One of the Magicians of Mysore

Jan Brouwer does it again, with the relaunch of his popular and well regarded: Cottage Chamber Concert.

On the 14th February, in his home in Mysore we were entertained by Faleen and his sister Falisha.

Falisha age 13

Imagine you’re in a lovely house, tastefully decorated and well designed but it is a home. You meet the other guests in the downstairs hall (Lounge) for snacks and politely talk about the concerns of the day, in this case, no surprise as it was about vaccinations and the pandemic. Promptly, on time you’re invited upstairs to the Music Room where a Yamaha C2 concert grand piano is centre stage. You’re seated on attractive 19th century Dutch furniture, surrounded by paintings and images of some of the featured composers.

We were entertained by two young people to the music of Burgmuller, Chopin, Shostakovich, Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Prokofiev, Grieg, and Moritz Moszkowski. Phew, yes, all that.

Faleen age 13

It’s as if many years of training, practice and performing as concert pianists had been crammed and concentrated into two small , young bodies who gently teared across the grand’s keyboard to provide a wonderfully unexpected experience. A musical talent demonstrating a sensitive maturity way beyond their years. You just had to close your eyes to imagine you were in a concert hall in one of the European capital cities but with the comfort and intimacy of visiting a favourite auntie and uncle.

Congratulations to Faleen and Falisha for a wonderful concert and thanks to the Brouwers, as we look forward to more entertainment from the jewels you find.

Friction 1

One of the greatest challenges facing we humans is friction.

So what do we mean by friction?

A dictionary will refer to the resistance encountered when two objects or surfaces come together and try to move. Such as a tyre on the road.

The insights and opinions we offer are about the friction that comes between different people, between people and their institutions or their communities and also between people and the wider world.

Our first offering refers to a particular form of lubrication. It counters the friction we experience in our day to day lives and helps make things happen.

In its simplest form the lubricant is a gift, a thank you.

The team that collect the rubbish and clear the leaves received a tip this morning. A thank you gift. Nothing wrong with that.

In my view when it becomes a requirement for service it starts to become a problem. An example of this is in the US and Canada where the level of tip to someone waiting your table in a restaurant is carefully calculated and absolutely expected. That feels like a supplement to the wage, required because the employer is a cheapskate and underpays their staff. It becomes an extra tax.

In India where I’ve lived for over eleven years we have a lot of experience with a particular form of lubrication, known as bribery.

This takes it to a whole other level.

If you’re a business applying for a business permit from the corporation or a liquor licence for a bar, pay your fee and a whacking great bribe otherwise absolutely nothing will happen.

Politicians do it all the time. Jump ship to another party and be paid with a ministerial berth or some other juicy position with money making promise.

Here are two more examples I’ve discovered just this morning. In my view they are quite unbelievable.

Want a job?

Someone has bribed to get a job at a state run business. On her rate of salary it will take three years to have earned the equivalent of the bribe she has paid.

Want a driving licence?

Don’t bother with lessons or even turning up at the test centre, you never have to get in a car, ever! Just send a bribe through a broker.

This is expected in most situations to one degree or another, it is so ingrained that no one ever expects it to change.

Some might wonder why it matters.

Manjula my beautiful Muse

I now know what muse (moose) means.

Aadrika the immensely talented artist who created this wonderful portrait of the women in my life visited with Somesh and his six year old daughter Ritu (check her own art here) to photograph the painting so we can have prints made for some of our friends around the world. Whoopeee!

check out the colours, great photo

A red bicycle

We’re reaching out to a whole new generation

Ritu
Ritu’s picture of our house.

Her mother asked why is there a cycle on the roof? She explained that this is Stephens house.

Ritu’s father Somesh visited with Aadirika to take photos of her wonderful portrait of Manjula and Lucie.

Aadirika is hiding

We’re going to find ways for Manjula to continue to reach out to young people.

Anita’s Attic

Anita Nair a renowned author here in India has an annual programme ‘Anita’s Attic’ to help up and coming writers.

It’s my new thing, writing. Ha ha says the Yorkshireman, who can’t even speak English.

Our group of ten have just finished the latest programme with each of us reading a short creative piece that we’ve written.

Here’s mine. You can’t escape so easily. 🤭

Do provide critical feedback.

My not work station

Children riding two wheelers

a new problem in Mysore are children riding scooters (two wheelers means motorised) with the obvious dangerous consequences.

A policeman stops three children age twelve on a scooter. Two of them run away (not a lot of respect for the Police) as he’s asking for personal details from the one who’s riding.

The Policeman telephones the father and demands a bribe or he’ll report it aunders an offence. A bribe of 5000Rs is paid. That’s the equivalent of half of someone’s monthly pay.

Bribery and corruption is inherent. Does it have the desired effect of stopping dangerous under-age driving? who knows?

It’s a sign

As they would say in Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’

Well I’ve had a few after complaining to Manjula that I’d failed to notice any.

The first major happening was the message delivered by the Dragonfly. I’d hinted enough, not least by having one tattooed onto my shoulder.

She came through, on that one.

Today a brick fell off the wall. This thick one knocked it onto the ground and it broke.

It’s a sign.

So what’s the meaning of this sign? erm…..

Manjula is pissed off with me for not sending a Valentine’s Day message. So she threw the brick at me.

She’s actually gone. As we approach our third wedding anniversary and shortly afterwards the date she slipped through my stubby fingers two sorrowful years ago. Maybe it’s a sign that her soul spirit has found a new home and been reincarnated. It’s a realisation that our attempts to help her move on have worked.

Helping her soul on the way on the anniversary of her death.

And maybe it’s a crumbling of the wall that’s hemming me in.

Whatever I’ll look on the bright side as this is part of my journey to learn from life’s challenges and realise something or other.

and of course, no matter what she’s still with me….

For at least seven lives.

Thai massage

made me lighter. No not in weight, let’s not go there.

Usha, in the middle here, kindly invited me for a Thai Massage as guinea pig as she’s currently training here in Mysore.
I’m over-dressed as I’m about to bike it back home.

Ragu and his team can be found here

Open Mic

An open mic event at Dreamers Cafe in Mysore great young audience entertained with poetry, singing, guitar, flute, jokes and storytelling.

His notes are on his hand. Who knows what’s on the smart Phone.
Rakesh
Stephen

My very first appearance at an open mic.

The cafe has double decker seating.

Lucie and I are missing the people. The busy household, constant comings and going’s, the jokes, the kindness and our queen.

This helps replace some of the missing energy. Great evening, wonderful people, well organised.

Magnanimous MAnjula

It’s one of those wishing differently days so great to announce more of Manjula’s gifts.

Divya on her new bicycle.
Niece of the night watchman Malesh who we know from ten years ago when he was night watchman for the building site next door to our house.
Sowbhagya helping me deliver the bicycle.

Manjula gave gifts to Divya, Naveen, Tanuja and Jossica.

Naveen and Sowbhagya.
Tanuja, Keerthi and Jossica