Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Last Day at Woodstock

Our last full day in Mussoorie was clouded by the sudden death overnight of our friend Saroj's sister (see last post). She was 90 and active until the end. Very shocking and difficult, but a peaceful end to a long life. The custom here is to go to the home of the bereaved. Close friends stayed all day; I just went for a few hours. Fortunately, the school personnel who deal with the Foreign Registration Office and other authorities were there to take care of necessary procedures.

We finished our packing (trunks to stay and suitcases to go) other than the last-minute things of this morning. Dan made egg sandwiches for supper. (I went down to see what was in the dining room, and it was mutton vindaloo and bhindi [okra] veg curry -- two of my least favorite dishes.)

This has been a good stay. I feel that I got a lot of positive work done in the office. We had lots of opportunities for socializing. And I definitely got stronger, able to walk longer distances without extreme fatigue.

We leave today (Tuesday) for Meerut to visit old friends and then Bangalore. I won't be able to post here until Saturday or Sunday, but don't give up, I'll be back!

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Saturday was a quiet day in our apartment. We did do a bit of preliminary sorting and packing, as we leave on Tuesday. I couldn't get any pictures, but we enjoyed watching the monkeys play in the school playground just below us. One of them found a plastic sand bucket, put his head inside and ran around crazily until it came off. Two others were on the swings, one lying across it on his belly and the other sitting and swinging. It's easy to see a human connection! Mostly I view the rhesus monkeys as pests. It can be scary to meet a large male all alone on a hillside path.

For lunch we went down to the dining hall. It is still quiet around here and we saw one other staff member getting some lunch. It was a good one:  chicken and veggie burgers (one of each), fresh buns just out of the oven, rice and dal (as always), and condiments for the burgers, including pickle relish!

About three o'clock we headed down to Fern Oaks to have tea with Saroj Kapadia and her sister, who is visiting from Victoria, BC. We had a very nice chat as well as some goodies with the tea.

While we were there a thunderstorm started. It rained quite hard for a bit. Once it let up, we quickly walked back to the Quad. Almost as soon as we got inside, it began to pour again. And it was very cold!

We were heading up to the top of the hill for dinner at Rokeby with the Class of 1969. It is quite a long walk and I had decided to get a taxi to go up and walk back down after dinner. We ordered our taxi for 6:15 and headed down to the school gate. We ended up waiting a good half hour, calling the taxi service (who must have forgotten our reservation), and finally got a ride. In the meantime, since it was raining, we went inside the shed that is now at the gate. I didn't realize it was fixed up very nicely as a waiting area.

When we arrived at Rokeby, we found out that the dinner had been moved into the hotel from the Highlands, an open area above where these kinds of events are often held. The rain and cold were too much. We gathered in the lobby for some talk and a presentation of a shawl to Mary, the class secretary, who had done so much work to plan this gathering.

Then we moved upstairs for appetizers and a buffet dinner. We were in a long narrow room but it all worked out well, and the food was delicious, as always at Rokeby.

Our walk home was fine. The weather had completely cleared off, and it was warmer than it had been earlier. Today the clouds and mist have been intermittent, with occasional bursts of sunlight.

It's Sunday now. Dan has gone on a motorcycle ride back into the hills with a couple of other riders. He's been wanting to do it, but it is a good idea to have more than one person in case of any problems. I am having a relaxing day.

Friday, October 24, 2014


This has been a very quiet week around the school. Quarter Break is on following Activity Week, and the Diwali holiday came on Thursday. The office was closed for the day, and we've had a small number here most of the week.

Tuesday the Class of 1969 arrived at the school; there are nearly 30 of them here for their 45th reunion. It was fun to see many students we remembered, but didn't always recognize them! They came into the inner office and held up their class flag for photo ops.

They toured the school, had lunch, and then went down and toured the residences. They are staying at Doma's Inn and Ivy Bank. On Wednesday evening they walked around chakkar and the hillside and ended up at Judy and Dana's place, the first house above Tehri Road heading east from the school. We were invited to join them for dinner. It was chilly, but fires inside and out made it quite comfortable. Judy and Dana's cook did a fine job on the meal.

This view is looking toward Witches' Hill from Dana and Judy's home.

Thursday evening we went back to Naz and Vanu's for Diwali. It was nice to have a quiet evening.  They gave a Zoroastrian prayer to celebrate the Festival of Light.

A view looking toward Mussoorie with many lights glowing.

Vanu is lighting the traditional oil lamps (diyas) in the entryway to their house. These came from Arunima, a home for autistic children that is run by a former Woodstock employee.

The winterline with clouds below.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Morning Catch-up

I took pictures of several different things over the past several days, so this will be a collection of mostly non-related pictures. 

