Friday, October 29, 2010

Yoga - first day at the Ashram

29 October 2010 Friday

This was the yoga or ashram first day.  We had a 2.5 hour session introducing us to the basics of yoga and then an evening 20-minute video about Sri Rama followed by a discussion of his life and yoga in general.

See photo album India 2010 #8 Ashram

Here's a trip itinerary of the whole India trip [a Word document] in October and November 2010

But the day started out with a plan to meet at 7 for an hour walk.  I woke up as usual at 4:25 am knowing I would not be able to get to sleep, and when I next looked at my watch it was 6:52 am – wow, a really full, good night’s sleep for the first time on the trip to India.  Rushed and put on my clothes just in time to hear Alice knock on my door.  One of the Ashram ladies, Joan Ann (originally from Minneapolis and raised Jewish) led us to the archeological dig of Virbadra.  (us meaning Alice, Llyn, Joan Ann and me). We walked along back lanes from the main road south and then toward the river Ganga. People were just getting up – cattle were being fed, a woman was taking a cat back into her courtyard, school-dressed brother and sister were rushing to school. We saw both the new Sri Virbadra temple as well as the fenced in digs.  Joan Ann told the story of Shiva’s assistant, Virbadra as we walked along.  -Then the loop back – past papaya trees, old gates, fancy new 2-storied buildings, and the Seema Dental College.  Our hour trip getting back in time so Joan Ann could join the last ½ hour of the pre-breakfast meditation.

Went back to my room #14 and showered and got ready to join Robert to go for breakfast late, around 8:40 am. Others were still chanting and we joined the others in the group on the benches outside the main eating hall (where people sat and ate in long rows).  We were served breakfast of toast spread with butter, two types of curries or dal, and chai.

I went back and got my computer and then to the office and a little bit of emailing with Deej and on Facebook.  Robert’s group was up with their passports getting registered, which I had done when I arrived at 3:45 pm yesterday (Thurs).  I also rushed to the Gift Shop and bought a white shirt with their insignia on it and white pants – and wore that to the yoga introductory session starting at 10 and lasting until about 12:30 pm
Our group's schedule at the ashram
Our instructor for the session was from Denmark, all dressed in white, Tele, and all of 19 years old.  He was very good, giving us an informal session as we all gathered round him with our yoga matts and folded blankets.  He explained a little history and background – to control our breathing to make our bodies healthy to improve our minds so as to work our way toward samadi and release the self or atman.  We laid belly down to start teaching our lungs to breathe through our diaphragms; we spent a lot of time figuring out how to position ourselves so we will sit with our curved spine freeing our diaphragm, Tele going around and individually helping to position us correction.  He selected me and 4 others as better to sit on a chair or stool rather than on the floor and blanket.  Then we need to focus our minds in meditation – by focus on 1) Shiva or such, or 2) by counting, or 3) by a mantra which he gave to us So ‘ Hom – I am That. Then we went through about 40 minutes of breathing and meditation.

It was just about 1 pm lunch time by then, and we all got up and loosened and stretched our bodies and went to lunch.  Again we were served after washing our hands, and after more chanting.  Similar fare of curries, dals, rice, chapatis, water.  Some went off and did digestive yoga, while I went back to the room and copied off photos from my cameras.

At 3 we had a session for the group, led by Robert back in the meditation room – he saw this as a banquet, as a time for us to share our stories, and as part of the Hero’s tale with challenges along the way – like the Ramayana, deciding options – to come, to go through challenges along the journey, and to share them with each other.  Robert told the first stories of the Ramayana, as we sat in a circle for about an hour.

Alice and I wanted to go to town, so after we went down and had chai, we headed out to the bazaar – Abe, Anne, and Kathy joined us – we were told it was Rs. 7 to the bazaar, and sure enough that is what the auto-rickshaw driver wanted –  the 5 of us crowded into a rickshaw with an Indian couple joining us.  Getting out of the rickshaw after the 20 minute ride, we asked where Arora and Sons was, which we had been told was a good place to buy kurta and payjamas.  But first (at 5:15 pm) we decided if we got separated to meet at Neelam Hotel at 6:15 to go back. We headed down the 300 yards further down the road, which was not easy since the busy traffic continually whizzed past us barely missing us.  We ducked into a shoe shop so I could buy some sandals – and I bought a pair, not the best, but the black plastic chapals would have to do. At Arora I tried on a white shirt, and both Kathy and Alice finally agreed it fit me.  But they thought a tan kurta was even better – I went ahead and bought both – the white set and the tan kurta (Rs 450 for the set and Rs 250 for the kurta).  Alice also bought a scarf, and Anne tried on an outfit in the back room but didn’t like how big it was.  We walked further north on the road which soon turned into hardware shops so we headed back.  Kathy lead the way, and we headed down one side road a little ways and backed out, and then down another that turned around and back to the main road.  There were lots of colorful paper flower garlands in the shops in preparation for Diwali – and many other interesting things along the street.  We got back to the main road and I tried to get a passport pouch in 3 bag shops next to each other – nothing to be had. C But I did find a simple gray shoulder bag – and I bought 2 more cokes (and Alice bought bottled sodas) at Rs 20 each, and then about 8 bananas for Rs 15. And we got another rickshaw and headed back.
I wanted to get a photo as we arrived 20 minutes later, so stepped out before everyone else and took the flash photo, just as I realized my right foot was in a cow pie!   

