Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sunday in Meerut

Sunday morning we were up early to catch the Shatabdi train for Meerut. We left the hotel about 6:00 and walked a short distance to the main road. There were several auto rickshaws and we got in one to head to the train station. We were there in plenty of time for the 6:50 departure. The mob of cars, taxis, and autos at the train station is quite amazing. It is a sea of vehicles with no apparent lanes, everyone just squeezing into whatever space they can manage. I know cars get side-swiped and bumped; the evidence shows on many of them. But I have never actually seen one touch another, although 1-2 inches clearance is frequent. These drivers all know the dimensions of their vehicles exactly. and it is quite amazing to watch the dance.

It is wheat harvest time with many ripe fields. We could see people working, squatting, cutting the wheat by hand and bundling it into sheaves. Unlike the few Amish in our area who still shock their wheat, these sheaves are left lying on the ground to dry. Some of the fields are incredibly small, as the second photo shows. We also saw fields of wheat growing among trees; every square inch of land is used.

Brij met us at the station. On the way home we stopped to purchase fresh jalebis and dahi (yogurt)

Breakfast was a feast, with scrambled eggs and toast, jalebis and dahi. Jalebis are terribly sweet (dough is streamed into hot oil into pretzel-like shapes, then removed and put into sugar syrup to absorb the sweetness). Crushing them into a dish of dahi, or even just dipping, makes a succulent combination that cuts the sweetness. One of the maharajahs of Jaipur was known to eat multiple kilos of jalebis and dahi for breakfast daily.

A special lunch was held to celebrate the Lals' wedding anniversary (April 18) and Rita's birthday. Rita, Ajit and and Myna joined us for biriani, mutton curry, and a special chutney Brij made from mint and fresh green mangoes. You may be glad to hear that we didn't have a real supper, just samosa with tea about 7:00 before we left for our 9:00 pm train.

A major change at the house from our last visit is the purchase of raised stands for Brij's plants and flowers. He is quite a gardener and was excited about the multiple flower seeds we brought from the US. The top level balcony is always a pleasant place and it is even more beautiful now.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Packing Up

We left Mussoorie on Friday. Thursday evening I gathered our kitchen items together, separating them from the things that are provided in our small kitchen. We use the hot pot a lot to heat water for a cup of tea or hot lime cordial. The pan with the handle is what Dan uses to make our desi chai in the early morning. In the right foreground is a serving dish upended over our butter on a small plate (not ours). We haven't seen any pests in this apartment, but it is definitely better to keep the butter covered. I could judge the temperature of the apartment by the solidity of the butter -- at first I had to mash it with a knife to make it spreadable; about halfway through it softened enough to spread. The last few days, however, it was solid again!  The weather turned much warmer and sunnier on Friday by the time we left. The container with the red sides and ivory top is an insulated container that holds exactly one kilo of dahi (yogurt).

Suitcases lying on the bed waiting to be filled...

 One of the steel trunks -- holding most of the kitchen things and topped with towels and a quilted pad waiting to be given as a gift to some hosts.

An open trunk awaiting clothing. The rolled-up mat in the front was from the CFI event Dan attended in Delhi a few weeks ago. It is too long to fit in a trunk or a suitcase. We decided to use it as a carry-on, but now that we're in Delhi, I realize we didn't bring it. Not sure if we'll see it again...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Department Lunch

On Thursday the Development and Alumni Affairs Department treated me to a farewell lunch at Green's Restaurant in Kulri Bazaar. We had a great time.

Abhra had chole bhatura (chickpea curry and deep-fried leavened bread

Some of the food

More of the food

And yet more food!

Immu, Neva, Abhra and Ed - planning the orders
Note the tablecloths; none of us have ever seen these brought out before!

Marney and Pete

Monica and Marcus pondering the menu

Rasmalai at Inder's Bengali Sweet Shop

Sweets display at Inder's
And from Immu's camera, taken by a waiter between ordering and food arrival:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Win Mumby Basketball Tournament

One of the biggest sporting events of the year is taking place at Woodstock right now -- the Win Mumby Basketball Tournament. It is an invitational meet with schools coming from Dehradun, Delhi, Punjab, and other locations in India. Boys' and girls' teams play, with games beginning Wednesday evening. The finals are on Saturday evening. Win Mumby was an alumnus, a teacher, and a coach.

