A critical (focussed on wish fulfilment) part of our growing team set out on a search today
Satish was captain, Sowbaghya was translator-leader-investigator, Stephen was only half there.
Behind the scenes were Sarvesh (the facilitator) and Radhika (auntie) offering support.
The subject was an increasingly well known girl.
I returned to Mysore almost three weeks ago and last week went to visit kaveri.
I was a bit confused finding their house but eventually got there with the kind help of a shopkeeper.
Only to find they’d moved. What?!
They’re estranged from grandmother, grandfather, auntie and uncle who live in a room opposite our house who had no idea where they’d gone. The area yes, but the specific house, no way Jose. To top it all chandrika’s phone wasn’t working, so they weren’t contactable.
So what to do?
Rhadika knew she was at school through a friend who’s sister attended the same school. She couldn’t help on action day as she was ill.
So SB volunteered for mission impossible.
To Infiltrate the school.
The aforementioned team set off across the city after sorting out the confusion of where and what time to go to find Kaveri as she finished her school day.
The white old man waited discreetly in Satish’s auto rickshaw. It’s not done for old men to be hanging around school gates, even in India.
She arrived at the auto, with a steady stream of her friends passing by with her declaring ‘foreign uncle,’ as if this was the necessary proof as previously they hadn’t believed her.
Any low profile was lost.
But what a result. We’d found her, went to their new home, met up with mum and dad got agreement for her to spend the weekend over with us and the about to arrive Ina.
She’ll also stay with grandma on the Saturday
So my reward is seeing my adopted granddaughter and we’re tentatively building bridges between family break up.
On 21st August 2022 on Manjula’s Birth Anniversary we created a day of activity for visually impaired young women living at the Divya Jyothi Trust in Mysore.
Here are useful links to those who made it a great success, explaining who we are and why we did it.
Manjula’s MysoreContinues Manjula’s work including Mysore Bed and Breakfast, MyCycle Tours and working with young people. We organised the event, sang songs, accompanied the young people’s singing and provided cycling. Our team was: Sarvesh, Satish, Sowbaghya, Tushar, Megha, Poornima and Stephen
Our Partners are Manjula’s Kind
Thanks for making this a great success.
Mysore Storyteller’s Network: enables people to revive traditional and modern art forms of India through storytelling. Inspiring and mobilising communities to share their deepest vulnerabilities through stories, using Indian arts(visual, performing and fine arts). They organised games, taught songs, shared stories, played unusual instruments, from Madhavi, Sridevi Iyengar, Gauri Nadig, Shahana, Aditya Swarup
Vishnu Sharma Company: Vishnu Sharma hosted the entertainments, played music, organised the PA, sang songs, and acted as MC
Poornimasang songs and can be contacted via Manjulasmysore
Local businesses, active in their communities, demonstrating their caring shared responsibility.
Faizan Baksh photographed and videoed the event. Photos of the event and Manjula, are available. A video is being prepared. Faizan provides video and photograpphy services for events and promotions. Contact Instagram @faizanbaksh
The bakers SAPA and Aroma donated cookies and cakes.
SAPA started by Dina Weber is an artisan bakery, crafting sourdough breads and fine pastries with patience and love, giving their loaves the distinct flavours of naturally leavened breads.
Aroma is a bakery that offers high quality personalised cakes in its wide range of baked goods, since 1989
MyCycle cycle tours loaned their tandem supported by their volunteers.
The event was hosted by Divya Jyothi Trust Founder Shivaprakash, co-ordinator Kavya, and is the NGO where the young women live.
Why did we organise the event?
To help our community.
Manjula seized the opportunity to set up Mysore Bed and Breakfast with an English guy Stephen and they fell in love. On getting engaged it was her wish to give gifts to people rather than receive them herself. Kindness from the very beginning.They began by gifting bicycles to organisation working in the community a total which has now almost reached 50. Her business has now evolved to become “Manjula’s Mysore’ providing accommodation to tourists through Mysore Bed and Breakfast and MyCycle tours, available for the past ten years. But now with the added extra of working with young people, to help them grow, develop and thrive.
This was a celebration of Manjula who would have been forty-nine on the day. This strong woman created Mysore Bed and Breakfast and is now known throughout the world for welcoming international tourists to Mysore until her untimely death three years ago.
Stephen is Manjula’s husband, always on the look out, for ways to remember Manjula and share her with more people.
“I was riding my Enfield through Mysore city centre. In one of the busiest junctions were two young woman one with a white stick so one at least was visually impaired. They were trying to cross. I couldn’t stop and as far as I could see, no one helped so I wondered what it was like for young recently impaired women in Mysore.
