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!

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