Friday, October 23, 2009

Tibetan Happy Valley and Flag Hill

Tibetan Happy Valley and Flag Hill- 22 October 2009 Thursday

1.Arise. 2. Happy Valley Tibetan community with the Director, Tour of the School and its Library, Music, Class clapping, Painting, Thangkas, Sewing and Design, Dorms, Lunch, and Temple. 3. Flag Hill with its climb, the flags, the snows, and aborted walk to the Haunted House.  4. Supper at the Four Seasons.

Tibetan day for us – going to western Mussoorie’s Tibetan communities Happy Valley for the morning and afternoon, and then a drive out east to Jabarket and beyond to Flag Hill, where Tibetan prayer flags fly.

1.Arise.  We arose as usually around 8, after a somewhat sleepless morning from about 3 am on.  I took a little video of our night watchman whistling his way around the Himalaya Castle terrance, shining his flashlight and checking out some the bushes. Lindsay came out of her room about the same time (3 am) and commented on the owl, but I think she mistakenly thought the watchman’s periodic and reigular whistling was the owl.  There was a real owl or two hooting, hoot-hoot, then hoot-hoot, which you could hear over the distant dogs barking.  Breakfast was on the terrace again – Deej had thought it quite cold and windy at first, but the sun soon warmed us up as we shared an omelet, and scarfed down our warm buttered chapatis and two cups each of tea.  I helped Dana order two easy over eggs on toast, the key word being ‘soft’ fried eggs.  They came fine, except the toast and runny eggs were separate.

2. Happy Valley Tibetan community with the Director  Our taxi was to came at 9:45, but actually came early around 9:30, so we scambled to get in the taxi a few minutes after 9:30, with Dana riding shot-gun or suicide seat? We had some unsolved confusion of how much we were going to pay him, but he indicated Raj – who was the Woodstock taxi man arranging rides, so we left it for later.  The drive took us down below the Mall road, with us getting petrol or gas at the King Craig pump.  I had never been to Happy Valley, but it was around the road on the north side of the Library, heading toward Kempty Falls, but vering off after about 5 minutes to left or mountain side, and then another 5 minutes keeping to the left, with the bright white buildings of the Indian Administration Institute to our right, including their tennis courts and horse riding flat grounds.  We arrived at the office, and one greeter hesitantly figured to usher us in and up to the Director’s office. We had about half an hour just with him, asking questions about Tibetans coming to India, and mentioning we had seen the Dalai Lama when he first came to Mussoorie in 1959. We had filed past him during that public audience, each receiving a special knotted colored cloth.  Lindsay and I had lost ours long ago, but some of the Class of 59 still treasured theirs.

What we were waiting on was for another Woodstock group to arrive, which they did around 10:30, a UK family of 5, Chris Anderson’s sisters family.  The Director then went into a description of the Tibetans, their refugee history and their trails and difficulties; the founding of Happy Valley, and the setting up of this special school for around 500 Tibetan refugee children, which was established in the early 1960s before the Dalai Lama moved with most of the Indian refugee community to Dharahmsala.  The two UK kids asked some interesting and pointed questions. 

Tour of the School and its Library   Around 11:45 the Director finished his presentation and we thanked him and went off with a guide to see the school.  First there was an open courtyard with girls doing the homework, evenly spread out sitting on the ground.  Up the steps was the media center and library.  The library had some current magazines on racks, various chairs and tables, and stacks in the back.  There were photos of the Ruskin Bond’s 75th birthday celebration at the school.  One of the 10 or so racks of books was Tibetan language materials and the rest was a very mixed bag of English books, such as fiction about G.I. Joe

Music.  Through some more corridors and courtyards was the music room, where one boy was playing a Tibetan style bass guitar and a seated girl was strumming on a sort of zither.  There were drums, horns, flutes and other instruments around.

Class clapping  On our way to the painting class rooms, a class of 8 year old boys and girls sang the English song “Clap your hands” – with much glee.

Painting. One classroom had students oil painting variety of subjects, and they were in a 4-year program at different levels.

Thangkas.  The same was true (4-year program, different levels students) for next classes of students, the first one had students sketching and painting Thangkas.

Sewing and Design.  The next room had students sewing shirts, blouses, and coats, running the sewing machines by foot.  Finally there was a design room, where students were cutting cloth based on different models of traditional and non-traditional Tibetan clothes – and of different sizes.   All these class were very interesting and the students did not seem to be fazed by our presence, wandering around and looking at them working.




3. Flag Hill

The climb

the flags

the snows

aborted walk to the Haunted House. 

4. Supper at the Four Seasons.

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