a valuable member of our team

I’m often struck by how much serious illness there is around. I know there is a LOT of it around and the older one gets there is even more ! But there is a lot here.

We have a great team at Mysore Bed and Breakfast, the cleaners, the drivers and we even have a very part time Gardener. Manjula keeps them all in order, which is not a simple task. We unfortunatelay lost Yogananda one of our local drivers, just recently.

Our Gardener, Narianappa, who has created a lovely garden not only on the roof terrace, but also on the first floor landing and has visually made the entrance and front of the building a great inviting welcome.

He always works in a non assuming sort of way, peddling everywhere on his trusty old sit-up-and-beg cycle gets on well with all his many clients in Mysore and has created luscious, lively gardens all around the area and further afield.

Here is Narianappa with his daughter and nephew working on the garden.

Well he’s been at home for some weeks now after an operation for cancer. They think his kidney is not now working and he may be jaundiced. His daughter who also cleans for us has passed on a message that we should look for another gardener. He goes back to the hospital today and the family are offering their own kidneys.

It doesn’t look good

Why India? 2

Why move to India…

I fell in love with India, its culture, people and places from afar and planned to visit in the 1970’s when I took a year off from my university. (I made a bit of a habit of taking years off).

True or False


I was a bit of a wus and not an adventurous traveller. I’d got as far as Turkey and the message from those who’d travelled overland from India was that it was particularly dangerous at that time to go to India, via Pakistan as they had just hanged Bhutto. So my visit to India just didn’t seem destined to happen.

Would I even manage to get to India in the next decade?


I hooked up with Liz and Ben in my late 20’s (We’re in the 1980s now). Liz had already lived in India for a couple of years in the early 1970’s so with one kid already (Ben) and potentially another one to come (Ol), India, was most definitely not considered by Liz to be a suitable place to take a young family.  Her experience of India was as a hippy  and she wouldn’t reconnect with India for many more years.

So that means I wasn’t also going to get to India, not yet anyway.

Farrell Factoid

I have subsequently met many people who have found a love for India (not least the visitors to Mysore Bed and Breakfast). There are of course many different attractions and often its difficult to define what it is that they particularly like. For many people they are inexplicably drawn to India, it has a sort of magnetism from a great distance. Maybe it is the free flow of ideas crossing the ‘bridges’ west and east (especially Britain and India) that stimulate people’s interest, there has of course been many exported ideas (and zero) for hundreds of years. There’s been icons such as the Beatles, the travelling Yogis, the hippies themselves, Yoga, whatever, there is an incredible range of things that we’ve heard about that help feed our seemingly insatiable desires for India, India things and Indian-ness.

Michael Wood in his book (Big Recommendation) to accompany the BBC series ‘The Story of India’ writes of becoming ’emeshed with India’, ‘the great privilege to be welcomed into another culture and to spend time in it, especially one so rich and diverse and perenially illuminating’

Of course many cultures and countries could fulfil this but

…what is so special about India?

I’d have to wait, quite a bit longer to find out.

Why India? 1

So why did you move to India when you were 53?

Its a question often asked by guests at Mysore Bed and Breakfast. Top Ten answers


I loved the wild west and its stories from an early age. India seems to be just like the wild west.

True or False?

True, I did used to watch the westerns, with my Dad, on the TV from an early age and really got into it.

True, India in some ways is a bit anarchistic (to put it mildly) so can seem a bit of a free for all as in the old west, without the guns (mostly) but it is of course …..

FALSE, its not the reason I moved to India.



Here’s further evidence of a young interest in the Wild West and that it runs in the family

Well she can’t

Wedding update….

On the very next day we get news that the father of the boy has called the girl to ask what her fathers job is and to how much money will be given by them as dowry.

It works out that the boy’s family is quite rich, the dad is a civil engineer and they have cars and maybe three houses.

So it’s off. There is a mismatch on wealth and occupation. Quite why this wasn’t sorted by the broker before they even met, who knows.

So mum is a bit sad, daughter says she doesn’t care, even if she doesn’t ever get married.

So the apple cart is upset. This must be a very stressful situation. The individuals involved must feel the rejection very personally and familially.

So whilst it might be illegal, dowry is still a BIG issue. I think it’s just one of the ways that suitability and comparability is clarified. It’s a short cut. Back in England in the upper classes, the man would approach a woman’s father to ask for her hand in marriage. Their suitability would also be determined maybe by their wealth, and income but above all by class. Is this really much different?

