People, mainly men are gathering on the street corner.
One is clearly very senior. I can tell from the way he’s bossing everyone around and then he turns to me. Instructions spew forth.
For a moment I forget I’m in India. I ask who he is. He refuses to tell me. Name? ID? He orders me into my house.
I slowly begin to recall I’m in a land where civil servant doesn’t mean civil and doesn’t involve service. It symbolises I’m above you, do as I tell you and don’t question.
The reason for all this?
Our neighbour has tested positive for the virus so our street is now closed off, clamped down and we’ve been tested.
I understand the situation and will comply with the restrictions because it’s for our common good but why do we have to tolerate this sort of attitude?
I need to know my place. Coming from northern working class England where we don’t do deference isn’t easy and is no preparation for this.
I could say it’s this sort of attitude —, (I’ve saved you the tedious details), the hierarchy, do as your told, no questions asked — that helps lead to authoritarianism. But then I look in western countries. I include the US and UK where we’re brought up to challenge and officials can be quite a lot nicer but still we have to tolerate tin-pot dictators.
Art work from every place in India is throughout the house. They can sort of understand that, but it’s not practical or functional.
Why save the wooden wheels, the cart sides, painted chairs?
I remember as a child, the horse drawn wagons, workshops repairing wheels and tailors in every town. They’ve all gone now.
We still have them here but they’ll go. In the eight years of mycycle tours the number of wooden ox carts being made at the workshop we visit has decreased by over eighty percent.
Hopefully some will recognise what is happening and work to preserve the heritage…, fab city, life affirming trees, characterful market, .. beautiful colourful women, skilled artisans there so much wonderfulness. , Otherwise in future years the neighbours will remember the crazy foreigner and realise he was right and understand what they’ve lost.
My good friend Faizan introduced me to the Mysore Storytelling Network. A lovely group of people working to promote storytelling. I’ve joined a couple of their meetings to help where I can in creating the foundation. Here’s our last agenda.
I’ll try develop a reading and storytelling project as an example of MAnjula giving.
Here’s why the New Yorker think this is important:
“Storytelling is the oldest form of entertainment there is. From campfires and pictograms—the Lascaux cave paintings may be as much as twenty thousand years old— to tribal songs and epic ballads passed down from generation to generation, it is one of the most fundamental ways humans have of making sense of the world. No matter how much storytelling formats change, storytelling itself never gets old.
Stories bring us together. We can talk about them and bond over them. They are shared knowledge, shared legend, and shared history; often, they shape our shared future. Stories are so natural that we don’t notice how much they permeate our lives. And stories are on our side: they are meant to delight us, not deceive us—an ever-present form of entertainment.”
Meet Jean-Yves and Nathalie from Paris came to share our home, meet Manjula, me and Lucie. It was our first season after Manjula in her strong independent way slipped through my clumsy fingers but we all felt her presence.
Jean-Yves is a nurse and works in an ‘addictology’ department in a hospital. Previously a psychiatric nurse, he likes and is very committed to his job. He always raises questions about society, inequalities and he is waiting for the Grand Soir for more social justice.
Nathalie, is passionate about human relations, also has a strong conscience and ethics who is responsible for social action for the archaeologists department. She likes to participates in and creates actions for the climate and social justice.
They live in a small apartment in the XIVth district of Paris, in a charming little cobbled street. They like to walk together for hours in Paris and enjoy travelling to countries like India. Together they are looking to broaden their insights and gain a more accurate view of the world.
It was fun and a real pleasure getting to know Jean-Yves and Nathalie while welcoming them to our home. They are an interesting, thoughtful and caring couple. We had a great adventure together on a mycycle tour but I’ll let them tell you themselves about their visit through their wonderful online presence. There are two entries here: