Huge Burden

A recent conversation with two young things who have become our adopted ‘children’ reminded me of a situation in the 80s

I worked for local government in the UK in social services. I was in my late 20’s with responsibility for managing the grants given to voluntary organisations (aka charities) who provided services that complemented ours so they were given financial assistance and developmental support. I also began developing programs to consult local people to engage them in reviewing services.

It was one of my favourite jobs and I was fortunate to get such a senior job at a relatively young age.

I was in many respects a ‘young Turk.’ Full of new ideas, wanting to challenge and innovate, create revolution. We did some really cool things.

There was an assistant director who we nick-named Huge Burden (it was almost an alliteration (?) of his name). We’d often cross Swords (blunt ones, it was govt!) and there have been times we’d have stand up rows. Well actually, it would be me, berating Hugh. Sometimes I may have been unfairly over-the-top at other times my concerns would have been quite legitimate but I now recognise, I could always have improved my approach.

So how does this relate to the recent conversation?

My lovely friends and I were discussing media relations. They were not particularly challenging me nor was there approach inappropriate, that’s not my point. They were, of course, dealing with a knowall Yorkshireman of a certain age. I felt I knew much of what they referred to, and maybe showed it too much being a bit harsh, reflecting insecurity? I’d designed and delivered with the wonderful Carol Barbone, a national roadshow for the U.K. government twenty years ago on media relations (clearly times have moved on but I’d say principles are much the same but they are the bright young things and so maybe it’s a young/old Turk situation regardless of the what’s and wherefors) so the real point is ….. I don’t want to be a Huge Burden but maybe I am.

That’s the fear, I’ve become the miserable grumpy old git! The old Turk!

Spontaneous organisation

Getting out again. A totally new experience.

I’ve worked for a Prince of Wales’s charity and been to some pretty posh do’s. This one was however something else. Yes, Indian and very special.

It was the engagement of my very good friend Vinay to a lovely woman, Tapas. Who I only met at the event itself.

How amazing, a great mix of ceremony, ritual, a spectacular celebration. It was unexpected and astonishing. 

It began with a series of traditional rituals involving the couple their parents and family. Held together by the women of the families and the direction of the priest or Poojari.

Ok, I’ve no idea what was going on but impressive, to say the least. I was interested to see another dimension of the modern entrepreneur who I first met and worked with on his then start-up, Royal Mysore Walks (Now expanded and known as Gullys).

We were at Tapas’s home, a coffee plantation, an Estate first established in the mid 19th Century west of Mysore., on the edge of Kodagu.

And then, we were transported away to another part of the estate….. and it’s where the rest of us got more involved! A fairytale.

It clearly took a lot of time, and all sorts of resources and pure dedication to organise it. Yet they managed to keep it informal, down to earth and great fun. 

Exchanging the rings

It was very special and seemed to go like a dream.

So what’s Spontaneous organisation?

It’s a new term, from me, another aspect of Indian life. It’s bordering on contradictory, a juxtaposition of potentially conflicting observations and experiences as is so much of India. It’s meaning? It’s formulating as I write.

An example of something well organised, which flows well but teetering on the edge of impossibility. It all falls nicely into place, well organised but not so much that it squeezes the life out of it. It’s a sergeant rather than a corporal. It’s built on experience, it fits well together its sophisticated, not crass nor out of place. It works beautifully and sometimes one wonders how. It is also quintessentially Indian as it never feels false or forced it just happens! …..and yet feels that at any moment it might not.

The organising sisters

Wonderful!

Thank you to Vinay and Tapas. A great way to mark a new chapter in your life. Manjula and I look forward to sharing aspects of your journey. With our warmest wishes for peas and love, for your life together.

Getting out

I need to get out more.

Sunday was the second Mysore literary festival. Great to get out, meet old and make new friends.

Discussions about wildlife and how we can promote conservation, Roy’s films, presentations on Mysore Palaces and our wood inlay traditions, all great stuff.

Maybe the best of all for me was hearing from a young woman from a very poor background who at age four had been given a new opportunity in life. A philanthropic organisation sponsored her residential education through to her 20s. Not straightforward. An amazing life opportunity but controversially perhaps takes her completely away from her family. I’ve ordered her autobiography. More later.

A great new slogan 🙃

A different segment and layer of society in Mysore. Mostly women, middle class and of an uncertain age.