Back to our rooms at 6:30 pm to get ready for supper at 7.  I unloaded my loot and took a photo, by which time Robert said he had heard the supper bell.

Normal supper, chanting, hands washing, sitting on benches out back – dal, veg curry, chapatis, rice, salt, 2 cayanne peppers, hot milk with sugar, and an apple.  We back to the room and then on to the 8 pm video session – almost walking into the sacred video room with my new chapals on.

The video session turned out quite boring to me, at least.  A 20 minute video of Sri Rama followed by some random comments, no really answering Llyn’s pointed question, so why do people come here for what reason? Nor even Kathy’s question about, so why and what did Sri Rama die of and what lessons did he leave his followers.  Claudia got up and left soon after the video, and then Gail left after the 45 minutes of the session, and I just about fell asleep before they ended the session at about 9:10 pm – Robert, however, was totally enthralled by all of it – having read some of the suggested books, etc.

I came back ‘home’ after agreeing to meet Alice again at 7 for an hour walk tomorrow morning.  I tried to write some of this before I got too tired.

Shifting - a new stage Reunion to exotic

28 October 2010 Thursday

Transition day, moving from the Woodstock Reunion stage of my trip to my Exotic India stage of my trip. Traveling from Woodstock and Mussoorie by car to Dehradun, and on the Haridwar by Link Express train, and car to the Sri Rama Ashram in Rishikesh.  Robert’s group also traveled by bus from Delhi to Rishikesh during the day.

Alan and I went on our one-hour walk leaving around 6:10 am from the Hanifl Center.  As other days, there were the three early morning men on the first rise going east on Terhi road – one man lying flat, one sitting up, and one exercising.  Don’t know why, but we greeted them as usual.  They laughed as Alan commented ‘serious’ exercising.  We had thought we’d go around the base of Flag Hill, but then we headed opposite of Flag Hill to the Haunted House – ducking under the perfunctory first barrier, but coming up to the strong signs “No Trespassing” This time the sign had an email address on it!  But there was no dog or guard, though we still decided to go around it, and not into it, going around the right side, where Alan noticed a big cement mixer machine.  We gave up going around the side as the vegetation closed in.  We did see and hear some more birds – the red bird group, and the whistling bird. 

Got back around 7 and I showered as the others went off to breakfast around 7:15 am.  I soon joined them and in my rush, I got to the dining room only about 5 minutes after they had gotten there.  I dropped off a Fosters bottle next to some red trash on my way in.  Pancakes and special pakora bread for breakfast, but still no promised curd. More others joined us as we were finishing up.  I left to go back and pack, though Helen had already packed the night before.

Packing was pretty easy back at the Hanifl Center and I was done by about 8:45 am so went down the Center’s computer room and did some emails and connections. When 10:30 am came around, Alan with Helen’s suitcases and I with mine were down waiting for the car, which arrived pretty soon, with Sanjay as our driver – same driver as yesterday from the picnic to Woodstock.   

Helen and Yvonne were waiting at the Woodstock gate and there were hugs and goodbyes and we were on our way, though the traffic though the lower Landour road was really horrible.  About 15 minutes after King Craig, Helen let out this loud remark – oh, no, I left my Woodstock bag on the top of the scooter where we were waiting!  Right away Sanjay stopped and was prepared to go back, but Helen said no – it was unimportant stuff.  She had her money and passport with her.  Further discussion led to the probability that I would pick it up when I was back in Mussoorie in the next few days, take it and leave it at the Delhi Florance Inn, where Helen was returning in 6 weeks before she left for home from Delhi.  Sanjay used my ‘new’ cell phone to call his boss who would call Woodstock to find and hold it.  The boss soon returned the call that the bag was being held by Mr. Roberts.

