Credit where it’s due.

I have here a piece of paper….

Neville Chamberlain’s infamous attempt of appeasement with hitler.

Well I also have my own piece of paper.

Here it is….

ok it’s nothing like the first one.

On my return to India in August I was pulled aside by the immigration officers.

It seems that there has been a rule change and I was told in no uncertain terms what it is! (Maybe that’s the link, the current govt is definitely changing things for immigrants, ring any bells?) I’m here on a five year, multiple entry business visa which means I have to leave the the country every 180 days but can come straight back. At first I was uncertain. Does the rule change mean I can only stay a max of 180 days in any one year (in which case I’m very worried) or that if I go over 180 days in one year I have to go register with the police?

Anyway, it seems that if I stay over 180 days in the same year I have to register with the Police. But here’s where the credit comes in….. The FRRO the bit of the Police Commissioners office where one registers were superb. First off, I made a mistake with the form and the documents with an hour to go before the deadline, they sent me off to a chap to sort it out at little cost. Then once completed and an extra letter explaining the situation within a week I got my paper, my residential permit. Hooray!.

I once had to do something similar when I had an employment visa. It was one of those, go to about five different offices, provide duplicate forms, pay different lots of money, fetch receipts, hundreds of photos, wait endlessly…. now just one form and documents submitted online and take copies to the office, nothing more not even a fee, thank you Mr Kumar, job well done.

Let’s just hope the immigration officers are half as helpful when I next try to get in the country.

Happy .,,,

Happy Gowrie Ganesh, today we recognise the big guys mum.

And here she is…. Gowrie

Lord Ganesha himself has arrived in our Pooja room and will be celebrated properly from tomorrow.

Manjula has bathed and completed the Pooja of which she’s really pleased.

This time last year she was in hospital with Dengue fever. What a difference a year makes. Well done Manj!

It’s the BIG boy’s event

It’s Ganesh’s Big Day

I was deputed to go buy Ganesh in the city centre.

I might be a shopper but sometimes there’s just too much choice!

Well the Pooja room is cleaned and prepared

Ganesh and his mum wait patiently on the dining table. I have to bathe before I can enter and place him on his stool!

Mind the gap.

She was only a little mite but even in a very short time has left a gaping hole.

I first heard her yelping as we passed during one of our MYCycle Tours on Srirangapatnam. It was as if one of the guys at a chai shop was teasing or hurting her. I sort of adopted her. For the next week, I  saw her every time we passed by.

First impressions were not good. She was slow, almost subdued, had what seemed to be a scar on her head, was pretty run down and a couple of days later was completely covered in fleas. I fed her with milk each time and the locals, who have got to know me over the years realised she was adopted. Typical firangi! She seemed to be really very young but was already lapping up her milk. Her mother was nowhere to be seen. Pups are often cruelly separated and dumped. I treated her and got rid of the fleas. I decided to kidnap her (no one gave a damn) and took her to People for Animals ‘rescue centre’ aka death camp. ( a bit unfair but the level of illness and death is known to be high).

Ruby, as she became known with variants of Too, two and tue…. was left at the rescue centre for a check up and treatment but not for too long. It’s a lovely place with caring staff and volunteers but a lot of illness for puppies. I brought her home after a week. That in itself was a quandary. Should I have left her there for longer? What would the women of the household think?

At first she seemed to be managing OK. Eating, although not very much, the quantity of worms she expelled was amazing. This was the first of three lots. Her means of carriage, the princesses pumpkin with handles aka the shopping bag was ideal and endlessly entertained the local children. They couldn’t believe it when they noticed her little head popping out, I have of course reinforced their view that foreigners are more than a bit weird,

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Lucie and Ruby’s relationship was a ‘work in progress’ they generally kept a discreet distance.

She developed a cough and chest infection, laboured breathing, running nose and constant diarrhoea. We seem to be at the vets every other day. They’ve stuffed her with antibiotics, a drip and minerals to rehydrate, vitamins, powder to stop the shits you name it, she’s had it. Michael-virtual-vet-Heath, in Australia was advising from afar. Back at home I created a den out of a cardboard box with a lovely bed with pillow, blanket and neat little door to get in and out. As things seemed to be getting worse I’d just nurse her. Manjula reckons for most of the day. Then the three of us would go out on our Adams family jaunts.

On reflection if might have been better for her to stay longer at the centre and perhaps she was too vulnerable even for the bath. Who really knows. We did our best but for our lovely Ruby the roller coaster ride is over.

We now are left with fond memories and are pleased we could spend that precious time together.

Manjula who was all no-no-no (she was the same with Billi) was won over after just a few days.

It helps me realise together with some of our other experiences (this is not the most challenging by any means) , what a hard life it can be here and how important it is to make the most of it.

so this is just the latest example of …. it’s been a bit of a weird year, more of that later.

Ups and downs

I’ve been on a rollercoaster.

Well I haven’t really. I’m too small and too young but I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of what it might be like.

It’s been exhilarating, my stomachs been filled, gone up as if into my mouth then rushed back down again. Whoops, and I’ve let it out.

I’ve been overawed, never quite knowing what to expect, given new experiences, found new things. Been warm and comfortable, cold and shocked. I’ve sometimes left a mess, I’m sorry!