In preparation for the tournament, school groups arrived on Wednesday afternoon. There was a pep rally in the gym to introduce the schools and get things rolling. After tea was served in the Quad, everyone was told to wait for a big surprise.

Just after 5:30 music started playing and a P.E. teacher began walking around the Quad, dressed in an odd costume. Soon the students came out dressed as zombies. It was Michael Jackson's Thriller, nearly 30 years later! The students from the other schools stood on the sidelines. I think they were quite mesmerized by the craziness of Woodstock.

Waiting in the Quad
Non-Woodstock boys' team in their uniforms
Welham Girls' School team 
Steve L. starting it off
Girls dancing -- notice the makeup!
More dancers
The next photo I took before things got started. These two little boys, Oliver and Ennis, are around school a lot. Seeing them reminds me of my daughter as a preschooler. She enjoyed hanging around the Quad, where the students all knew her.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Odds and Ends

It's Wednesday morning. The sky is still cloudy and it's colder than usual. Our dhobi forgot to bring our clean clothes back yesterday and take the last ones. He showed up this morning; let's hope he can get the dirty things clean and dry to return to us before we depart on Friday.

We usually eat out in the bazaar on Wednesday evenings, but tonight we are invited to the home of a staff member. The husband was one of our students back in the 1970s; he and his wife both have worked here for many years now. It's always a pleasure to reconnect with them. They live at the Hanifl Centre, about a 10-15 minute walk east on Tehri Road.

I was saddened this morning to receive news of the death of one of my childhood friends. She had been fighting cancer for the past four or five years, so it was not unexpected, but I will miss her. This is countered by good news from another friend whose surgery for colon cancer appears successful.

Dan has enjoyed his teaching of a few violinists at The Doon School. Tomorrow he and some other teachers are taking 14 Woodstock students down to play for them and to do a few Suzuki numbers together. It should be a fun trip!

We need to pull out the trunks from under the beds and begin packing up. How do we accumulate so much stuff here? Kitchen and household items, Indian clothing, a few books... I'll try to photograph the packing process this time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


On Monday evenings a small group of Woodstock staff gather to work on sewing and craft projects. I've attended with my knitting several times during the past few visits. We meet at various staff homes. The host provides a light supper, usually soup and bread. There are quilters, knitters, and other crafters. Last year one of the single male teachers made stuffed animals of all kinds for his advisor group before he left. I saw him create a dinosaur by cutting fabric pieces freehand and stuffing them. Pretty impressive.

Last night we were at the Criders'. Their home is the first one heading east on Tehri Road from the school back gate. Here is a shot of us enjoying our soup in lovely mugs.

After the supper was finished, we pulled out our various projects. Sue is working on a baby quilt. Her portable PVC pipe quilting frame comes apart for transport. Lindy is a Landour Language School student from Australia. She is working on a patchwork teddy bear.

I am working on the sleeves of the magenta sweater. Here is the body, which is actually less purple than this photo shows. It seems like I have a project that perfectly fits the amount of time I have left. The only issue is that I will have lots of yarn left over, but it is always good for something else.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sunday in the Bazaar

Sunday we walked into Kulri Bazaar, my first trip beyond the Clock Tower since our first weekend here. My back is holding up quite well, although the trip back to school was slower than usual.

Like children everywhere, these boys found a tree to climb. No matter that it was on a vertical surface.

In front of Union Church, a self-advertising van. I think this bakery is in Dehradun.

A sad remnant of an attempt to bring cycle rickshas to Mussoorie. I believe that in the summer tourist months, some do operate on the Mall, a level area between Library and Kulri Bazaars. But here between Landour and Kulri the hills are steep and definitely not good for bicycling. For those who are familiar with this place, it is across from Union Church and where the riding horses-for-hire are frequently found.

After some ice cream at Nirula's, we took the back road down from Windy Corner. And on this day it was definitely windy! The entire weekend was cold and everyone was bundled up in layers of sweaters and shawls. The sun did peek through Sunday afternoon and today (Monday morning) looks slightly more promising.

