Monday, September 26, 2016

Miscellaneous Photos

Saturday morning the air was beautifully clear after the rain. I got a good shot of the Doon Valley and the Siwaliks beyond.

As I walked from the Quad toward the gate, I could see the mist rolling up into the hills. (Old music building on left, now the business and principal's offices.)

In the early evening, the lowering sun was reflecting onto these clouds as I looked to the east.

The venerable Lyre Tree, which died from being covered by too much cement for too many years. It is sad, but its iconic shape is still there.

There are lovely pots of flowers all over the main campus. This one is near the gate.

On Saturday I went with a friend to the Mud Hut, a new cafe just above Mullingar. It is in the back of Claremont, which once served as a mission boarding house. It is very nicely decorated and has a small menu of drinks and delicious snacks. I had a non-veg (chicken sausage, I think) savory tart. Fab had a coconut pastry with some chocolate chips and we had an oatmeal/chocolate chip cookie. Upstairs is a small art space. We went because one of Fabi's students was having a show of her art. It was well done and she is a talented young woman.

On our way back, we saw a group of Sikh students who were dressed up and carrying instruments. Later we heard that the bazaar was extremely crowded with multiple groups marching, but we never found out what the special occasion was. (Not that it takes much to cause either a celebration in India nor a traffic jam in Mussoorie!)

For our Sunday lunch, Dan rode his scooter in to the Delhi Sweet Shop near Picture Palace. He brought back samosas, channa and a bottle of tamarind sauce. We also had dahi (yogurt).

Sunday evening we walked up the hill to visit Darab & Naz and their daughter Vanu. Redwood Cottage, the first home above the school, is undergoing renovation. In fact, it was torn completely down and is being rebuilt as a more modern two-bedroom home.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Autumn Equinox

Early in the morning as I was waking, I heard thunder. It is traditional here in the mountains to expect storms on the equinoxes. It has happened almost every time I've been here during one, from 1968 to now. There was a bit of rain in the morning, but not very much. Then in the early afternoon it let loose, with lots of thunder and a heavy downpour. It didn't last too long.

A little girl was playing with a tricycle in the Quad, holding her umbrella over her.

In the late afternoon, I joined a group of crafters. Everyone was knitting. Maria from Indonesia is a beginner; Sue has done some knitting before, and Judy has knit quite a lot. She has been helping the others. I worked on some socks, which I've just learned to do two at a time on one long circular needle.

We are back to our simple soup and grilled cheese sandwich supper. We'll be alternating with having dinner in the dining room. The food has improved a lot and there is quite a good variety of choices.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

First Weekend in India

I didn't get any of my pictures loaded in our hotel in Delhi, so I'll start with a few of them. I was able to get an amazing picture of the Chicago skyline as we took off from O'Hare.

In September the festival of Ganesh is celebrated. I'm not sure of the exact dates, but something was still going on. I heard drums from our hotel room and saw a procession with a statue of Ganesh going by on the street below.

We were only in Delhi one day and it was very hot, so we didn't go out much. Around 3:30 we headed for the Metro to visit Anju and Sandeep. We had a good visit and went to a Noida mall for an early dinner. They recently found a restaurant called Marwari Bhoj. It serves a Rajasthani thali meal, similar to one we had in Meerut some years ago and more recently at Suruchi in Delhi. Sandeep grew up in Rajasthan and enjoys the taste of home. As you can see from the menu board outside, the cost is about $5 per person.

When we arrived, the tables were set and ready for the waiters to fill our dishes.

Our dishes were automatically filled with a variety of vegetarian dishes, from salad of cucumbers and carrots to dal and curries. The center of the plate was soon filled with missi roti and chapattis. Near the end of the meal rice was offered to finish off the curries, but I was finished well before that. Each curry was tasty and quite different from the others.

In the morning we left for the train station at 6:00 to catch the Shatabdi to Meerut, just over an hour away. I always enjoy the colorful clothing of the Indian women.

Deepa met us at the train station. Her father, Brij, was waiting in the car for us, which was very unusual. It turned out that he had a viral illness that acted much like chikunga\unya, a mosquito-borne illness (which Sandeep had just recovered from). However, the doctor said this was viral and would pass. During our stay he had a high fever and very painful joints and muscles. We were glad that he seemed better by the time we left.

