Tag Archives: Mussoorie

Post 161. Jayanti (Victory)

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Tiffany Wallace had come to stay.  She was an incredible ceramicist and wanted to help us set up a project we called “Jayanti Crafts.” We figured it would be a way to generate some finances for the community.  We were also hoping it would give the trainees a way to earn money when they went to start their own communities one day.

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Uncle and Aunty gave us two of their rooms and a little courtyard on rent.  It was perfect.  We got a wheat shredder, which did a great job at shredding newspaper for the paper mache.  Tiffany made moulds out of plaster of paris and taught the trainees to paint the products.  Everything was dried in the sun.

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We had devotions and teaching sessions every morning and then off to work.  It was such fun.  There was always singing and laughter coming from the craft centre.

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Tony had the idea to start a café on Saturdays.  We called it  “Jayanti Garden.”  Guy Emery had a catering background and he was keen to take it on.  The menu was simple:  sandwiches, rolls, Guy’s cheesecake, brownies and milkshakes.   We got tables and umbrellas and set it up near the craft centre.  Students from Woodstock and The Language School were our main customers.

When we first moved to Dhobi Ghat we wondered if anyone would visit.   We were so far from everything and everyone;  but it didn’t take long for people to find us.    It wasn’t long before there was noise and life.  Everyone was busy.  When the sun set we had concerts and amazing worship times under the stars.   The valley was filled with the sound of singing.

Once again, our house was full and so were our hearts.   Once again, we had found our happy place.

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Post 97. Nana Betty

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Betty and Tony

Tony couldn’t believe his mum was coming to India.  His memories of her vacuuming carpets twice a day and keeping her house meticulously clean made him wonder how she would cope.

We drove to Delhi to pick Betty up.  The last time she had seen Asha was when she was 9 months old and it was her first time meeting Zoë.  They loved each other instantly.  It was so moving to see them with their Nana.  They had no idea what they were missing until that moment.  They were all over her and she enjoyed every minute of it.

Christmas was spent in Mussoorie.  James and Willi put on an incredible lunch for us at their house.  Betty fell in love with everyone.  They also fell in love with her.   She became everyone’s Nana.   She loved hearing their stories and would sit for ages just listening.  Hiram loved chatting to her.  He talked very fast and in an accent she wasn’t used to.  After a particularly long chat, she came to me and said, “Lin, I didn’t understand a word he said.”  We had a good giggle.

After Christmas we made our way to Delhi and onto a train headed for Goa.  We left our jeep at the YMCA and got a taxi to the station.  We were running late so Tony told the driver to get there “jaldi se.”  He took off like a rocket, winding in and out of the traffic.  Betty thought she was going to have a heart attack.  Her heart was pounding by the time we got to the station.  We ran for it and managed to get on just before it started moving.

The eighteen-hour train ride was interesting for Betty.  The Indian style, hole-in-the-floor-toilets were a challenge when the train was rocking from side to side.  She took it all in her stride and didn’t complain once.  In fact we didn’t hear her complain once about anything.  She was amazing.

We spent the night with our friends Arun and JoyAnn Philip and their children Yohaan and Priyanka.  It was fun catching up.  We laughed ourselves silly at the most ridiculous things.  Yohaan teased and irritated the girls until they cried, but they all woke up good friends the next day.

We flew to Goa and went straight to the Watkinson’s flat.  They were away and said we could stay there for a few days.  We then settled into “C” Roque, which was where we stayed for three weeks.  It was amazing.  The rooms were simple, right on the sand and there was a shack restaurant right on the beach.  That was where we had all our meals and watched the sun set on the ocean every evening.   The girls made lots of new friends and we enjoyed seeing our Goan friends again.  James and Willi were also on holiday and were staying in a room next to ours.   It was during one of our many conversations that James mentioned that he had not been baptised as an adult.  There was no time wasted.  We drove to a beach up the coast and both James and Betty were baptised in the ocean.  What a day that was.