At the top left of this photo is the Jay Pee Residency Hotel, the only 5-star in Mussoorie. In the center is a very well-kept property, but I'm not sure what it is. There is even a white H on the lower terrace--presumably for a helicopter. On the right about 2/3 down is a Tourist Hostel that we pass coming and going on the main Dehradun road. Its round dome seems oddly out of place.

These houses are directly below Windy Corner (at the top of Kulri Hill). There was loud drumming and chanting coming up; it sounded like a wedding or other party. But we couldn't see any evidence of where it was happening.

Friday, April 13, 2012


There are many places in the world about which I've heard the saying:  "If you don't like the weather, just stick around. It will change shortly." Mussoorie this spring seems to be like that. They had a cold winter and it warmed up the weekend we arrived. The rest of March was reasonably pleasant, hot in the sun and cool in the shade, and unseasonably dry. We always worry about forest fires here in the late spring. April has had lots of threatening weather, strong winds arising in the late afternoon, spatters of rain, but nothing that stuck around. The past few days, however, it has rained off and on. Yesterday we heard wind, rain, and thunder in the night. It half cleared off after we got up and I got the clearest pictures of the Doon below that I've seen for a long time. At night the lights of the city below are like jewels on black velvet.

I took these shots from our balcony, beginning toward the left (east) and moving across toward the right (west). The red-roofed buildings in the foreground are Midlands, the high school girls' residence. The Siwalik Mountains are behind the Doon.

St. George's School

Wynberg-Allen School
And looking straight down, the Tea Garden isn't very inviting for sitting at this time!

By afternoon the sun was out but it stayed cooler all day. This morning it is cloudy and rainy again.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Motorcycles and Electricity

Many of you know that Dan has been a fan of motorcycles since 1968, when we moved to India and he purchased a Jawa, a Czech company that began producing bikes in India in 1960. He sold it to a fellow teacher when we left. When we returned in 1975, he purchased a Royal Enfield Bullet, a British company that had been producing bikes in India since 1949, many of which were used by the Army. Both of these models can still be found. Woodstock's principal has restored an old Jawa which he likes to ride.

A few years ago, Dan was able to get a motor scooter for getting around the area. One of our old friends here saw him on it and couldn't believe it. He decided that he would loan Dan a Bullet that his son had recently replaced with a hotter bike. So while we are here Dan has the use of both a scooter and a motorcycle. The scooter is useful for quick trips to the bazaar for shopping. It is also easier for me to ride with him on the occasions that I am willing to get on!

This past winter our friend's son came up and decided to decorate the bike, which was plain black. He had flames put on the gas tank and fender.

Twice a week Dan goes to Dehradun to help some budding violinists at The Doon School. He loves the excuse to get on the bike. His violin has straps, so he puts it on like a backpack. The blue bag holds any other items he needs to take or pick up along the way. Here he is on Tuesday ready to head down the hill right after lunch.

All of our electronic devices have chargers that work on 110-240v. That is handy for us as we go back and forth so much. Below is a picture of our setup. We have a local power strip. Plugged into it is a USB charger that has a Kindle and iPod attached, a MacBook Air power device, and our Nokia phone charger. One of the ones we brought along burned out, so we were able to get one here that works. This is the first time we have owned phones that are unlocked, so we can put in our Indian SIMs. They work fine and it is much more convenient than having different phones. When we get home all we have to do is switch out the little chip. (Europeans do this all the time, but in North America we tend to be less flexible.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On the Way to the Bazaar

On my Saturday walk to the bazaar, I saw a few interesting sights. Some of these pictures are updates on previous postings. The first shows the concrete curb and ditch that is being built along the newly paved road. I was really surprised to see this; I fully expected the dug-out dirt ditch to be final.

The hut on the khud between the hospital and Mullingar Hill now has sides on it.

In this photo you can just see the hut between the two trees on the khud, looking backward from the Mullingar side. The shops along the road include a barber and a mattress/pillow maker. I still can't quite figure out how the people get down to the hut without taking a trip all the way down the hillside!

I like the way this truck is parked. Our sense of what is proper regarding vehicle parking is not shared here!

Same truck from the other side (hospital pushta in the background).

This is the subzi wallah below the hospital from whom I usually pick up bananas, oranges, onions, whatever I need. Maybe not the best shop, but it is the closest one so I have to carry my purchases the shortest distance! I got a nice ripe papaya on Saturday; you can see it in the blue string bag.