On the way from the station to their home, we stopped to pick up some fresh jalebis and yogurt for breakfast. 

We had a very good visit, in spite of Brij's illness and the high heat. Anju and Sandeep came for the weekend, too, and we had good times and good food (always important!).

Monday morning we took a taxi to the Meerut train station and headed for the hills. For some reason we were stopped on the tracks between Meerut and Muzaffarnagar for an hour; otherwise the trip was fine. Kulwant's taxi driver was waiting for us in Dehra Dun. After some time struggling through the traffic, we hit the Mussoorie Road and headed up. The cooler air was very welcome. Mussoorie was shrouded in monsoon mist, which felt good. We got unpacked and settled into our regular place, Guest Room #1. Tuesday morning I'll start work in the Alumni Affairs Office.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Back in India

We left home midday on Wednesday to head back to India. This time we flew Air Canada from Chicago via Toronto. The flight landed in Delhi about 10:00 PM Thursday, which is earlier than many arrivals. We breezed through immigration and customs and got a prepaid taxi to our hotel, the Metropolis in Pahar Ganj. They were expecting us and we were in our room and showered by midnight. The A/C felt good; it is hot here in the post-monsoon pre-winter season (upper 90s F).

As usual, Dan went out early to get our morning chai after a fairly decent sleep. It is so sweet it makes your teeth hurt, but it wakes us up! He also brought in some bananas and cookies. Around 8:30 we went out for breakfast at our usual restaurant just around the corner. We both had banana porridge, dalia (cracked wheat cereal) with sliced bananas and honey. Delicious and nutritious! We also had toast, plain white bread with butter and jam. I almost never eat toast at home but for some reason it always tastes delicious here! More chai, of course.

This afternoon we will get together with our friends Anju and Sandeep for an early dinner. Anju is the daughter of our long-time friends the Lals. Early on Saturday we will catch a train for Meerut, where we will spend the weekend with the Lal family. We'll be off the grid while there and should arrive back in Mussoorie on Monday afternoon.

More posts and some photos once we are settled at Woodstock School.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Chicago Food Tour

As a birthday gift for Dan a few weeks ago I signed us up for a food tour in the Bucktown and Wicker Park neighborhoods of Chicago. It is an easy day trip for us to go into the city for a day. The South Shore commuter rail line goes from the South Bend Airport right into Millennium Station. We caught the 8:45 train, walked a block to the El, and took two trains to the near northside neighborhood where the tour began. We had a three-block walk to George's Hot Dogs, the starting point and first tasting. We arrived there on the dot of 11:15, as we had been told.

George's Hot Dogs was started in 1948 and they serve the basic Chicago dog:  hot dog, dill pickle spear, relish, mustard, tomato, small pickled pepper, and chopped onions. (One other woman and I had ours without the raw onions.)

The next stop was a place called Hot Chocolate. Because it is summer, they gave us a slushy cold chocolate; it was the medium, they also have light and dark. The marshmallow was made in-house and was also delicious. The menu for lunch looked really interesting and delicious.

After the chocolate, we left Bucktown and went into Wicker Park. The two neighborhoods are right next to each other. Both started out as manufacturing centers outside the city and gradually added housing. At first artists tended to come into the area as the housing was inexpensive. Now they are mostly very upscale, with homes running into the millions of dollars.

At the Goddess & Grocer deli we had some kale salad. It was so delicious, I ate it before thinking of taking a picture!

We went to a pizza place called Piece. This is not the deep-dish pizza that Chicago is known for, but a thin crust cooked at a very high temperature. The building is a former lumberyard and they have made great use of the design of the old warehouse. We were seated in a separate area, below the main floor level.

We were served a small piece of margarita pizza. It was tasty. This place is also a microbrewery, so there was a tasting of beer. But they provided root beer for those of us who don't drink alcohol (unfortunately not brewed in-house, but delicious anyway!).

After the pizza, we headed into a residential area, including Wicker Park itself, a nice oasis in the city. As soon as we left the main street, it became quieter.  We saw homes that were old and not yet renovated, as well as some more newly-built ones.

This Victorian home has recently been completely renovated and it is stunning. Our guide told us there is a ballroom on the third floor.

