Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding

No pictures -- you can find them everywhere online. It's been interesting here. A lot of us watched from the early phase of the royal arrivals at Westminster Abbey -- online and on the TV just outside our office. At teatime we went down to the staff lounge/tea garden area where the TV was better and more people were watching. We had cucumber sandwiches and real strawberries and cream with our tea!

Quite a conglomeration of people watching the whole ceremony -- English, Australian, Indian, New Zealand, American, Canadian, you name it. Talk about a mixed-up cultural event!

If you get to watch it or the reruns, do enjoy the music. It was quite fabulous.


Traffic and transportation are continual sources of amazement, horror, and delight in India. First-year staff members Abe and Bethany have a great video on their blog of merging in traffic. If you are interested, visit

Heading out the back entrance to the school (behind the dining hall and kitchen), one evidence of great change is the scooters and motorcycles parked there. It seems the majority of Woodstock employees ride to work. Just a small item showing the growing prosperity here. (Not that there are not plenty of problems and people living in absolute dire poverty.)

At the bottom of the ramp behind the school is this water tank. With exposed pipes everywhere on the hillside, it's no wonder that there are breaks now and then. Notice the faint red spot near the bottom.

All along Tehri Road (and much of the Dehra Dun-Mussoorie road) there are splashes of white paint with a red spot in the middle. Presumable the white paint will reflect at night and keep drivers from running into the khud (hillside).

Is there a tree where there should be a warning sign? Just use the roots that are sticking out.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The "Top" Shop

A favorite shop in Landour right near the Clock Tower site is often called the Top Shop. Woodstock students bought their wooden tops there for many years. I don't see students using them much these days, but in years gone by, all boys had top spinning contests.

The owner, Vinod, is used to seeing us (especially Dan) a lot. He has so many interesting things and is very knowledgeable about them.

These are just a few of the various boxes, old and newer, that are available. We purchased several boxes last year for Christmas gifts.

In the back area of the shop, there are many piles of china objects, probably mostly left from the British Raj times. There aren't complete sets, but I've always thought it would be neat to buy a selection of these China plates (mismatched, of course) and set a lovely table with them. However, I don't need more dishes, and I wouldn't want to ship them back to the US.

Here is another cupboard with lots of small china and metal objects.

At the front of the shop, the countertop is covered with so many different items, from a tiny "Aladdin's Lamp" to Buddhist and Hindu statues.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chukker walk

The road at the top of Landour hill is called the chukker (chaker, other variant spellings). It goes the length of the ridge from Char Dukan on the west (Mussoorie side) to Sisters' Bazaar on the east (Jabarket side). There are two circular back chukkers that meet at Kellogg Church near the center of the hill. The road up to Char Dukan from Mullingar is having its side railings replaced. For many years knee-high stone and cement walls have bordered the road, but there are many places that are crumbled. They are gradually being replaced by a taller, stronger steel railing. I don't know if they will make it safer; it seems that cars never go over the side of this road, narrow as it is.

Heading around the back side from Char Dukan, these men were digging a ditch, I believe in preparation for more pushta work, a constant chore.

The road is quite narrowed by the piles of gravel and stone waiting to be used.

At the furthest back (north) point, this structure is the "New Lal Tibba." Years ago a high point above Sisters' Bazaar was named Lal Tibba and people would climb up there to see a view of the high snow-covered peaks to the north. When a TV tower was built there in the 1970s, this structure was built. There is a binocular on the top that you can pay to look through and see the snows. The day we were there the haze was heavy and no peaks could be seen. But tourists come anyway.

This railing along the back chukker must have been put in years ago. Over time, the road has been paved and built up and the railing is now so low that it can do no possible good.

This gate to a property also has been lowered over the years. It makes an odd sight.

After passing Lal Tibba it is much quieter. On the north slope of Landour hill, the deodar forests are beautiful and peaceful.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


This weekend we were out and about on the hillside several times. The tiny "pushta daisies" are in bloom all over.

In some areas they are surrounded by sorrel that has tiny pink buds.

Yellow climbing roses are in many locations -- not very fragrant, but beautiful.

This tree at Char Dukan appears reminiscent of a flame-of-the-forest tree, but these are new pinkish leaves on a walnut tree, not blossoms. Very striking.

Thanks to Steve Alter for helping me identify some of these plants.

Monday, April 25, 2011


This oboe quintet was practicing Thursday after school, with Megan (teacher) standing at the left. The advanced student recital auditions are coming up soon, and I'm pretty sure they were preparing for that.

Saturday evening was the Junior-Senior Banquet, an annual festive affair. The tables were set out in the Quad. The waiters were gathered to receive their instructions before the arrival of the older students.

A red carpet was laid along the main entry to the school. The first place after arrival was a drinks station. As the couples and stag groups arrived, they were announced over a loudspeaker. It was fun to look down and watch them. I wanted to get pictures of the kids all dressed up, but it was too dark by 7:00, when they began arriving. Following the dinner, they adjourned to the gym for a dance.

Coming up the hill from Picture Palace to Landour, we passed the usual small shops laid out on the side of the road. However, there were no obvious shopkeepers. As I passed a park bench against the railing, I heard giggling and talking. Three children were crouched under the bench (which you can barely see) with umbrellas to keep the sun off. When I stopped and pulled out my camera, they popped up, grinning, hoping to be in the picture. I can confirm that the sun was very hot in the afternoon walking back from Kulri!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Old Pushta

Last fall I wrote several posts about pushtas, the retaining walls that are everywhere on the Hillside trying to hold back the inevitable landslides. Walking along the Chukker last weekend I saw this older one that is going to need to be replaced before too long. The house above is pretty close to the edge; the owner would be best served to replace the pushta before it falls during a monsoon.

