Day 7 A rest day in Shimla

Hilltop towns surrounding Shimla; looks a lot like Swiss villages

Gasoline v. Petrol: 

We needed to fill the car for fuel as the Organizers have scheduled a 3-4 hour drive tomorrow to yet another hotel in Shimla. Our car was placed deep in the car park and was being blocked by 4-5 cars. We decided that the easier procedure would be to take a couple of “Jerry cans” to the fuel station and then refuel the car from the Jerry cans. We asked the hotel to get us a cab to take us to the closest fuel station, wait for us and bring us back to the car park. 

We had trouble with the hotel driver who spoke little English and couldn’t seem to read the map we had. In any event we kept asking him to take us to a gasoline station. He drove and drove until he finally took us to a natural gas depot. We explained that this was no good and insisted he take us to another gasoline station. Finally, by accident, we used the magic word: petrol. His eyes lit up and we proceeded to a proper gasoline/petrol station. Lesson: In India the words gasoline and petrol have very different meanings.....nothing is easy in India. 

Monkeys, Monkeys Everywhere
The Great Monkey Caper: 

One of our friends in an open pre-war Bentley left a portable battery charger in the car (and not tied down). Early this morning a family of monkeys descended on the car park and ‘liberated“ the battery charger. 

Talking about monkeys, until Shimla all the monkeys we’ve seen have been light brown. Today we’ve seen a family of silverbacks; bigger and quite beautiful. 

Shimla (or Simla) as a place of historical significance: 

Shimla is the place of regional government. It is also the place where the Simla (or Shimla) Agreement was signed in 1972 by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Z. Ali Bhutto, President of Pakistan. This Agreement did two major things: 

1. It set the demarcation line (called the Line of Control in the Agreement) between Pakistan and India in Kashmir. Major fighting had occurred in this province ever since independence from Great Britain in 1946 (at which time the Territory of India was divided into two new independent countries; India (with a majority Hindu population and a substantial minority population of Muslims) and Pakistan (with an almost entire Muslim population). While sporadic fighting continues in Kashmir to this day, it is at a significantly lower level. 

2. With the Kashmir dispute resolved, the parties quickly proceeded to recognize Bangladesh, which had been part of Pakistan (called East Pakistan), but was now in full revolt with India’s support. Within a year after the Shimla Agreement, Pakistan allowed East Pakistan to become an independent country with the name Bangladesh. 

No smoking in public in Shimla
When it came time to sign the Shimla Agreement, there was a big diplomatic dust up as to which leader would enter to Signing Room first. Both countries wanted the honor of having their leader enter the room last. A solution was found (that delayed the signing into the morning hours of the next day). Although the room had only one entrance, craftsmen worked around the clock to break the wall on the opposite wall and install a second doorway, that way both leaders could enter the Signing Room at the same time. I told you things can be come complicated in this part of the world. 

Tomorrow we change hotels here in Shimla from the Oberoi Cecil (where we currently are) to the Oberoi Wildflower, on the next mountain ridge. To make it a bit of fun the Organizers have put together a 125 km Rally in order to move from one hotel to the next. When we get to the Wildflower, we will finally be back on our original itinerary. Hopefully, Mother Nature will allow us to keep on schedule for the remainder of the Rally.