Call of the Siren

Everything comes at a cost. People who live in cities get far more exposure to the real and competitive world much earlier than the ones from small towns. But small towns offer another set of growth opportunities. I believe most of that is emotional growth. Back in my school days, I used to live in Nainital. It is a beautiful hill station. We would go to the school walking on the mall road that was next to the Naini lake. Next we would walk uphill, through the market area, then cross some temples, walk lazily on a steep road next to the High Court and eventually reach our school.

Beautiful picture of Nainital captured by a talented photographer Mr. Govind

From the description it may seem that our school was at another corner of the world, but though it was a 3 km one-way walk everyday, living in small towns still makes everything too close to you. One such thing was the actions of solidarity the town used to observe on general public related things. There is another court in Nainital which everyone calls as Kachehri. Everyday at 9:00 am and in the evening at 5:00 pm a siren would blow from the Kachehri. It most probably marked the court timings, but somehow everyone who did not even work at the Kachehri would assume the day to have started with the call of siren.

Amidst the sea of houses, is also the Kachehri

Today I remember the Kachehri for one more reason. Every year on 30th January at sharp 11:00 am a siren used to blow. It reminded the whole town to observe a 2 minutes silence for Gandhiji who was assassinated this day. It was an ocassion when the whole town stood by in solidarity with the importance of love and compassion against hate and ignorance.

Rajghat, New Delhi

It has now been more than 15 years that I have been at Nainital on this day. And in all these past years, in whichever part of India I have been, I have neither heard any siren for meditation, nor have I seen anyone observing the silence on their own. I know that observing a two minutes silence makes no difference, yet I miss that feeling of oneness. Actions always speak louder than words, but sometimes a collective silence too can be deafening.

“तुम्हारा शहर तो बिल्कुल नये अन्दाज वाला है

हमारे शहर में भी अब कोई हमसा नहीं रहता”

बशीर बद्र


  1. Superb as always Aali. I still remember that Siren, that Siren was a part of everyone’s life, specially people of Talli. I still remember when I use to sleep till late my mother use to say ” Siren baj Gaya hai abhi Tak so re hai” and I automatically use to think I have slept till 9Am and now I am going to get thrashed by my mother 🤭. You always take me to those beautiful memories lanes of Nainital, and I feel so fortunate that I had a chance to make these beautiful memories with you, Deepshika, Gunjan, Mamta, Mansi, Meghna, Diksha and all our other friends, specially the one we use to go and come from School with. I sometimes feel so incredibly lucky to have been born in such a beautiful city and that we all have that Little bit of Nainital left in us, which make us different from everyone else. Thanks Aali for reminding us always what we miss in these big cities and what these big cities can never offer us, what our Nainital gave us despite being a small town.

    Liked by 1 person

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