Friday, October 30, 2009

So Long for Now

Today is our last day in Mussoorie this time. It's been a full and quick seven weeks since we arrived. The weather has gone from monsoon to winter, from constant damp and mist to crisp cool mornings and evenings and warm sunny days.

We are visiting friends in Meerut, Bangalore and Delhi for the next two weeks, then heading home. We are expecting to return sometime in March.

Thanks for reading!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Distinguished Alumni Award

Wednesday morning at assembly Chris Anderson, class of 1974, was honored as a Woodstock School Distinguished Alumni. He was scheduled to be here for the program on Monday afternoon but had some visa difficulties. Rev. Kundun, Vice President of the Board of Directors, was here from Rajpur to present the award. Chris gave a wonderful speech to the students, staff, and visitors about how Woodstock helped him to know and understand people different than himself. His work with TED sharing ideas around the world has affected many people. You can read more about him on the Woodstock web site here.

Ben Lall, Finance Director; Rev. Kundun; David Anderson, Head of High School; Chris Anderson; David Wiebe, teacher and TED fanatic; Steve Alter

Steve and Chris

Chris relaxing in his new Woodstock T-shirt

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

After our big day on Saturday, our friends Anju and Sandeep picked us up about 11:00 on Sunday for a trip to the western end of Mussoorie. It had been many years since we had visited the “Company Garden” and my memories of it were of a very run-down place with not that much garden to brag about. But the state of Uttarakhand is very conscious of tourism, one of its principal sources of income. It has been spruced up with flowers, fountains, rides, and of course many souvenir and food shops.

Following a cup of tea and some pakoras at the garden, we headed on down to Happy Valley and the Tibetan settlement. There is now a road to a small parking area quite near the temple. It is a beautiful and serene place. Above the parking lot is a path that leads to the top of a small hill where many prayer flags are flying in the wind.

After our visit to the temple and the flag hill, we stopped by the staff canteen to have some mo-mos, Tibetan steamed chicken dumplings.

Garden pathway

Begonia greenhouse

View of Happy Valley from the garden

Outside of the temple

Inside of the temple (picture of Dalai Lama to right)

Preparing for a special day

Large prayer wheel outside temple

View of the flag hill (not the one near Woodstock)

Flags on the way up

Masses of flags at the top

Closeup of one flag

Plaque in the canteen

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Worldwide Woodstock Day

Yesterday I talked about Alpana and Abner’s wedding. Today it’s the main alumni event we held here for WWD. Judy ’69 and Dana Crider have been here on staff for 30 years and live in Pennington, the first house above Tehri Road beyond the school. Judy gave an open invitation to all alumni on staff or visiting for a barbecue commemorating both WWD and her daughter Bonnie’s 30th birthday. Sadly, Bonnie passed away a few years ago.

I’m not sure anyone did a head count, but I think there were probably over 50 people there. There was a nice bonfire on the terrace in front of the house, with a wonderful view of the sunset. We took several pictures of us all Raising Our Hands for Woodstock. Someone did capture everyone’s name, but I don’t have them here.

If you haven’t seen it yet, do check out Chris Starr’s Video “A Day in the Life of Woodstock”, linked from the WWD page.

Here is a large portion of the group raising their hands for Woodstock

Warming up by the bonfire

Sunset and the winterline

Monday, October 26, 2009

This past weekend was a big one here at Woodstock. Saturday was Worldwide Woodstock Day with celebrations all around the world. Here in Mussoorie a staff member’s daughter was married, with the reception in the Quad, and the evening brought an alumni barbecue at the Criders’ home. Sunday we spent with friends on the other side of the bazaar – Happy Valley and the Company Garden.

The wedding was held at the Central Methodist Church in Kulri Bazaar. The bride is the daughter of a current staff member, Anju Singh, who is the food and housekeeping manager of the Hanifl Center. Her husband, Sunder, a long-time school employee, passed away last year. The bride’s grandfather was Austin Singh, a fixture in the business office for many years. It was a lovely wedding followed by a huge dinner at the Quad. It was good for us to see many old friends from long ago.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you more about the barbecue.

Dan with Tom and Steve Alter outside the church

Rajiv, uncle of the bride, with his family

The inside of the church was beautifully decorated

Bride and groom greeting people outside the church after the ceremony

The Quad decorated and ready for the crowd to appear

The wedding cake (fruitcake, as is common here)

A view of people in the Quad from the balcony above

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Alumni Store

Here in the Development and Alumni Office we have a store that sells a variety of Woodstock-logo items. Immu, our receptionist, manages the store, makes the sales, and orders the inventory. Here she is hard at work in front of the bulletin board where a variety of items are displayed.

