Celebrating Manjula

Thank you for your condolences and the lovely memories of Manjula that I’ve received from around the world. It’s been a great support and shows how many connections Manjula made. We now know that many of you have very fond and we’re not surprised of the sometimes funny stories about Manjula. It’s given us a great idea, to create a scrapbook of reminiscences and images, they might be anecdotes, insights into her character, simple little stories, a particular photo you love or may be you can draw a picture, write a poem or create some art work.

Whatever you think represents Manjula for you.

Send yours preferably by Friday of this week via Email, <tours@mycycle.co> or by messenger, post or pigeon. Don’t worry, it doesn’t need to be slick and polished

We’ll then create an actual book and a virtual version for you to read online.

Love from

Stephen and Luci

Things need doing…

Tom Amy and I are doing focussed practical things. Backing up the Digital photos and giving the kitchen a thorough clean. Well actually it mainly Tom and Amy.

I’ve just been sent to close the balcony door. Manjula would always tell me that the troup of monkeys would come on a weekend and usually a Sunday so the doors shouldn’t be left open. The last thing is we don’t want the monkeys playing on the computer.

Well I don’t need to close it. Luci is on guard.

But looking closer

I see the sadness in her eyes. She’s missing Manjula, so we have big cuddle and talk of her.

It’s wonderful that Tom and Amy are here. It would be impossible for Luci and I being here on our own.

Tom has music playing and incense sticks burning but there is an unmistakable presence.

The smiles, the laughter, her giggles, tolerance of me and my idiotic ways. She’s with us now tut tutting at how we’re doing the cleaning and wishing she was here to do a proper job.

Manjula is in the air and in our hearts. It’s really quite good.


I can understand how some people might wish to swop places with their loved one who has died or been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

I could do that, no doubt.

But it misses one of the many points.

There would still be the grief, the loneliness, confusion of being only one part of the whole.

And how would it work? I would take on Manjula’s illness she would have all our money, material goods (she’d definitely demand the washing machine) the house, Lucy. No sweat. But it’s no solution. We’d still be apart. Maybe we could go for a hybrid two halves as one.

No I’m not going bonkers this is how my mind ordinarily ‘works’.

If it was just a case of a straight swop. I’d worry that even though Manjula can be strong as a rock, gentle as the waves, she actually comes from a very poor background and in this extremely layered patriarchal society it will always be a challenge for a woman on her own.

Until of course it really changes.

Manjula …. Taking back control

The idiots in the British Government at the head of the Conservative party seem to have completely lost it, and not just in terms of Brexit

On the other hand …. it’s quite another matter for a woman in Mysore ……

Her main purpose in our nine years together was to invite people to share her home and to connect. In those years she’d done everything to create a beautiful, clean, comfortable open welcoming home. Not just the cleaning, cooking, preparing rooms for the guests, managing the staff, coordinating transport and the garden and above all create that warm, welcoming atmosphere that something in the air.

That useless lump of a husband by contrast was only the booking clerk. She so loved pointing that out!

Of this achievement she was rightly proud. This week we’ve received hundreds of messages from around the world, a testament to how she’s drawn people close to her, connected with them and left behind a piece of her.

This last season, as she lost so much weight and at times became poorly, she would often reflect with me that now that she could do none of what she did over the years. It wasn’t true of course, after talking it through she’d agree that the most important the meeting, greeting and chatting, connecting with people was still very much her role and what she’d love doing. It’s the main reason why we were open over this last season. It was what kept her going.

Recorded on 12th March

She very much kept control, she had a network, fetching and carrying, the fruit and veg for breakfasts delivered by the shop, the gardener dropping in her own Breakfast, Sudha bringing home cooked food every day, organising transport, managing the staff, I’d even jokingly bought her a bell to use when she wanted me but the innovator, the strong woman that she was would just have to ring my phone and pavlov’s dog would come running.

I’d joke that it wasn’t like this before we got married.

But there’s another less comfortable aspect of her taking control.

I think she’d had enough and knew it was time to go.

She was fed up of the uncertainty, the to and fro from the different doctors and clinics, the loss of weight, feeling ill, the many many many drugs she was taking every day, the dodderyness, the tests. She absolutely hated the blood tests, it had all got too much. Last week on Wednesday the doctors wanted to admit her, she wouldn’t go. We went home. I discussed it with her. She eventually decided to go back in on the Friday to an ordinary ward. She was admitted to the ICU as her condition had deteriorated. As we prepared to leave home in the Ambassador to go to the hospital she had one careful look around the lounge, as if she was taking it all in, one last time or as others suggested that she could see something else telling her it was time.

Manjula had a heart attack that evening and was brought back to life then again in the morning she had another and in line with her wishes I asked the doctors to let her go.

Dr Moonstone

We were over half way into the Srirangaptnam cycle tour and after a brief visit to the bathing ghats stopped for a chai. This and the adjoining shops sold soaps, shampoos, jugs, Plastic loofah things for rubbing off old skin, towels, everything for pooja and even clothes.

Today the t shirts drew my attention.

In India many T shirts have slogans that are , possibly innocent and other down right weird. I expect that many who wear them have no idea what they mean. They can be hilarious.

Well at one of the stalls today was a T shirt with the word MOONSTONE emblazoned across the top. Know what that is? A semi precious gem stone found in many places, including India and Sri Lanka. The picture however was an image of the moon and a US Astronaut, a complete disconnect. Of course the designer had made an incongruous connection between the moon and the stone.

There is however another connection. What’s reputed to have been the first detective novel in the English language in the late 19th Century was also called Moonstone. Confusingly it’s referring to a fictitious diamond and not the gem.

