Sowbhagya arrived with Dosa for her breakfast. The dining table was converted to one of my four workstations but she managed to find space. She was trapped but I blame her. She did show interest. So I launched into the synopsis of Manjula and my story, written for Anita.
SB was immediately engaged and liked it. We both enthusiastically remembered Manjula: her character, her kindness, her fun. SB could see connections with her and other women’s experiences but also how she was especially adventurous, strong and independent in the face of so many challenges.
Last Saturday was the first session of Anita’s Attic. A programme for writers — yes, that’s me, officially a writer, of sorts — over the next twelve weeks.
There’s ten of us in the online group: taught, facilitated and mentored by Anita Nair.
Anita is a famous writer of English novels, here in India. My own favourite is Ladies Coupe and I hope that our story will feature similar expansive characters to help us discover more of India and wonderful people I’ve been fortunate to meet.
Sally is one of those guests that you’ve no idea when they first arrived and keep popping up so much you wonder if they ever leave. She’s clearly become besotted by India.
Sally is a creative who works in broadcast media in the UK on one of the most iconic soaps as Costume Designer. But can turn her hand to many things: design, textiles, writing, costume making, continuity, tours, and her beautiful home and garden, all while supporting her mum.
I’ve lost count how many times she’s been to visit and has now set up her own business providing carefully curated textile travels in south India. She’s also on Facebook and as Textile Travels
On Manjula’s first holiday to the U.K. we had an amazing adventure with Sally and her partner Mike in a narrowboat adding travel along the canal to Manjula’s list of great experiences in our all too short time together.
We have a lot in common, not least that we both recently lost our loved ones. Recently she’s taken the lead in helping us design a patchwork quilt and appliqué banner from Manjula’s clothes that will soon appear at Mysore Bed and Breakfast.
I look forward to her return and the way she’s going think she’ll spend more and more of her year in India.
Sally is a diamond gal (what does that mean Stephen? Your writing is supposed to be improving – the gentler Ed) officially now ‘family’ and has joined those who’ve returned here to provide incredible support over the most difficult time in my life.
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:
Tom and Amy first keep to visit us what to them might seem like a hundred years ago. They were introduced to us by the lovely people at Indiasomeday which continues to be our favourite agency.
After that first trip, we decided to designate them as our adopted children as we got on really really well. On their return home they got married, resigned from their jobs and became nomads.
They now have an exciting adventure filled life as itinerant travellers working then travelling, travelling and working.
Tamy have become part of our lives. Amy was our celebrant at our wedding and Tom took the photos. They continued to be with us during Manjula’s difficult times due to her illness. When she died earlier this year, they immediately changed their plans, rode over the hill to the rescue….. well, flew back to India to stay with me for a couple of weeks. I hadn’t realised how important that was to me, they were a godsend . They’ve now visited three times, this year alone and some guests have come to think they actually live here.
We meet up to eat a vegan when our paths cross in London.
They’ve created two lovely videos of Manjula and I and our work here. Please check here for the videos and a link to their own seeking skies site.
Manjula absolutely adored them, Tom and Madam’s witty banter and humour fed off each other.
Did I mention they’re vegan? Real activists who live their beliefs, working hard to try and save our planet, to show the older generation their mistakes and provide a positive path to the future.
Thank you Tom and Amy for helping me survive this incredibly difficult time.
Satish became such a close friend (or brother) to Manjula she would telephone him most days to bend his ear and share her stories. He was a source of invaluable support, especially in her last few months.
He’s one of our main drivers and been an incredible help in so many ways. We spent days hunting down our Ambassador car (which he hopes to get in due course) and his project management skills came in handy to prepare for our wedding ceremony.
Tanu and Satish have joined me as Directors of the business in Manjula’s place.
Today Ina and I were invited to his home for lunch as it’s Mahalakshmi’s big day (more info here).