Friday, March 30, 2012

Rhododendrons and Parking

Yesterday at lunchtime I walked down below the back gate to Fern Oaks to photograph a rhododendron tree. Every time we are here in the spring I am thrilled to see these gorgeous trees. Although they are clearly rhododendrons similar to the shrubs we see in America, they have two distinct differences. They are actual trees, not shrubs. And all the blossoms are bright red. I remember people used to gather the flowers, painstakingly remove the petals, and use them to make jelly or juice concentrate. I don't remember the flavor being anything that special, but it was probably good. About 1970 I went on a women's hike to Nali; ostensibly the purpose was to gather rhododendrons, but the real reason was bonding and getting away from work, family and responsibilities. Diana was the leader and I still remember the last bit of the path in the dark, with her saying "I think this is the right path..."

On my way back up the ramp to the rear entrance of the school, I decided to photograph the scooters and motorbikes parked there. It appears that most of the school employees now own motorized transport. There are also many scooters, bikes, and cars parked in the front gate area.

View upwards from Tehri Road to kitchen entrance

A u-turn, and the path continues upward; it's steeper than it looks

At the top of the path is another parking lot, usually crammed full

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wednesday Evening

Last evening we walked to the top of Mullingar Hill, my first real outing since the back problems last week. The good news is that I got along fine. I did move a bit more slowly than usual but the walk went well!

They have been repaving Tehri Road, beginning at Mullingar and moving east. It is finished up to the area below the hospital. We enjoyed seeing the machinery and the results of the work.

Dan saw a man using the small jug hanging on the bar to pour hot tar on the surface before the machinery kicked in
The final surface has lime poured over it to minimize the effects of fresh tar on feet and vehicles.

This bus must have come through before the lime was spread!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Birds in the Morning

I woke up a bit earlier than usual, in time to hear several long calls of the whistling thrush. Longtime readers of my blog know that this is one of my favorite sounds in the world.

As I was checking my email, Dan was eating his breakfast. He told me to come to the window where he sat. A beautiful bird was perched right on top of the tree outside our window. We watched for a while as he moved from branch to branch. Eventually two others came to the tree, but none of them were close enough to each other to get a shot. It was beautiful, with a bright orange beak and an amazing tail.

I looked it up online and found that it is a Yellow-Billed Blue Magpie, found in the lower HImalayas. There is also a small population in Vietnam. Go figure.

First sighting

Tail showing

Best photo - found on Wikipedia
It reminded me of the bird that we saw in Ranthambore in 2005. It sat on the truck just behind us. I believe it is a Rufous Tree Pie.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hospital Visit

On Friday I saw an orthopedist at the Landour Community Hospital. A bout of sciatica on Wednesday evening sent me. It was an interesting experience. I hadn't been a patient here since we lived in Mussoorie more than 30 years ago. (I did visit the hospital with our granddaughter in 2005 when she had to have rabies shots, but that is another story.)

Our first child was born here in 1969. The hospital was renovated a few years ago by a Woodstock alumnus and there is gleaming tile everywhere.

I was driven there by the school ambulance, which takes students and staff almost daily. A doctor does come to the school Health Centre several days a week and sends on the ones who need more specialist care. With me was another staff member and an employee who had an injured leg. I was able to climb up into the back of the ambulance, but the employee needed help from his coworkers. Christian, an employee of the Health Centre, took charge of us once we were there and I greatly appreciated it. I had no idea where to go next or exactly what to do.

