"HIMALAYAN HIGHS": THE 75TH WOODSTOCK SALE
By Tom Alter, Class of 1968
On Saturday, May 22, the 75h Woodstock Sale--this year called "Himalayan Highs' -- was celebrated at Woodstock with not only great excitement and fun, but with a sense of responsibility and purpose, as the focus of the Sale was the ecology of the Garhwal Himalayas.
At least two thousand people - including staff, students, and parents of Woodstock, friends of the school from Mussoorie and Dehradun visitors from leading school; of the area, people from surrounding hill region and WOSA members from around the world made this year's Sale a memorable one.
The gate and Quad area were especially decorated for the day with paintings done by Gautam and Indira Devi at Mullingar, Landour, Mussoorie. Over the Woodstock gate was a huge Mount Everest with Major Ahluwalia on the Summit, the Indian Flag raised aloft. In Quad area six peaks of Garhwal were featured with beautiful paintings - Bander Poonch, Nanda Devi, Trishul, Chaukhamba, Neelkantha, and Panchchuli. Information was provided on all these peaks and a quiz was held about them.
The sale was opened in the morning by Brigadier H.S. "Kim" Yadav (Woodstock class of 38), whose brilliant military career included a posting as ADC to Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy and first Governor General of India. Brigadier Yadav's opening speech was full of both nostalgia and enduring love for Woodstock and the Himalayas.
The famous Food Stalls - a great tradition at the Sale -ranged from Thai Food (produced by Harbir Singh, class of '95) to Hindustani to ice cream and 'bhel puri' to "chole bhature" to fantastic pakoras from the Woodstock Hindustani Church to "momos" to "frankies' from the school kitchen to an elegant Coffee shop run by Jay Pee Residency Manor.
At 10:30 a.m., the Chief Guest, Major H.S. Ahluwalia, was received at the Gate, and the Major, along with his wife and daughter entered the main area of the Sale to a rousing ovation. Major Ahluwalia was the first Indian to summit Everest, on May 29, 1965, and was injured in the battle in Kashmir later that year. In spite of the seriousness of the injury (the Major is now confined to a wheelchair), the Everest hero did not give up. He was instrumental in starting the Indian Mountaineering Institute in Delhi, as well as an institute dealing in spinal injuries which is the largest of its kind in Asia.
The Major and his family were welcomed by Mr. Jeffery, and then greeted with a special Garhwali song, composed and sung for the occasion. All of the students in the elementary school performed a Kumoni dance in colorful costumes and afterwards presented the Major with a gift from the school. The Major gave a moving speech about the urgency of preserving the Himalayas and the importance of personal perseverance in pursuit of a goal such as he had to demonstrate in climbing Mt. Everest.
The stalls included handicrafts from Garhwal with a man who wove baskets all day. There were also delicacies like rhododendron juice and chutneys. Books, old and new, were on sale. Natraj books from Dehra Dun was there with three Mussoorie authors, Ruskin Bond, Stephen Alter and Tom Alter, who autographed their books published by Penguin India.
There were baskets from Allahabad, kurtas from Lucknow, Tibetan rugs from Rajpur, hiking equipment from Dehradun, Arpana products from Delhi, Tibetan handicrafts from Happy valley - and much much more.
Then, at 12:30 the very special feature of Woodstock'99, the Eco-Mela, was opened by Mr. S. Chandola, Conservator of Forest, Bhagirathi Circle, whose children study at Woodstock. He was assisted in the opening by Mr. Dick Wechter, from the Woodstock staff, who is deeply involved in the ecology of Mussoorie region especially in keeping the area free from plastic waste.
The mela featured projects on ecology by the staff and students of Woodstock, including films and slide-shows and displays reflecting the concern of the school for the ecology of Garhwal. Students from all levels of the school had prepared science projects related to ecology. Several of the leading institutes of Dehradun joined the eco-mela - the Forest Research Institute, the Eco-Task Force, the Disaster Management Group, and the Central Soil and Water Management Research Institute. Woodstock school is very grateful to these institutes and groups for joining the Eco-Mela.
Following the Auction, which is the trademark of the Woodstock Sale, the day was brought too a close with the singing of "Shadows", the Woodstock song, and then the National Anthem. The Woodstock Old students Association (WOSA), who organised this year's sale raised good money for its Scholarship Fund through the Sale. The Organising Committee was exhausted by the end of the day, but very happy in the thought that a good time was had by all, and the ecology of Garhwal was in good hands.
(Excerpted from the Garhwal Post)
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