Venturing into the literal wild, new staff leave the safety of their monkey-less roads and tackle the great unknown we call Woodstock. The Woodstocker caught up with some of them to chronicle the first chapter of their adventures.
Being from Tamil descent, Mr. Kailash Mani, the new English teacher, had always wanted to know more about his own motherland. After teaching in Thailand for eight years, he decided to come to the “world-famous” school in Mussoorie.
“I heard about Woodstock but didn’t want to leave my school in Chiang Mai. I wish it was possible to be in two places at the same time,” Mr. Mani said.
Previously, he had visited India six times but did not know much about the culture.
“It is a very diverse place; I want to know more about my roots,” he said.
He tagged his transition into Woodstock as “wonderful” and largely appreciated the administration’s help in making it smooth.
He has grown to like the students as “most of them are smart students with a loud mouth.” He has no problem with such attitudes as it makes the learning and teaching process a whole lot easier than having quiet students who do not interact much in class.
His passion for teaching was developed ever since he was growing up in Virginia, where he felt like an outcast due to his racial background.
“I felt like no one understood me and my culture as all I had there were boring white Americans,” he said. “I want to be more enthusiastic and make everyone in the class feel appreciated regardless of their background.”
A regular visitor to the Hostel pool who often swims 30 laps, he is also a dedicated swimmer.
“One of the students thought I was a pro swimmer,” recalled Mr. Mani.
He found passion in swimming over the last few years as he believes his physical well being is directly related to his mental health. However, Mussoorie is relatively colder than Chiang Mai, where he previously swam.
“No pain, no gain,” said Mr. Mani on how he manages to swim, even when it is raining. He also visits the fitness room regularly but has one problem with it. “I go early but at 7, the students start coming in; the obnoxious music starts playing.”
He admits he was never good at sports when he was young and was “always picked last.” He always wanted to be better and the older he got, the more he realized the importance of exercise.
He also considers himself an amateur artist as he is currently running the “2-D art club” with Ms. Leaf Elhai after school.
“Our passage name will never be better than Mr. Nandu’s. I mean, Art for All sounds so much cooler than 2D art club,” he said.
He specializes in drawing portraits and sometimes even tries self-portraits. “I have tried them but I never get them right. I am very concerned about my looks. I either trash the portraits or try to change them a lot,” he said.
Photo by Knema Gardner