After an amazing beach holiday, we made the long trip home.  Mussoorie was a white wonderland. Within twenty-four hours we went from building sandcastles to making snowmen.  In two months, Betty had almost seen it all.

Post 85. Morning Glory

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At 6 am we heard the girls whispering, “What’s that noise?”  It was the sound of many monkeys on our tin roof.   It sounded like thunder.  We had already been woken up at 4 a.m by the Mullah calling the Muslims to pray. The town mosque must have had it’s speaker aimed right at Morning Glory.  It was loud.  The girls didn’t know what it was and we explained that it was the Muslim’s way of getting everyone up to pray to Allah.

The air was crisp and the skies were clear.  It was beautiful.  We packed as much as we could fit into the tiny cupboard.  Tony went to get some supplies at the four shops which we discovered were called Chaar Dukhan, meaning “Four Shops.” Cute.  I pottered around while the girls played outside on the small lawn.

Before sunset the Mullah started up again and it really scared Asha and Zoe.  Zoe’s reaction was to put her fingers in the shape of a gun and shout out to Asha, “The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming!”  I realised then that she didn’t know they were people.  Her imagination had created an image that matched the voice. It obviously wasn’t human.  A few days later, when we were in the bazaar I was able to introduce her to an elderly Muslim man.  She liked him and happily put her finger gun away.

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We soon discovered that we had a water problem.  For days there was no running water.  At all.   We had bought two 50 litre buckets with us from Goa. Tony drove up the driveway to Chaar Dukhan to the only tap that produced water.  He queued up with container-laden ladies and children and waited his turn.  The buckets were big and it took a while.  He made friends while he waited.   He put the buckets in the back of the jeep and made his way home.  The drive was so steep, the water spilled out and ran down in front of the jeep.  By the time he got home he had lost almost half of the water.

Dish water was used to flush the toilet.  Someone would pour a small jug of water over our hands while we soaped them and rinsed them.  If that water was caught it also went down the loo.  We boiled water on our two plate gas stove and put it into a water filter which had filtering candles in it.  That was for cooking and drinking.  Any water was used sparingly.  Tony did not want to make that trip more times than was absolutely necessary.

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Zoe- holding onto the monkey mentioned in a previous post

One rainy day, Asha and Zoe were playing outside.  They had bottles and were trying to catch the rain.  Zoe was threatening to drink it and Asha shouted from outside, “Mom, is this boiled water?”   They were learning fast.

For some strange reason, within a few weeks of being in Mussoorie, Ash got the water mixed up.  She got really sick.  She had fevers of 104 degrees and all we could do was cool her down with cold towels.  While we were doing that, Tony and I both smelt a putrid smell around the bed.  We walked all around the house to see if there was a dead rat somewhere but it was only around the bed.  We realised that it was an unclean, smelly demon so we took it on and told it, in the name of Jesus, to leave the room.  It moved from the bed but stayed in the middle of the living room.  It was as if a person was standing there.  Tony got so angry, he opened the door and told it to get out and never come back.  The smell went and Asha got better almost immediately.  The fear she had been struggling with for months also left.

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We lived in Morning Glory for two months and during that time we joined the Landour Language School to learn Hindi.  It was within walking distance of our cottage.  Tony would do a morning session and I would walk with the girls to meet him half way.  He would take them home and I would go to Hindi lessons.

There was always lots to see on the way.  A big challenge was negotiating our steps around the donkey’s poos in the road.  One day Zoe stepped over a big one and said, “Naughty donkeys not pooing in the toilet.”

We managed to get 6 weeks of study in.  That wasn’t nearly enough for people who were going to stay forever.  In all of that time, we hadn’t heard a full conversation spoken in Hindi.  There were lots of foreigners living in that area.  Many of them worked at Woodstock International School and others were there to study Hindi.

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Tony and the girls outside “Morning Glory.”

