want a boy or a girl?

Manjula was hanging out at her friend the tailors. It’s become quite a place for women to gather, to pass the time of day and chat!

A customer four months pregnant was wishing for a girl. She already had a three year old boy but now wanted a girl. It created a big conversation of the relative merits of boys and girls.


“my husband is no good, my husband’s brother is no good” (drinking every day, not bringing money home, lady is therefore having to work) “so I don’t want a boy”, said the pregnant lady.

the lady tailor says boys are good, come back home no problem if girl comes home late big problem, with ‘monthly’ starting things start to get expensive, clothes, gold needed for the marriage

Manjula says girl is good, looking after Mummy and Daddy if there is any problem, boys don’t care, some boys are good. Some boys are bad. Our next door neighbours son, maybe unusually, has a disabled mother and he is still unmarried carries her around and generally looks after her.

Manjula reckons that girls are like our dog Lucy, she didn’t mean that in a pejorative term. Lucy is sort of allowed out to do what she wants but must back in by a certain time!


Saris are in!

The tailors seem to be a bit of a hangout. Another customer gifted a Sari for, the Ganpati festival has brought it to leave at the tailors to sell. It’s yellow with red border. Another of the gathering asks Manjula … Why doesn’t she buy it, her friend and our cleaner Kamlama interjects, “Manjula has over 50 sarees  and doesn’t need or like it, Manjula has good taste and you should go with her when you go shopping for sarees.” 🙂


So there!

Manjula’s attitude is if you don’t like it, give it to someone else in you family such as your daughter, the woman says no, I want and need the money



that conversation was a couple of weeks ago

Just this week we learned that the pregnant lady’s husband has died of jaundice.

The husband’s family where she lives will now look after her and her children.

things will however be very hard

Death is of course a regular occurrence but happens for what seems to be avoidable reasons. Jaundice does seem to figure a lot, maybe it’s the alcohol.

This does however show how difficult things can be. Families have to pull together and deal with the situations that arise with limited if any help from the State.

Farrell Factoid

please note: all photos are posed by models

traditionally a boy is seen as more desirable for a whole host of reasons, it leads to abortion and even infanticide and in some areas there is a massive imbalance between the sexes. For this reason that it’s actually illegal for a doctor to reveal the gender of a foetus after a scan. It’s led to some doctors winking a lot.



I couldn’t have managed without you

Cary has been my key supporter and lifeline to help set up here in Mysore. Whether its renting the house seven years ago, ‘owning’ my scooter and motorbike, crazy adventures to investigate raising sheep or looking at land to buy, a listening ear for my frustrations, to help me understand this wonderful crazy country, introducing me to the ‘club’, early morning swims and being a part of his lovely family.

We originally met horse riding together (well he can ride and I can just hang on) with the Mounted Police. (yes the Mysore riding school was with the mounted police). I can’t find any photos of the cowboys!

Cary has been a real friend. It just wouldn’t have been possible without his help and support.

Cary, is rightfully proud of his heritage as a Coorgy. He and his wife Ganga, originate from Coorg or Kodagu and they have a son Gagan and daughter Sunaina  It is a distinctive and separate community or race of people who live in the western Ghats a few hours west from Mysore. They have a  traditional dress and culture, are known for being tall, proud and dependable, many join the army and they know how to live (and party!!). Cary is an active businessman and farmer but the pub he ran, where I used to hang out is no more. Probably better for my belly!

He lives close by here in Siddarthanager.

So thank you Cary on the anniversary of me being here SEVEN years!

is this a little too soon?

Mysore is a wonderful city, feels like a Town as its human scale and hasn’t YET been irrepairably damaged by over-development. Its a great place to cycle and our many MyCycle tour guests are a testament to this. However, I worry that there is the risk that half-baked projects might do more harm than good.


We already have the first dedicated cycle lane that I’ve ever seen in India. We also have cycle lines on main roads formed by a white line. (no, its not a joke, its real. Yes, in a country where no one takes any notice of lines on roads!)

In my view they do no harm and are a great asset but on their own withough being part of wider infrastructure changes, effective measures to educate other road users and promotions for people to take up cycling, it has limited value.