The temperature, weather changed to much warmer as we reaching Dehradun. We searched for and found a restaurant recommended to Helen, the Yeti – Chinese, Tibetan, and Indian food.  The woman owner was great – she recommended the fast food would be Indian and we made them bring and seat Sanjay to eat with us.  The pallau, dal, chapatti, and vegetable curry came soon and Sanjay especially seemed to enjoy it.  Then to the station by 1 pm, with Sanjay helping me get a coolie for Rs 50 who would carry my bag and seat me in the right place on the train.  Hugs to Helen as she went off with Sanjay for the afternoon, maybe to the Forestry museum for the afternoon (Rs 800 extra) before her 5 pm Shatabdi.

I had my bunk, compartment all to myself, as we found my name listed on the sheet on the boggie.  The trip down to Haridwar seemed slow – it appeared to be about 27 miles and took about an hour.   

At the station as I got off and was pulling my luggage, my next contact appeared with a Philip McEldowney sign.  He picked my bag and I followed him up over the bridge, down, and to the parking lot and the car – he got in the front and a driver joined us. It was a strange one-hour drive them to Rishikesh through horrendous traffic coming both ways, follow the railroad tracks half of the way and the Ganga next to us some of the time.  They picked the correct one of the two Sri Rama ashrams, went to the registration office, filled out forms and gave passport for copying, and then drove near to my #14 room.  I filled out and signed and gave the coupon to the Uday agent who seemed overjoyed that the transaction and trip had taken place without a hitch.  I was in my room by 3:45.

Very simple rooms with a bed in two separate rooms, a bathroom with explained hot water for showers, and a living / kitchen first entrance room.  The air conditioner’s clicker didn’t have any effect of course.  I walked around the Ashram grounds.  Robert showed up around 5:30, and we eventually went to supper at 7, with chanting beforehand, and I met and sat with the others on the outside benches and tables.  Gail first, then Alice and Llyn – then the others, - Kathy who is Gail’s neighbor and friend and feline friendly.  The young Abe and Anne couple. And the two others – Claudia and Jeanie.  Each one very interesting in their own ways.

I was exhausted, went back and fell into bed around 8:30 or so, as Robert was still up. 

And I slept soundly – beyond my 4 am wake up and almost missing my Friday morning walk.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Tehri and its dam

26 October 2010 Tuesday

Hard to keep the blog going much, like last night (Monday 25th Oct) I finished up the 320 emails and tried to reply some at the Hanifl Center's computer room, but by then it was 10:30 pm, way after my usual bed time.  I moved my photos off my cameras but was tired and fell to sleep about 11 - waking as usual at 4:45 am, which is a good 6 hours sleep for me (I usually sleep at home from 3-7:30 or 4.5 hrs, so 6 hrs is more).

Then went on a walk with Alan - like we have done the last three mornings from 6 to 7 am - this morning up the back side path from Jabbarkhet to Fairy Glen - not too far up the path, and down to Fairy Glen, a clear, flat area with concrete flat seats to sit and look out, north to the snows - which were out nicely this morning.  The Class of 1963 had donated money to fix it up as part of the 150th Woodstock School anniversary and it looks nice

Today Alan and I rented a car ($25 each) out to Tehri, where they completed a huge dam around 2004, which the backed up lake has submerged the 80,000 population town and built a beautiful lake or jeel - supporting hydro-electricity production.  All the residents were built new homes by the government, about 4,000 feet further up the mountain side - the new Tehri town has about 100,000 population now, living in the new homes.  Had a great lunch on the outside terrace of a very modern hotel/restaurant - alu muttar curry with pea pallau and roti followed by gulab jamans, masala chai, and mango juice.  The 2-hour trips there and back were interesting, but a bit scary.  It goes through Danolti about halfway there - the road winds its way along very, very steep mountain sides (Deej and others of the Class of 1959 will remember the treacherous ride to Danolti there and back in 1998).  Yvonne didn't want to do it, and Helen also refused to do it, after her experience of her brother George falling down the khud and eventually dieing of injuries. We left the Woodstock gate at 8:15, got to Tehri dam around 10:15, up to Tehri around 11:30 for lunch, left there around 12:45 and got back to the Hanifl Center around 2:40 pm.

But Alan and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  Alan is great - even though his Hindi vocabulary is more limited than mine, he has some great phrases he knows and modifies to meet the occasion, and is never reluctant to try his Hindi, like with your driver Jagdish.  Alan learned 4 words today bimar (sick, as in Yvonne gets car sick easily), araam (rest or with ease, as in don't drive back quickly, just go with ease), and then two other words I can't remember - one is for translate (anuk?, as in Alan's father did a lot of translations from and back into English to Hindi or to Urdu), and the other is for cattle ranch (gokul, as in Alan runs a cattle ranch back in New Zealand).