The school just purchased a new Toyota Innova minivan. On Friday a blessing was held. Eric Templeton, C.N.I. pastor, said a prayer and sprinkled salted water on the vehicle. Eric Roberts, Woodstock Travel Officer, assisted him. Afterward barfi and laddoo were passed around. There weren't too many people there, as students and most staff were away on Activity Week. 

On my lunchtime walk Friday, this monkey family were sitting on the back ramp.

When we drove to Dehra Dun on Saturday for the WWD lunch, our taxi took the back roads through Barlowganj and Jharapani (at St. George's and Oak Grove Schools, respectively). I tried to take some photos through the window to show how steep and narrow the road is. Two of the corners required three-point turns. Maybe these two scenes will give you some idea.

Sunday evening we went to Tenzing and Tsering's place at the top of the hill. Their house is called Shanty, and it is anything but! They are continually adding on and expanding. The next project is a set of apartments to rent out on the flat space below the house. Their new grandchild needs space, so they added on a new living room and moved into it just days before we were there.

I managed to walk all the way up ZigZag path to Sisters' Bazaar. It is then a short walk across the chakkar to the path down to Shanty. I was pretty exhausted, but happy to have made it! Here is the view from the path on our way up -- notice the cloud settling over part of Mussoorie. You can also see the winterline in this one.

Here is Tenzing's new bar setup -- a bit smaller than the last one.

Dan enjoys having a hookah when we visit.

Completely unrelated, here are some snacks Dan brought from the bazaar. Thai Sweet Chilli Chips are my new favorite -- salty, slightly sweet, and slightly spicy -- satisfying most tastes! We tried the Nimbu Masala for the first time -- similar to Aloo Bhujia, but a bit thicker and a slight lime flavor. Notice that the bags are puffed large. That is due to the altitude change from where they are packaged to our mountain aerie. A very physical sign of decreased atmospheric pressure.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Worldwide Woodstock Day

We celebrate Worldwide Woodstock Day on the third Saturday in October. Gatherings are held all over the world to recognize this special place. We've been here in Mussoorie for many of them, and we've always had a dinner here, usually at someone's home. This year we decided to have the local one in Dehra Dun, hoping to pull in some of the alumni who live in that area. More than a dozen of us went down the hill. Nine of us were in two taxis that left at 10:00. Since the lunch wasn't until 1:00, we had a little shopping time. Judy and I went to FabIndia, one of my favorite stores, but I didn't find anything that suited me. We arrived at the mall where the Tavern restaurant is located about noon. (This restaurant is owned by the same people as the one in Mussoorie.) We found a shop called Westside that had lots of good clothing, both Indian and some western. I found two kurtas that I liked.

The mall was surprising. I knew that many malls have been built in every city in India for some time, but they are not the places that we generally go. The Crossroads Mall was huge and very modern, with escalators and a lift (maybe there were stairs, but not in any obvious location). There were a Body Shop, a Jockey store, and quite a few others. The first picture below is a view from the upper floor showing two escalators. I was standing at the top of the other two. Oddly enough, the down and up escalators were on opposite sides, so we had to walk around the perimeter to get to the next floor up. Maybe it was deliberate to encourage shopping! 

Food Court
Looking down at the Cafe Coffee Day kiosk in the centre
The Tavern laid on a delicious buffet meal. My favorite was the Kadhai Paneer, fresh cheese cubes in an onion and green pepper gravy. The dessert was phirni, a type of rice pudding. It was beautifully decorated with nuts.

Alumna Smitha with her daughter Karishma. Smitha was in upper elementary/junior high school when we taught her. They live in Northern Virginia now.

Two of the three Taylors there -- Alison and Ginny, both students back in the day and sisters of our friend Peggy. Their brother Fred and his wife were also there; he's heading for the Class of 1969 reunion held here this week.

I took a couple of pictures out of the car window as we were driving out of Dehra Dun. They show some of the typical buildings and shops along the way.

Dan had decided to ride a motorcycle down for the lunch, along with Marcus and Alex. They went out Tehri Road to the Sirkanda Devi Temple beyond Dhanaulti and down a fairly new road from there. It came out somewhere near Sahastradhara. They had estimated about two to two and a half hours for the ride, but it ended up taking four hours. They arrived at the restaurant just in time to pose in the group photo and then eat after the rest of us left. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bazaar Walk Again

Thursday afternoon I had my final dental appointment. This time the two crowns fit with just a bit of adjustment. I am glad to have that finished! Dan walked in with me. The weather has been very strange; yesterday I said the sun was back out but then more clouds rolled in. There were a few peepholes of blue sky as we proceeded further into the bazaar and now (Friday morning) it is clear again.

The first picture is looking south toward the Doon. It was heavily clouded above but light down below. The second one is at the same time (2:30 pm), looking back toward Woodstock and the Tehri Hills.