Great people watching and meeting. I only knew a handful of the maybe 150-200 people..

I do realise from this, that with the challenges at home and the build up to busy-time I do need to get out for a bit of newness now and again.

Mother Hen

Update 17 Nov 2018

We’re getting so many requests about Manjula’s health. So we’re providing occasional updates.

She’s lost so much weight, I asked the local diagnostic lab to send someone round for an impromptu blood test to check haemoglobin levels.

It checks out ok at 13.1 reference range 11.5 – 14.5 in India with an ill wife one gets used to diagnostic centres, reading results, drugs, records, co-ordinating between different docs, trying to keep track and paying!

Cost was 50 rupees, so that’s great, this time!

A word from our sponsor

What’s

What’s up in India?

The mobile phone is having a profound effect.

I decided to observe drivers for a few moments on the main road near our home.

Ok it wasn’t quite as jammed as this. 🙃 but even I was surprised to see the majority, yes over 50% of drivers, mostly in cars but also on two wheelers …. actually on the phone! Stuck to their ear, jammed up the crash helmet, jabbing in messages. It’s astonishing, young and old, they’re all at it.

Maybe it’s the same around the world. I don’t know.

It represents a modern day challenge….How to keep up with technological change, whilst recognising what’s appropriate and acceptable behaviour and what isn’t. We all know that our education doesn’t necessarily equip us very well for daily living. It’s nowhere more apparent than how we respond to and behave with technology. On a day to day basis we can all think of our own examples…. dangerous multi-tasking as when driving. Allowing a phone call to interrupt a conversation. Walking blindly head down texting.

You know, there are many.

It’s also true with litter. In the past in India, chai might be provided in a terracotta cup and then thrown down. Not a problem if it’s mud returning to mud but a completely different matter with plastic.

Well another example is what’s app messages. My yoga teacher put me on a what’s app group ostensibly to let me know when a class was cancelled. Well I got more than I bargained for!

In two days there were more than fifty photos, messages, quotes and videos. ALL of it unsolicited and non of it relevent.

Now I don’t want to be churlish and it’s important for me to connect with people in my adopted country. But all this garbage is filling my photo app, I can get by…..but..there is a sinister side.

Revealed in this article from the Guardian

Society here relies on the spoken word and people connections, there is less recognition of private space and people tend to accept what others say uncritically. That’s the crux of the problem with what’s app.

Filling up my phone with garbage is one thing but leading to death and mayhem, (Like this) that needs serious action.

Unbelievable

You may find this hard to believe. We often joke about safety issues in India.

Just look at these photos. What do you think they are?

Picture one

Picture two

Picture three

Picture one is of a lamp post in Mysore. See the man walking by. The card, poster thing attached to the post is at about his head height.

Picture two is a close up of the same post. Look between the two photos, the white cable shows that it’s above the card/poster. It’s difficult to tell but just above and to the right of the white cable are two bits of wire. Now look at picture three.

Picture three, this is also on a lamp post and much lower down, inside the box thing are two red cables.

Any idea what all these cables are for?

In a morning on my way to yoga a guy drives up on his two wheeler and disconnects the two wires that you see in pictures one and two. There’s usually a spark. It switches off the street lights.

Yes, you’ve got it! The way to switch on and off the street lights at dusk and dawn are two wires hanging from one of the lamp posts. The first is way above head height but easily reachable when sitting on a bike, the other is reachable from just walking past.

Now that’s what I call f**king dangerous.

Babel fish

I have now developed a long and significant list of excuses for why I’m unable to speak ANY foreign languages:

The British Raj, due to them the English language is so prevalent I can easily get by without Kannada here in Mysore.

British Arrogance, see above.

My parents and therefore my genetical inheritance.

Wax in my ears and assorted other hearing limitations.

A wife and extended team that speaks English and seemingly endless other languages. I get by.

Teachers that couldn’t cram French or German in me.

Probably the top of the tree…. abject laziness combined with being idle, severe inability to stick with anything for more than five minutes and being 🐻 of small brain.

This list is to help whenever I’m questioned why after nine years do I not speak Kannada. (Clearly I cant speak English properly anyway)

STOP PRESS

Manjula reckons it’s because Ive got a short stubby tongue.

Whereas Manjula, with all the languages at her disposal, yes you’ve guessed it, has a long slender one.

I rest my case