Complete with bathing pool upon which one can adore ones own reflection while receiving a massage and delousing
"Doris" Voss went to India at age 18 from Germany. After a few years there she married Ferdinand Hahn. In 1906 Ferdinand, my great great grandfather, became ill. In 1910 they went up to Mussoorie so he would recover. She writes in her journal: " The weather was wonderfully warm and friendly, and he recovered rapidly, so that we were able to take daily long walks and enjoy thoroughly the glorious views up the mountains and down the slopes. He liked especially to walk to the cemetery where he could rest on a bench by the gate."
She continues (Maria is a fellow worker who also went to Mussoorie to recover): "When Sister Marie once said to him out of a feeling of personal weakness and in view of the many graves: “I do not know what the Lord is planning for us, whether we will find here our final resting place”, he looked at her with big eyes and said: “May the Lord prevent this, no! We are hoping to get well here in Mussourie, to be sure, and to return to our work in Purulia strengthened.” For as much as he used to talk about dying and going home, now he wanted to live and work! And no thought came to me that his end would be so near. How often did he suffer, and God had always given him new strength and health. "
93 and 89 and are strong in spirit and mind
So we took the road less travelled...well...it was locked. So what difference does it make?
I would live here just yo be able to have a dog like this (bhutia).
Today I began to research my two great Aunts: Dore (or Dora) and Libelle (called Elizabeth in English). while records are sparce for that period I learned quite a bit in a short time. Woodstock and Midlands were separate until 1912. Woodstock began a teacher training Fine Arts program affiliated with University of Allahabad from 1907 - 1921. in 1911 they added a BA program. The young women lived and studied in the same room. I still need to confirm when school began in 1910. I believe it would gave been in January. in which case it would be interesting if the two late arrivals are my great Aunts. From the journal: "Because Libele was not well at all, the thought came to us to make possible a stay in the mountains for her and for Dore. The “how” became clear by and by. but we can thank our dear father and his faithful care and energy, who achieved by his correspondence with Mrs. Andrews and his clear vision and understanding that both Libele and Dore would be received at Woodstock. And how he worked with Dore during the cold season to get her ready for acceptance into Teachers Training class."
Link to article I wrote about Training College
Today, however, I do plan to take it easy. Going to the school to research two great aunts who went to Teacher Training School at Woodstock in 1910.
Here is a picture of Sandhya and me when we were here last
The reason to go to Happy Valley was to see Surat Singh Khsirola and his family. He is the son of the man, Prem Singh, who was the Chawkidar of our Mussoorie house, Buena Vista, from 1951 - 1978. Surat moved to Happy Valley in 1976, the same time I left India. Prem Singh moved back to his village in 1990 and passed away in 2000. Surat now lives with his wife and two of his four children.
We were so happy to see each other again. His youngest son, Yogesh, shared with me some of his Hindi hip hop. His beautiful smart daughter, Lakshmi, is doing her BA and working.
School was just back in session. Several parents were visiting.
class flags from different years. some were quite a commentary
Despite the fact that there are a lot of alumni on staff and others on the hillside a small group came for the food. Yes! it was good food. First salad I've had since I've been on India.
Along Tehri Road a community of rag pickers have settled on the road and hill. This has become a profession of the poorest of the poor. They collect the trash and sort it to be sold to recyclers.
In this case people from Bihar and Rajasthan have been coming and going for the past 15 years. We noticed that the ones from Rajastan were taking scrap metal and making tools.
I don't know if they are being organized or what their situation is beyond what I observed and what shopkeepers near by were able to say. Life seemed like any other village with work mixed with games and families together.
Sandhya's husband, Vinod, runs an organization that works in the largest slum in Asia, Daravi, in Mumbai. Through him and a great book, Behind the Beautiful Forever, I came to appreciate the rag picker life and appreciate the vital recycling work they do. Watch this great video: The Real Slumdogs:
I truly cannot believe how far we walked today. I am glad that I was able to take a taxi the last 3 km of 15 km day....such an option was unthinkable in my day. with bad knees this is not being a whimp but being sensible. For the record Sandhya was for walking! ...... I also enjoyed finding an escalator in town....how many times did I dream of having an escalator to walk home. OK so this one went up to the aquarium .....We didnt go. Why should the mountains have an aquarium?
That was just an aside:Scenes from the day:
Food delights for the day:
The extended walk took us beyond clock tower up the hill to the Himalaya Hotel. This is likely one of the places where my great great grandparents stayed in 1910. The owners of what is now two hotels (Castle and Club) did not have records prior to 1928. But they had some old pictures.In a recently discovered journal written by my great great grandmother, she writes:
"Since our return [from Germany] in December 1906, the dear father suffered often. The hardships of the journeys in Germany with the many speeches and sermons at mission festivals were too much after all for his strength. In addition, he caught a bad cold on one of his last trips which became the basis for his bronchial and asthma troubles, which revisited him again and again until the end. Already in the first year while he was substituting for Dr. Nottrott in Ranchi, he had to spend the hot time in the mountains and according to Dr. Maynard’s counsel, not in Darjeeling but in Mussourie. Through Missionary Stoll’s arrangement, he found lodging in the so-called Himalaya Hotel, the same boarding house in which he died three years later!"
She continues by describing the trip to Mussoorie: " the Lord helped us through the dust and heat of the following day and the second night, all the way to Dehra Dun, the terminal
of the train, from where one can see already the houses of Mussourie standing on the mountains. Oh, how glad we wer when also the trip by wagon to Rajpur lay behind us, and we, after several hours of rest, could begin the dandy trip to Mussourie. Yet even this was more difficult than we had imagined, and even though it lasted only three hours, we arrived tired and exhausted in our lodging, that father went straight to
bed, and we did not want to see any one. We had found lodging in the house of Dr. Symington, a Presbyterian missionary originally from America."
She further describes where they stayed under the care if this doctor: "
Because of his weak health he had given up missionary work and set up a private medical practice in Mussourie by turning his house into a kind of sanatorium. That turned out good for our father, and I asked the doctor to receive him as his patient. Stolls stayed in the same house, and also sister Marie had found a small room. We had arrived April 15. "
I still am not clear where the Sanatorium is. But it seems to be nearby. I was thilled to be at the very spot where my grandparents were 103 years ago.
Again from the journal: " The weather was wonderfully warm and friendly, and he recovered rapidly, so that we were able to take daily long walks and enjoy thoroughly the glorious views up the mountains and down the slopes."
My intention was to go down the hill and back in one hour.....3 1/2 hours later......
it use to be nicely carved canes were for sale at every corner. we couldn't find one. but we enjoyed looking.
....we had a delightful adventure... discovering and rediscovering and laughing along the way.
Domas Inn is little triangle in the center.
day 1 to Woodstock main building 4 km
day 2 Chukhar and Sister Bazaar 7 km
today we will just go down Mullingar hill. maybe 2 km. Going down is hard on my knees so it will take a couple hours. in search of donkey bells and fruit and veggies.
The path going up to the house I lived in the most from 1959-1976. didn't go up this time. it has been all taken over by Defense dept of India.
My Trip to India Oct 10-Nov 7 2013
Those who know me well know how long it has been that I've dreamed of returning to India. I grew up there arriving in 1959 and leaving in 1976 (with about 5 years int the States). Most of the time I spent going toWoodstock School in the foot hill of the Hymalyas in a town called Mussoorie.
While I was somewhat curious to head "home" to see my old stomping grounds, my main purpose was to begin a journey of understanding my ancestral connections to India and to discover what India has become.
Yes, I found there are a lot of changes in India, but in truth the most remarkable thing was how "familiar" it was to me.