This close-up shows the loose stones and bulges that are gradually eroding it.

Just where Zig-zag path heads down near Sisters' Bazaar, we saw a rare object that used to be common. This is a kundi, a deep basket with a cutout and a seat for a rider to sit in. Back in the 1940s and 50s it was common for young children to ride between home and school in a kundi on a coolie's back. Even older people occasionally rode in them if they were on crutches or couldn't walk for some other reason. When I saw this and pulled out my camera, the coolie/owner called and wave to us from a nearby bench. He seemed happy that I wanted to take a picture. I wonder where he was going -- I haven't seen anyone in a kundi for over 30 years.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Alumni Visitor

Last week we had another visitor. Rahul was a student when we taught here. He graduated in 1971. During January of 1971 we visited Baroda, his home town, where we stayed with his classmate Bharat and visited Rahul's family one day. Although it's been 40 years, we have fond memories of that visit, when Dirk was about 21 months old.

After his arrival, Rahul posed with the full office staff, including the three volunteers.

Friday evening the Principal hosted a dinner for Rahul with senior management and others who had known him. Here he is with Ajay, a member of the same class of 1971.

Dan and Rahul enjoyed catching up on old times. They both played cricket.

Of course you expect a look at the food! It was a lovely Indian dinner. And there were three desserts! Cheesecake, mango mousse, and sevai (warm noodles in cream, much better than it sounds). Yum.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Langurs on the Big Tree

Sunday afternoon we walked down from Sisters' Bazaar on the Zig-Zag Path that I talked about earlier. There is one extra-large old tree just below Zig-Zag House that has always caught my eye. During the monsoon it is spectacular, with ferns covering all the old twisty branches. This time as we came down the path, we saw a group of young langur monkeys frolicking in the tree. These monkeys are beautiful, with their gray fur, black faces, and white fringe. Their tails are very long and it is fun to watch them jumping through the trees.

Here is the tree from the path just above it. You can just see the monkeys on the lowest branch.

My new camera has a better telescopic lens than my old one, so I was able to get the monkeys playing with each other.

More of the same, a bit closer.

This one came right up to the path to take a look at us.

As we walked on below the tree, this older monkey sat on a Woodstock School property marker and watched us.

Here's another view of the tree from the lower path.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dinner at the Tavern

On our weekly evening bazaar outing, we went to the Tavern. It is a restaurant that has served Woodstock staff and students frequently since its opening in the 1970s.

On the way we passed a wedding band heading to Library Bazaar. 

Before our meal arrived, the condiments came. They were:  onions, achar (Indian pickle), and coriander chutney. Dan is especially fond of these onions. Frequently they've been soaked in vinegar and are slightly pickled.

Dan's dish was paneer sauteed with vegetables and a very small amount of gravy.

I was feeling nostalgic, so I had the American Chop Suey, a favorite from over 30 years ago. It consists of light crispy Chinese noodles, sauteed vegetables and chicken shreds in a sweet and sour sauce. All topped with a fried egg. I have no idea why this is called American; it's like nothing I've had in the States. There is also a Chinese Chop Suey on the menu; I think it has soft noodles. Chinese food in India is a particular cuisine, not that much like China, or so I've been told. Of course Chinese food in America isn't very authentic, either.

While we were waiting for our meal, I enjoyed watching the clothing shop proprietor across the street and down on the main level (the Tavern is on the second [English/Indian first] floor. A customer looked at more than a dozen shirts and jackets, then left. The shopkeeper refolded each item and replaced it in its plastic bag. This is a common sight; if you are shopping, you can expect to have many items pulled out and shown to you. If you don't buy one, they don't seem to be upset by the mess.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Last week I wrote about the pep rally for the Win Mumby Tournament. The tournament was quite an extravaganza, with three days of games culminating in the men's and women's semifinals on Saturday morning and the two final games in the afternoon.

Friday afternoon and Saturday morning I helped Immu set up and run a satellite souvenir store. We were in the squash court near the entrance to the gym. We didn't have a lot of business, but had a great time visiting with some of the visiting team players from other areas. They liked being able to buy Woodstock-logo items!

For the semifinals Saturday morning the bleachers were well filled.

The Woodstock boys played well and eventually won the tournament. Our girls were knocked out and the Welham Girls from Dehra Dun won.

The electronic scoreboards were impressive. The Win Mumby Gym certainly is world-class.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Yesterday I talked about the weather. It was a sunny and beautiful morning. The day was lovely with a few clouds floating around. Suddenly about 7:30 PM there was thunder and lightning and a pouring rain with more hail. This morning it is lovely again. We are heading into the bazaar for dinner tonight so let's hope that was the last storm for a while!

While the sun was shining yesterday, I thought you might like to see the elementary playground. It has always been in the same place, tucked into a corner between the Quad building and the descent to Tehri Road. It is now the path students take to the Health Centre, which is just off the Tea Garden. (Maybe I'll attempt a diagram one of these days for those of you who haven't been here.)

The old-fashioned merry-go-round and monkeybars are gone and in their place is a newer style of climbing apparatus smilar to what you would see in North America.

I'm not sure, but this may actually be the same swing set as in years gone by. Does anyone remember?

Kids still enjoy swinging! Notice the teeter-totter to the left of the swings. These are now rare sights in the US; they've been removed for safety reasons.

The Quad has several Four-Square courts painted. These boys were playing before the morning bell rang to start classes.