In Landour Bazaar, post-monsoon preparations are underway for Diwali next week. Just to the right of this photo was a man whitewashing the pushta along the side of the bazaar. This man was following along, outlining the rocks in blue. Notice the blue cover for a cubbyhole. On the way back, I saw him perched on one of those covers, leaning over to paint the edge.

As we walked from Picture Palace to the taxi stand (known as Masonic Lodge; there used to be one there, not sure if it still is), we passed this dump area. Broken furniture and old computer monitors. I'm not sure what the fate of these things will be, but I'm sure they will be recycled in some way or other as almost everything is here.

Looking up at bamboo scaffolding. I'm not sure if this is a new hotel or a rebuilding of one. I guess the workers were finished for the day, although one may have left a scarf dangling.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quiet Week

It has been a fairly quiet week here on the Hillside. The students and most of the staff are away on Activity Week. The rest of us have had varying degrees of dedication to getting lots of work done. On Wednesday some of our office people went on a staff picnic to Rishikesh to go white water rafting on the Ganga.

Monday I went back to the dentist to get my permanent crowns. After testing the fit and trying to adjust them, Dr. Thakral apologized and asked if I could come back Thursday. Whoever made them didn't exactly follow the impressions he had taken. It is now Thursday and I am hoping they fit well when I get there this afternoon. He is leaving for the next ten days, so there won't be another opportunity before we leave, too.

Monday the weather was bright and sunny; perfect October weather for Mussoorie. I took this picture from Mullingar looking east toward Woodstock and the Tehri Hills. I never tire of this view!

As I was sitting in the waiting room, I heard grunting, huffing and puffing. I looked down the stairs to see this coolie delivering a big load to the apartment just outside the dentist's office.

I caught him just as he was bending down to set the boxes on the floor. He carried them inside one at a time.

Tuesday morning we woke to heavy skies and it soon began to rain. We had been told to expect rain as an after-effect of the cyclone that hit the east coast in Orissa on Sunday. It was also very cold. Wednesday the clouds and cold weather continued, but we had no more rain. This morning, Thursday, the sun is out and it is clear. But I do believe the temperature has dropped five degrees or so and will stay that way. It's OK, we have plenty of warm clothing!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

End of a Week

This week slipped by quickly. There was a lot of excitement around the school, as Activity Week is coming up. The earliest hike left on Thursday and two more on Friday. Saturday was the SAT, so most seniors didn't leave until Saturday afternoon. Some of the trips leave on Monday. Following Activity Week is the fall break. We leave early the following week, so there won't be many students around for most of the rest of our time here.

We were out for dinner with friends both Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday we were with Naz and Vanu, family of Darab who is living in our house.

Dan and Momo at Naz's home

The Daruwalla Buddha in marble

Momo and Tsering with the Buddha

Naz and Vanu

On the walk up to their house, I could just see the Winterline through the trees.

When we woke up Thursday morning, there was a definite change in the weather. No more mist swirling around the hills. Cooler nights and warmer days. The Winterline is definitely showing. This is what October should be like in Mussoorie!

Friday I dealt with a 24-hour intestinal bug. Fortunately, with the aid of Pepto-Bismol and lots of ginger-lemon tea, in 24 hours it had passed.

Saturday was a quiet, restful day. In the afternoon I decided to do a blog post, and was shocked to get a message that it was gone. It took a while to get logged in; it took two tries of entering my Indian mobile phone number to get a text with a verification code. But eventually I did.

We walked in to the Golden Restaurant for supper. It is just across from Ram Chander near the former Clock Tower. [The Clock Tower is still the landmark by which we locate things; I do hope it gets rebuilt.]

Looking back at the Tehri Hills on the way into town

Inside Golden (the cubicle behind the man is a sink to wash before and after eating)

My first paneer pakoras of this trip

Aloo palak, chili paneer, tandoori roti
This was the first trip to the bazaar that I walked all the way home. It was a bit slow, but I made it quite well. We stopped for 6 eggs at the Victory Egg Store near the top of Mullingar Hill. The proprietor was happy for me to photograph him with his many eggs.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thursday Sunshine

We woke up this morning to a bright, clear sky. For the first time since our arrival, the monsoon mists have cleared away. I took several photos during my pre-lunch walk, which was quite warm in the sun!

These lovely purple flowers were blooming profusely in one area. You will notice that the ferns, moss and other monsoon growth has already dried up.

This is the view toward Witch's Hill, to the east of Midlands.

Looking further east to the Tehri Hills. They are already being slightly obscured by dust. It sometimes seems that there is no transition between seasons -- we move from one to the next in an instant.

This view is back toward the town of Mussoorie. Just a few puffy white clouds were in the sky. I like the look of the dead tree.