We learned our diver Jagdish grew up in a village, now on the other side of the new Tehri dam lake, and the government supplies a motor boat to take villagers back and forth

I better stop now, since I need to go to the School and pay my bill before they close at 5 (it is 3:38 pm right now, and it takes a brisk 12 minute walk to the School, and I said I'd be there around 4 pm)

And when will I have time to upload some photos! awck!

I am feeling better, have had no stomach or bowel problems, having taken two days of the arithromyisine (something like that).
Later Alan wrote these remarks in an email (26th December 2010)
For the rest of the class, I don't know whether Phil Mc told you or not (I haven't seen it if he did), but one day we two took a taxi out to the Tehri dam. Leon didn't want to come, nor did Helen or Yvonne, and the Rughs had already left the hillside. It took about 2.5 hours to get there, with magnificent vistas of the snows and other mountain scenery on the way. The dam is strategically placed to dam the Ganga and one other river (forgotten the name of it) where they come together to carry on as the Ganga. The resulting elongated lake, running more or less east west as far as I could make out, covered about 100 villages and some of the most fertile land in the area. All to get more water and more electricity for Delhi!! The new town/city of Tehri is relocated to near the top of the hills, from under that water. What a shame, in the name of progress. More dams may be built in the future too, it seems! Somewhere in those hills. Our driver, Jagdish, shared a lunch with us at a roadside eating place.

Dorms visit and access

25 October 2010 Monday

Had wonderful tours of the dorms in the morning, and mostly tried to catch up on my 320 emails and other Internet stuff in the afternoon.

Hopefully more later.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday the 24th. Church, snows, Oakville

Flag Hill walk and snows. Breakfast. Church service at St Pauls. Lunch at Char Dukan’s Alif’s CafĂ©.  Walk around the chakar.  Lal Tiba snows. Oakview houses. Frustration at no Internet, but good chocolate and talk. Supper and more no access frustration.

Alan and Jim had offered for me to join them for the walk to the top of the hill at 6 am Saturday morning, but I regret that I declined. So, I got myself ready to go with them Sunday morning when they decided to go see if they could see any snows from Flag Hill.  And we left on our trek around 6 am, going through waking Jabbarkhet, with the few early rising kids and others staring at us, a woman ringing the temple bell.  At the base by the road we could see the sun was rising soon and it was light enough to see, but I was exhausted already, compared to my two seasoned (they had been here 5 days) who also exercised and did regular manual work back home.  So,  I rested as I told them to go on, yell if they could see snows – Jim said, if he threw down a small rock, to come up. A big rock meant no snows, don’t come up.  Well, I have saw rocks, but started the trek about 5 minutes behind.  They were going up the ridge about 1/5th of the way up, and said to stick on the ridge if I decided to follow.  The sun then rose over the Tehri hills to the east.  I worked my way through the boulders and bushes, gradually, reaching the flat camp ground about 4/5ths the way up.  As I was almost at the top they were coming down, but went back to the top with me, and lo and behold – there they were again – those marvelous snow covered peaks of the Himalayas. Nanda Devi, Bandar Punch, etc.  What a sight with the early morning sun striking them from the right side, from the east. Photos, photos, photos, and then the trek down, trying not to slip and the loose rock.

Breakfast was pretty normal, except we were the only ones there – as the kids were either in their dorms or off on Activity Week, and staff was not around Sunday morning.  Cereal, eggs, fried squares (at first thought to be fish,   but ended up being white cheese), toast, coffee, chai, seeb (apple), and I shared two of my four custard apples. No juice.  Rughs went off back to the Hanifl Center, while the rest of us discussed religion. I was going to try the Internet, but the conversation was to hot.  Off to the Gate with Helen, Yvonne, and Alan, as the Rughs were coming in other cars.

St Pauls Church – up near the top of the hill, our taxis going through Mullingar and up the west side roads.  The service had already started when we got there at 9:35.  It was a normal Anglican service, with hymns, scripture reading, following the priest in the book, a talk by his wife for about 15 minutes, more singing, more chanting by the priest with us participating, communion, a last hymn and it was over.  At one point we introduced ourselves to the 20 member congregation, and only two people did not go up for communion, Yvonne and me.  Dead beats.  The church was built back in the 1840s or 1850s with some plaques honoring soldiers who had died in the 1860s and 1870s.  The pew railings still had holes to place your rifle, after you lifted a little latch.  Chai and cake and conversations – Alan and I talked to the coach who had been at Woodstock since 1980, and was directing kids all day yesterday at the Olympics.  He also was part of a 9 team that rollerskated from Dehra Dun to Amritzar in 9 days – only two dropped out.