Here are yesterday’s guests on our Mysore tour on the cycle lane.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been consulted on the viability of a cycle share scheme on the lines of the one first developed in Paris and subsequently copied by cities such as London. In places they’ve been a great success, in others an abject failure. This morning on my (occasional ) cycle back down Chamundi Hill I saw this…

It looks like its the installation of shelters for a cycle hire scheme. In principle that’s fantastic, the more measures to promote cycling, the merrier, but might it just be a little too soon, particualrly if its not part of a wider programme to support cycling?

My worry is that currently cycling is seen as a traditional activity of the poor villager or something for the crazy foreigners. Admittedly we’re seeing a dramatic increase in cycling as a leisure activity and the fact is we get a fair number of enquiries for cycle hire at MyCycle BUT many are the early adopters, the young people who are particualrly interested in high end cycles and going out on races! The question is will the mass, the people in the middle of the ‘market’ buy into cycling in Mysore and use the cycle hire scheme. I’m not sure that they will and it might be a bit early.

I hope I’m wrong and a good friend of ours may take on a role helping research take-up and help develp the initiatve. I worry that if it fails it will set back the progress of cycling in Mysore. You know the sort of thing… “promoting cycling? we tried that with a scheme, in 2017 but it didn’t work so no point promoting cycling again”. I reckon it will only work if its part of a wider programme to educate other road users, infrastructure development, promote safe cycling in schools and encourage young people (and especially women) to continue cycling as they get older.

I’ve developed lots of projects over the years and in my view its critical to understand the patterns of behaviours in a particular community (interest or locality) and build on that and not to blindly parachute in ideas from elsewhere, which might have worked in one place but need significant amendment and careful timing to work in another.

Many people worry about cycling in the city but are nicely surprised once they join a properly guided tour and they gain the confidence to go out on their own. Its no accident that our most popular tours by a very long way are in the low traffic routes on Srirangapatnam.

A better idea might have been cycle hire shop(s) in places where there are a network of potential cycle routes. That’s not a big capital scheme that reflects well on the powers that be so it would not be favoured. I know of such a place. It’s where our most popular cycle tour is held 😉 I’d wait to introduce automated cycle hire schemes to a time when there is more of a critical mass of cycle users, tamed traffic and more dedicated cycle lanes in the traffic intensive built up areas.

Manjula’s Crazy Year

we’re looking back on what has been a momentous year for Manjula.

If only for the lots of holidays in India: Kerala three times (twice to Kannur Beach House), Hampi and lots of local day trips. Sorting out her inconsistent IDs, getting her Passport, submitting tax returns, obtaining a visa for the UK and the BIGGY her first trip outside the country.

Now she’s just signed the documents to become a Director of MyCycle Tours and Travels Private Limited.

She reckons that coming to work for me (yes she did actually work for me, originally) and this house has been really lucky

So what next? watch this space.


wow 3

well the shortage of cash is now beginning to affect me.

I jokingly refer to Indian being consistently inconsistent and don’t misunderstand me, I love the people and the place but sometimes it just takes the biscuit! and can be sooooo annoying.

I didn’t have enough money to buy train tickets this morning. So I ended up with a single instead of a return.


I’d also taken the scooter for a service.


Would they accept a card or cheque?

Not at either the Post office or the scooter main dealer. So I go to the  nearest Bank (branch of Canara, my personal bank) massive scrum around the bank door. No chance. Next, the five ATMs in the vicinity, all not working. So I get the motorbike out to go to the city and visit the bank branch to cash a cheque for 12,000 Rupees (its around 140 devalued pounds after Biscuit (aka Brexit)). That’s my max allowance now for the week.  Then back to the Post Office to get my return ticket. The clerk has my form, from the first trip to the Post Office in front of her, on the desk (its required to show what ticket you want). There are all the details of the return part of the journey on the same form, she uses that form to complete the details into the computer.


“Sorry sir can’t take the details from this form” where it listed all the details of the train, its name, number, our names, ages, address, out and return dates and times, preferred class and berth, starting station, getting on station, getting off station. “You need to complete a new form”.

Its at this point I begin to lose it!

later, back home…..

what next?

Half the money has now gone. I suddenly have the realisation that at this rate we’ll not have enough cash to go on holiday next week. That’s why I bought the bloody train tickets.

half a rant

at the bank I asked for my pass book to be brought up to date but have to call back as recent entries are not in the book, is there are a problem? Sorry sir each update (printing of deposits and withdrawals in the book) can only have twenty entries per day/visit. So I have to go back to the bank tomorrow for another printing session to see the other deposit/withdrawal entries. What!? Really?

