Reminisces (03Ap98)

Date: Fri, 03 Apr 1998 08:11:23 -0800
From: Christopher
Subject: Reminisces of Woodstock

[Here's Chris's letter to me of a few days ago forwarded with his permission. Gil]

Dear Gil,

I apologise for not responding sooner, but I am getting inundated with E-Mail coming from so many of our classmates that I am finding it hard to keep up !! I don`t yet have the ability to use the internet from home and therefore have to send these messages from office and often don`t get the time to sit down and let my memory go back to the Woodstock days !

I was very sorry to hear about the deaths of three of our classmates ! Cancer is such a horrible disease and one hopes and prays that cures will keep being discovered. My mother died of cancer in 1989 at the age of 84. She was first diagnosed with cancer 25 years earlier and after a masectomy and radiation treatment she was free of the disease for many years before it came back in a massive way . Fortunately she was in no pain during the last year when the disease took hold. I was particularly sad to hear of Hugh`s death as now after reflection I remember that he was on the hike with us ( Ian Leech also remembers the bear incident ) to Nag Tiba.

I am absolutely thrilled to hear the news about so many of our classmates -- I`m still trying to digest it! As you said it is marvelous to hear what interesting lives many of us have led and the different places and events that we have participated in.

On the dangers of khuds in the hills and more particularly around Woodstock I certainly do remember the death of the chowkidar near Zigzag! [See Norm, Gil and Robert F. on Khuds] Certainly I seem to rember one hike that a group of us took around Jabbarkhet in very wet and stormy weather when we were walking along very narrow goat tracks (slippery with wet grass ) and I had visions of falling and sliding down the bare hillside to my death ! I remember that it was before my 13th. birthday and I had this feeling that I would never make it to being a teenager ! I also recall there was talk of someone who went behind the fence on the upper playground and fell down the vertical cliff behind the Junior school buildings. You may remember looking at this cliff when you went to the Dispensary ! I still get the shivers when I remember the doctor ( he was the spitting image of Dracula ) and his blood-tests in the dispensary!!

I was surprised to hear from Norm`s note about the monkeys around Woodstock. As far as I can recall the only monkeys we saw were the langurs which were found in the forest around Woodstock & Landour. I do not rember any rheus monkeys around the school at all!

Do any of you recall the attempts we made at exploring the caves around the base of Burnt Hill ? [See Gil on Caves] I remember there were stories that someone had actually gone for miles and practically reached Rajpur ! Of course we were in Ridgewood and pretty small and could actually get into what were very narrow fissures etc. Come to think of it we were pretty fool-hardy as we didn`t have helmets or proper lighting etc. and could well have got stuck underground. On one 3-day hike that we did to the caves, I can remember falling ill with flu and spending much of the time in my sleeping bag ! I suspect that although the caves still exist, we would not be able to gain entrance to them with our middle aged spreads!( speaking for myself !)

*From talking to people who have been going to Mussorie over the years since we left I am very glad that the school is acquiring property from the various Missions. Apparently The Mall and most areas of Kulri and Camel`s back have been completely spoilt by the hundreds of ugly buildings which have sprung up! It seems that one cannot see the Doon valley on the Mall walk between Hampton Court and the Library ! Even the area around the north side of Camel Back has been over-developed. Fortunately Landour is still more-or-less the same since apart from Woodstock the other big land-owner is the Army and they are preserving their land very well.

Norman talks about how cold he felt in Woodstock ! Don`t I just remember it! The only warm place was in bed and that took some time to get comfortable in after one dived in! I do recall the eyes watering in some of the classrooms ! With the way the School is spread over the hillside, I cannot conceive of an efficient and cheap way of providing heating ! As far as maintaining the pathways around Landour are concerned I am glad to hear that the school is taking over as some of them were pretty badly maintained. I remember working off many detentions by clearing the pathways between the Hostel playground and the tennis courts !!

Thats all that I can think of for the moment, but no doubt will be back to you again very soon!

Your classmate,

Chris

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