmas gorgeous with snow, and the new year especially welcome. There would be several bouts of snowfall. Right upto the end of March Mussoorie wore a fluffy coat of snow. With the spectre of climate change looming large relentlessly it is impossible to re-visit those wholesome days or even visualize what Mussoorie in winter would have looked like. What we have lost is not just the aesthetic joy of winter with both its chill and the warmth of the hearth but also the very springs of life that nurture us as well as the nature around us. It is a dreadful scenario that haunts us, and is, literally, the winter of our discontent.
In fact why just Mussoorie, Author Ruskin Bond recalls the year 1945 when he was a 10 year old boy living in Dalanwala in Dehradoon and it snowed there too!
Author-photographer Ganesh Saili remembers seeing several snowfalls.
In fact he especially remembers a white Christmas in 1969-70 when as a young college boy; he went playing Billiards in what was once the Mussoorie Cooperative Club.
“There was a foot and half of snow, I clearly recall”, he smiles.
Author Bill Aitken misses the quiet walks during snowfalls, the only sound being the snow crunching under his boots. “But all that is long gone. Call me a cynic but I blame the big dams for the way the climate has changed so drastically in the hills.”
Food for thought?