’Nothing’s gonna change my world”…

I’m sitting at my work station listening and reflecting, when a Beatles track, sung by Rufus Wainwright fills the house ….. ’Nothing’s gonna change my world”…

Well guess who it reminded me of? someone who did — dramatically, initially slowly and gently and later, in an instant — change my world

The words fit perfectly.

I’m, here in Mysore, writing draft two (there will be many many more) in the midst of chapter nine (of ‘full full’, which is the working title of ‘our story’). I’m thinking of our nine years together and how Manjula and her love and shining personality transformed my life.

The song continues…….

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup

They slither while they pass they slip away across the universe

Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind

Possessing and caressing me

Jai guru deva, Om

Nothing’s gonna change my world

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes

They call me on and on across the universe

Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box

They tumble blindly

As they make their way across the universe

Jai guru deva, Om

Nothing’s gonna change my world

Sounds of laughter, shades of love are ringing through my opened ears

Inciting and inviting me

Limitless undying love, which shines around me

Like a million suns and calls me on and on across the universe

Jai guru deva, Om

Nothing’s gonna change my world

Jai guru deva

..Manjula my muse, the moose, my guru 🙂

Except my written words aren’t quite flowing as described in the song.

Next up on the playlist, ‘you have a friend,’ I ask you.

Farrel Factoid, lifted from the T’Internet

Jai guru deva, Om was in the beatles song “Across the Universe“.

A simple translation is:

“I give thanks to Guru Dev (heavenly teacher) om” 

Om is just a sound. However a more detailed translation is: 

“Jai” means “O Hail” or “Victory to” 

“Guru” means “Teacher” 

Deva” means “God/Lord/Demi-God” 

“om” some say is the source of all existence that comes from vibration 

Note Guru Dev was a Maharishi’s teacher

Every mug tells a story.

I thought I’d share this after revealing to a new friend Anjali

We have a cup caste regime

From the left steel glass ( I know it’s not glass, just ask an Indian) can be used anywhere and everywhere. Middle, one of our favourite cups with emotional attachment so can only be used in upstairs hall (lounge for you foreigners) and number three can be used anywhere in the house or downstairs sit out as we care less.
The most precious, heaps of history and irreplaceable so use is severely restricted.

The point is they can be used by anyone: guests, staff, family some are higher value so should be looked after more than others.

Why do I tell you this?

I joked about the caste of cups because believe it or not in some houses in India the servants aka lower caste are only allowed to drink or eat from separate cups/glasses/plates and utensils. This presumably originates from a belief that they might defile the superior caste.

I tell you this, as you know I love and I’ve adopted India and one wonderful woman in particular. We created a shared home that didn’t reflect those primitive traditional let’s say mediaeval practices.

They need to go.

Watch for more on caste.

Manjula’s library grows

The number of books

The number and range of readers.

We’ve negotiated the loan of ‘we’re going on a bear hunt’, ‘the hungry caterpillar’ and ‘stuck’

She might be young but negotiated an extension of a seven day loan to ten days. 🙂🙃😉 our very first children to borrow books from Manjula’s library.

Manjula’s Kind

MAnjula embraced everything and everyone.

She experienced unkindness throughout her life, yet always and especially in the last nine years was the most kind.

MAnjula continues to give

Kulfi for the cleaners. They used to work on our street, knew us and would stop for water, chai and chat (that’s talking not snacks).

Our fine house was a place of support and conversation for women and not just our guests. Manjula’s networks. We’ve continued to support our drivers and they’ve joined the Manjula Mask Movement.

Vasanth and Satish modelling our mycycle masks but the big favourite is …
the one where Manjula seems to be sniggering and who years before the pandemic was telling us to mask-up, modelled by Rakesh aka Peter Pan
And masks have been donated for the vaccinators for when they finish work.
Many cycles have been gifted here for Sowbhaghya’s son Naveen.

I still am

relying on and remembering Manjula’s kindness

Manjula’s kind

more on kindness

I hope I’m getting there.

KINDNESS 
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

This is another direct lift, aka homage to the great gathering work of Maria Popova and her brain pickings, clearly hers are not slim pickings!

Kindergarten Korner

weeeeeeee, screeeeee, grrrrrrrrrr, waaaaaaaa….

This is the grinding, cutting screeching of the little mesters, the small independent traditional workshops making knives in my home city of Sheffield the cutlery capital of England. 

Except it isn’t.

It feels like they’ve followed me all the way to where I live now in the genteel middle-class Siddarthanagar in Mysore.

It’s the third night of this infernal racket going on past 9 in the evening and comes from the construction site behind — making it almost impossible to have evening (international time difference) important zoom calls — so,  I complain to the workers. They are cutting and grinding marble, tiles, steel and concrete. The noise should stop at the very latest at 7.00, (the actual rule is they should stop earlier) one of the workers seems to understand. That’s good, message received and understood.

