Flag Hill walk and snows. Breakfast. Church service at St Pauls. Lunch at Char Dukan’s Alif’s Café. 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.