Its been confusing and I sometimes wish I’d never been on the journey. I’ve felt awful, wanted, not wanted, sick, with the runs, full stomach, empty stomach, coughing fits, difficulty breathing, tears in my runny eyes, wishing it was over. Sometimes all alone and others feeling part of my family.

Hang on, hang on…. what is this? there’s a whoosh of water that fair takes my breath away. Didn’t expect that and could have done without it. Baths are overrated.

The rollercoaster has this amazing carriage. My aerial transporter my very own time travelling Tardis. I’ve seen places I wouldn’t have imagined. Its fun together.

Yes, I’ve been some strange places with odd people, had things stuck up my bum, had needles in my thin spindly legs, had endless concoctions squirted in my mouth.

It’s been a bit hectic and intense.

Sometimes I’m ecstatic, in love with the newness, the hugs the cuddles, our time together.

Sometimes in the middle of it all I just want it to end.

Sometimes I just wish my big-new-friend, the BNF would have left me there, on the pavement by the chai shop. It was maybe a little dull but it had its traumas too, but no….. On reflection I realise, what’s good, My new life is fun, I don’t want it to change, I like my new life. Just without the illness, please.

I’m maybe just not quite sure about that BIG black thing: Lucie.

our time together, me and the BNF has been short but really special, not easy but full of kindness, I know it’s important we make the best of what we have. I know I am loved and cherished and that’s right for me.

Ruby Too

……

The BNF in a fitful sleep was woken by an unusual cry at 3.35 am was that Ruby? BNF rushed downstairs, took her in his arms and finally with an unmistakable rattle at 3.45 Ruby 2, too and tue passed away.

I wish I could have done more.

Stephen

Birthday month……

It’s Manjula’s and Willian’s (who’s he?) birthdays this month. First however it’s the BIG goddess herself: Chamundeshwari.

Don’t ask her age.

Hence the crowds for the free bus to the top of the Hill.

Here one day, gone the next.

So we celebrate it calmly at home.

Blue for Ganesh. Yellow for Chamundeshwari. Other partygoers: Krishna and Shiva.

Farrell Factoid

Chamundeshwari, known as Durga in the north, lives at the Temple, on the hill behind our house. She famously killed the demon after which Mysore (Mysuru, if you insist) is named.

The price of an ice cream

As a young child in the 1960’s my grandparents used to take the grandkids driving through France to holiday in Spain.

It was unusual for a working class family from Sheffield (grandad was a steelworker) to go on holiday abroad.

What a great experience!

One of the things I noticed changing during these occasional visits over the years was the price of ice cream.

In Spain and England it was at a very low price and affordable on my pocket money. In France it was a little different. You know, more classy with prices to match. 🙂

The price of ice cream was of course significant in my world!

Over the years the prices gradually increased and merged. They became global and consistent. The price (and quality) changed dramatically.

In retrospect I was experiencing from a child’s world view both globalisation and the way products are now priced ie at a level that the ‘market can take.’ Price was increasingly determined not by the cost of raw materials plus the cost of production plus a profit. There was a dramatic shift towards the price-we-can-get-away with charging. There were key stages of this change, including; the increase in international travel especially holidays, higher disposal incomes amongst more people in society, middle class growth, the moving on from the effects of the war, decimalisation, and VAT.

In a few short years the cost of ice cream went way beyond my pocket money, I couldn’t keep pace.

Now, I’m here living in Indya age 61.

I often say that India is a good teacher it illustrates and illuminates many contemporary issues.

Well we’re seeing exactly the same process going on here. Ice cream was and still is cheap but now there’s a whole range of premium quality options so prices differ wildly. There is a massive surge growth of the middle classes so new demands and greater disposable income, India has always been the world leader of flexible pricing (the least local you look the higher the price you will pay). Now we’ve got the addition of the introduction of GST (a General Service or Value added Tax) and the idiotic demonetisation which resulted in over 80% of currency becoming worthless overnight. Yet more reasons for prices shooting upwards! The price of ice cream, not being the only thing that goes up and up.

Think India is cheap? Think again.

We often think that India is a cheap place. That’s both true and not. It can be incredibly cheap and shockingly expensive.

A case in point.

Medicines.

The big box of twenty tablets costs, …….. wait for it……. 1760 Rupees! (That’s one GB pound per tablet) I’ve managed to get a 15% discount and I’m not paying firangi (foreigner) prices. The minimum daily wage here is 250 Rs per day how is someone who is poor, supposed to manage? I can tell you as an exceedingly rich (not) foreigner it’s hard to handle! Imagine what it’s like for poor people, or Manjula for that matter if she didn’t have access to our resources!

So what’s the point?

So, I’m seeing the same process of prices increases at work, here in India over fifty years later.

Prices are becoming more consistent around the world, reflect what’s possible to charge rather than actual costs, are often increased when there’s a convenient policy change such as change in taxation. It also serves to accentuate and polarising difference, it reflects the severe differences in levels of income and wealth, life and death experience in society.

Question

Did you spot the deliberate mistake? Check the photos above.

Ice cream gets more of a mention