Day 10 was a bit of the rest day. After Lucknow and all the travel the couple of days before we needed it. In the morning we walked back to Mussoorie to order some clothes. Dad was to get some new pants, Mum some tops, and I went to get measured up for a new suit.
Day 9 started early with breakfast and (a much needed for some) pit stop (squat pans only on the over night trains) at Hotel President, Dehradun. After ordering an omelette I found and open wifi access point called Asus. It wasn’t there for very long but I did manage to get some emails down and confirm Australia’s loss in the cricket the night before. The wifi access point seemed to leave the hotel before we did. Still have no idea who it was.
From here we set off up The Mountain with just a short stop for fresh vegetables for the week. We would climb nearly 1700 metres from Dehradun to Mussoorie.
In the past couple of weeks we have been driven around India in a couple of different forms of transport. From rickshaws and tongas to the iconic Ambassador and large vans. We’ve been on multilane highways and toll roads and down tiny windy streets lined with shops. What is impressive is not the number of car accidents every year, which is an astronomical number, and the number of deaths – but the accidents that don’t happen. So far I am yet to see an accident (knock on wood). The number of close calls has been enormous, but somehow at the last moment the bike will always just merge slightly left, or the rickshaw with change direction just enough.
In the morning we decided to walk down to the botanical gardens. It was only a few hundred metres down the road, so how could we get lost? We stepped out of the hotel and all headed left, except Mum who thought it was right. While rickshaw drivers swarmed I waited for a GPS lock to confirm the direction we should have been heading. Left.
In the morning we had a driver take us to La Martiniere college for my Dad to do some interviews for his work. We thought it was at least 15min away, but turned out to be just over the road. Felt kinda silly all piling out of the car after 30 seconds. Turns out there are two campuses and the other campus was the one we were thinking of.
Everything is cheap in India, and I mean really cheap. A 20min taxi ride is around $4. Food is dirty cheap, except if it is imported. Even meat is cheap. Mutton kebabs were only about $1. Even 3G mobile data is cheap. One telecoms company advertises unlimited 3G data for Rs. 250, about $5! Anything that needs to be imported is more expensive, but not above what it is anywhere else.
Day 6 was a quite affair. We went to a local church in the morning where Howard and my Dad planned to meet some other staff form Woodstock. They didn’t make it, but we did meet someone who’s grandson was currently in Woodstock. The service was based on a Church of England form including the little book. Everything was very structured and done by the book. They have two services each Sunday, one in English and then a second in Hindi which is slightly more lively and includes the use of a drum kit, something sadly lacking in the first. I did think I was going to go through the seat when I sat down, and had to perch on a leg of the pew.
Day 5 started with my parents’ friends, Howard and Jill who live in Mussoorie, meeting us in the hotel. They had come down from Dehradun on an overnight train. We went downstairs for breakfast and to catch up. Howard and Jill work at an international school in Mussoorie, Woodstock. They have lived in India for quite a number of years starting in the 90’s and raised a family here. Both speak a little both of Hindi and Howard can converse quite happily in Bengali for hours with anyone he has just met. He will just walk up to someone and start a conversation.
We started early, taxi to the airport at 6AM. We checked in our luggage and headed through security before looking for what was the 2nd breakfast of the day. Found a strange little place that sold toast with slabs of butter as thick as the bread, and eggs. I had something that was advertised as coffee, but wasn’t, and included far too much sugar.
Day 3 started with a short bus ride down to the Botanical Gardens. We spent a few hours walk around. Dad spent a while chasing a squirrel with his camera.