Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Party and Walk

I think I've mentioned before that our social life here is much more active than at home! We had another party on Sunday evening, this time at the home of Kutty and Lalitha. Lalitha works in my office and most of the attendees were our other office mates.

Admiring one of Kutty's dogs

View toward the dining area

Women on couch
A few shots from my Monday walk out Tehri Road below. The first is a dahlia, one of many. Most are too far up the khud to show on my camera. They come in many colors, lots of bright red.

A dying tree above the road.

We used to call these peacock orchids, but when I googled them, the picture was very different. They are common during the monsoon. This one has seen better days.

Two years ago, this couple, Ramkesh and Sumitra, did some work for us. Their brother Naveen was the cook for our friends Neva and Ian. I see them on the road most days when I walk before lunch. They live at Jabarkhet.

This tree is doomed. The hillside is very washed out under its roots.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Saturday in the Bazaar

On Saturday we walked into the bazaar for lunch. This was my first major walk, but we went fairly slowly and stopped often.

As we approached the school gate, we looked down and noticed that the traffic was backed up behind a large machine. There were two buses and multiple cars and motorcycles. Fortunately for them, the large machine pulled over and stopped just below the gate. It was some kind of a crane. One of the men standing around told us it was for the composting machine that the school had recently purchases. It was sitting in a large truck on the other side of the road. The plan was for the crane to lift the very heavy composter and lower it to the level area below the road. I wish we'd had time to stay and watch; it was all finished by the time we returned. I'm glad to know the school is doing this; it will be good for the environment and for the Turner Organic Garden, where I presume a lot of it will end up.

Composter sitting in large truck
On the side of the road just beyond the hospital there are a lot of temporary shelters. Some of the people there are the ragpickers who sort through piles of garbage. But some are metalworkers, like this man below. He is making tin chulas, a small charcoal stove. This design has a platform in front of the fire area.

This child was emulating his father. He had a small piece of tin and was pounding on it to flatten it.

The next man is below. When he saw I wanted to photograph him, he quickly tweaked his mustache to look better. But I like this one better because it shows the red chills drying in the sun behind him.

Just before Mullingar Hill we saw many pieces of bedding airing in the sunlight. At the end of the monsoon, everyone is grateful for any small amount of sun, even if it peeks in and out through the day.

I've photographed this apartment block many times. The building on the left is new, still being finished. It was being worked on when we were here last, two years ago. Everyone has laundry hanging out to catch the sun, making a very colorful scene.

This shop in Landour was started in the 1950s but has a completely new form. The entrance is up a few steps and the door is inside. Quite revolutionary in Landour Bazaar!

Just to keep things in perspective, this shop has been the same since before we first came here in 1968. We used to buy our light bulbs here.

One of the stops we made was at a photographer's studio across from the Clock Tower (even though it's been torn down for a few years, it is the landmark by which we place things). Yes, the shop is as narrow as it looks -- maybe 8 feet wide. We went into the back room (one more behind the curtain) where we posed for passport-sized pictures. We have some travel coming up that will require multiple visas and therefore photos. 

I love the way the vegetable and fruit vendors display their wares. Some of them carry both fruits and veggies, but some specialize in one or the other. This one had very large pumpkin/squashes.

The same vendor had even more, including these wavy ones.

This was the fruit stall from where I got some guavas, oranges, and McIntosh apples. I stewed the guavas with some cinnamon. I love them, but Dan doesn't even like the smell, even less the taste. Oh, well, I will just have to enjoy them myself.

As we walked by this clothing shop, Dan wondered if the mannequin's names were Mr. and Mrs. Skinny!

A fancy-looking new cafe on the hill down toward Picture Palace.

Pulling rebar for use in a new pushta (I think)

This bright risei was on a vehicle along with a mattress, right in front of one of the decorative sculptures built into a pushta.

At Picture Palace there was quite a traffic jam because of this bus. As you can see, everyone just pulls into whatever space is available, trying to get through. Eventually someone backs up or removes a scooter that was blocking the way and it all sorts out. But no road rage!

We went up the Kulri Hill the back way to avoid some of the traffic. First stop was Broadway Optical, where I got new glasses two years ago. The frames had broken but the lenses were still good. My optician in Goshen said there was no way to reuse the lenses. But here it is different. I picked out a pair of inexpensive frames and he said he would just make the wire that goes around the lens a bit bigger so it would fit. Come back in half an hour. So we went to Le Chef, a restaurant across the street. We'd never been there before. We had a veg thali for two, which included rice, dal, paneer makhani, a paper, two tandoori roti, and a small dish of mixed vegetables, not shown here. All for Rs. 250, about $4.20. It was delicious.

