Friday, May 8, 2009

What Next

This will be my last blog post for a while. I plan to write about the WOSA-NA reunion in Eugene in July and put up some pictures. I am also attending the Class of 1979 plus Friends reunion in Tennessee the following weekend and will post a write-up of that. So check back here after July 17.

Dan and I are planning to return to Woodstock in mid-September for another volunteer stint. I have enjoyed my time here and have learned a lot. I can only hope that I have been of some help as well. I will probably begin posting regularly again at that time – there will be lots of special events going on here.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Farewell for Now Part One

Friday will be my last day working in the WS Development and Alumni Relations Office as a volunteer. It has been an interesting and enjoyable two months. All of the people here work very hard for the school and for the alumni. They are involved with students and obviously care greatly about student welfare and the future of the school.

This office produces virtually all the communications you see about Woodstock – the Quad, the Brown and Gold, the website, E-News, letters, and other items. Managing the school website,, Facebook presence, and other online information can be very time-consuming. Planning and executing the Annual Fund appeal as well as working on other fund-raising issues are very important and can also take a lot of time.

One of the pleasures of being in this department is seeing alumni visitors, who stop here first when they come back to the school. Some are now parents of students, which shows that they value what they received here. Some come frequently, others after a long time away. One former student we knew came to visit in March after 30 years. It’s a treat to watch these visitors as they remember their time here as a student.

Tomorrow: What’s Next

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kulri Bazaar

The road from the Clock Tower to Picture Palace has changed dramatically. There are now tiny shops all the way with only a few breaks. One sad storefront is Thukral’s old shop. He was the school photographer for many years. A few years ago when we visited, Mrs. Thukral could be seen sitting on the stoop in a chair in the sun. It now appears completely closed.

Kulri is a tourist area, packed with cars and people, especially now in "the season." It also has many restaurants. The first one we ever ate at in 1968 was Neelam’s, with Diana Biswas. She introduced us to one of their signature dishes, Simla Mirch (stuffed green peppers). When we were there on Easter weekend we had it again in memory of her. The filthy curtain near the sink that everyone used to dry hands is gone (a good thing!). There used to be a small poori shop across the alley and below the other shops, but it is long gone. Now Agarwal’s across from the Inder Bengali Sweet Shop is where we go for poories (and Inder's still has the best rasgullah).

At the top of Kulri hill many businesses have been in the same location for years. Bata Shoes, the Kashmiri shop, Chic Chocolate and Bee Kay Opticians were all places we shopped long ago. Dan got a new pair of glasses at Bee Kay last month, and we always have to pick up a few Kashmiri things at that store.

The Kwality restaurant at the top of Kulri hill near Hamer’s and the old Rialto Cinema was a landmark, one of the few places a female could count on finding a place to relieve herself. Now the first floor is a Domino’s Pizza and the upper floor a Coffee CafĂ© Day. Hamer’s is still open but the cinema is long closed.
We are always looking for more books and the two bookshops in Mussoorie are right next to each other, Chander and Cambridge. Cambridge Book Depot has just undergone renovations. Both of them are packed with bookshelves and piles of books, mostly English paperbacks, Indian, American and English. Cambridge has a good display of Mussoorie writers in the front section. Their magazines and newspapers are right out on the front stoop.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Landour Bazaar Then and Now - Part 2

Continuing with our trip through the bazaar, we come to one of the most-frequented-by-Woodstock shops, Ram Chander. For many years, RC sent a man around to all the hillside and staff homes every weekday morning to take orders. Whatever might be needed in the kitchen was written on his list and then delivered in the afternoon by a Nepalese coolie with a large wooden box on his back. Nowadays many people have vehicles so the delivery system isn’t needed. We thought RC carried everything we needed, but you should see it now! Black or green olives in jars, Kellogg’s cereals, and Indian-made varieties of all kinds of specialty foods. This is not the Ram Chander of your memories! You can barely read the name of the store on the sign put up by Airtel mobile phone company. The inside is quite pristine with many glass-fronted cabinets and modern shelving.

Goel Stores has been right near Ram Chander's for a long time. Old Mr. Goel is 93 and we see him walking through the bazaar every time we go. His sons are doing most of the management of the store now. You can buy all kinds of plastic items and crockery here.

Jain Cloth House is across the street from Goel and Ram Chander. They have a wide selection of yard goods.

Tomorrow we continue into Kulri.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Landour Bazaar Then and Now

The bazaar has changed a lot in the past 50 years or so. Unfortunately, I don’t have old pictures with me. However, when we went to the bazaar on Saturday, I tried to take pictures of those places that have changed the least. It is good to see old faces that were in the same places in 1968 when we first arrived in India, even if, like ours, they are older. And many businesses are being run by the second or third generation of the family.

The Victory egg man used to come around to our houses with a wire basket of eggs several times a week. Now you have to go to the store near the top of Mullingar Hill.

Faiz Tailors, also on Mullingar, was the source of many western-style clothes copied from the pages of magazines and pattern books, and still is a busy shop today.

No changes to the Landour Post Office!

Notice the dosa place is now called the "Old South Indian Restaurant," since newer dosa shops have opened on each side of the old one. But this is the original where we had our first dosas.

More on this topic tomorrow...

Friday, May 1, 2009

More About Food

Food and cooking in India are of continual interest to me. I have recently read Eating India by Chitrita Banerji, an odyssey to many places in India where she tries local foods and combines historical details with the food. At home I have the book Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors by Lizzie Collingham (thanks to a farewell gift from the Central Virginia Curry Club). Curry also packs a lot of history into its discussion of Indian food and its influences from all around the world. Neither of these books has recipes, but I already own more than my share of Indian cookbooks.

The Landour Center Community Cookbook was first published in 1930 and has remained popular on the Hillside and with Woodstock staff ever since. (For more information, see Philip McEldowney’s site at Many of the recipes in the LCC are adaptations of American recipes using ingredients available in India at the time. In the last 20 years or so, the variety of imported foods available here has grown exponentially. There is almost nothing you can’t get now if you are willing to pay for it.

Our cook in the 1970s, Bhag Chand, had his own style of cooking. He tended to want us to eat boiled meat and potatoes more than we wanted to – he just wasn’t sure how appropriate it was for us to eat Indian food as much as we’d have liked. He was pretty creative. Our family all remember clearly the night he smilingly presented us with a pizza. It looked a little strange, but we cut and dug in. Well, it was interesting all right. The crust was pie dough and the topping was ground-up left-over liver mixed with some peas and grated carrots and maybe a bit of ketchup. He was so proud of it that we could hardly bear to tell him how awful it was.

Last evening we had dinner with some staff friends (delicious soup and biscuits). For dessert the neighbors brought over a lemon dish that looked like lemon pie topping on a crust. One of the women had taught her cook to make a peanut-butter crust with a chocolate topping and the cook decided that would work well for lemon as well. Oddly enough, peanut butter and lemon topping (gelatin?) don’t really mix all that well. I guess we can’t expect palates of other cultures to understand our strange likes and dislikes.