Farrell’s dodgy factoid and questioning.

I seriously wonder what would have happened if the UK Govt had unilaterally deleted ALL the five and twenty pound notes in circulation overnight and then severely restricted how many of the replacement notes each person could withdraw so they just didn’t have enough cash! Would we have been so accepting and tolerant?

Yesterday a guest managed to cash 2,000 Rs of old money at my bank and had indelible ink marked on his finger nail so that he couldn’t go to another bank to exchange more. Mad!?


Wow no2 – Rupees

No Rupees……

We’ve received many comments and questions from around the world wondering what it’s all about!? and more to the point how will it affect visitors to India? Recent UK guests who were caught short have been able to pay through my UK account, others have had to join the queues.img_0927 We hope that it will be sorted soon so as not to affect the one’s who will arrive in the next few weeks!

img_1137As we’ve mentioned: the Modi Government has overnight deleted 500 and 1000 Rs notes. Ostensibly this is to tackle corruption and counterfeit notes. I reckon its to show strong government and to lift people, (a significant minority are not known to the authorities and therefore don’t pay tax), onto the ‘radar screen’ and therefore to become formalised. Previous steps have included introducng the countrywide ID or Aadhar card and pushing people who receive state subsidised staples (such as rice and Kerosene for cooking) to open bank accounts. The big crooks are, of course, unlikely to be caught out. Its a fact of life that a certain percentage of all trade is ‘under the counter’. Take for example: buying a house, a percentage will be ‘over the counter’ ie seen and therefore eligible for tax, its source having to be accounted for, whilst a percentage will be ‘under’ and therefore not eligible, unseen. Simple really.


It has however had a significant effect on absolutely everyone and of course, as always the poor suffer disproportionately. People have to queue to get the new notes (I’ve seen the queues starting before 7 am), ATMs are still not working and its only possible to get a few thousand rupees, if you don’t have bank account. As I often do, I really feel for the poor people who are constantly getting the ‘run-around.’

Its also affected us… most of our income comes in cash…so quite legitimately and with the knowledge of my accountant, I generally pay company bills via my personal account and it all gets reconciled later. The nett effect is that we do have a fair amount of cash at home. So like millions of others I’ve been to the bank to deposit all the cash we hold and withdrawn the maximum allowance of  10,000 Rupees. I may have to show evidence to the Tax Authorities that the money I held is legitimate (which it is), as its earned via the business or from the UK.

I can’t quite believe that  other governments would be able to do something so revolutionary, so seriously inconvenience most of the population and get away with it.




Signs of Ageing:


greying hair


poor concentration




squashed mosquitoes in peripheral vision

amongst the challenges now is to work which did one’s did actually arrive with age and which one’s can be reversed


what a day!

Biscuit (aka Brexit) pales into insignificance. UKAOs just seems so small and so less relevant.


India was MODI-fied, over two years ago, with the election of the BJP party to govern India. Today in a country of one billion people Modi announced that OVERNIGHT all large denomination notes (500 and 1000 Rupees) would be abolished, imagine that? In a country with so many people, where the majority have a stash of notes at home and a significantly large minority aren’t known by the tax authorities, operate in an under-the-table-informal economy will now have to take their cash to the bank to get it exchanged. It is intended to tackle counterfeit notes, bribery, corruption, ‘black’ money and add to other polices such as IDs, bank accounts for poor people etc. that together help contribute to formalise society fully onto the ‘radar screen’.

Astonishing! img_1138

There will be much more to come. Banks are closed, ATMs not working. Once they reopen cash can be exchanged up to a maximum of  4000 Rs per day or put into a bank account within the next fifty days! These new notes will be issued in limited quantities from Thursday.

Cash chaos.

But it’s India so somehow it will all work out.

Next, we can now look forward to a President Trump!


There’s an Elephant in the room.

Is this another example of how people in UK and now the US have become so disconnected with the political classes, the establishment power and the orthodoxy they represent? People are angry and are providing a strong message, wanting a different future.

Meanwhile, ‘laid-back’ Manjula relaxes, munching on the Roses Chocs I smuggled in (equivalent of five tubs) from the UK. She gives them out to friends, neighbours and relatives…..