Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mussoorie, Uttarakhand

This is the view from my apartment. I'm staying in Mussoorie, a British-built hill station. Ninety minutes down is Dehra Dun, the capital of Uttarakhand. The side of town where I'm staying is called Landour. There is a small market and a steep uphill road leading to the language school. My first class is at 8:20; I need to leave by 7:45. It is common to pass a family of monkeys, or a pack of dogs, fatigued from their night of cavorting. Children in their navy blue uniforms march dutifully to their convent schools.

On the other end of town there is a sizable Tibetan community. There is an English-medium government school for the Tibetans, two small monasteries, and a handful of stupas. In this picture, far out in the distance, there is a white speck - that's Sir George Everest's house. He died in Mussoorie, where he was elected the first Surveyor-General of India in the 1830's.

Facing Tibet. You can see snow-peaked mountains in the far distance on clear days. But the monsoon is fast approaching, and there are few clear days.

Buddhist colors.

There's a wedding every day. I've been to a few. This picture was taken from my balcony. It might not look like much, but there was percussive music and corybantic dancing until 2am - on Sunday night.

My spacious apartment. It's been cold at night, thus the sleeping bag.

I take one hour of class per day at the school. It's housed inside a Methodist church. This is the view from my classroom. On Sundays, expect to see a handsome collection of American and Korean sahibs crowding around the projector.

My teacher, Lalit Sharma. He is brahmin to the core - philosophical, educated, wistful, and taken to drink and mutton. He starts each class enthusiastically, but towards the end his head will start to slump and his eyes will close and he may forget where we are for a moment. Still, he is the best teacher at the school.

The beast pictures I include only because of my personal affection for them. This cat, heretofore known as Cyclone, hangs around my apartment.

This little guy has a skin disease, but he still has a lot of fight in him.

This offspring of the mighty Bernese mountain dog is nicknamed Samosa because he hangs around the food stalls and maximizes his pathetic looks for snacks.
Sable Paws is an extremely lazy, contented dog. He is always happy to see me in the morning, but will only wag his tail from a sleeping position. Sometimes I’ll sit on his stoop, and he’ll affectionately teethe on my pants while dozing off.

Yellow on yellow.

There are lots of monkeys in Mussoorie. Here's the clan leader (aka Hanuman).