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Winter tour
On the trail of Veerappan

How would you like to go on a camel safari in Rajasthan, see sambar deer in Mudumalai Game Sanctuary from the howdah of an elephant or wet your toes in the Indian ocean at Kanyakumari, where the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea meet?

NA Reunion

Beloit College
10-13 July 1998
Maybe Woodstock's Winter Tour is something for you. Part of SAGE, Woodstock's one-year study program, the tour is offered annually. The one-month, January tour is open to students, teachers, parents, WOSA members and friends of Woodstock School.

This winter, Susan Downs was the chaperone for six students, with another staff member along for the ride. Mr. Sunil Dutt Baloni, a representative of President Travels which arranged the tour, came along to make sure the travel ran like clockwork.

The trip started off as all good trips should, at the Taj. After they had done the tourist bits -- sightseeing at the Taj, looking at the beautiful old town of Fatehpur Sikri, taking a boat up the Ganges and seeing the ghats and the silk bazaar in Varanasi -- the group reached Calcutta to visit a home run by the Missionaries of Charity.

The stop at Calcutta turned out to be more eventful than expected when the dhobi made off with all the laundry, never to be seen again. Miss Downs, however, had strong feelings about this, which she voiced long and loud to the hotel manager. The hotel agreed to pay Rs. 18,000 for all the fifty items that had been stolen.

The next stop was Hyderabad, but they didn't see the Nizam's jewels -- they went shopping for clothes. The whirlwind tour continued, rushing through Bangalore, stopping for a few days at Kovalam beach to relax, going to Kanyakumari, Mudumalai near Mysore, Bombay, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, rounding it all off with a camel safari.

The trip had its exciting moments, when for instance they entered the territory of the notorious sandalwood smuggler and elephant poacher, the Indian Robin Hood, Veerappan, at the Mudumalai Game Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. One night the group, wanting to go for a elephant ride in the park, was stopped by a police officer.

"There was a bandit lurking and he had captured prisoners and handed them over at a check-post. We all got fascinated by the story of this bandit," says SAGE student Nate Hausman. "He is an elephant poacher with a reward of lakhs of rupees on his head in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Every one we talked to, all the villagers, spoke positively about this guy."

Fortunately Veerappan was not interested in taking the Winter Tour hostage; students and teachers made it back to Woodstock in good time for the spring semester.

WOSA members interested in joining Woodstock students and staff on the next Winter Tour, please contact the Director of Admissions at the school. -- AG

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