India during 1938
Mr. Robert L. Williams
India during 1938
Articles
RIKKI-TIKKI TAXI
THE ASHRAM
THE NOBLEST EDIFACE
OF CHAPATTIS AND JACKALS
CHANDNI CHOWK
THE TRAIN
SCHOOLDAYS IN THE HILLS
A CHARCOAL CHANT
MOONLIGHT AND DEODARS
WATERS IN THE MOONLIGHT
 THE TRAIN
(Article Submited by : Mr. Robert L. Williams)

My first trip to Woodstock School Mussoorie started by clip- clopping along in a rickety tonga headed for the Delhi train station where I was to join the herd master ( a teacher), the herd (other students from North Central-India), and a fairytale contrivance called 'The Saharanpur Express'.

With my mother on Bengal Train, 
1938 The horse was starving , so we arrived a little late. with a hasty good-bye to my parents, I followed the herd as they elbowed through the chaos. We loaded bed rolls, book bags and foot lockers into the boys compartments of the train and vied for the upper bunks.

The schoolmaster went to help the girls into their bogey and being a new chut, I was imperiously ordered to a lower bunk by my more veteran peers who were already engaged in a struggle to see who could grab the largest chunks of two pooris one of them had bought. Crunching over the carpet of poori shreds, I strained out of the window to catch a glimpse of my waving parents among the milling vendors, shoving passengers, bright saris, and red- turbaned coolies.

With a shriek and a great clanking the train pulled out, sprouting wind- blown dhotis as stragglers made running leaps for precarious hand hold on the carriage steps. The poories now throughly demolished, my companions now entertained themselves with other games and scuffles -- away from adult eyes between stations.

I was mystified by the term "Express" for it soon became evident that most of the evening would be consumed by the trip. there were inexplicably long waits at sleepy little stations lit by one or two light bulbs hanging on fly-studded cords,with littlw activity except the tired cries of "gurham chai--gurham".

Tonga Ride, 1938 Nevertheless my partners in crime remained enthusiastically boisterous, and I would have probably had little sleep if the schoomaster had not come to our compartment at one of these stations and enforced lights out.

Later he appeared again, rousting us out at Saharanpur to pile on a battered bus for Dehra Dun Via the Siwalik foot hills. The Sikh driver rattled us confidently over the twisting road with only one dim headlight contesting the moon. As we wound over the passes the sharp cries of barking deer occasionally accented the dappled glades of deep forest.

In Dehra Dun another bus gurgled water and gas in prepartion for the formidable ascent to Mussoorie. But here I was dismayad to hear a whispered admonition from another boy that were I to ride the bus with the schoolmaster, the luggage, and the girls, I would wear the badge of sissy.

Not knowing whether or not this was some sort of iron-clad tradition, and realizing that such a badge would not constitute a propitious beginning to my school career, I trudged wearily up the foot-trail behind my more hill-hardened mates. What that proved is of course quite beyond me.