Once at the hospital, we waited in the lobby. Then I was taken to the orthopedist's office, where I sat on a bench while he examined several people before me. No HIPAA here! He diagnosed the employee's leg as a torn ligament and gave him a brace to wear. He might need surgery in Dehra Dun. A child's broken arm (already cast) was checked on. Then it was my turn. I told him what happened. He had me lie down in a curtained cubicle and pressed on my spine. It was quite obvious where it was painful, in the lumbar region. There was a medical student from England with him so I got to listen to his description of what he was doing and what he found. After the examination I was sent for an X-ray. This time I waited on a bench in the hallway outside the X-ray room. Soon it was my turn and I got on the table. The technician took X-rays both supine and on my side. I was able to look over his shoulder as the pictures came up on his computer. Next I was sent back to the doctor's office. After waiting my turn, he told me I had spinal stenosis and showed me (and the medical student) the X-rays and where the compression was between my disks as well as the extra bone growth in the area. An assistant showed me a few therapeutic exercises (most of which I already do regularly). The doctor wrote a prescription for three medicines and I went back to the lobby.

Imagine my surprise to see my office-mate Marcus in the hallway when I came out. He had been eating some dried fruit that I brought for coffee break and had an allergic reaction, with the right side of his face and lip swelling up. Fortunately, it didn't get any worse. When he got his pills, he realized they had filled the prescription wrongly, and had blood pressure meds instead of an antihistamine.

When I got back to the school, I went to the Health Centre to get some help to figure out what I had been given. One was a muscle relaxant, another a B-complex vitamin called "nerve vitamins," and an antacid (?). Since Friday, I have been resting and letting my body heal. On Sunday afternoon we walked down to the Principal's home for a community tea. It isn't very far and I did fine with my cane and walking slowly and carefully. I am hopeful that I will be able to get back into the bazaar before long!

The hospital sits above the road between Woodstock and the Landour bazaar.

Looking at the front door from the waiting area in the lobby

Stairway to upper floors - patient rooms, operating theatre, maternity

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday morning visitors

While I was eating my breakfast this morning (muesli with yogurt), there was a commotion on the balcony just outside our apartment. Dan opened the door to see a troop of langurs in the trees and on our balcony. A few scattered, but others just looked. Fortunately, our screen door has a latch. These bold creatures would gladly pull open the door and come in looking for food. I jumped up to grab my camera and take a few shots -- I never tire of seeing these beautiful animals.

I can't imagine what he found there to eat

The largest mother I've ever seen

Watching each other

While I was posting these pictures, there was a sudden loud squealing and banging of roofs. This time it is the rhesus monkeys having a fight.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Guest Room #5

We are staying in a new place! Our frequent home of Guest Room #1 is not available. Our friends the Chopels are there because their house, Tehri View, needs repair. In fact, it might be falling down. It is one of the older buildings on campus and the foundation appears to be weak. Watching cracks in your bedroom grow day by day is not a comfortable feeling!

We like #1; it is the largest, with marked kitchen, dining, office, and living areas in an L shape. This one is smaller, but it has its advantages. First and foremost are the views. We can see the Tehri Hills to the east and the bazaar to the west. We have a balcony on the east side. There are 7 windows, some double-sized. Once we moved the large coffee table from the center of the room, there is plenty of room to move around. The major lack is a desk area; there is a desk in the bedroom, but no power or internet outlets near it. We do have an ethernet connection; the wi-fi that reaches us here doesn't work well. It also doesn't have good cell phone reception. The balcony is a favorite place for monkeys to come in the morning. It looks like it would be good for drying laundry, but I don't like having my socks stolen.

The other advantage of this apartment is that it is quieter; it overlooks the back of the school rather than the Quad, which is a popular place for noisy activities.


Entry - door on the right, bedroom door on left

Kitchen/dining area (balcony door at rear)

Living room windows

Hanson Field - below even the lower dorms; this is the only place it is visible from school

Dorms - notice there is so much haze in the Doon that we can't see anything beyond the next hill.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Writing and Sounds

On Thursday afternoon I went to a small writing group of mostly staff wives (only four of us all together). I have been feeling as if my blog writing is become a bit stale and repetitive. We've been coming here to Woodstock now for 3-1/2 years doing this multi-week volunteering. After a while, it seems that many of the things I think of writing about have already been covered and I need to find both new topics and new ways of writing about them.

