give me strength

I apologise for ever complaining about Indian bureaucracy

In any case I usually blame the British Raj and maybe the current British Administration might value a lesson.

Sarcasm warning

I travelled to Bangalore last month, a five hour round trip, to submit my passport for renewal.

Yesterday I received an email from the passport office in Liverpool England, with a formal letter attached.

My photos have been rejected for a range of possible reasons. They haven’t indicated which one: it could be only one photo sent, head too small (in real life, opposite being the problem) or any number of other options. They’ve kept that secret.

Clearly my approach of carrying a selection of photos to Bangalore and asking their staff member which ones were suitable and they selecting them ( yes there were two) , didn’t do the trick.

I have twenty days to send to England otherwise my request might be rejected.

I have a new photo taken and place them in envelope ready to send. I avoid writing a sarcastic note about having asked their representative for guidance. I just plead to get it back asap so I can travel again.

At the central post office.

Take a ticket for your place in the queue. We all take one but then ignore the system.

Speed post Sir?

Yes please, how quick will it be?

Twenty days

I’ll send positive affirmation vibes against any delays and rejection of my application.

Please complete the declaration form and sign

Here it is

Three copies

There’s a xerox machine. Gets jammed but quickly sorted.

Copied and signed

ID please with address.

I have my Adhaar card.

Two copies please

Back to the xerox

I Zap the equivalent of £19 via QR Code (bet you can’t do that in Britland) It’s done.

Yes I can hear you saying. Why doesn’t he send the photographs digitally?

Because you can only do that if you’ve completed an online form and you can’t do it online when requesting a renewal from outside the U.K.

Just don’t ask, I’m now relaxing

I’m a writer.

Originally written in March 2021 but lost in the ether

I’m officially confirmed as a writer and here’s the evidence.

I have a blank page and pen. I also have a passion, here it is, at the top of the blank page.

I’ve submitted for a competition and got absolutely nowhere, so that’s the ‘rejection’ box ticked.

I‘ve got the writer’s block down to a fine art.. To be fair I think it’s proximity to the ‘wound’ or the trauma that makes it extra difficult. This month creates extra challenges as there’s a pile-up of anniversaries, our weddings and Manjula’s death, but that’s an expected part of this particular journey.

I’m reading lots of fiction, including children’s, non fiction and insights into how to write. How much is being held by this decaying brain is another matter.

I’m inadvertently following famous writers such as Paul Auster and now my writer of the moment, who I’ve only just discovered wrote ‘Stardust’ my favourite film Neil Gaiman

I must admit to liking young people’s story books. I like the pace, find them interesting and I more easily remember what I’ve read.

As the ‘passion’ would say “let’s see.”

First update

It feels like it’s been weeks since I added to our story so I plan to have a different approach, set up my writing place, establish a routine and treat it as a ‘job.’

Second update

It’s written but as I’m a writer I’ll follow a norm and declare it just ain’t good enough

Third update

It’s going to be completely revised and restructured. I’ll break the memoir rules but I just don’t care.

Fourth update 2022 and I’m yet to start. I’ve slipped into a ‘can’t quite get my act-together phase’ I told you I was a writer.

In between the enormous gaps.

Near calamity

This morning

My brain was missing again

I let Lucie out the front door

There was the bag of kittens on legs waiting for me

Poor billet-doux was in shock. Ran away but was stuck

Trying to get through the gate to escape the black monster.

The bag of kittens squeezed through. I only hope there’s no long term damage.

She’s due within days.

The origin of origins

E P Thompson (English social historian) reckoned you could find examples of any thoughts, philosophies, beliefs, ways of organising that exists, here in India. It’s like it represents an open book on the world I agree and so much more is true.

Where do you think monty pythons ground breaking comedy came from? I’m forever re-visiting their skits…. nudge-nudge, wink-wink, (meeting with the FRRO), bicycle repair man by the roadside, haggling and ‘look on the bright side’ in ‘Life of Brian’ there is so much that

Manana, think it’s from Spain, south or Central America, then think again.

Catch 22, novel about Vietnam, or maybe the vagaries of Kafkaesque bureaucracy. It’s all here.

They all resonate with, yes you’ve guessed it. The consistently inconsistent mish mash, the wonderful yet infuriating India.

Should I be Retracing steps?

After meeting up with our mysore BnB family at WOMAD and knocking on a few of their doors I went camping.

I was apprehensive about revisiting the same places in Dorset where we’d had a family camp to celebrate Alice and Ben’s (eldest son) wedding and my 60th birthday during Manjula’s second U.K. holiday

I shouldn’t have been.

It proved to be a tonic.

