Thursday, 23 March 2017


There is something superbly gratifying about taking hundreds and hundreds of small colourful pieces which all seem alike and then slowly, carefully putting them together to form a beautiful picture...

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Snow in Mussoorie

It was a silent night.

The night before had been all sturm und drang with rain and hail and thunder.  But last night was quiet.

When the alarm went off at 5 AM, I sensed something cold and still and white in the darkness outside.

The glimmer of dawn showed this outside our window, downstairs at Shanti Kunj.

Can you say "winter wonderland?"

As with all frigid beauty, it is best beheld in the coziness of a warm home.  And things don't get much cozier than having an electric blanket below and a feather quilt above you.  Perfect place for your morning devotions of course... 

But we can't sit in bed all day, either!  There is a young man who needs to go to school...

So upstairs to the breakfast table it is.

Needless to say, this is one day you want to make sure you are facing the windows, while slurping your coffee and munching on the scrambled-eggs-on-toast.

Snow in Mussoorie.

So rare.  So fleeting most of the time.  And for our family, Mussoorie means summer and running away from the heat, so we have never spent a winter up in the hills.  Mum is a winter owl of course, happy to be in her nest at Shanti Kunj, and most winters the sun shines down out of a clear blue sky making Shanti Kunj arguably warmer than New Delhi most of the cold months.

Hence for me, snow in Mussoorie is the blue moon of blue moon occasions.

What a glorious sight when it does carpet the landscape.  This is looking out the window of Mum's home - with the snow actually all the way down to Dhobhi Ghat and with a little dusting on Pari Tibba!

Being on the very top of Landour, we got the king's portion of soft, powdery snow last night - at least 3 inches of it by the looks of the scooter which I have borrowed from Andy and Rachel Francis for the week:

I am in Mussoorie because Enoch is starting school at Wynberg Allen School.  We are commuting between Shanti Kunj and Bala Hissar for the first week, and Enoch goes into boarding on Tuesday.

Here is a shot of WAS framed by the snowy boughs near Sisters Bazar:

Asha has been at WAS since May last year, and it is bitter-sweet to have Enoch embraced into the arms of Excelsior!  

Our task this morning was to get to the Wynberg senior school by 8.30 AM.  Thankfully we headed out the door at 7.15 just in case.  

With Sisters Bazaar looking like this, it was clear that the scooter was not going anywhere quick soon:

We called our dear friend Edwin, with the hope that we could get a ride with him in his jeep.  Edwin drops his boys off at St. George's every morning, but his phone was switched off.  

Later in morning we found out why: last night his father had a stroke, and Edwin and others are down in Dehra Dun after being transferred there from Landour Community Hospital last night.  Please do pray for the family.

So it was on foot that Enoch and I headed down through powder-white landscape.

I mean, when do you get sights like this on your way to school?

Or pass the majestic deodars looking like this?

Motorcycles in Mussoorie usually don't have this livery...

We are glad we abandoned the scooter right at the top of the hill.  Otherwise we would have slipped down the icy hills, and missed sights like this...

And of course, kids are kids, wherever you are.  I copped a snow ball, thrown at me by a girl who had been looking down sweetly at us with her Dad as Enoch and I walked by.

When I turned around, only the Dad was looking down.  I flashed a big smile back at the benignly smiling pater-familias.

Down near Omi's sweet shop, this important task was being done:

We parted ways at the (slowly being rebuilt) Landour Clock tower at 8.02 AM.  Enoch to soldier on down to WAS - with a good 25 minutes to get to his morning assembly - and I to get back to Landour Community Hospital where I was to give the morning devotions in -2 minutes.

The appointment had been made 2 days earlier with no thought of snow and with plenty of time to drive the scooter up to LCH after dropping Enoch off.  But now I had to huff and puff on my two legs in the rarified air of Landour to get there .... hopefully not too late.

However, on the way up I could not help by taking a shot of Landour Community Hospital in the snow...

Devotions done, a nice hot cuppa and some chappatis and alu sabji consumed along with new friends - Chinese-origin Ozzies and our dear old friend Dr. Bona from Nagaland (via many years in Yemen), it was time to walk back up the eye-brow to Shanti Kunj.

More winter-wonderland of course.

And a meeting with some of Mussoorie's finest:

 Before the path took me to the welcome bosom of Mum's home:

 And now it is back out into the snow to get Enoch up from WAS again (its a half day!) ... but am I every happy to do some more tromping in this white wonder of a place....

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Looking around

Mussoorie is glorious.

Wherever you look, you see beauty.

Like this iconic scene from Mullinghar, looking out over Pari Tibba and the hills rolling down towards the plains.  And yes, there is a certain well-known school nestling along the first ridge too.

Poetry in form.  Early lightbeams painting the spurs with subtle hues, melting into the distance, waiting for the up-rise of sun to burn them into solid blocks of shade against the impossibly blue sky.

But hold on,

It's not everywhere you look that you see beauty.

After taking the shot above, I turned around, and saw this:

Same spot.  Two totally different views.

Why is it that most of what humanity touches looks so totally ugly?

So here is the question, do those living in this concrete monstrosity 'see' the beauty outside their windows (picture 1?).

And then the questions start spilling out:  Who lives here in the first place?  Why here and not somewhere else?  What are their stories?  What are their dreams?  What is the broad trajectory of their lives?  Which places have their paths crossed before ending up living just above Mullingahr, looking down on the valley which includes the residential accommodation for a school recently ranked No. 1 in India?

And what is going into their minds?  Do they take photos of the sunrises?  What forms the back-ground to their selfies?

How much does beauty shape our minds?

Questions, questions as we look around...