This is the high school where I graduated from – Woodstock School – located in the middle of the Lower Western Himalaya of the Mussoorie Range in northern India at a small hill station called Landour. The Mussoorie Range is the second of five parallel folds that make up the Himalaya. Landour is at an altitude of 1800-2000 m (6,000 -6,6000 ft).
At the time when I decided to attend Woodstock School as a boarder, I imagined it was going to resemble the fictional place described in James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon called Shangri La. Looking back, I now think Woodstock School lies somewhere between Shangri La, Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast, J.K.Rowling’s Hogwarts School and C.S. Lewis’ magical land of Narnia.
Woodstock School was established in the 1850s by a group of English women who were enlisted by British officers and American missionaries to provide a Protestant education for girls. Woodstock remains a co-educational, international Christian school. My classmates came from all over the globe, mainly the children of missionary families. Today we are known as “Third Culture Kids” which describes our integration with India and the countries of our birth.
Midlands, the building in the foreground, is the dormitory where the high school girls live. At the back of Midlands, looking onwards to the plains, are two other Mussoorie boarding schools: St George’s College on the left and Wynberg Allen School on the right. On the other side of Midlands was Hostel, where the high school boys boarded. In between Midlands and Hostel was Ridgewood – home to the little boys of the school. These photos are from 1982 and much refurbishment has taken place since this time including a brand new Hostel.
This is the house where I stayed with the Jennings family when I was invited out of boarding for a short period in senior year (1971). It’s called The Cottage, located at Oakville, a small settlement housing the Canadian missionary families at the time. Next to The Cottage was The Big House. It was here we had our 35th reunion dinner as guests of the Alters. It was amazing to meet the principal of the school after all these years as well as my former Hindi teacher, Mr. Lal.
Text and photo copyright © Marti Patel / http://www.sanuksanuk.wordpress 2010