One day three visitors (including alumna Beth ’80) purchased black sweatshirts. I managed to get a photo of them. The sweatshirts have a student-designed logo that is a combination of the Lyre Tree and the Tiger. They have been popular among students and visitors.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Saturday Ride to Thatur

Dan has been looking at a motor scooter that we might get as a form of transportation here. On Saturday we took a ride out Tehri Road to Suokholi, a village to which we used to hike for a cup of tea (about 7 miles out). Some years ago the village was moved from its old location to the junction of the Tehri and Thatur roads.

We arrived at New Suokholi in time for lunch of a bun omelet, chips and chai, sitting on a veranda overlooking the Doon.

A view of old Suokholi

View above new Suokholi - small temple on the top

We decided to drive on down to Thatur, a village on the Aglar River in the first valley behind the hills on which Woodstock sits. This road used to be unpaved and drivable only by jeeps, but now it is good pavement and an easy ride. It goes down through the pine forest with glimpses of villages all along the way. We could see the hiking path across the way, a much more direct route down.

A view across the valley

Bustling town of Thatur

Bridge over the Aglar

The Aglar River

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Diwali Party

After our trip into the bazaar to see the shops all lit up and decorated we went out to the Hanifl Center where our friends Darab and Naz were throwing a party. They had the entryway decorated with many tiny oil lamps. We had a lovely dinner with delicious dishes brought from several guests as well as our hosts. After dinner a lovely bonfire was lit outside and many fireworks ensued. The children especially had a great time.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Saturday was Diwali. We wanted to go into the bazaar to see all the shops lit up and decorated. My memory from doing that many years ago was that kids were throwing firecrackers around, making walking quite unpleasant. But we decided to go anyway, and had no problems. We went just as it turned dark; I suspect it got a bit wilder as the evening went on. We could hear many firecrackers going off late into the night.

Major shopping goes on at Diwali; the appliance stores were busy selling TVs, washing machines, and other paraphernalia of modern life. Many people have new shoes and clothing. Sweet shops make an enormous amount of sweets, including some special ones just for this time of year.

Posters for sale, including the new BMW 6 series!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Diwali Preparations

This weekend is Diwali, an important festival in India. In preparation, on Thursday the elementary students created rangoli designs in the Quad. Rangoli is a form of sand-painting decoration that uses finely ground white powder and colours, and is used commonly outside homes in India, especially during festival times.

The children did seven small designs and one major one with flower petals. It is beautiful! When the students came for lunch, they all carefully walked around it so it wouldn’t be destroyed. This morning (Friday) it is still in quite good shape, with a few leaves and petals slightly out of place.

Small colorful design

Working on the big one

The final result

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Whenever one of the staff in our office has a birthday, we celebrate at coffee break time (10:30 AM). Today Karan, a volunteer writer, turned 25. He provided a cake for us from the school food services. And a couple of his friends brought in a home-made cake with chocolate icing.

Gooey sweetness was enjoyed by all!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Four Principals

Yesterday an unusual event was held at the Principal’s House; Dr. Laurenson hosted a lunch for three former principals. After the lunch, there was a call to our office for someone to come and photograph them. Since I was the only person available right then, I went down.

Bob Alter was principal from 1968 to 1978, covering the majority of the time that we taught at Woodstock. He and his wife Ellen spent the fall and early winter in their home at Oakville. Hugh Bradby was principal during the late 1980s; his daughter Kirsten is now working in the Admissions Office and he is visiting her. Jim Lehman served as interim principal during one of the many times he has been on staff; he and Betsy are here to help fill in at the Guidance Office for the semester. I'll leave the exact details of years of service to the official news item that will be appearing in the Woodstock School news.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Repairs at Uncle Tom's Cabin

Our house here is a cosy but odd little place. There are three bedrooms, two of which are extremely small (a single bed nearly fills them). The main bedroom off the living room is larger and has plenty of cupboard space. But the step up from the living room is nearly 18 inches high. We have been managing, but it is a bit daunting, especially in the middle of the night. Yesterday the school sent some workers to build a step to make it more accessible. Dan was home and took several pictures of the process.

They mixed the cement in the area outside our door.

Building up the step area with bricks and rocks.

Nearly finished, with a rough layer of cement on the bricks and rocks.

Smoothing the cement.

And the final result (not to be stepped on for at least 24 hours). The slight offset of the step made it easier to get in and out of the bedroom yesterday and today.

They'll come back to cut a step-shaped hole in the coir matting on the floor and bind up the edges. Soon it will look as if the step had always been there.