Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Professor Doug Colbert - Report from Shimla

It is 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon in Shimla. Until yesterday, the weather here was totally perfect. Blue skies, lovely sun, temperatures ranging from 80 degrees during the day to high-60s at night. Absolutely lovely. Yesterday, we had our first hard rain. In typical Shimla style, it ended as abruptly as it had begun, and the sun returned, allowing people to come pouring into the streets. Then this morning, I awoke early and witnessed a tremendous burst of rain, hail, lightening and wind. After about 45 minutes, it stopped, and I took my morning run. I still cannot jog all the way up the first hill going away from town, but I’m progressing nicely once I get to the top and run past the Governor’s house and into the woods.

View from the Oberoi Clarke's Hotel

The Oberoi Clarke's Hotel

Students and faculty just returned from a lovely trip to Kufri where we traveled to the lovely and refreshing mountains and witnessed an unusually interesting zoo. We saw snow leopards, black and brown bears, multi-colored pheasants and other birds, wolves, a small type of deer, yaks and other animals. It is Saturday afternoon now in Shimla, and all of us are enjoying our "day off" from school. Ten students left yesterday to take a whirlwind tour in which they will be traveling ten hours each way to one of India’s highest mountains and will return Sunday night. I decided to stay here and get to know Shimla again. I find much to enjoy here, although I cannot wait to arrive in Dharamsala. I walked up to the Jaku Temple yesterday four minutes slower than I remember walking two years ago, but still within the 30 minutes or less "expert" time for people who are supposed fit. I stopped many times to catch my breath along the way. The Jaku priest welcomed me with a big smile and remembered my earlier visits. Same was true when I went to the Rouen camera store and Cyberia internet and, of course, the stores near Clarkes. The music festival arrived this week. I went there with Marianne Artusio, Marjorie Silver and Sherry van Dyke, Professor Jon's wife and activist attorney.

Shimla Mall

A Tibetan porter

Faculty and students are doing extremely well together. Classes have been very good. Virtually every student seems to arrive prepared and having read most of the material. I have worked hard myself this week reading lots of new material since I last taught International Human Rights (you must read the Torture Memos - - how disturbing), becoming acquainted again with India’s progressive Constitution and judicial decision-making, and spending lots of prep time. I sense students are appreciating faculty's commitment, presence and engagement in the course materials. As I write this, the hard rains have once again ended suddenly and I see a beautiful sun reappearing. Looks like we are going to have a beautiful Saturday night with lots of good food and music.

By Professor Doug Colbert, Touro Law Summer Abroad Program in India 2009
Photos by Cat Allard

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