By Amir Ullah Khan
Humera Ahmed is a writer and a poet who recently retired from the top echelons of India’s civil service. She had an illustrious career across various departments and ministries across the country and its capital. One stint in Shimla caught her imagination and she uses her notes to write a lovely book, which is part-travelogue, part-autobiography, part-historical and in parts, a contemporary review of the state of Himachal. She also talks insightfully of how the postal service works and how it has transformed itself during the recent past. Not much has been written about this fascinating part of North India and therefore this book becomes a priceless manuscript documenting one of our most exotic provinces.
The book is titled A Year in Himachal: Memories of an Incredible State, published by Notion press. Humera starts off by telling us of her own trepidation in moving from cosmopolitan Mumbai to a sleepy little hill station. She confesses there was no choice and she had to go, but as the tale unfolds, it becomes clear that it was a decision she cherishes, as it brings her to this awe-inspiring landscape with sublime and splendid mountains. In this wonderfully crafted book, she talks of her one year spent here learning, walking, meeting people and discovering a new life and culture. As if this was not enough, there are a couple of her poems, vividly describing her awestruck gaze on nature’s work in the hills.