Chamundeshwari fought the demon

It’s early in the morning, a little after 7 am. I cycle up to the brow of the hill and can hear a drumming in the background. Maybe it’s a significant day, a Mela or something else to do with the local goddess.

This is the home, of the goddess Chamundeshwari, her temple and effectively, her woodland garden, the hill is one of the most sacred in the whole of South India.

As I get closer, I realise it’s not what I first thought.

The ‘drums’ are the sound of the diggers breaking up the stones as part of the redevelopment of the hill top.

The hill takes its name from Chamundeshwari the local goddess (aka Durga) who lives on the hill which is just behind Mysore Bed and Breakfast. You can just about see the temple Gopura in the main picture in the far distance.

DSC01379Chamundeshwari is famous for dispensing with the demon: Mahishasura after which Mysuru or Mysore is named.

It looks to me that there is a new demon that she’ll have to deal with and the demon is development.

A few days later I join a walk up the hill to find out a little more…..

 

Hundreds of people walked up the hill as part of a demonstration against the planned development. For those of you who’ve visited you’ll realise its a bit of a mess up there. God knows what it would be like it if wasn’t a plastic free zone….. so there is no doubt  the need to do something

But does it need a new guest house? (there are already two that are not used), a shopping complex? a mulit-storey car park? and a four lane highway? In our view all these plans will devastate the hillside, damage its bio-diversity and make matters so much worse but do the local powers that be give a damn?

Hence I think there is a new demon in town that the Goddess needs to sort out!

Its that magic word development that they keep throwing around. Politicians use it as a catch-all phrase to defend all sorts of unsuitable decisions. Are we against development? by which they must mean progress… well erm yes, if it means destroying the lungs of the city and decemating the woodland, yes if it means worshipping and promoting growth regardless of the consequences.

It has the potential to be an amazing place, not least for the views of the city.

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But for that to be realised, we must have: some participation of the people in this thing called democracy, an end to mindless development and some sustainable and practical proposals to deal with the problems. These are currently  unfettered illegal growth, litter and too much traffic. These are practically and relatively easily resolvable with the right approach and many local organisations have come up with suggestions. In my view, it isn’t about grand schemes as they will not work and are, in any case, designed for the short term gain, with money going into a whole range of pockets and the needs of the people and the environment completely neglected..

This will be an interesting story to follow to see how local politicians and the civil servants manage to properly manage the conflicting priorities and show how well they are suited to representing the interests of people and the environment whilst  maintaining long-term sustainable development when and where its appropriate..

 

Vancouver is fab…

I really do like Vancouver.

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This was my second visit to my youngest son Oliver (thanks for moving there Ol). Its a city that seems to have just about everything. A diverse community, buzzing city with great localities and neighbourhoods, superb veg food, and amazing environment whether its the islands, the sea, the beaches. Its a modern city with snow-capped mountains, the sporty lifestyle, a really great vibe and super people.

I had a great time!

Ok, Ol did try to kill me by taking me to the ‘Tight’ fitness club for a session. Picture it. There is a class of people ‘keenly’ exercising  but ALL of them seriously look as if they don’t need to be doing anything of the sort. (maybe that’s the point.. you’ve got to keep at it!!) Except perhaps the old grey haired bearded guy in the back corner getting worrying looks from the trainer… will he survive the class? What is he doing here? Is he about to have a heart attack? Well I did manage to the end and probably did about 50% of the exercises. It’s made me think though I’ve got to reveiw my own lifestyle, loose some of the podge  and get fitter. Hang on a minute though, I AM on holiday, ok?  There is always rooms for a delicious ice cream and a beer.

On this, my second visit we hired a car and headed for a mini roadtrip into the US (where else?) down the stunning Oregon Coast, (en route visiting the famous locations of the Goonies) then …. into Portland, and Seattle… lovely people, astonishing panoramas and ginormous meals (its true about meals in the USA)… and wonderful micro brewing (sorry drinking) and endless opportunities to go shopping…. (which we both love)

 

If you’re a previous guests of Mysore Bed and Breakfast…. this is where you need to seriously worry!

Cathy and Mark, who came to stay with us in Mysore a few years ago when Mark was a volunteer vet in Bylakuppa (the Tibetan settlement), live on a beautiful lake on the outskirts of Portland. Well we couldn’t be in the area and not drop in, could we?