We made some lovely friends in those six weeks and of course everyone wanted to know what we were doing there.  Some wondered why on earth we would want to plant ANOTHER Christian community in a place where there were so many.  We could see that.  There were four denominations just on our side of the mountain.  Others were excited that we were going to do something new and were keen to join us.  It seemed that things were happening quicker than what we had expected.  We were ready.

Post 84. Mussoorie

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I was not prepared for the drive up to Mussoorie.  We wound around hundreds of hairpin bends and steep cliffs with no barriers.  It was high and the road was never-ending.   I was so taken in by the sights, I didn’t even think about how sick I should have been feeling.  It was early evening and we had been driving most of the day.  I hadn’t closed my eyes for a second in case I missed something.  We were exhausted but buzzing.

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When the lights of Mussoorie first came into view, they were far away.  My comment to Tony was, “When we get up there, just leave me there.  I’m not ever coming down again!”  We arrived on the mountain just after sunset.

It was dusk by the time we got up to 7,000 feet.  We took the wrong turn and ended up on the Library Side of Kulri Bazaar.  The bazaar was closed to traffic so we had to turn around and go all the way down and around the mountainside up to Picture Palace.

In many places the roads were just wide enough for one car and the tiny little houses and shops were fascinating.  It was so pretty and quaint.  It reminded me of a street scene from a Charles Dickens story.  There was an old, hundred year old feel to it.

Everything seemed so small.  Even the people looked small.  There were lots of little men carrying heavy things and many of them were sitting on the steps of shops along the road.  I asked Tony, “Who are all these little people?”  His reply was, “They are coolies from Nepal.”  For someone straight out of apartheid South Africa, that sounded weird.  They were a group of people?  Weren’t all Indians “coolies”?  Tony wearily explained that it was the name given to unskilled labourers or porters.   I felt so awful that I had been calling all Indians “coolies” all my life.

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We managed to get up the steep Mullingar Hill, revving all the way, hoping we wouldn’t have to stop for an oncoming car.  We decided to spend two nights at the Barton’s house even though they weren’t there.   Their niece was there to greet and host us.  She asked us what we were going to be doing in Mussoorie.  When we told her we were going to start  a community her response was, “Why would you want to do that?  There are so many churches here.”  That was our first night in Mussoorie.  “Encouraging,” we thought.

The next day was Sunday so Tony got his guitar and the girls and I sat around him in the lounge.  We worshipped, shared a bit and thanked God for getting us there safely.  Asha asked what we were doing and Tony said, “We’re having church.”   That was her first church meeting with no people.

On Monday we got back into the jeep and drove another 1000 feet to the top of the mountain.  We went past four little shops on the right hand side and drove around the final bends of our journey.  Down one very steep driveway later and we arrived at The Firs.  I knew then why it was called that.  We were in the middle of a thick forest of fir trees.  As we stepped out of the jeep, it felt as if we had left the “real” India behind.  It was so quiet and it was cold.  We were met by Canadian landlady, Julia Malik who spoke with an unusual accent and in a very high pitch.  While we were doing the formalities, Ash pulled me down to her level and whispered in my ear, “She sounds just like Mickey Mouse.”  It was hard to keep a straight face because it was true.     Julia was sweet and had been in India for about 40 years.  She was so far into the culture, it was hard to tell where she started and where it ended.  We couldn’t imagine her living anywhere else.

She showed us to our little cottage called “Morning Glory”.  It was fully furnished with one bedroom, one bathroom/toilet, a lounge and a small kitchen. It was musty  and dimly lit but we were just happy to be there.

We unpacked a few necessities and made up the small bed  for the girls.  All we could think of was a good sleep in a comfortable bed.  That wasn’t to be.  Our mattress was a lumpy cotton one, probably as old as the house itself and our pillows were like slabs of rock.  We lay on our backs and looked into the darkness.  No matter how uncomfortable things were, we were safe, together and on a beautiful mountain.  We had driven 2291 kilometers of crazy road from one end of India to the other and our journey had just begun.