We then joined the Rughs for their farewell lunch at of the Char Dukans or restaurants – sharing a basket of onion pakoras with Helen as others had pranthas and pancakes, juices, tea, etc.  Then we bade the Rughs farewell as they are off for 4 days in Delhi before flying back home to Tennesee, via, flight to London, then Amsterdam, then Knoxville.

Next the trek around the chakar, a path or road around the top of the Mussoorie hill.  We met a few people and stopped to chat with them – visiting Americans about our age, two German students at a Dun school for the semester with their fellow students, before we got to the beautiful sights of the snows again at Lal Tibba – they were in full sun and surprisingly huge and seemed close by.  Photos, photos, especially for Helen, whose camera’s battery had died.  Past pushtas under construction, and with flowers and trees sticking out of them.  Then the cemetery, but still closed so we could not check of Ms Marley’s grave was indeed overgrown.  On to Kellog and more photos.  Around the font side to see where the huge oak tree had fallen down during Friday night’s rain and wind storm, and which Alan and Jim had seen on their Sat morning walk.  It had missed Sanjay’s house and his car and knocked down electric lines.  When we got there only 4 huge sections of tree remained and men were gathering up the electric line.  On to Prakash’s where I got some potato chips and a Cadbury almond chocolate bar, which inspired Helen to buy one.  And, Alan and Yvonne went back to buy theirs too.

On to Oakville, past other Woodstock houses and centers, where Helen had lived. She described the big duplex, the tennis court, the main house, and the cottage.  So we took photos of it all.  The dogs were barking inside the house, but no one was around.  We went down the back road with a dual concrete track which the Alters had had made.  Down to the camp ground and the amphitheater which the Class of 1960 had donated money for. 

And then home, the Hanifl Center around 2:30 or so.  We spent the afternoon in there, making tea and sitting around talking as we tried to connect to the Internet, in about 40 unsuccessflul ties.  Talk about personality ties and who and whether people we knew fit into them and why or why not.

Around 6:30 we headed for supper – again just the four of us, with basic rice and three types of curry and some salad.  No curd, no chai, basic.  I went up to try the Internet and Dan was in the Alumni room downloading classical music, which he had developed a craving for and was so easy to find and download – Beethoven, Copland, and a little Mahler while I was there.  I read through some messages in my dead email form the 20th Oct which had somehow been downloaded onto my computer.  But still no luck getting access.  Walked home feeling woosie and had some stomach and bowel problems, so quickly took a pill.

Fell to sleep exhausted – from the morning climb to Flag Hill? Or the long afternoon chakar walk? Or? Around 7:45 pm.

WorldWide Woodstock Celebration at Woodstock

Time for the World Wide Woodstock Day, at Woodstock while others celebrated around the world.  The second annual one, in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the Woodstock School Old Students Association, WOSA, to be held next year 2012.  This one was held at the Woodstock School President’s residence, starting around 6:30 pm, included about 35 people, alumni and staff from over the years, some visitors, like 3 members of the Class of 1960 also celebrating their 50th, many residents on the hillside who were past staff or student alumni, and present staff.   It was my second attendance, being at Woodstock last year at Pennington for the first celebration.  Anne asked, will you be here for the real celebration 2012?  Who knows?

We arrived from Hanifl Center at the President’s house at around 6:30 pm – Alan said – wow, this is the first time I was allowed at the President’s house.  Others trickled in during the next half hour.  We were greeted by the President at the door, put our coats down in a back room  There was a wonderful roaring file in the living room, a table with food in covered metal dishes in the living room, with seating all around.  The President gave some remarks, and then Chris S added more, with a little history of how the event had originated and was binging promoted by Woodstock as he headed the effort.  The trays of vegetable and meat  kababs were placed on the coffee table near the fire place – at one point Helen had to shoo the cat from its stiffing and interest in the meat kababs.  Then there was the food – various salads, curries, rice, naan, etc. in a very festive atmosphere.  People greeting old friends, but mostly getting to know new friends, surprised at the connections, common experiences and common friends, and the stories events at Woodstock and after. Several staff were there, tired from their full day experience and participation at the Olympics.  Including celebrity, Tom Alter, who was, as usual one of the centers of recounting memories and personal associations. Other alumni had just arrived, especially for this event, and greeting old and new friends.  Laugher, warm conversations, stories galor, finding suprising connections. 

The party started breaking up around 8 and after, and we drifted back to the Hanifl center full of good food and sharing the connections and stories we had heard. A successful WWD at Woodstock.