What amazing hosts and a lovely place. We were seriously pampered. It was difficult to leave. Mark took us out cycling with our very own MyCycle Tour of Portland, Cathy, who is ever so trusting, let me borrow her open top BMW for an amazing tour of the wonderful countryside and we just chilled out cycling in a great city. Thank you so much you guys, you were so generous and we had a wonderful time.

So why worry?

Because we might come visit you!

This is actually part of reaching my 60th year (actually 59 years old last December) and the ‘celebrations’ will continue. Next up… taking Manjula to the UK. Where we’ll visit: Ben, the eldest son in London, together with his partner Alice and my granddaughter Poppy, their mum in Hebden, a ton of old friends and one or two other guests of the Mysore BnB might also get a knock on the door 😉

So look out!! Who knows where we might head next.

an invitation arrives……

No it’s not from the queen to invite Manjula to the UK!

It is however related to royalty…….

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This very week Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, the latest in the long line of Mysore Maharaja’s (a previous one was amongst the richest in the world) will be married this week.

The previous Maharaja died a couple of years ago and there was no heir to the throne. This being India there are, of course, flexible ways to deal with such problems. So after a dignified period his widow the Maharani chose to adopt a relative to be the Maharaja. He’s already been crowned and this year gets wed!

The invite to the wedding because that’s what it is, was received by our new friend Dr Pai.

It’s told that a Queen from a neighbouring state, after losing a battle with the Wodeyars, cast a curse on the royal family that in future there would have no children so no natural heir to the throne. The law was therefore changed many years back to allow them to adopt the next Maharaja.

Here’s Dr Pai with his personal invite to THE event.

There is always a back story and in this case, a member of the Wodeyar family is challenging the adoption in the courts, nothing straightforward eh?

 

The Stars dim over Europe.

Don’t panic! Don’t panic!

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are the stars dimming over Europe?

let’s not panic. It’s not a crisis!

It’s a joke combined with a bad dream.

Unfortunately its not and a majority of people in the UK have voted to leave the EU.

The consequences are of course, completely unknown but in my darker thoughts I worry that:

  • the austerity focussed Tories will use this opportunity to shift the whole country even more into the nether regions of neo-liberalism
  • this will lead to the end of the United Kingdom
  • the EU itself may unravel and halt its progress in helping create a peaceful Europe since the last world war.

But I’m naturally an optimist and usually see the beer glass half full. In that case this might be a wonderful opportunity resulting in a new election, different leaders and a rejigging of the political map on the lines of the political movements we’re seeing in Southern Europe in Spain, Italy and Greece.

I see brighter stars… Participative democracy, people’s increased engagement, new inspirational leaders and the sack for the elitist gits who are our current political representatives who have the riches to surf through this turmoil and probably just see it as one big joke!

its 2 am in the morning

It’s 2 am in the morning and I’ve just given the dog, Lucy a final walk of the day. In the shadows I noticed a mother and daughter, covered with shawls, scarves and carrying bags.Waiting tentatively for me to pass. Once I and the dog had passed by they continued on their journey.

Who are they? what are they doing?

As they continue to walk through the area I can hear the wild street dogs kicking off.  I guess that they are poor people just travelling through. It must be quite scary and daunting with barking dogs at most corners and now I’m back at home I hear the whistles in the distance of the policeman on their beat.

What must their life be like?

It makes me stop and reflect for a moment and think about those poor people and what I assume are very different and difficult lives.

I might live in India but as you might expect, in a middle class lifestyle and quite detached from the experience of many very poor people.

I recognise how important it is for me to not lose sight of the difficulties that people face and somehow to connect.

Rewards

image.jpegI have three rewards!

No 1 is sharing the absolute joy of Manjula who seems to have won the lottery! Well she has got a visa for the UK… in her terms its a VERY  VERY BIG win.

Rewards 2 and 3 are the beers I’ve brought from the US and tonight my celebratory tipple will be the first since I returned from my amazing holiday in the US and Canada, with my youngest son Oliver.

But this affair has been a long and arduous journey, firstly (four months) sorting out the inaccurate and inconsistent forms of Manjula’s ID before we were able to apply for her first ever passport (three months) and the grand finale: two applications (six weeks, at least they’re fast!) for the UK visa

But all that quickly and quietly recedes into the distance as the appreciation of Manjula shown by the intensity of feeling bouncing around our home at the moment 🙂 makes it all worthwhile!