Chips off the old block

I’m often asked about my sons and what they do.

Ben, my eldest made a dramatic change about ten years ago and switched from working on computers to become a chef. A big and very successful step change. I like to think that my flexible approach to careers and work helped encourage that. 🙃 He now lives in London with Alice his lovely wife and his teenage daughter, age six.

Ol, my youngest, lives in Vancouver. He does a bit of this and a bit of that. His latest role in addition to events management is, wait for it…… drums roll,…

a …..

cycle tour guide 🙂

 

The Phoenix Coup: Part One

‘Same shit, different day’ I saw written on a badge attached to another passenger’s bag.  I was joining a SriLankan Airlines flight from Colombo to Chennai.

 Just five days later I was back home in London.

Little was I to know how life would become so incredibly different, not at all the ‘same shit.’

I’m Maisie, a freelance reporter covering just about anything and everything. I’d just been in South India and Sri Lanka for the U.K. Guardian newspaper, researching for travel articles.

My antennae were twitching, something was happening, I could feel it in the air.

It was an astonishing day that no one could have predicted. It would take some time to sink in but it would set us all reeling.

As a reporter my approach is to search things out, get under the skin,  help give people a voice I love to challenge the established order, so here’s my take on it.

Over the last few years we’ve become more familiar with the idea of constant change and unpredictability with one crisis after another. Today’s change was a different order of magnitude and was, in my view, positive. Not what we’d come to expect at all. It all began with something that seemed quite simple. The impact would be profound.

 It was an ordinary workday morning. The kids were up, rushing around as usual, then off to cycle to school on an organised cycle ‘train’. Simon, my husband, had already left for work at the bank.

I was due to do desk work, search the net and cover a slowly evolving story about corrupt politicians. Nothing out of the ordinary there.

That afternoon there was an announcement via the net, on the radio and on TV. For some time now politicians in Finland and other countries have been toying with the idea of providing every citizen with a minimum weekly payment regardless of their personal situation or work. It’s called all sorts of things but usually Universal Basic Income / UBI or Guaranteed Basic Income. Many countries had experimented, but not implemented it on any scale.

The announcement pointed out that we in the UK, in the fourth biggest economy in the world, was to introduce this very idea with immediate effect.

Fascinating. We’d had no prior knowledge that this was actually planned. No discussions or  announcements from the Government, nothing. 

I checked with my contacts. They didn’t believe this was coming from the UK Government. How was this possible? Maybe it was a hoax. 

The online communities, the cyber street corners, the dialogue of the ether, woke up. It was startling. It was almost as if all the lights in a major metropolis had been switched on. But it also, instantly, reached out to the suburbs, the villages, the farms.

Pretty quickly it was apparent that it had spread throughout the net. We often could see and track videos, memes, chat going viral with the latest news but this was different. It seemed to permeate every cyber street corner and the scale was enormous. 

It wasn’t just in the UK.

The very same policy of a flat income regardless of need, employment, whatever, was available to everyone throughout Europe and north America. It was incredibly consistent.

Hang on a minute, there’s more coming in via the net.

It was also the hot topic throughout South East Asia, Japan, and South Korea. This was astonishing.

I just might be going out on a limb here but I reckon politicians are renowned the world over for their selfishness and short term thinking. They represent acute levels of disorganisation and seem to be completely unable to create effective sustainable partnerships. They just can’t keep secrets.

So what is this and how could it happen? Coordinated action, at the same instant, through half the economies in the world. This is incredible, I’d never experienced anything like it.

I wanted to know more. I was on the hunt. 

I checked with my most trusted colleagues from around the world. I delved deeper into my own very informal, alternative online community networks that I built, slowly and carefully over the years to help me put stories together and to ensure they stood up. 

Exactly the same announcement was made in Russia, China, and North Korea. The same everywhere. A direct payment in the local currency.

Astounding. How? Who? What would this mean? Could it be true. I checked my bank account.There was a payment into my account exactly as announced.

I hadn’t noticed the time passing in all the excitement. The kids were back after a day at school. Simon would be early tonight and would be back home an hour later.

We’re quite a liberal family. We work from home whenever we can. We get great support from Simon’s mother whenever I had to go away on an investigation. We were trying to achieve a decent work life balance.  

So it might be earth shattering news but boundaries are boundaries. It was time for me to leave the work alone, put away the computer and switch on quality time for the kids.

“Hi, guys, how was today?”

“The usual stuff, but science was the best, really cool looking at our bodies. Did you know that we have more than one brain?” Rowan had a clear leaning to the technical side of things.

“Really?”