As usual, we were offered saunf after eating (along with toothpicks. Saunf is usually fennel seeds (anise flavor) and sugar. Notice the size of the sugar crystals -- it is clearly not adulterated.

We saw Surat Singh in a shop near the hospital. He worked in the Woodstock High School area for many years and seemed happy that we recognized him. he wanted to check the photo after I took it to be sure it was flattering. 

After lunch, we walked back down Kulri Hill and headed over to the taxi stand. I took a taxi back to the school gate with my fruit. By next weekend I hope I can walk both ways, which is about a 4-mile round trip.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


It's Saturday morning here and I realize it's been a few days since I've posted anything. Thursday evening we went out for supper. Several people had mentioned that a new Chinese restaurant just below the hospital had good momos (Tibetan dumplings). So we decided to try it. We weren't in the mood for momos, so we decided to try some of their Chinese food. Not such a good idea... We had "Americal Chopsy" (American chop suey, supposedly) and some chili potatoes. The former turned out to be very thick, gelatinous and dark red. It may have had some vegetables in it. We managed to eat a bit with some rice. The chili potatoes were edible, just not as good as some we've had. (French fries in a bit of hot sauce) I had forgotten to bring my phone, so no pictures, sorry. We enjoyed looking at the menu while waiting for our food. We didn't have dessert, but thought the Banan Filter might be interesting -- I think it is a banana fritter.

In several spots along Tehri Road, benches have been installed for us to rest and enjoy the view. In this photo you can see the sun is shining brightly, but there is cloud obscuring all the view.

Cozy Corner, just below Woodstock Villa, is a favorite student hangout. For such a small place, they have quite an extensive menu of snacks. Unfortunately, the mirror here that helps oncoming traffic see around the corner has been broken and/or removed. These mirrors are extremely helpful to drivers and even to walkers.

The pushta (retaining wall) above the main gate of the school has lovely gardens. These bright red flowers certainly cheer up the hillside.

After supper on Thursday we stopped at the subzi wallah and picked up a few vegetables. My Friday night supper was a sort of frittata. I took two potatoes, two carrots and a long parsnip to start with. The carrots were covered with mud but they cleaned up all right. I cut them all into small pieces and boiled them for about 15 minutes or a bit longer. Then I sautéed chopped onion and garlic in some butter, added half the cooked veggies and cooked them all for a while in a small frying pan. I chopped up some cheese (no grater) and mixed it with three eggs. I then poured it all over the veggies and put on the lid. It turned out really good! Dan went down to the dining room to get some salt in a cup, as we didn't have any and this dish definitely needed some. It was a nice change from our usual soup. And half the veggies are left for another day.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


On Wednesday I walked the opposite direction from the school. There is a new security system at the back gate, which is supposed to be locked at all times. In truth, the gate is often propped open and I've gotten through multiple times except on return Sunday afternoon. We have a key card, but I didn't have it with me. So I went out the front gate.

Security has been increased all around the school. Yesterday we had a lock-down drill. In these times we cannot know when an attack could happen anywhere in the world. There was a threat (never acted upon) against the school a few years ago. The front gate has a new entry building, and it's not as easy for unknown persons to just walk onto campus.

The old gate is a few yards further in, past Jacob's Ladder (stairs up to the flagpole area).

The post-monsoon view is shown below. Blue sky peeking out near the top, clouds and mist shrouding the hills and valley below.

Here is another landslide at the side of the road. The top area on the left is dangerous; the washout went underneath. I'm always amazed at how these can be prepared, as there is no ledge below to stand on or attach a wall to.

Before the hospital, a house called Springview is below the road on an outside curve. Through the years it has been a missionary's home and a school. Reverend Dass, the longtime chaplain of the Woodstock Hindustani Church, lived here for many of the recent years. He just passed away this week. Several people from our office attended the service.

At afternoon tea time, a treat was delivered. There is a new Dunkin Donuts store in Dehra Dun, in a new shopping mall. Another office has arranged to have donuts delivered weekly and I think our office is joining in. Just like home! (Except I very rarely have a donut in Indiana!)

We headed to Upper Woodstock, a home above the school, for supper with Naz and Vanu, the family of Darab, who has lived with us for the past year while he is in school. We had a great visit. Their next-door neighbor stopped in for a quick visit with her daughter Caroline. There has been a huge baby boom since we were last here two years ago. I can think of at least 5 or 6 new additions just off the top of my head! I'm looking forward to meeting more of them.