But it’s not so straightforward. Is anything in India?

The construction site belongs to the next door downstairs neighbour (Jain), and he discussed this with his upstairs neighbour (who’s Brahmin) who raises it with his neighbour (Lingayat), who I cycle with most mornings, who talks to me (the Firangi aka foreigner). I might be joking but these labels of religion and community are very significant. So a simple matter of neighbourliness, and sound sensitivity becomes a big issue at the corner. They, that’s the Jain with the support of the Brahmin decide to allow the workers to continue making the noise into the evening and ignore me. The Lingayat is just the messenger 🙂

Once I realise the molehill is becoming a foot hill, I go to speak directly to the site owner, my neighbour of some years. He refuses to speak, looks down, can’t catch me in the eye and does some rude brushing away movement with his hands. Blimey.

There’s more to being kind than feeding the cows

Frankly, in my view, it should be obvious that such noise in the evening isn’t on, regardless that it’s against the regulations. Rules, what are they? Various friends agree. But lack of awareness, indifference, who knows what has stopped the bleeding obvious being well, obvious. Now they know but don’t care, they stick the proverbial finger up.

To make sure I understand, I’m cold-shouldered by the Jains and the Brahmins. 

The foothill becomes a mountain. This is quite unbelievable.

The fool of the father (Jain) even instructs his young daughters to have nothing to do with the foreigner. 

On a normal day and time, Lucie and I are constantly greeted, by the local children, as we walk down the street with smiles, hellos and waves but not by his two, not anymore. Hence  I refer to the infantile behaviour of the kindergarten. The poor girls stick out like a sore thumb not greeting the foreigner, because of the childishness of their father.

I now realise its a common unsophisticated way of communication. For example: there’s three parts of a family live a few hundred yards away from each other who have not communicated for decades. I hear of families not talking because of perceived snubs at a wedding and how the invites had been issued. 

I’ve discussed with people that I know from the Jain community who are embarrassed and apologetic and Brahmin friends, who are politically liberal anti-elitist, just shrug their shoulders and ask why I’m surprised. People talk about bad karma for the house and how they shouldn’t treat ‘guests’ like this. Me, I’ve given up.

Jain friends in England point out, that there’s more to being kind than feeding cows by the roadside.

Come on guys, get a grip. Life is too short. So I have to take the high road and provide a different example.

So Let’s be positive.

following the path of Manjula the muse, the moose, my guru

being kind 

I therefore haven’t pursued this, previously I might have, mercilessly. Now I’ve adjusted, live and let live. 

I don’t want the poor innocent girls affected anymore, or their new house to have a bad vibe, our respective rewards will arrive.

I hope Manjula will be contentedly happy with my approach.    

Farrell Factoid 

Here’s more information about the little mesters. 

Little mesters and their

Resurgence

Bursting

We’re bursting at the seams. Wherever you turn there’s evidence.

We now have plants in the drive out the front, inside and outside the gate, down both sides of the house, in the back yard and on the mid level roof. There’s hundreds of them. We plan to create a small garden in the park this year so that will use half the plants. Let’s hope the mosquitoes will go with them.

Most Indian houses have little if any art. It’s an unnecessary (not) expense and very middle class. As I arrived with the latest offering MAnjula would complain that there was too much art and not room for anymore. Wrong!

Our latest addition

An appliqué banner, created by the multi-talented Jacqui using Manjula’s clothing has just arrived from England and is now by our main door.

An earlier addition was this beautiful portrait.

There’s always room for art.

Next Manjula would joke about there being too many books, and how we should open a library.

So here it is…. Manjula’s library… available for local friends and our guests. (Yes they’re also friends.)

and that’s carefully avoiding mentioning anyone who’s bursting at the seams.

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.

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

Thank you Manjula and Aadirika

for working together to create this beautiful image.

‘Beloved’
A portrait of Manjula

Stephen’s love for Manjula .
Weaves a bridge,
between our worlds.
A bridge made of heart strings,
a bridge of exploration to the multi dimensional.
Manjula’s love for Stephen.
Pierces through the veil,
as a warm ray on a chilly day.

by Aadirika Kawa

I love my new Manjula. It’s been well worth the wait
I understand how much skill and creativity it has taken.
I realise there’s so many dimensions to this living and breathing painting,
I can see different aspects depending upon where  I stand, the lighting and how its photographed.
This has taken so much love and dedication to create.

Manjula would laugh and tease me, claiming we already had too many paintings. I can’t get enough of her.

Thank you for my wonderful Christmas present and presence.

See more of the artist’s work and follow here