We arrived safely in Dehradun on the train on Saturday afternoon, and have spent the last two days getting acclimated to the city we will be exploring for the next week. We received a warm welcome at Welham Girls School on Saturday, where our nine girls are being hosted. Later in the day, the boys headed to Doon School, where we were met by Davan, the exchange student who came to Groton last year.
After a good night’s sleep, we awoke early to take a walk through the Paltam Bazaar with a local guide – it was a beautiful and fascinating tour as we saw some of the historic architecture as well as watched this vibrant city come to life — there were people stringing marigolds onto necklaces, newspaper delivery people buzzing through the streets on mopeds, and fruit being arranged at markets. We saw an abandoned mausoleum and then visited Darbar Sahib, a religious site that reminded us of the style of the Taj Mahal. There happened to be a festival going on celebrating the fifth day after the important Hindu holiday of Holi – there was a carnival, many worshippers, and a great deal of color and energy.
On Saturday afternoon, we saw a Bollywood movie at a local theater. It was in Hindi and there were no subtitles, but a number of local friends helped translate. We then headed to dinner at the home of Shantum and Gitu, two of our tour guides – they invited a number of their family and friends to join us, so we had the chance to hear from many locals about their experiences in Dehradun. It was a fun way to learn about the city and about Indian culture in a broader sense.
Today, we experienced a “day in the life” of Doon and Welham students — the boys attended classes and played sports with their hosts, while the girls took part in a variety of activities at Welham, including dance, pottery, and cooking classes. We all gathered at Doon School in the evening and had the opportunity to meet Doon’s headmaster for tea. We capped off the evening with a session with a local environmentalist who shared fascinating information about the ecology of the Himalayan region. This was a great primer for our outing tomorrow to Rishikesh and the Rajaji National Forest.
We hope you are enjoying following along. We have better access to wifi now, so our posts should be more frequent.