Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
This is a year that everyone around the world has become more aware of the monsoon season in South Asia, due to the terrible flooding in Pakistan that has received wide coverage. My Tuesday post showed some of the pictures I took on the way showing flooding between Delhi and Mussoorie.
What is it really like to live in a monsoon? We are arriving at the very end (so we hope) but it has brought back many memories. During this time the power supply can be frequently interrupted (as happened in our apartment Wednesday most of the day until early evening). School property is now on a grid backed up by generators in all areas. So the majority of staff know that if their power goes off, it will most likely return in just a few minutes. The power outages can also affect the water supply, which is powered by pumps. Even when the rains are heavy, there can be problems getting water into the homes. Fortunately, the school now has been able to assure a constant supply to residences and homes.
Inside the house everything is damp during the monsoon. Some homes have wired the clothes closets so that there is a light bulb burning near the bottom. This keeps shoes from getting moldy and clothing from feeling damp. Beds feel damp when you crawl under the covers. Towels do not dry and begin to smell sour after a few days. Laundry can be hung for days until it is fit to wear. Seat cushions on chairs make your behind feel damp when you rise. The thick cement-and-plaster walls feel damp to the touch. The positive side? It is incredibly beautiful, everything is bright green, and the views when the clouds part are amazing.
Today (Friday) a dehumidifier is being taken down to our apartment. Running it constantly for the next few days should help a lot. I’ve moved my clothes from shelves in the wall to the wooden wardrobe, which could keep them from feeling even more damp.
On Wednesday the clouds were heavy all day and it rained more or less continually from late morning onwards. Thursday morning there was a crack of blue in the clouds and throughout the morning the sun shone. Around lunchtime the clouds rolled back in and the dampness returned. It didn’t rain at all, although the clouds came and went. We had supper in the bazaar and on the way home the full moon was shining brightly and the sky was clear. Today the break in the clouds was even wider, with lots of blue sky. The forecast looks promising.
This season can make people edgy and depressed. When you are continually socked in with clouds and fog, with endless hours of rain (frequently very heavy), you begin to feel that it will never end. In the past, when a nice sunny day appeared in mid-September, hopefully signifying the end of the rains, the Principal would declare a Fair-Weather Holiday. This was always a favorite of the students (not to mention staff). I remember one year that we hiked to the village of Suokholi (about 7 miles out Tehri Road) with another family. Our kids were all very young but they enjoyed it. Most people took the day to be outside, take a short hike, and just be glad that the sun was on its way back.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Tuesday morning we awoke to gray skies. We didn’t have provisions yet, so we headed up to school for breakfast. We are much closer to the school than the last two visits, only a five-minute walk. It was good to see some familiar faces in the staff dining room, along with some new ones.
It was good to get back into the Development Office and see Pete and Immu and Abhra, the new Director. Monica and Chris were both out of the office and there is one new staff member, Neva.
Down in the Quad I ran into Mary Ellen, a new staff member whom we met in Seattle in January when she and her family were just considering applying to teach here. They have settled in well although they have had a number of health problems. They are living in the same duplex that we occupied last spring. There were many old friends to greet throughout the day; there's always a feeling of homecoming when we arrive here.
Dan took off on foot for Sister’s and Landour Bazaars to buy a variety of things we needed, such as peanut butter (none are as good as Prakash’s!), bread, batteries for my flashlight (I should have checked at home), bananas, and more. He put ten miles on his pedometer by the time he was finished. At the end as he was unlocking our apartment door, a monkey came up and grabbed the loaf of bread right out of his backpack. He was so mad about it that he turned around and went back to Chayya at the top of Mullingar Hill to get another loaf.
Later on Tuesday evening I was a co-presenter in an online seminar (“webinar”) put on by CASE on the topic of International Alumni Relations. It was at a good time in North America – 2:00 in the afternoon. That was 11:30 PM here. Those of you who know me well know that is not my best time of day. Dan kindly came along back to the office with me so I could use the internet and phone, neither of which is available in our apartment. If you’ve never taken part in a seminar on the web, here is how it works: a PowerPoint presentation is on the website, along with an attendee list and chat box for questions. The 90+ participants from 31 schools could pose questions at any time. Everyone was on a phone and we presenters took turns talking and controlling the slides and the attendees could hear while they watched the screen. It was a new experience for me but worked well and was quite enjoyable. I panicked for a few minutes when my phone cut out shortly before my part was due, but I dialed in again and the operator smoothly got me back in. The others didn’t even know I was gone. Needless to say, I was happy to fall into bed at 1:30.
Yes, it’s still raining a lot. More on that tomorrow.