In life, in India, caste is incredibly significant. It not only reflects one’s position in life and how one will be treated by others, it will affect life chances and experiences. And as we’ve seen with this example, even caste alone is not good enough to determine someone’s suitability.

In my view it’s one of the most corrosive things in Indian life.

will she, wont she?


a littler girl rehearsing for a FUTURE date!



The girl is a little tall and her forehead is a little big (maybe Manjula means she’s a little plain). She’s the daughter of a friend of Manjula and as she’s reached her mid twenties she’s looking for a husband. A broker, a family friend (gets commission from both sides for an intro and a second bigger payment should they subsequently get married) has found another possible husband.


She’s already seen eleven or twelve potential husbands.

Her mummy (getting a little desperate) says “go outside” meaning find someone you like get married and move out to his home. She worries that at 26 and having already seen so many prospective grooms she might get too old to be married!

An added pressure is, we’re just entering a month when it’s inauspicious to marry and even to hold the introductory meetings.


Yesterday’s meeting was convenienty held at party that was a continuing celebration of her cousin’s wedding. It was used as an opportunity for boy to meet girl (another potential match) and check each other out.

At the meeting, at the cousins house, were representatives of both families that’s ‘girl’ her family including mummy, auntie, cousins, and the ‘boy’ together with his mummy, daddy, auntie and Manjula snuck in.

They’ll all sit round having tea and biscuits, boy and girl just checking each other out visually but not speaking, parents from each side asking questions related to family and background primarily about the job, their parents jobs, how much they are paid etc…

The parents ask the ‘prospectives’ in turn if they are OK with the other and with their head bowed do the ‘head-rock-and-roll’ each, to confirm that they are happy  to progress to the next stage

They are both bank managers! big tick

Today, next day, the families will visit the priest (poojari) and check that they are a proper match taking into consideration their Gods (mustn’t be the same, this is maybe a safeguard to ensure they are not too closely related, just my half baked theory) birthdate and who knows what else. At some stage horoscopes are checked for compatability.

If they get the go ahead, from the priest today, they’ll meet up at the home (when it becomes auspicious again in Jan) and make plans for the wedding.

There are however a few more ordeals and potential pitfalls, for example the potential bride doesn’t cook, will this present a problem?

Now get your head around this one if you can…… at some stage the ‘girl’ will have to walk a few steps to enable the ‘boys’ family to check the arch on her foot. A woman’s foot is not supposed to show an arch i.e. be flat foot, for a man it either doesn’t matter or an arch is good. Just don’t ask me! I have no idea.

Just always remember, India is consistently inconsistent, so what’s apparently true in one context is not in another situation, family or caste, or whatever 🙂

Please note: the photos are from other weddings and engagement parties!

Hampi again

What a lovely place!? everytime I visit (and now twice with Manjula) we discover more and more wonderful dimensions to Hampi.


This time we stayed in the Hampi village rather than crossing over to the island. We love both. We actually stayed two nights/three days and didn’t repeat the main ruins listed below as ‘further away’. We did however repeat our visits to the recommended places to eat, at least twice and called in at Anagundi again.


We travelled on an overnight train from Mysore to Hospet and back (Hanuman flew), journey time 12 hours, we took our own food in a Tiffin. The food supplied on the train on our first visit, a year ago, was not so good in the evening but we were happy to order the Dosa in the morning.

Hampi is of course mostly famous for its ruins of the Vijayanagar Empire from 5-700 years ago (don’t challenge me on the facts, I’m not being a guide now!). It does however have a very special feel to the place. The following suggestions for one days are at slow paces, if you’re being manic you can cover it in half the time BUT Hampi is a relaxing laid back, shanti shanti place! Its now a UNESCO site and has already changed a lot and will do some more but its still fab.

Interestingly the Srirangapatnam Island (12kms form Mysore), location of the famous MyCycle Tours, was also the site of the southern outpost of the Vijayanagar Empire. There are no ruins left of that period but still plenty for a Yorkshireman to bore hundreds of people about!

Here’s a small selection of our photos, more are to be found on flickr here.


Top Tips

Best places to eat:

Sagar Hotel, the ladies offering street food breakfast (on street opposite Mango.) I particularly like the small Dosa balls (what are they called again?)

Mango Tree, (now shifted to Hampi Village) great food.

Please note there is no alcohol in Hampi you have to travel across the river via the ferry to the island (aka Israel) or into Hospet to get any.

