We’ve both committed to some additional responsibilities (chamber choir, basketball) and so this semester has been infinitely busier than last. We are dealing with a serious blogging backlog, but Bethany is in Delhi this weekend for a basketball tournament, so I’m going to attempt to catch up on the past three months in short order.
After a hellish December trip home, which included a miserable night pretending to sleep on the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport floor, an illogical reroute through Seattle, and (temporarily) lost luggage, it was wonderful to be home for so long over the holidays to visit family, friends and old haunts. (I almost included “cats” on that list, but the truth is they treated us like complete strangers, opting to keep their oversize guts firmly planted on the floor rather than acknowledge our return.)
During our stay we saw an unprecedented amount of snow, beginning with the inclement weather in Amsterdam, continuing on Christmas day in Atlanta (first time that’s happened since the 1880’s) and ending with The Great Snowpocalypse of 2011. We actually drove into town in a rear-drive pickup on the day the interstates were at their most impassable, which was an adventure, but not one I’d like to repeat anytime soon.
We loved Amsterdam, from its northern European uber-orderliness and funny-looking bicycles to its big, beautiful, empty old kerks and endless canals. On the way home (before getting snowed in) we enjoyed a dawn-lit walk through crisp snow to the Anne Frank Museum and the best french fries we’ve ever had. On the way back through in January, we took a canal tour, sped through the van Gogh museum, and visited the Irbys’ former exchange students. Fortunately, our return trip was without incident and even our three bottles of Trader Joes wine arrived intact.
Back in Mussoorie, February was bitterly cold outside and indoors it was even worse. In the midday sun it could be pleasant, but inside, where the sun literally never shines, it just never got warm. Here on campus there is no central heating in any of the buildings, so we rely on wood stoves called bucaris, electric heaters, or gas heaters. First came a gas shortage, then electric heaters banned because they were putting a strain on the campus generators. Of course everyone panicked and over-ordered firewood just before spring arrived, and then just as suddenly as the monsoon ended, so did winter. It’s been basically balmy ever since.
The weather righted itself just in time for us to begin getting out and training for our summer expedition to the top of Bandarpunch. Here are a few pictures from a recent hike out Tehri road to the Himalayan Weavers shop. We just dropped in to browse but were then invited to sit and have tea with the owner, Patricia Alam. She was a fascinating lady, and her house was like the fantasy homes of my youth: angular, alpine, sunlit, and buffeted by relentless high-altitude winds. They are situated at the top of a ridge with sweeping views of the high Himalayas to the north as well as the foothills and valleys to the south.
We’ve been filling in on Sundays at St. Paul’s Landour. I just pick the songs and we play them together in fairly unremarkable fashion, though the building makes everything sound good.
After our last post, which cast the food services department in a less-than-delectable light, the school menu committee revamped the menu. It was much improved, but the applause had barely died down when a good portion of the faculty and staff were sickened by a batch of delicious but apparently poisonous meatloaf. We never found the culprit, and the question still lingers: was it a simple hygienic oversight? Or was it an act of sabotage by a zealous Hindu cook, offended that the school was making him cook buffalo? Nobody knows for sure, which is why some of us have started nuking our food before eating it.
Quarter break is upon us and so we are getting up early to catch a bus to the Nag Tibba area, where we’ll do a 3-day backpacking trip with 11th graders and other staff. It’s supposed to be gorgeous, so we’ll try to post again (with pictures!) before too long.