The weirdest bit is the story is about An English army officer who steals the diamond and the consequences for him and his family. He gets the stone in the fourth war of Mysore, yes you’ve guessed it in Srirangaptnam.

Spooky eh?


My true love

It will probably never be matched.

We were devoted to each other

One or two quibbles, the odd little secret, things we should have done differently

Normal then

It’s a hot hot day

The first bit of the conversation seemed pretty easy going. What time will it start? Who’s going and how are we to get there and find the place? What does it involve? I brought out the photo and two old and one new sari.

I especially chose this picture with Manjula looking absolutely beautiful and wearing her engagement ring and watch. (More stories to be posted about those items!) But for me it’s ensuring her engagement and marriage are prominent.

Manjula’s brother and wife had travelled over three hours to meet to discuss arrangements for next Tuesday the 11th day.

Then it went on a bit and got a bit heated. Who knows? It often sounds like an argument when I listen to Kannada discussions.

The 11th day event they say is likely to cost 40,000 Rs we agreed 20,000 Rs and finally settled on 25,000 Rs. Everything’s a haggle in India!

What quality, which ingredients, how big a cake? Pooja, redecorating, flowers, food tent, a snack or a banquet, non veg obviously! the list of necessary things could be endless.

Of course this isn’t really ultimately about Manjula it’s purpose as a ritual is a community gathering that brings people together. It could be just for immediate family but that’s not really how it’s done.

Brothers wife is the negotiator. Brother just does what he’s told.

I of course want this to happen for Manjula so we’ll go along but we also realise it’s a money grab. This is the wife who wouldn’t feed Manjula properly when she was staying with them twelve years back. It’s her only brother but his phone calls to Manjula were not about brotherly stuff unless you count constantly pleading for money as brotherly love. They were pretty much estranged and it did upset her.

This squabbling reflects some life here Money is pretty much paramount.

Next they want the Mangalsutra.

The neck chain that symbolises that a woman is married. For the event. And each month and for the year after. What about arrangements for the next year. They are relentless.

Forget it.

For example in terms of the Mangal sutra They’ll bwant the gold to sell. I’ll turn up with it on the day and take it back with me.

Wife has clearly come with brother as she’s the toughie.

We’ve agreed the money, I’ve provided the necessary items.

They’ve now turned to, what about her other chain (it’s round my neck) and didn’t she have a bank account (it’s joint with me) or an insurance policy for her nieces. No, no, mo there’s nothing more.

I’m now turning to gain perspectives on this situation. I was brought up Christian but here’s insights into the Hindu approach.

Asthi Vasarjan

Manjula died just before 11am on Saturday 23rd March of a heart attack. I’m asked if there were any last words. Not as such, we had in fact not been able to discuss the situation and what to do.

I’d complained that since the night before she hadn’t shared one of her beautiful smiles. So she obliged and gave me a smile and a giggle. Not her usual standard or the right circumstances but exactly what was required. My lasting memory amongst millions.

As a dutiful husband and with our closest friends we’ve now by Wednesday fulfilled what’s required for her Hindu faith.

We’ve helped continue the process of being released from this body and to go to the next.

On Saturday we brought her home, laid Manjula out on the Divan that’s been her bed for for the past year.

Family and friends gathered to say farewell.

Next day, Sunday, Manjula was taken to the crematorium and finally to the auspicious river Kaveri to immerse her ashes on the Monday.

This is the ritual called Asthi Virsarjan more info here

We will be certain to do more …..

My thanks to all our friends for making this horrendously difficult time slightly more manageable.

Thank you to Faizan for creating this wonderful video

Bereft and tearful

It’s late afternoon, post lunch of pizza and smoothy ….. I’m listening to the shouted messages to ‘eat properly’ and look after myself. I even got to yoga this morning. It hasn’t been feasible for the past three months. I still however sweat like a pig.

I’m in this park now.

Where there’s lots of young lovers hanging out. I don’t know how Manjula and I came to be here, it’s the other side of town. It was probably on one of our endless trips to clinics.

We’d make them extra special times. We’d turn the tables and make a positive out of the hassle of the clinic crawls. Regular visits to clinics all over the city. Sometimes we’d turn it into a trip to a salt cave (yes we have one in Mysore!) and we haven’t been there for a long time, or lunch at one of her fave places, maybe to get some fish or a drive miss daisy/Manjula style outing into the countryside.

We were such idiots (flashback) … I love you, i love you two, three, four, five a crore…. childish, innocent, emotional, warm, connected to the extreme. Now I’m Nourished by my memories of Manjula but of course also bereft, pained and tearful.

It is however, good to stop, becalm, remember, smile and try block out the crap.

It’s been a difficult few months. Manjula has lost so much weight she was the proverbial stick-insect. See she’s here and not at the same time.

We discussed at the beginning of the season whether to keep the BnB open. Manjula was adamant, it was a no-brainier and critical to her. The whole point is …. we have an open house, our home that we share, we invite and welcome people to come and connect. That was her ‘quality’ she might have been ill but this was her life and what she wanted.

I’d keep checking as the weeks went on and always it was the same. She had to take more and more pillS, was confined to the ground floor, a bit doddery on her feet, needed lifting up from the toilet. Her day was made by coming out and speaking, even if only for a few moments, to say hi, connect and get to know her guests, share herself. It would enliven her, be a kick start, we’d get chat, smiles, fun and laughter. You guys know what I’m saying.

So in that spirit I’m Looking for help to come and be part of what we’re doing here.

I’ll get back to you on that, in my next posting.