Friday and Saturday in Mussoorie

[Internet not working well here, so can't use my mail, which might be blocked anyway as I went over quota just as I left, and don't know if I deleted enough to be back on quota]

Friday (22nd Oct)
first went to breakfast at the school, after I barely arrived in my 6-7:15 drive up from Dehra Dun to the Hanifl House as Jim and Loise, his two grand kids, Helen, and Allan and Yvonne walked off to breakfast; I went in and brushed teeth, took pills, went to the bathroom, and then walked to breakfast.  They sat us in front at the 8:30 monthly Parker Hall session, but did not introduced us.  Did some Internet stuff.

See a photo album India 2010 #1

Went in a car with Helen and others to see where her brother, George, fell (and then died some weeks later of his injuries).  Somewhat emotional for Helen, but she kept asking questions of the driver who had helped, along with the driver's brother, to go down and carry injured George back up the road, so that George could be taken to the hospital, etc.  It is locate in the very, very steep ravine which goes from the School, to the west side of Eastwood and down to Hanson Field. The car went back up to the School where we had morning tea.

Around 11:45 am we got in cars and went to a 'development' lunch at Rookbey, a nicely redone house, up and down as a plosh restaurant.  I had tandoori cheese salad, mustard chicken, and chocolate mousee (or mouse, as we joked, all non-veg dishes).  Several staff were there including the Principal, Anne L, Chris S, Aba (development officer), and others.  Leon Dillingham is spending 3 months doing video of the school and area, and since he's also Class of 1960, he joined us for lunch - quite an interesting, knowageable, and funny guy. Rookbey is up near Kellog, near the top of the hill.

I went to Landour bazaar as others went back to Woodstock or Hanifl. Got my hair cut, bought 2 coke bottles and asked how much a car would cost back to Hanifl (Rs 100), bought 2 bottles of beer, checked out a Rs 1300 ($32) cell phone to possibly purchase.  Walked on past the now destroyed, gone clock tower and on to Picture Palace.  They said Rs 200, I offered Rs 100, but one guy said, okay Rs 150, so came back with him, giving him Rs 170. Tried using the Internet here and got some connection on my laptop, but then they locked both doors to the Center where the computer room is - so I had to open up a window and yell at the chowkidar to unlock one of the doors.

It started raining and then raining hard.  Jim let me an umbrella and the four (Jim, Loise, and grandson Steve) of us walked back to school for supper, which was pretty good - varied Indian dishes with rice.
The school kids were in the other room having a special dinner, all dressed up for a Sadie Hawkins dance to follow - but we came back around 7, with it still sprinkling.  I left by myself, without flashlight, in the dark walking Tehri road in the dark (no street lights working). I just kept to the hillside and hoped for the best.
Only a few cars blinded me at the beginning and luckily no one came walking for me to bump into.  Next day  discovered an electric line and fallen down on Tehri, but on the down khud side, so I mixed being entangled and electricuted by it.  5 minutes after I got back, they arrived.

I worked some on my photos uploading them - drank a Haywood, but I was exhausted and soon fell to sleep, under a nice quite in a refreshingly coolish room.

Woke up a few times during the night, but fell back to sleep right away, until around 5 when I couldn't get back to sleep so worked on photos some more, took my first India shower (nice warm water), and did not go with Jim and Alan on their nice walk up to the top of the hill, where they saw a huge oak tree had fallen down just missing a roof and a car, but toppled the electric lines in the area.

See photo album India 2010 #2

Saturday (23nd Oct) We took off for breakfast around 7:30, ate and got ready to get cars to take us to Wyneberg Allen's sport field where there was an Inter-school sports day (5 different schools like Woodstock joined together for the meet.  It was quite somthing watching the high schoolers - hurdling, jumping, pole vaulting, running, etc.  Tom Alter opened the whole event up and even went down and gave some of the medals to the winners on the victor stand. Alan was quite surprised Tom had such as strong Indian accent. We sat with the Woodstock students at first, and then went to a guest area under a canopy, luckily before it started to rain.  But it didn't  rain long or hard anyway.  We found rest rooms, a different kinds of hot food at stalls.

Had lunch and then went to the bazaar at Picture Palace - I went off with Jim and his two grandkids, leaving staff member Emo to show slow Helen around, but lost them shortly after getting Bengali sweets (two warm gulab jamins). Jim was bent on finding his grandaughter a woman to put hena on her hand.  I chased after them, stopping briefly at Bond's book shop, and going almost all the way to the Library, without finding them.  Took a Rs 30 rickshaw back, and bought a Rs 80 torch (flashlight). Found Jim getting his shoes shined.  His granddaughter had her hena.  Then off to Picture Palace to catch a car back to the Hanifl house, and tried this Internet now.

It's almost 6 pm so need to go off and join others for the walk to the Principals house and our WWD celebration.