“Three in fact, obviously not exactly the same but they help us control our body in completely different ways. We spent ages on the gut, it affects absolutely everything and some scientists say it’s just as important as the brain in our head. How cool is that?” Rowan was clearly enthusiastic.

“Does that affect  what we should eat?” I was concerned, this might lead to more lectures at meal times.

“More than that, what we eat, how we live, the stress we feel.”

“Thanks Rowan…”

“We’re putting together a show of dance, music and skits.” Joe was altogether different and very artistic.

“When will the show be? we’d love to the there. What are you doing?” 

“I’ll know next week”

“Cool”

That is so good. Too many schools have let that sort of activity go and focussed too much on academic subjects. I’m so pleased that we’ve found a school that keeps it up and of course manages to keep both of you very interested. and enthusiastic.

“Do you have much homework this evening? OK to fit it in after dinner? I’ve prepared that cheesy rice, cauliflower thing.”

“Yep”, suspiciously in unison.

“Great, lets grab a snack and take Sally for a walk.” 

We live in the suburbs. Way back it was a village but it had now been taken over by the big smoke of London. We have a great park nearby and the canal and its wonderful tow path. Sally expects a walk after school, in fact she’ll peacefully growl and stare if we don’t, at exactly 4.00.

As we walk there is something in the air. I must be imagining it, but people do seem to have a skip in their step, a smile on their face, Oh my God they’re even greeting each other.

Surely it’s not down to that announcement?

It would have a dramatic impact for millions of people, not least those families experiencing real poverty.

Later, after dinner, the kids had said goodnight and retreated to their rooms. Simon and I got a little time together to discuss the strange events of the day. He’s a banker and so will have solid insights into what’s happened today.

“So what’s your take on all this?” 

 

Note: revised on 28th August 2019

Falling in love again…..

It’s time.

This might sound like self imposed torture, (our initials were S&M!):

-reading through the transcripts created by Vidya from Manjula’s Kannada audio recordings, or

-watching her talking to video camera in English,

-having conversations about my love with Tanu, Satish and Ina with the help of Faizan and Sumukh who are researching and recording.

I miss and don’t want to lose any memories, of course she’s with me and to you my friends it might seem a hard thing to do, even masochistic, it’s very difficult, but it’s also wonderful in the sense that I discover even more about Manjula and fall in love all over again.

Out walking with Lucie I was bushwhacked attacked with sad feelings and tears, as if from nowhere.

Only to arrive back home to be greeted by this….

Hello Stephen, This appeared in my mind when I thought of you and Manjula: “Beautifully she lived and lives in your heart and soul, She sings through the world around you, “Express your love for me by living a kaleidoscopic life” It is written as it appeared to my mind and I felt I wanted to share it with you. Love, Kali

Thoughts and Feelings, Fond memories April 2019 onwards

Further thoughts and feelings as Manjula flies the nest.

Postings from April through to August

Grief, the three bucket method….beginning to work out how to manage some of the grief and push some away! There are all sorts of ways to deal with this situation Unreturned love of my star, including poetry and more of the journey Private mission: grief recovery and wobbles Key stages, behind the scene. Happiness is a choice you make is a very helpful perspective in this difficult situation, Three stages are quite apparent now. Stepping stones are another analog in Doddery

Memories of Manjula, key images around the house partly as a Hindu tradition. Manjula more memories flowers flowers flowers, pictures pictures, pictures Can there be too much?

A significant anniversary, four weeks after Manjula died she sponsors meals at the Ashram but what are those symbols appearing on our streets. Which change before our eyes in Mixed feelings. Seven weeks since

Ap pagal hey, are you mad?

A getaway, Lucie and I take a break and then we have to leave Kerala farewell. Election time while we’re in Kerala and a reminder of the first time Manjula voted.

Here’s a plan, friends are so helpful. AWOL two friends become directors to replace Manj I travel to Europe and north America to visit guests for Manjula hugs

To live in others hearts is not to die is such a great way to think about it

A smile, Manjula had a remarkable beacon of a smile a common theme…

What happens after we die and Helping children with death, discussing Manjula’s death with my granddaughter.

Manjula’s watching, still being the boss, sending a message from where her spirit is resting ….. did I say resting?

With a little more help from our friends an appeal for memories of Manjula. Here are some of the memories, others will be featured in other ways! Missing Manjula 2 There must be a Manjula 1 somewhere. We also remember with Jingle jangle and New thing for memory of Manjula

Manjula my muse, and she continues to be…

I’ve been fortunate to get away for almost two months in June and July Back home is a challenge

The factly fiction stories

Stop the magic roundabout and Magic roundabout again are my initial thoughts that led to the magic roundabout story.