Our weather has continued to be nice. But last evening, as I was waiting in our apartment to leave for Upper Woodstock, it was thundering a lot. It began to sprinkle but I left anyway. Soon after I arrived, it began to really pour. Dan was already there, having come from some recital auditions. Fortunately it had stopped well before we left to go home. But we returned on the Zig-zag path, not the long stairway I had gone up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Daily Routine

We have settled into our routine. I work in the Alumni Office (now called Community Engagement Office) from about 8:30 to 4:30. Dan is helping with a few of the string-related sessions, maybe an hour a day. He enjoys walking out to Second Jabarkhet for mid-morning tea and elsewhere around the Hillside. He does almost all of our grocery shopping.

I am doing research for the next volume of the Woodstock School History. Today I went through about 30 yearbooks trying to get exact dates of service for various administrators. It's quite interesting! Through the years classes have tried to be innovative in how they design their yearbooks, sometimes resulting in making it difficult to find actual information.

I am making a point of taking a walk before I have lunch each day. I walk about 15 minutes east from school on Tehri Road, then turn and come back. It is a slight uphill on the way out, so I prefer that to heading downhill first. It's enjoyable to see different things along the way, so here are a few:

Butterfly sitting on the road

Closeup of growth on the khud (vertical side of road)

New manhole
I asked about these manholes along the road part of the way to Hanifl Centre. Evidently there are sewer tanks installed underground, but no one knows of any homes being hooked up to them. It really chewed up the road.

Mussoorie 2 kilometers (not sure what 52 is)

Blacktop on road washed away, nasty holes about 3 inches deep

We are back to our usual routine of soup mix and grilled cheese sandwiches for supper. This new Gouda cheese from Amul is pretty good.

I have some soup mixes I brought from the states for variety, but we tried this local one last night and it was quite good.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Settling in Mussoorie

Friday morning we were up very early to catch a taxi to the train station. The chair-car Shatabdi train is a comfortable way to travel, and breakfast is served (dinner on the afternoon train in the opposite direction), including corn flakes with hot milk. It sounds terrible, but really has its own charm.

Kulwant himself was there to meet us in Dehra Dun and we headed straight up the hill. It was good to see the Woodstock Gate and know we were back. We went right to the Alumni Office (now Community Relations) to greet colleagues and friends and get the key to our apartment. The Quad bearers had already brought our trunks down from the attic and soon carried them into our apartment. We are staying in Guest Room #1 (Diana Biswas' old apartment, for those who know the Quad). It is a very nice place, with a living room, office/desk area, small dining area and kitchen (all one big L-shaped room). The bedroom is separate with the bathroom connected (or en-suite, as the current term goes). For our clothing, we have a metal wardrobe (almirah here, a corruption of armoire) and a dresser. It is the same dresser we've had here before; we recognize the drawers that have no rollers or glides.

By the time we got things organized, it was time for supper, which we ate in the student dining hall. There were some students there instead of down at their dorms; I'm not sure what activity they were hanging around for. We had green Thai vegetable curry and red Thai chicken curry. It was good, better than we expected. There were also several salads. I will take a picture of the salad bar before long; it is pretty impressive.

Saturday morning Dan took off on his scooter to get some gas and supplies. Around noon we walked to the bazaar for lunch. Chhaya is a restaurant near the top of Mullingar Hill. I had decided that would be far enough for me to walk the first day. The road from school is fairly level and just over a kilometer (educated guess). It went well. We had soup and fresh bread toasted. When I put my spoon into my soup and lifted it, I was surprised to see a huge hunk of butter in there. It was melting rapidly, but I did manage to get a shot before it was all gone. Needless to say, the soup, made from fresh tomatoes, was delicious.

Walking in, we saw a tree covered in brown ferns; a signal that the monsoon is definitely ending.

You can't really see it in this picture, but the greenish spot right of center is one of the guard rails from the road. This is a typical landslide view during the monsoon. My camera is pointed straight down, which gives you an idea of the terrain. Soon we will probably see workers down there rebuilding the pushta (retaining wall).

In the evening, we were invited to a birthday party (I know, our social life here is much more active than it is at home!!) for Swati. She and her husband both work in the music department, and so did several of the other attendees.

Here is Dan with Joan, a new piano teacher. She came here because she studied piano pedagogy in Oklahoma with our friend and former colleague, Barbara Fast.

Two old friends and one newer one:  Immu, Swati, and Dolma.

Four of the men with two of the kids (the only ones; it was a mostly adult party).

Five of the lovely ladies.

And last, the cake. Amitavo had a funny story. When he ordered the cake, the form included the question: do you want anything written on it? He wrote:  Yes, Happy Birthday Mama. You can see the very literal result!