Nice Wold-Wide Woodstock Day - met some new folks, joined with others for the evening celebration. Good food, good conversations, jovial. Singing some Woostock songs. Sparkling lights of Dehra Dun. Light conversation among us on our way home after a very interesting, full day.

Ch'ville to Mussoorie

Took a car Wed (20th Oct 2010) to Richmond, a flight to Newark, a 2.5 delayed 14 (minus) hour flight to Delhi (arriving around 9:30 pm Thursday the 21st Oct, waited long for luggage, then went through visa and customs), was picked up by my travel agent (about 10:30 pm), went with him to go over my itinerary and bill, found an ATM after two tries to pay the bill, made the 11:55 overnight train to Dehra Dun, arriving at 5:45 am Friday the 22nd Oct, with taxi waiting and winded our way to Mussoorie around 7 am, and the Hanifl Center around 7:30 am as my Woodstock companions were headed out to breakfast.

See Photos India 2010 #1 - the first 20 photos or so.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Madison again in October

Headed to Madison again, after several days with Julie and family in Iowa, where I again attended librarian meetings and the annual South Asia Conference.

Madison's a great place - on the lakes, where I went to graduate school for 4 years in the mid 1960s, lived and learned - and where I've come back to often for this fall annual South Asia Conferences.

Wed the flight from Des Moines was delayed about 1/2 hour since they encountered thundershowers leaving Chicago, but our flight was fine.  Then sitting around Chicago, this time with my gate nearby - so I got lunch at Chillies, then on to Madison, reading some more on the Little book on Language, in an aisle seat. The surprise was to get a Green Cab after I got my luggage off the carousel - and I needed to tell the Asian looking cab driver how to get to University Inn, since he kept going around the Capital square.  And  a cheap fare - $11 plus tip - quite Green.

Settled into a nice room #311 on the side away from the noisy State street, and went up and down State street popping in to the nick-knack shops after going to the University book store for some good cards and pens.  Supper again at Kabul, lamb kabob - but those are 8 big pieces of lamb with the onion, tomato, and green pepper.  Their soup and bread is always great.  Not much in the evening but my webcam was not interactive in the living room - don't know why.

Thursday, lazy getting up and preparing for the meetings.  Ate at the PotBelly across the street since the other Afghan restaurant, Shabaz, has disappeared - had chili again.  Off to get my pass and greeting people for the two hour presentation by Carol and Fehl of the Islamabad and Delhi offices.  Then the 4 hour meeting from 2-6 of the CONSALD meeting - the Round Robins taking lots of time, though also usually good and interesting information of other libraries.  I got my ephemera or pamphlet pitch in, show the GoSher blog also.  Walked with others to Carol's (20 blocks?), and had a fantastic India supper there catered by Taste of India.  And then walked by myself the 22-24 blocks back to the hotel in the dark.

Friday got up, eating breakfast of cereal, milk, and juice I had bought the day before, packed, and carried or rolled my luggage as I moved from the University Inn to the Madison Concourse Hotel, where the Conference also is.  Got here about 10, and got to a great 3rd floor room - one floor above the main Conference panel floor and the same floor as the swimming pool. Registered for the Conference and luckily got a meal ticket. Full day of panels, from about 10:30 on, with lunch of Momos at Himal Chula, and the a great Indian supper at the end of the afternoon panels.  A keynote talk about Mystic India, and then some flute music before I got too tired and came upstairs.

Saturday, same or more panels, lunch again at Himal Chula, this time their veg special of cauliflower, peas, etc. Afternoon panels and then a symposium praising Narayan Rao - interesting and he was there giving a humble reply.  Back down to Kabul restaurant for  supper of lamb kababs again - and then back to the Madison Concourse Hotel to watch in amazement as Wisconsin beat the #1 college team, Ohio State.  I went for a leisurely swim and sat in the hot jacuzzi at half time. Talked (via Gmail chat and video) some with Deej.  Earlier I'd written to Beth, Deej, Mary, and Lois about taking charge for next Saturday's Curry Club.  Looks like Beth with do it right, as Deej has her visiting Aunt Jerry and daughter Christine coming next Sat to see her sister (Deej's mom Mimi) in Harrisonburg and Sharon's going to help with a lunch.

Packing some so I can get up at 3:30 to catch the 4:15 taxi to get to the airport by 4:30, an hour before my 5:30 am flight. Crazy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Iowa again in October

Flew off to Iowa last Friday and saw my daughter and her family, and friends, the next few days - again a nice time, and different than all the previous (almost) annual visits to Iowa.

Got on the plane in Charlottesville Friday morning as Deej took me to the airport around 10 am - a three leg trip.  Into Charlotte, lunch at a BBQ counter, on to Chicago and walk walk walk from E concourse, through F concourse, to the hub, then down and a long underground walk to the B / C concourse, starting at B's high numbers going though to C's high numbers to get to the end of the concorse at C4, my gate.

