It was amazing how well our group got along - once again a manifestation of the "Woodstock phenomenon". The five of us had no visible conflicts despite spending so much time together in close quarters (I'm not sure how the 3 family members perceived us - but there were silly moments shared around the meal table where we acted not as 50+ year olds but perhaps more as teenagers).
Philip and Deej who first arrived in India, slowly acquired us one by one during their last two weeks: Alice and Melissa, Li, Norman and Rowen and finally Robert (who had to take a taxi from Delhi airport to Mussorie); and then peeled off Alice and Melissa, Norman and Rowen, Robert who stayed on longer at Woodstock, and finally Li in Delhi . Philip's knowledge of India and locations were invaluable to helping those of us who had been away only too long - thanks Philip for being so patient.
The week I spent in Mussorie helped to remind me how out of shape I am - but I was proud that by the end of the week I could climb Winky's hill with only 2 stops instead of the multiple stops encountered the first day, after every 2 steps. Winky was the friendly host of the guest house we stayed in, down the hillside in front of the Picture Palace - with just enough rooms to house all of us.
The week started cold (long johns were necessary - it had snowed two days before) but the temperature warmed noticeably each day. We were fortunate that the weather remained on the whole crisp and clear with fantastic views all around. Rhododendrons were in bloom - yes they still grow bright red, and in trees. While Robert practiced piano every day for his concert, and the others doing their volunteer jobs and climbing all over the mountain slopes - yes, these are still very steep. I found my niche in helping the Business Office (the accounting group) in converting their files from Lotus to Excel spreadsheets. The entire school has been converted to WIN95 with MSOffice97 but unfortunately Steve who was behind all this conversion, had had little time to spend with the group. Their major problem was dealing with the Print mode (Excel defaults to a 8.5 x 11 in paper, assuming everybody has a LaserJet but the office only has dot matrix printers). I was able to demonstrate how they could get print outs and found a solution for their formatting of printing out the information that we here in the States get as part of our pay stubs. I taught a basic session on the use of Excel, showed them tricks and short cuts - all in all a very rewarding week working with a bright and very appreciative group. There was noticeable relaxation of tension from the head of the group when I demonstrated that we could easily move the Pension data file into Excel and achieve a more pleasing output.
The reference books and tapes I carried over as part of my luggage were much appreciated, especially the bags of jelly beans I had enclosed. Next visit I feel I should perhaps take over a LaserJet for the Business office!
I paced myself and did not attempt to visit all the sites that are only vague in my memory. My world at Woodstock was a vertical strip of land including the upper campus and houses above. But the Quad is much smaller and Alice and I visited the Upper Dorm where we had started our boarding life - this was not nearly as large a room as remembered and the space has now been converted to classrooms for grades preschool through 4th. We had a delightful visit with the 3rd grade class where we exchanged information about each other. Boarding is now limited to 8 years old so the lower classes (only 6 in boarding among the 3rd graders) are comprised mainly of staff and local resident children. We ate our lunches in the dining hall on the Quad where all the children still have lunch. There are no dorms on the Quad and the elementary boys and girls are in dorms at Ridgeway and Alter Ridge (which is next door to the former) and everybody has to scamper up the hillside. And it was fun to see the (real) monkeys who swept through the Quad on Friday, after all the students had gone - one of them found a chocolate coated donut and proceeded to lick off the chocolate first. sitting atop the Music building roof..
Parker Hall is much smaller and is in the process of undergoing renovation thanks to the donation from alumni of one of the classes ($15,000). The Media Center, mainly funded by grants from ASHA is impressive with its Steinway and numerous pentium computers and software. This is where Robert gave his wonderful concert in the smaller auditorium on Friday evening. The Music building with its practice rooms is still there, clinging to the side of a hill although there has been expansion into space on the lower floor of the wing on the Quad below the dispensary and a ceramics lab. The Class of `52's project is to pledge moneys for a new music building.
Both libraries, in the high school building and in the Quad (which used to be the lower dorm) have separate rooms with half a dozen computers and the librarians were delighted with the help from Philip and Deej in accessing websites on the Internet, which had only recently become available to them.
Norman spent his time working in the Archives and going through Whispering Pines - the fruit of his labors are in the attached file (to be sent later). We would be interested if this information raises any thoughts or corrections - please pass them on.
All of us took a taxi ride (yes, taxis can now get to the school gates on Tehri road and beyond) to Dhanalti where we drove on snow covered roads and found spectacular views of the snow covered ranges - I do hope that among all the cameras clicking, somebody was able to get the shot.
Prices in India are still very cheap and bargaining is in. I got some beautiful soft cashmerie embroidered shawls for $15 and $25! Our rooms at Winky's were 1100 rupees a night (including breakfast), about $28 and meals were 60-70 rupees. The ride from Delhi to Dehra Dun on the express train was $10 and taxi rides from the Picture Palace to Woodstock were 70 rupees. Of course, if one attempts to go on one's own, and through a US travel agency, the cheapest hotel room in Dehli is $185! - clearly still 2 separate worlds.
I'm mailing this to those of you who are not yet linked to our email network - there are now 30 of us who have logged on. If you do have access to email, don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll see that you get connected to our group.
I hope you've received the postcard we sent from Woodstock. And do plan on joining us for the 40th class reunion which we are scheduling along with the WOSA/NA reunion to be held July 2-5,1999 at Rogers William University in Bristol, RI. We are hoping that we will achieve a large gathering. Plan on being there a few days earlier.
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