I like Weymouth
Rachel and Simon of the lovely ‘hive’ cafe even remembered our visit five years ago.
Catching a ferry
Making new friends from Yorkshire
Who’s that bearded idiot?
Then back to Ruth’s in Bristol,

over to bee-man Stephen to drop our beautiful tent, return the fancy hire car and prepare to return home

In my experience, when grieving, we regularly get ambushed by memories of magical times together. They make me both happy and sad. I’ve learned not to run away but to face them, even create them, so it was ok to retrace my steps.

Thank you for joining my journey and your support.

Canada Cares

Rubbish/litter bins with a shelf for recycling items which poor people collect and sell.

Drivers keep to the lane and stop for pedestrians at zebra crossings and side roads.

Saying sorry and carrying cycles on the front of buses.
Guests of Mysore Bed and Breakfast that welcome you into their home…. even after getting to know me.

Considerate Canadians helping out.

That’s nice.

Postscript

While I was out and preparing this posting someone came round (or maybe overnight) and stole Trixie, my new friend. So not all Canadians are good apples.

Trixie, and I’ve only just met her.

It’s a joke….

And the one’s I like are also serious.

A very good friend — who will remain nameless, until I get his permission — is responsible for this.

We met during the initial lockdown. We were still allowed to cycle, as I did most mornings. We had great conversations as we cycled together.

I joked that he was receiving a degree in critical thinking, in return I was losing years by the day, sharing insights and learning from someone over forty years younger.

At first he didn’t admit to his parents that he was cycling with a Firangi, a foreigner.

There were some sensitivities in the community as they were confused about where the virus might be caught. Obviously, Foreigners might have brought it into the country.

When he did tell his parents, I became known as Tata or grandfather.

Some weeks later we cycled on my favourite place srirangapatnam and met up with his extended family for breakfast. Great!

His mum declared later that I wasn’t a Tata, more an uncle.

Thanks Amma, I appreciate that, for me it is acceptance and that I’m younger than expected.

Later nameless reflected and decided that godfather was more appropriate. I like that too.

As I’ve now turned 65 — he says with a wobbly voice, while leaning on his stick — and finding new things to do in the community that commemorate MAnjula, it seems to fit.

Over the past few months you might have noticed a little girl. I’m trying to get her mum to let me to finance her education. Now that really is being a Godfather.

So I’ve used one of Kaveri’s paintings of me and created a card.

Nameless and Kaveri will be the first to get one of my super new jokey-serious cards to remind them I’m here for you.

On the back are details of how to make contact whenever you wish for whatever reason.

Yes I’ve obliterated some of the details. It’s not for everyone 🤭

Footnote: the term Godfather is not intended to reflect any diety or relate to any Christian rituals nor resemble anyone living, dead or in the afterlife.

Mysore traffic mayhem

It gets worse every day

The bad behaviour becomes more apparent as the traffic increases., that will get worse as we become more ‘developed’.

Why?

Where to start…

The chaos at junctions when the lights turn green, as many are in the wrong lanes and there are more lanes than the markings indicate. The erratic driving which is not always because they’ve poor driving skills, most drivers are on the phone, but it’s not smart….

The lack of awareness and perennial indifference carry some of the blame, but it begins early on at the driving school and how people get their licence is a wonder to behold.

Many driving schools bring their learners through Siddarthanagar, our layout, for lessons, it’s unbelievable. I couldn’t even begin to tell you and I’ll leave my grumbles about what they’re taught to do with the horn, to the next posting.

Here’s examples that friends have told me about their tests.

An American friend had both a two wheeler (motorbike) and four wheeler (car) test on different days.

The examiner instructed him to drive up the road, round the roundabout and back to the start. He passed.

Next the examiner got in the car. Already an improvement. “Drive ahead, turn left , straight, turn right, stop.” My friend thought this was serious. “Stop here” The examiner got out of the car and entered a hotel (restaurant) leaving a few minutes later with ‘a parcel’ (takeaways) for the office. “Drive back to the RTO (office). You’ve passed.”

A neighbour’s daughter just paid the bribe, probably through a middle-man I’m not sure whether she’s actually driven to this day.

Another friend went to the new ‘automated’ track designed to put you through a series of situations and manoeuvres. The examiner gets in the car, you move forward, pay your bribe and you’re off. The examiner uses the (dual drive) pedals to ensure you brake properly and even helps you steer by lightly holding the steering wheel. Once again, it’s a pass.

If that wasn’t bad enough one proposal is to delegate the issuing of driving licences to the instructors. Really?

This Facebook posting following a column in the ‘Star of Mysore’ is what got me going. I’ve cycled, and ridden scooters, Enfield, van, Jeep and Manjula’s beautiful Ambassador on local roads.

The biggest challenge?

It’s a toss up between the ‘rash’ driving and constant pot holes, even on newly repaired roads it sometimes feels like you’re driving sideways.