Speaking of khuds, there is no short-cut from Mugroo [sic?]
Gil: Please pass to all
David Chance and Alan Vichert jump in anytime and correct my fading recollections
During my last year at Woodstock--1956--David Chance, Alan Vichert, and I (and perhaps one other classmate) decided to hike down to the Uglar. As usual we set off after classes Friday afternoon but on the way to the Uglar we decided to establish a new campsite or be- came bored with the whole prospect of hiking, I'm not sure which. Anyway, after turning off Tehri Road we struck off down the khud until we came to a small clearing not far from a spring or stream and pitched camp.
As you will well remember, dusk came early in the valleys and we had a good fire going before long--both to ruin the hostel provisions and to provide light. As usual, no one was in any rush to turn in but finally each of us began to waver and crawled into the tent.
The tent was unbelievable crowded but suddenly that suited all of us because David or someone else said they heard a leopard cough. Im- mediately there came an argument over who would sleep in the middle and who would be lucky enough to claim the one or two center positions. I remember with some humor Alan's sole contribution to this hubbub was to strike out blindly under the tent with a lathi in hopes of driving away the leopard.
Hearing no more "coughs" the next point of contention was who would venture out of the relative safety of the tent and stoke up the fire so the cat would be afraid to carry one of us off for a late evening snack. Obviously, too many of us had read Jim Corbett's Man-Eating Leopard of Rudrapryag and were open to all sorts of silly suggestions. The fire was stoked with care but once again there was considerable discussion about who should bring in more firewood from the shadows. David kept insisting there was a leopard close by so none of us could rest easy in or out of the tent. I think we finally collapsed in exhaustion and were awakened by the morning sun.
We searched for pug marks without success but that did not lessen our collective apprehension--real or feigned. Alan or David sug- gested the leopard might be lying in wait if we retraced our steps from yesterday, which left us with the option of climbing up to Tehri Road without even so much as a goat path. I cannot recall how many times I cursed that climb up the khud, slipping or sliding most of the way or looking for handholds because there was no other way to go up.
My experiences on that trip have often been brought to mind whenever I consider mankind's suggestability to real or imagined threats or promises, or claims.
No, there is no shortcut from Mugroo and life has no shortcuts either. Sometimes when I find myself slipping and sliding or looking for handholds, I'm reminded of Leopard Watch. I'm the better for it but the khud be damned.
Date: Mon, 06 Apr 1998 06:21:44 -0800
From: "Robert P. F"
Subject: Re: Swimming again
The cat was Archibald--a bazaar tabby. He was our "scout" mascot that I took home over the winter break and then brought back to Woodstock the next year.
The pillow was actually a feather-down sleeping bag and yes, the arc was indeed graceful from apex to impact.
Archibald seemed none the less for wear from his experience and con- tinued to show an unwanted preference for my sleeping bag!
Later, on "going down day," the cat's care was entrusted to the hostel chowkidar and never seen again.
In the recent flurry of emails, the name Clifford Liddle has surfaced. Clifford and I were best friends at Woodstock. My last firm know- ledge of his whereabouts suggests he is now practicing medicine in Milwaukee rather than Madison.
The postcard of the lyre tree was much appreciated. To those who were in India recently, I'm envious. Nevertheless, I appreciated the courtesy and thoughtfulness that accompanied the card's delivery.
Speaking of that dumb cat--I really did have a fondness for him--there are some humorous memories that arise from time-to-time. Dean, my younger brother, and I owned an air rifle and when on the "plains" we used it often on squirrels and lizards. Archibald took a special liking for lizards and would devour them happily. The tail was slurped up like spaghetti. One afternoon, the Maharaja of Raj Pipla was taking tea with my parents on the veranda--the maharaja was prone to stop by every once in a while--and Archibald wandered up with a dead squirrel. I mean really DEAD. It stank! He laid it at the feet of the maharaja as if to say here it is, come and get it. Oh well, Archibald was never strong in the social graces department.
For the recent India recent India returnees. Is it now possible to drive on the chukker--way from the Catholic church, past Kellogg, through Sisters Bazaar, and then on to Jubberkhet?
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