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.

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.

Mysore Marvels

Tom and Amy of lovely couple fame have been testing out a few new ideas for our guests. More and more people are now coming for longer. Some even stay with us for the whole of their holiday, using our home as a base and reaching out to other places for day trips or even further a field.

Here’s a great example of a day trip from Mysore. There’s more to follow and on our main site here

Douglas and I

Donkey loses legs!

Road Trip …. with a great geezer.

Attention!

Douglas and I spent the day together travelling from York to the Deep South!

It helps me realise how important it is to keep connected and spend time with those we might not ordinarily come into contact with….

… age difference 36 years!!

It was a great, fun journey and took maybe six hours (this disUnitedKingdom is a VERY BIG country, or so the Brexiteeeers think) taking in an extended lunch (talking) and unplanned detour (my battery ran out and talking).

Talk time was on a ratio of 9-1 Douglas to me). You may find that hard to believe but absolutely true.

Douglas is the father of Liz and grandpa of my sons Ben and Ol.

I’m clearly a donkey and my hind legs have now fallen off.

What a character! Aged 97 he retired from the army decades ago!

His final rank being lieutenant colonel (pronounced leftenant, in some inane British attempt to prove we’re not French. It’s a French word!) his experience is vast especially in logistics and management, nuclear armament transport (his daughter and I and Ben, years later would be demonstrating against those very things), the first Army helicopter outfit, suez crisis, parachutist, internal army machinations (like all organisations), and he’s an intelligent, thoughtful, aware guy and not the rabid Tory you might expect.

So thanks Douglas. Top man, great time and conversations.

It helps remind me that we just need to give people time and recognise that wealth is in sharing our knowledge, experience and opinions.

At ease

Dire Straits

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Manjula, Kamalama, and Manjula’s mum Parvatamma

Manjula is just back with more info about Kamalama’s situation. The first story was most accurate. The one about family illness was a cover story.

Kamalama has effectively run away to Coorg, where she’s from, the area of the western Ghats a few hours away.

It seems that there was an argument and some sort of fracas with her son’s ‘wife’. The upshot is that the ‘wife’ threatened to come round with her main husband and kill Kamalama later that day. So she’s done a runner. Can’t blame her but what a terrible situation for an elderly lady.

Farrell Factoid

the wife has a range of ‘husbands’ that she flits between.

I’m not saying this sort of violence is usual or the complex inter-relationships is common but I’ve heard of similar situations.

Kamalama’s son re-appeared a few years ago and she was happy they had re-established contact. She lives a simple life, has a small house and works as cleaner, washing clothes etc at various houses. We think she’s is in her 60’s. It’s difficult to know what if anything we can do.

will she, wont she?

 

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a littler girl rehearsing for a FUTURE date!

 

 

The girl is a little tall and her forehead is a little big (maybe Manjula means she’s a little plain). She’s the daughter of a friend of Manjula and as she’s reached her mid twenties she’s looking for a husband. A broker, a family friend (gets commission from both sides for an intro and a second bigger payment should they subsequently get married) has found another possible husband.

 

She’s already seen eleven or twelve potential husbands.

Her mummy (getting a little desperate) says “go outside” meaning find someone you like get married and move out to his home. She worries that at 26 and having already seen so many prospective grooms she might get too old to be married!

An added pressure is, we’re just entering a month when it’s inauspicious to marry and even to hold the introductory meetings.

 

Yesterday’s meeting was convenienty held at party that was a continuing celebration of her cousin’s wedding. It was used as an opportunity for boy to meet girl (another potential match) and check each other out.

At the meeting, at the cousins house, were representatives of both families that’s ‘girl’ her family including mummy, auntie, cousins, and the ‘boy’ together with his mummy, daddy, auntie and Manjula snuck in.

They’ll all sit round having tea and biscuits, boy and girl just checking each other out visually but not speaking, parents from each side asking questions related to family and background primarily about the job, their parents jobs, how much they are paid etc…

The parents ask the ‘prospectives’ in turn if they are OK with the other and with their head bowed do the ‘head-rock-and-roll’ each, to confirm that they are happy  to progress to the next stage

They are both bank managers! big tick

Today, next day, the families will visit the priest (poojari) and check that they are a proper match taking into consideration their Gods (mustn’t be the same, this is maybe a safeguard to ensure they are not too closely related, just my half baked theory) birthdate and who knows what else. At some stage horoscopes are checked for compatability.

If they get the go ahead, from the priest today, they’ll meet up at the home (when it becomes auspicious again in Jan) and make plans for the wedding.

There are however a few more ordeals and potential pitfalls, for example the potential bride doesn’t cook, will this present a problem?

Now get your head around this one if you can…… at some stage the ‘girl’ will have to walk a few steps to enable the ‘boys’ family to check the arch on her foot. A woman’s foot is not supposed to show an arch i.e. be flat foot, for a man it either doesn’t matter or an arch is good. Just don’t ask me! I have no idea.

Just always remember, India is consistently inconsistent, so what’s apparently true in one context is not in another situation, family or caste, or whatever 🙂

Please note: the photos are from other weddings and engagement parties!