Usual places to visit: 

One (or half if Vittala is covered in auto) ) day

Virupaksha Temple, main Temple in Hampi, check the lovely Temple Elephant (Lakshmi?) who is bathed in the river early (7.30?) in the morning,

Ganesh. Watch out for getting your feet oily.

Hill above Temple for the sunset (there’s another one for sunrise)

Main Ruins: walkable from Hampi Village:


Vittala Temple, including the Stone Chariot and ‘balance’. Head past the ruins in the first picture where there is a Nandi Bull or retrace your steps  200 metres to walk towards the river for a nice riverside walk to Vittala. The police station where you MUST register is on the left jsut before the first pic ruins.

Main Ruins: Further away



One day

Lotus Mahal, Queen’s Bath, Elephant Stables, Narasimha Statue, Mahanavami Dibba, Underground Temple

can be covered in a day on a cycle or auto rickshaw, combined entry to the sites (is it now 500 Rs?) might mean its also worth doing Vittala as part of the same day but you may need Auto for that.





One day

A trip over to the island (if you’re not staying there) takes a few minutes on the ferry and then scooters are for hire just up the path to use to take you to Anagundi village, the lake and the monkey temple (there is another temple a bit further north on the top of a hill and hard to find but with fab views that could be visited with Krishna tomorrow!)


One day

Even more and different places

Krishna (our Auto driver, one of our friends on Stephen or Manjula’s facebook site, we also have his number) took us to a series of quite different places, some on hill tops with fantastic views, some were key locations in the Ramayana story. Well worth it. Madam (aka Maharanai) takes credit for getting Krishna to take us to these places.

We now have a simple file at Mysore Bed and Breakfast with more details of Hampi, guide books etc.

Farrell Factoid

Ani Samten (of the Tibetan settlement) has just visited us at the BnB. She asks how it is for  Manj and I holidaying together and how are we treated by Indians. The fact is we choose our accommodation carefully so that we know and expect people will be more liberal towards a couple from different backgrounds. There is of course a whole back story there, check the blog!

Wow 3


Some are not even that lucky. The current shouting in our street is from the guys rebuilding the drainage channels. The boss hasn’t got any money to pay them. Some are paid daily (around 600rs,) weekly or even monthly. So how are they supposed to manage?image

We’re off….

We don’t get out much.

We’re off to Hampi for a short break before the big rush sets-in at Mysore Bed and Breakfast.

  It’s just an ordinary trip, our second to Hampi in about a year. It is however, a bit of an adventure. The NEW escalator, at the station, the very first in Mysore, outside the shopping Malls, is actually working. Hooray!! Yes my life is so mundane, the working escalator is a highlight!

When it first opened people fell off it, not knowing how it worked so they appointed guardians to help people work it out. All seems to be hunky dory today. Manjula, for one is sooooo experienced at this.

We’re on platform three for the overnight sleeper train to Hospet. At the door of our coach a couple of young foreign women were reading the list of passengers posted on the outside and exclaiming in English in load squeaky voices that there are lots of men in the 50’s due to travel on the train. What about me I’m 59? It’s seems I was acceptable as they were concerned about travelling with Indian men. I have No comment!




Manjula made some supper. Wonderful!

The sleep and journey was pretty uneventful except Manjula says for the snoring, phone ringing and loud voices of the INDIAN men in their 50’s.

Then she breaks out laughing at the people having a poo beside the rail track. Well coffee has arrived so all is good with the world.


My beef is that nobody seems to have a volume control. Says the quiet, reserved Yorkshireman!

So it’s now 6.30 am and we’ve just stopped at the station which we think is the one before ours.

CRASH BANG… what the hell! The curtain and its rail for ours and the next section falls to the floor. A man burst in between Manjula and I to reach through to yank the emergency cord. He definitely looked as if he might have been in his 50’s




Well guess what? He’d only missed his stop, no real emergency and you know that in India, things sort of work out, in the end, well the emergency stop cord didn’t stop the train, so we weren’t stuck explaining why our emergency stop cord had been pulled! Then again, don’t rely on it in an emergency folks.



but rest assured there is a socket to recharge smart phones, laptops etc. Priorities are sorted.



I’m getting a bit slow with the camera, so you’ll have to imagine…the next one.

We’ve just passed a simple old station, stencil painted on the buildings that are no longer used, instead of the usual word: ABANDONED it said ABUNDANT. Classic!

Hampi madness here we come!