We woke on our first full day to meet for tea and then headed out on a venture to see the sunrise. It was a bit cloudy, but after a short hike we did find the sun. The high peaks remained shrouded by clouds but we took advantage of the warm and dry morning for a walk around the property bordering the school and a quick jaunt through the village. A handful of HIC students joined us and shared what they knew about the area. We returned to warm water having been prepared for bathing and then sat for breakfast. The food thus far has been excellent with a mix of flat breads, fresh fruit, vegetables from the garden and traditional home cooked Indian fare. No one is going hungry as the food is seemingly in endless supply as our hosts want nothing less than to make sure we are all over full at each meal.
As morning wore on the sun and warmth took over. The HIC students took to the field in front of the school to study. The Dublin students joined them and shared what they could about chemistry and physics although much of the conversation turned to discussions of more interest like popular culture, fashion and the WWE. Apparently an epic battle in the ring is coming between Cam "Small Einstein" Harrington and the "Hunter." After study time came to an end we shared the sport equipment we had brought for the school. The soccer balls, Frisbees and lacrosse balls were quickly scooped up as the terraced field became the sight of various games.
The music room has also been a popular hang out as there have been several jam sessions featuring Cam and Hunter on piano and vocals. The girls took advantage of some down time and went with their new friends into town to acquire some henna and sweets. After lunch the girls traded stories while having henna designs applied to their hands and arms. All in all the day has been about sharing each other's culture. While certainly different in some aspects, they have found they share much more in common.
A Short Walk
We were treated to a great spectacle this morning as the skies had become clear and the high peaks of the India Himalayas were fully visible in their grand splendor. A short hike from the school takes us to a hill top opening with full view of the valley below and the giant mountain range just in the distance. As the sun approaches the horizon to the east its rays touch the peaks straight ahead. Each peak begins to dance with light as if the finger of God gently taps the top of each ragged snowy crown. The tallest is first, a slight pink amongst the gray and shadows. Then each of the other peaks receives their spotlight until eventually the whole range is aglow. The whole scene is enhanced by the singing of the birds bopping amongst the trees as the world wakes up.
This Monday is a holiday in Chaukori so we employed the guiding skills of a local outdoor enthusiast and naturalist Tarun and headed out on a short hike from the school to the top of a hill visible from campus. We were joined by a few of our new friends and took a jaunt into the woods. We stopped to taste the radiant red flower of the Rhododendron tree and take in the sweeping views. We spent much time at the top as it was a perfectly clear day to identify both the mountains and birds in view. On our return trip we identified leopard scat and gathered giant pinecones all along taking full advantage of the warm day.
After some rest and games in the afternoon we began to gather in the office. Soon a couple of guitars arrived as well as a few of our closest new friends and we shared song and music deep into the evening. We played familiar tunes and were treated to stirring renditions of popular Indian music as well. It was a great unplanned evening that further strengthened the bond between the Dublin and HIC students.
Back to School
We had been spending the last few days at the Himalaya Inter College with their boarding community as we came in on a long weekend. But on Tuesday it was back to business for the HIC and the campus came alive as the day students came by bus to the hill top campus. 700 strong gathered for Assembly in their outdoor plaza. Our students joined their files and we watched as they shared a morning prayer and pledge of allegiance. Several students spoke sharing news, stories, and an explanation for International Women's Day. The HIC English teacher then took to the stage and introduced our group.
Jay was called to the podium and he explained how wonderful it is to have Dublin and HIC students sharing and interacting. Although separated by continents and oceans, he reminded all that our differences are minimal and that this was a great opportunity to experience just how human we all are. The rest of the group was called forward and we all briefly introduced ourselves and shared how thankful we were to be here. The Assembly ended with an address from the Principal and the students, HIC and Dublin alike, headed to class.
Some things should be left to the experts. One of our most popular moments have been sipping Chai (tea). The native version is a mixture of water, milk, sugar and tea leaves, but as we found out the hard way, the amounts of each ingredient matter. Our gracious host Prakash invited us into the kitchen to learn how to make our favorite drink. With all seriousness we took to creating the perfect mixture. Apparently it's the right mixture of milk that makes it special. HIC has their very own dairy cows to collect fresh milk for Chai and yogurt. This in itself is special, but gauging the exact amount to be added to the tea takes an experienced and expert connoisseur to make a Chai worth drinking. After a failed attempt of own we will defer to Prakash for the remainder of our visit here.