Had to wait a little while for Julie to pick me up, but she did - good to see her, and we decided we'd try an Indian restaurant.  Called a couple places and headed for the nearest one, Namaste, but there was construction which made us go and go way around it.  But finally found it, restaurant with bare stalls on the left and Indian grocery store on the right.  Didn't know if we should stay - only two other groups in the place.  But decided to try it out, and the Bombay trained Indin chef came out and talked with us, helped us decide; talked also to the Goa waiter.  The food was superb.  In spite of the sparse sourroundings - and the dirty, bare restroom (Julie didn't like at all). 

Then the drive back to Jefferson with lots of talking about our lives and others, etc.

I'll try to fill in more later - Saturday was going out to Deal's apple orchard and Halloween stuff, going to the grocery store (buying stuff for Monday evening's India meal), and off to an evening of pot luck and costumed kids running around outside at a Halloween party. 

Sunday - going to church for a couple hours, bicycle ride to the football field and watching 7-8 grades play, back home, and Julie cooking big beef roasts for a supper celebrating Lauren's birthday.

Monday - teaching 3 of Julie's French classes about India, then going to Andrew and Sarah's to cook up the India meal from 3-6, with Jan and Donna and others arriving to for us to eat it all together.  With a ride back to Ames with Jan and Donna, and talking for a couple hours before bed. 

Tuesday up late (9) with breakfast by Jan, walking out back and talking, and more talking as he drove me back to Jefferson around noon - Going to get Eliza at 345, and take her to dance, as Lauren had already gone there on her bike.  Pick up Eliza at 7, eat delicious left overs.  Julie getting back around 8:30 from parent-teacher confrencing.  Worked on setting up her scanner on her computer. 

Wed - packing at 645, breakfast, byes, and Andrew picking me up around 815 to get me to the airport around 925 - nice ride and talk with him.  Then a two-leg trip to Madison.

Nice time in Iowa -- being with the growing granddaughters, changes with Julie, being some with Matt, greeting new people, seeing old family and other friends - sharing with them.

Traveling Oct and Nov

Here it comes - for much of the next two months I will be traveling - first to Iowa to see my daughter and her family and then to Madison Wisconsin to meet with fellow South Asian librarians and attend the South Asia Conference -- and then on to India, leaving the 20th October to go up to my Woodstock School again, and join Robert Bonham's Exotic Tour group staying at an ashram, seeing many of the north India famous monuments, and going to a tiger reserve, arriving back home in Charlottesville the evening of the 21st November, so I can get back to work on Monday the 22nd Nov.

I hope I can keep a fairly up-to-date blog with photos along the way. We'll see.

Already its been an unusual adventure.  I went ahead in July to buy my airplane round-trip ticket to Delhi and back, and bought into Robert's tour group - thinking, since I had just been to India last Oct/Nov my visa and passport would be fine.  Nope.  The 6-month visa expired in March.  And though the passport is valid until 2016, I needed to get a new visa.  Big problem, with new visa rules in August, in making a visa application one had to have a birth certificate now as part of the application.  Searching around for my birth certificate, I could find it anywhere.  So, I needed to get a duplicate from the US embassy or state department.  They suggested I log into the Nagpur (where I was born), search their database, and request a birth certificate.  Well, I was born way back in 1941, before Independence (1947) - the database turned up nothing.

Oh, no!  Now there was the possibility I could not get a visa, and I'd loose out all the money I'd spent for the airplane ticket and joining the tour.  Finally found some place within the State Department (Vital Statistics section in room 510) where I needed to apply - so, I bought two priority mail envelopes, fill out all the application information, plus sent photocopies of all required documents, so it would get there fast and be returned fast.  But sent it off on Thursday, a few days before Memorial Day Monday, so knew they wouldn't get it until probably Wed.  Then I waited and waited - some people said it took 4 to 6 months to get this duplicate birth certificate.  I finally found a phone number and email address for the Vital Statistics room - and called them at the end of Sept. on a Tuesday - and found out they had just then sent it back to me. It was a beautiful Birth Certificate with Hillary's signature on it.

It arrived Thursday (it was a beautiful Birth Certificate with Hillary's signature on it), and I filled in the India visa application, but it kept rejecting my request for a tourist visa.  I finally sent it in with my passport and copy of my new birth certificate, on Monday - it required, since I was born in India, I guess, that I apply for an entry visa. And lo and behold, here it came back to me with the visa in it the following Monday.

An unusual adventure, before the up-coming traveling adventure.