We’re on a road trip.
With no one left behind
To visit vetenarian hospital in Bangalore for a Lucie blood test

The results are good so no need for a scan and after handing over parcels for Usha

we’re off back home.

Stopping on the way for lunch at fishland one of our favourite restaurants.

Manjula and I would have a drive through the countryside in the Ambassador drop in here for lunch after her regular visits to the clinic.

The staff asked where Madam was, I continue to share the old news which helps recognise and celebrate.

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.

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

guests become friends

……. become family

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:

Tonight’s adventure

First time for years. Revisited a Mysore institution: The intimate Cottage Chamber Concert. Organised by the inimitable Jan Brouwer since 1996. With Jan Sham on Viola and Mitali on piano. (Baby grand seeing as you ask)

A lovely evening. Meeting old and new friends.

Stephen and Catherine with one of the youngest aficionados.

For me, what was extra special, after a few very sad months, was to have my mood lifted by the beautiful music. I’ll continue by listening to music throughout the weekend.

Faizan

Faizan, aka Fez, first came into our lives through his work with Royal Mysore Walks.

He has many talents and way up the list is his creative eye. The videos and still shots he takes and crafts are wonderful.

A few days after Manjula and I got married he arrived on the doorstep with a lovely wedding present from the team at Gully Tours (formerly known as Royal Mysore Walks.)

It’s inlay work for which Mysore is rightly famous. He’s just got married himself to the lovely Abida and here we are together at their celebration.

I met his mum and three sisters, there, yes, he comes from a female household. I was struck by their open, friendly approach which of course is not uncommon in India. But there was something else. They were all enthusiastic, dynamic souls, very engaging, great connectors and clearly with a strong social conscience. A real credit to their mum. They also remind me of someone else who was similarly very special.

Faizan is working on a video project for me but look at this one he made earlier. Sad but Grand!

I was away earlier this year for a couple of months and Faizan kindly looked after Lucie and the house while I was away. They are now the best of buddies.

He’s on Instagram as Faizanbaksh and facethingy.

Ina

Meet our friends

Ina (aka Thomasina) is one of our more cherished guests. She travelled to Australia, as a young child, with her parents on an assisted passage from Scotland over sixty years ago. So please note, all Australians that went from the U.K. are not crooks 😉 it’s a joke, ok? She’s just been telling me about that first voyage and how they stopped off in Sri Lanka.

 

P1080246Ina first visited us in Mysore five years ago with a plan to meet with Dorjee, a Tibetan Monk living close by in Bylakuppe (reputedly the biggest Tibetan settlement in India, less than two hours away). She had sponsored him for almost twenty years since he was a thirteen year old child when he first came to India. She brought chaos with her on the very first visit. Manjula was away at her mothers, Ina managed to lock me out of the house and brought an unexpected although very welcome guest …. a gate-crashing monk. 🙃

This was their first meeting. A wonderful occasion we were so happy to be part of..

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Ina is from Adelaide in Australia with a lovely family her daughter Naomi, son Daniel and four lovely grand children. She has now visited each year, only missing once when Manjula and I were in the UK and became Manjula’s closest friend amongst the many close friends from our guests.

Ina’s also widowed, as her Singaporean husband Daniel died almost exactly ten years ago. So she has personal insights and has been incredibly supportive, helping me through this astonishingly difficult time.

I would often joke with Manjula that Ina has one of the strongest Scottish accents I’ve ever heard yet has lived in Australia since just a few years old. How did that happen then? She has been known to interpret for other guests yet Manjula never had any problems understanding her.

Ina is with us now and is constantly regaling me with her intimate stories of the time she spent with Manjula. They’d go out on trips together as they did last year to Bylakuppe, we’d celebrate Manjula’s 45th birthday as a group. Birthday breakfast was Ina setting the table, Willian (workawayer from Brazil) chopping the fruit and moi, making the mushies, eggs and toast. We were all on tenterhooks will it meet Madam’s high expectations? Manjula was the boss!

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Manjula admired Ina’s jazzy shoes and just a few weeks later, a parcel arrived in the post, shoes for Manjula.

It’s all a bit of a mixed blessing, as life is now, because I love to hear about Manjula and remember her especially through a close friends eyes but it also reminds me of what I’m missing. We recall how Manjula was so giving and how everyone that’s ever visited us, has taken a bit of Manjula away with them.

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My beautiful, who has gone and left me.

I realise that Ina is a goldmine of reminiscences and must capture whatever I can from her memories of Manjula to help grow Manjula’s story that I’ll post over the next few months. So this morning Faizan came to video Ina’s reminiscences of Manjula.

I do wonder however how Ina will manage during this visit, without Manjula and having to tolerate too much of that chap…. what’s his name again? You know the beautiful Manjula’s husband!

Dreaming

She’s dreaming, check this latest episode from Ina’s stay.

I’ve had to add a bit more… to Ina’s bit on the site. These photos come from her second visit and I’ve now realised how important a person Manjula was to Ina as I’d realised before how Ina was so important to Manjula. Its been hard for Ina being here without her great friend and having to tolerate the Englishman but its been wonderful seeing my beautiful wife from even more angles.