Watch this space, the relevance of Karma. I then released my factly fiction story Magic roundabout and Magical thinking helps put it in context. Then mmm.

A factly fiction story looking for a home led to a dream for one of our guests Great response

Life in India

Phew, we have to find some help.

As part of our giving we want to do something new, but Oh no not again and

Oh no not again 2

as i realise the implications of having to relate to officialdom again. Our revise experiences of sorting out IDS, Passport, visa and registering he business with the City Corporation have been detailed in our story.

Sweet ….. Sour …… Sad

I’ve experienced an incredible mix of feelings since Manjula set off on her new journey.

It’s sweet because of our wonderful time together, our incredible memories and her presence in my heart

It’s sour as it’s awful losing one’s love and dealing with the hole she leaves

It’s sad as it leaves me stressed, anxious and depressed.

However….

Manjula and I, always looked at things, with a positive view of life….

“Love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire”

“I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

by Viktor E Frankl, who knows a thing or two about dealing with horrendous situations.

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On the 21st Manjula will provide meals for the older people at the Ashram we’ve previously supported. We will meet for a celebratory meal at Roopa.

” The soul is neither born,, nor does it ever die; nor having once existed, does it ever cease to be. The soul is without birth, eternal, immortal, and ageless. It is not destroyed when the body is destroyed.” Bhagavadgita

It’s been five months now that Manjula’s spirit has left her body. The feelings I’ve shared, from these months, can be found listed on the following two pages. Here and here .

Forever Together

“This feels  com-ple-tely  weird

How the heck, did it happen?

Please, move over, I’m feeling claustrophobic. We are so, not the same size!

To me it feels like the two of us are crammed into a sleeping bag, just like the one we bought for you to go camping in England. If you curl a bit I’ll curl round you, like two spoons together. Yep, yep, that’s it.

Much better.

So you’re the Hindu, can you explain to me what’s happened?

Nope.

OK, I’ll hazard a guess.

I must say, as cramped as this is, I am so pleased to be with you, I know its not exactly physical, more meta-physical but I can actually feel you and its wonderful. I just don’t care about anything else. I lost you and I’ve found you again. Super!

Its also amazing how we can communicate just through thoughts. Are you thinking in Kannada or English?

A mix of both.

You clever dick. You’re the boss. 🙂

Ok so here’s my take on it.

I think it’s something to do with reincarnation. Once we die and we’re released from our body our spirit finds a new home, a new body and begins its next life. Agreed?

Well, there’s also a belief amongst some people that couples can be reunited in their new life.

Yes, I remember discussing this with friends and joking about whether we’d wish to be reincarnated with our husbands! Most didn’t seem to want to be.

I did though!

You and I have had some disagreements. I don’t think you realised how hard it was for me, at times but I loved you to the end of the earth, and beyond

Remember me saying that?

Of course

I love you too.

So how have we ended up here?

The last I remember, you had a second heart attack and you didn’t want to go back on a ventilator, you’d hated that the year before, even though it gave us another year together. So I asked the Doctors not to resuscitate and you died.

Afterwards, I was on my Enfield, squinting through the tears on my way back to Siddartha Layout, to sort things out so I could bring your body home, when ….

BANG.

A lorry knocked me off the two wheeler and next thing I know I was here with you.

Where is here? by the way.

I don’t know but I’m beginning to adjust, I’m not feeling bunched up anymore – I’m getting used to it.

I remember being in hospital and you made a joke about me not smiling so I giggled and smiled, last thing I remember I was complaining that my head hurt.

Then I was in a valley, having passed through a bright sun light. People were singing and dancing. I thought of you and whispered a message, that I loved you, to a passing dragonfly. Then as if by Magic, you appeared and I saw you through the crowd coming towards me.

Wow. So let me get this right, we’ve died within minutes of each other and somehow our souls have joined together, reincarnated into the same body. How amazing is that?

I feel that we’re gently melding together, we’re becoming as one.

Well, I didn’t read about this in the Bhagavad Gita! Did you?

Waahay, this could be fun. Maybe we could give a TED Talk.

Tonight’s adventure

First time for years. Revisited a Mysore institution: The intimate Cottage Chamber Concert. Organised by the inimitable Jan Brouwer since 1996. With Jan Sham on Viola and Mitali on piano. (Baby grand seeing as you ask)

A lovely evening. Meeting old and new friends.

Stephen and Catherine with one of the youngest aficionados.

For me, what was extra special, after a few very sad months, was to have my mood lifted by the beautiful music. I’ll continue by listening to music throughout the weekend.