If Manjula was here we would’ve discussed it and she would’ve been keen for us to find out and do something. So I contacted Divya Jyothi Trust and went with Sarvesh to meet the centre staff, the founder and the young women who live there. As a result we’ve organised activity on what would’ve been Manjula’s 49th birthday and who knows where else it might lead.”
What’s Next from Manjula’s Mysore?
“Manjula’s Mysore will continues to do good, continuing Manjula’s kindness, through partnerships of NGOs, business and community volunteers.”
We celebrated Manjula’s birth anniversary, on the 21st August 2022 with a day crammed full of activity of cycling, games, music, storytelling, singing, drinks, cakes and cookies for the forty visually impaired young women who live at Divya Jyothi Charitable Trust.
Our day was a rich mix of sounds and fun: laughter, singing, clapping, some hesitancy — then enthusiasm, excitement, care, trust and beaming smiles.
Organised by Manjula’s Mysore with our partners: Mysore Storytellers Network, Vishnu Sharma Company, in memory of Manjula.
The young women especially liked the game ‘What’s in the box’ identifying objects through touch and smell, organised by Gauri Nadig. Then we all shared songs with Poornima singing and Vishnu Sharma playing guitar, Sridevi teaching songs, accompanied by Sarvesh on his Cajon clap box
Shahana told stories
Aditya Swarup and his group filled the room with unusual music by playing singing bowl, Handpan drum, Didgeridoo, and tweeting clay bird
Cycling was a big hit with Tusharr and Megha, volunteers from MyCycle tours giving rides on a tandem (cycle for two people). For all the blind women this was their first time on a bicycle. LINK
Sowbaghya and staff from the centre looked after us all day. Satish presented Manjula’s Mysore and Sarvesh was event organiser.
Stephen, Manjula’s husband, smiled throughout and enjoyed it all.
We ended the day with cookies and cake, after listening to Manjula sharing her own stories from recordings made in the last years of her life. “Hearing Manjula speak.” “Learning about Manjula.” “Finding out she was like us.” “Her love story” were some of the comments we overheard from the young women.
We all learned a lot from our day together. We found out about and better understand, what life is like for young women who are visually impaired. Realising how resilient they are to face their daily challenges. The confidence and trust they quickly develop to get the most out of a situation. Their positive joyful attitude from which we can all benefit.
This was also a celebration of Manjula who would have been 49 on the day. This strong woman created Mysore Bed and Breakfast and is now known throughout the world for welcoming international tourists to Mysore until her untimely death three years ago.
Our thanks to each of our partners and the support of local bakers SAPA and Aroma.
Observations from behind the scenes.
“We could tell they loved taking part.”
“There was a buzz throughout the day amongst the young women and our team of organisers and entertainers.”
“Waves of smiles and chatter passed through group who sat crosslegged on the mat as each entertainer began”
“The enthusiasm hit the roof with the games and sing-a-long.”
“Once they felt comfortable and confident. They oohed and aahed with beaming smiles on their faces as we cycled around the area.”
Manjula’s Mysore will continues to do good, reflecting Manjula’s kindness, through partnerships of NGOs, business and with our team of community volunteers.
Manjula seized the opportunity to set up Mysore Bed and Breakfast with an English guy Stephen and they fell in love. On getting engaged it was her wish to give gifts to people rather than receive them herself. Kindness from the very beginning.They began by gifting bicycles to organisation working in the community a total which has now almost reached 50.
Her business has now evolved to become “Manjula’s Mysore’ providing accommodation to tourists through Mysore Bed and Breakfast and MyCycle tours, which has been available for the past ten years. But now with the added extra of working with young people, to help them grow, develop and thrive.
I share this gift from Manjula — as a follow up to Why? — as we approach what would have been her 49th birthday. On her birthday itself we hope to make a few other friends. Please check back to find out what happens.
In the meantime, if you’re interested, there’s more of our story here.
Kaveri (also anglicised as Cauvery) is named after the holy river, one of the seven holiest in India, a Hindu goddess, who is known for her strength of character and giving nature. As usual the stories vary.
The Kaveri river rises in the western ghats in Kodak (Coorg) passing through Karnataka and Tamil Nadu before reaching the Bay of Bengal.
On its journey east it splits to form three islands, one of which is Srirangapatna, featured on our main mycycle tour.
The river helps feed the irrigation systems especially around Srirangaptnam and is source of conflict between the two states.