At this point, I was feeling the heat very much and took a break on some grass while the rest of the group looked at a few more homes. Dan and I met back up with them at the next stop, Sultan's Market, a  middle-eastern deli. We had a falafel sandwich there and lots of water. I wrapped up my sandwich to take home; the heat had completely taken away my appetite.

The last stop was Stan's Donuts, where we were given a fresh plain glazed doughnut. Again, I put it in my bag for later.

We were glad that Stan's was right beside the El station and we were able to go up and get on a train. This time we had a few more blocks to Millennium Station, so we walked through Macy's for the cool air. It made me nostalgic for the old Marshall Fields, where we sometimes shopped back in the 1960s.

We went to some fabulous places and would consider going back to the neighborhood. It was an easy train trip from the Loop. The two delis and the Hot Chocolate were the most outstanding. I can definitely imagine returning.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Short Korea Visit

Our flight from Chiang Mai to Seoul was uneventful, if a bit too short for much sleeping. We took the express train into the city and a taxi to the base where Anjali met us and we got our identification cards for getting on and off the base. Tuesday we went into Itaewon to get a few things at the Indian store. On the way, I noticed this restaurant. Itaewon is well known for having a huge variety of cuisines available, but this one wins the prize!

We got some tea and a few other items at the Indian grocery. I was amused when I saw the Pillsbury atta. (India friends will appreciate this!)

We took a half-day tour of some of Seoul's sights on on Wednesday morning. Our guide, Cindy, was very good. We visited one of the main Buddhist temples. She told us Korea is approximately 25% Buddhist, 25% Christian, and 50% "Free Thinkers."

One of four guards at temple entrance

Intricate painting on temple ceilings and eaves

Three golden Buddhas inside; people meditating

Drum pavilion at temple

Changing of the guard at the royal palace

Drummer at changing of the guard

Flag bearers

Throne area inside main palace building

Lake pavilion

Characters on roof; number shows relative importance of the building

Location of former palace buildings that were destroyed during the Japanese occupation, 1905-1945
It was good to see some of the main sights of Seoul. It is an enormous city with lots of history. We are looking forward to returning here next year. In the meantime, we are on our way home on Friday. We depart Seoul Friday at 10:40 AM and get to Chicago at 8:40 AM!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Last Things

Today is our last day in Chiang Mai. We will check out of our room at 6:00 and have ordered a taxi for 8:00. We'll have dinner somewhere not too far where we can take our time. Our flight is almost at midnight, but we'll be better off sitting at the airport (in A/C) than in the less-than-comfortable lobby of our building.

I finished up my Tai Chi class on Friday. It was also Mathilda's last day and she brought fragrant posies for everyone (camellia or gardenia, maybe). We had some group pictures. Two of the class members will likely be there again next year, but the others will have flown off in their different directions. It's been a fairly convivial group, everyone encouraging the others.

The grandkids came on Wednesday evening. After our domino game, we stood on the balcony in a strong wind that seemed to be brewing up a storm. It held off, but around 2:00 there was loud, heavy rain for an extended period. It cooled things down nicely, but the humidity was quite high. I had my last massage on Friday afternoon. Dang seemed sad to see me go and I was sad to see the last of her for some time.

Saturday we had our last time with the grandkids -- we are all getting a bit sick of dominoes, so no one was too sad about seeing the last of them! I had asked Dan to get some oranges while he was out to offer for snacks. He came back with a fruit feast -- oranges, pomelo (already sectioned), papaya (cut), watermelon pieces and pineapple (in spears). Along with some crunchies we already had, we gorged ourselves. In the end, one orange, one piece of watermelon, and one section of pomelo were left! Again we got supper down at the market area -- a mixture of chicken kabob wraps, papaya salad, pad thai, and pork, and brought it back to our room to eat. We'll see them all in May when we visit Spokane, so it wasn't a sad farewell. What a treat it's been to have them here!

This morning (Sunday) we took the scooter out to the JJ Market, where we had been on our first Sunday here with Ming and her mother. It's about a mile northeast of the Old City. It is an organic market with incredible vegetables and fruit (not that we need those now) and some handicrafts. We needed to pick up a few gifts (nothing like waiting until the last minute!) and knew we'd find something interesting there.

Now Dan is off for his last massage and then to return the scooter. I'll work on packing and relaxing (and probably a little tai chi practice).

We'll be in Korea for about five days, heading home on Friday, March 4.