Rose, the leader of the group, asked us to listen and write about what we hear. We were sitting in the Tea Garden below the Lyre Tree, after the staff had cleared out from having their afternoon tea. As we sat there from 4:30 to 5:30 it gradually got cooler, although the sun was still warm. Here is what I wrote:

I hear the thunk of balls. The dhobi ghat boys play cricket on Hanson Field. I can see them from my apartment window. They are there in the morning and in the evening. The Ridgewood boys are playing soccer (football here), kicking the ball from here to there.

Two boys come by talking softly, discussing how to pose one for a picture near the Lyre Tree. Fuze has his camera, as usual. He is quite a fine photographer. I wonder why the other boy is having a special photo taken.

A large jeep is bouncing on the road below. Its horn warns oncoming traffic at every corner. I wonder how many villagers and how much samaan (luggage) is loaded into and onto it.

The air is cooling down. Behind me the Health Centre workers close the windows with a bang. It's been a great day to have them open to the fresh warm air. [Note: it's still cooler inside buildings than out in the sun.]

Some children are playing at the playground. Their happy voices float out. Swings creak.

A group of high school students raise their voices on the path below. Someone has told a joke or made a comment. They all hoot and laugh together.

Here comes the sound of the bouncing ball again. This one might be just below the road. I've circled back to end where I began.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More in Delhi

Another thing we enjoyed at the zoo was the assortment of trash cans. There were many and it seemed they were used; there was very little trash scattered on the grounds. Elsewhere in India that is not always the case. My theory is that littering helps keep the sweepers employed. Having someone else cleaning up after one's litter seems to be an ingrained cultural trait.

No comment, obviously
The hippo enclosure was good - 4-5 hippos enjoying the water
We didn't see any live monkeys; from experience, we knew their cages were awful
Sorry, no live penguins in this non-polar zoo
Didn't see any rabbits either, but it is nearly time for the Easter Bunny
We only saw 2 or 3 of these with numbers
After going back to the hotel for a bit of a rest (remember, this was my first day post-flight), we got back on the Metro and went to the Janpath Tibetan shops to see Doma. Dan had been there a couple of days before and told them I'd be coming on Thursday about 5:00. Doma doesn't come into the shop all the time, especially in the winter, and we wanted to be sure to see her. She is doing pretty well, although finds it difficult to get up and down from her stool. While we were there several long-time customers came by to buy things.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Delhi Zoo

When we lived here in the late 1960s and 1970s, a trip to the Delhi Zoo was always a fun outing with the children. One of the interesting things was a program they started to breed white tigers, descended from one caught in an Indian forest. I can remember seeing the genealogical chart painted on the wall of the building. I think the first one was found in the early 1950s. There have been many generations since then, and zoos all over the world have obtained white tigers from that first one. If you are interested, here is the Wikipedia article.

The morning after I arrived in Delhi I knew it would be best to keep as busy as possible throughout the day to avoid falling asleep at the wrong time. So we got on the Metro and went to the zoo. It took a short ride on three different lines followed by a scooter ricksha ride. The zoo is still as beautiful as I remembered it. The location is just beside the ruins of Purana Qila, one of the original seven cities of Delhi. It is spring here and the flowers are in full bloom.

Unfortunately, the animals in the zoo are not all in ideal enclosures. Far too many are in cages that are too small. The largest, most popular animals, such as elephant, lion, bear, etc., do have more natural surroundings with a moat to protect visitors. I decided to concentrate my photographs on the scenery and vegetation, so that's what you'll get here.

Looking into the zoo from the entrance; note Purana Qila in background
A view from the entrance area showing one of the portals to the Purana Qila
Pool and flowers near entrance
The rest of these photos are of various trees. I don't know most of the varieties, other than banyan, bamboo, "dinner plate," and Ashoka trees (the two straddling the palm in the first photo below). I really enjoyed some of the interesting shapes they make. Last year when I did a series on trees around Woodstock, I got more comments than any other posts ever. I hope you enjoy these!