This week has been Activity Week for most of the school. Grades 6 and up have left the campus, most going on hikes and other outdoor activities. Even the young students here have gone off for day trips and camping overnights. That leaves the support staff in the various administrative offices, including ours (Development and Alumni Affairs). On Monday I was happy to hear that there is an annual picnic for the support staff during this week. So yesterday at 9:00 many of us were at the school gate to pile into at least eight taxis for the hour-long drive to Brentwood Sanctuary. I hadn't even heard of this place, but many others had been there before. The drive went all the way to the west through Library Bazaar and down the Kempty Falls Road. A few kilometers above the falls, we turned off onto a non-metalled (read unpaved) road that went another couple of kilometers to the Sanctuary. The Sanctuary part is for the Himalayan Quail, last spotted in 1876 in this area. We arrived to find two buildings, one containing about 4 rooms with attached baths, and a number of tents set up for overnights. There was a very large grassy area, a stream, and other amenities. The owner of the Tavern restaurant also owns this property. It isn't advertised, but by word of mouth many schools and other organizations in Mussoorie know about it and have activities there.
One of the first things I saw was the double swimming pool. It didn't seem very clean and the water was icy cold; no one went in.
As I walked onto the grassy area, I saw two little rivulets running into the stream below. They were small enough to just step across. The ground was very wet all around.
The stream had lots of rapids and small falls; it was beautiful, as was its sounds. Later they put on some loud music with a speaker sitting outside; we got them to turn it off -- we were there to see and hear nature, not loud music!
As we arrived, we could see some farmers plowing their fields with oxen right across the stream. Each field was terraced and very small; one looked about 5 x 15 feet!
As I was watching, the farmer tried to turn a corner too sharply and one of the oxen went down. He managed to loosen the yoke fairly quickly and the ox was soon up and working again; it didn't seem to be hurt.
Later we saw them set loose to have their lunch at the edges of the fields.
Tomorrow: more pictures of the picnic