The price of an ice cream

As a young child in the 1960’s my grandparents used to take the grandkids driving through France to holiday in Spain.

It was unusual for a working class family from Sheffield (grandad was a steelworker) to go on holiday abroad.

What a great experience!

One of the things I noticed changing during these occasional visits over the years was the price of ice cream.

In Spain and England it was at a very low price and affordable on my pocket money. In France it was a little different. You know, more classy with prices to match. 🙂

The price of ice cream was of course significant in my world!

Over the years the prices gradually increased and merged. They became global and consistent. The price (and quality) changed dramatically.

In retrospect I was experiencing from a child’s world view both globalisation and the way products are now priced ie at a level that the ‘market can take.’ Price was increasingly determined not by the cost of raw materials plus the cost of production plus a profit. There was a dramatic shift towards the price-we-can-get-away with charging. There were key stages of this change, including; the increase in international travel especially holidays, higher disposal incomes amongst more people in society, middle class growth, the moving on from the effects of the war, decimalisation, and VAT.

In a few short years the cost of ice cream went way beyond my pocket money, I couldn’t keep pace.

Now, I’m here living in Indya age 61.

I often say that India is a good teacher it illustrates and illuminates many contemporary issues.

Well we’re seeing exactly the same process going on here. Ice cream was and still is cheap but now there’s a whole range of premium quality options so prices differ wildly. There is a massive surge growth of the middle classes so new demands and greater disposable income, India has always been the world leader of flexible pricing (the least local you look the higher the price you will pay). Now we’ve got the addition of the introduction of GST (a General Service or Value added Tax) and the idiotic demonetisation which resulted in over 80% of currency becoming worthless overnight. Yet more reasons for prices shooting upwards! The price of ice cream, not being the only thing that goes up and up.

Think India is cheap? Think again.

We often think that India is a cheap place. That’s both true and not. It can be incredibly cheap and shockingly expensive.

A case in point.

Medicines.

The big box of twenty tablets costs, …….. wait for it……. 1760 Rupees! (That’s one GB pound per tablet) I’ve managed to get a 15% discount and I’m not paying firangi (foreigner) prices. The minimum daily wage here is 250 Rs per day how is someone who is poor, supposed to manage? I can tell you as an exceedingly rich (not) foreigner it’s hard to handle! Imagine what it’s like for poor people, or Manjula for that matter if she didn’t have access to our resources!

So what’s the point?

So, I’m seeing the same process of prices increases at work, here in India over fifty years later.

Prices are becoming more consistent around the world, reflect what’s possible to charge rather than actual costs, are often increased when there’s a convenient policy change such as change in taxation. It also serves to accentuate and polarising difference, it reflects the severe differences in levels of income and wealth, life and death experience in society.

Question

Did you spot the deliberate mistake? Check the photos above.

Ice cream gets more of a mention

Mechanical toys

The tour continues

I’m travelling back up north so what to do? Check out the Queen’s mini elephant?

And one or two other things…..

A wonderful exhibition of mechanical ‘toys’ or automata. Some minuscule such as the Queens elephant and some giants such as this amazing train!

In great location, country house with capability brown gardens in Warwickshire. Here at Compton Verney where there’s loads of exhibitions and Capability Brown’s landscape.

My advanced technical skills doesn’t enable me to get the map orientated properly.

muppet! .

More details here in the Guardian article.

It seems there are wonderful examples of these automata dotted around the country. One of my favourites is the little amusement arcade on the pier at Southwold in Suffolk.

Whispering Loudly

I’m a firm believer in listening to the whispers.

It’s not complex.

There’s often a pattern to the things that happen, that we hear or notice, or somehow seem apparent.

They are often messages we can choose to hear or ignore.

Today I’m fondly remembering a friend, my first proper girl friend. I set up home with Tricia at 18 before I even left school. We had a bedsit. It was the downstairs living room of a terraced two-up, two down. The kitchen was shared with the couple upstairs, toilet outside in the yard and ‘slipper’ * baths at the swimming pool down the road.

Well I learned today that Tricia had died earlier this year.

I’d bumped into Tricia again in TK Maxx in Sheffield a few years ago. I’d met her daughters, exchanged stories and introduced her to Manjula over the past two years. I was so pleased we’d reconnected.

I’m sad and sorry to hear she’s gone but grateful for our wonderful times together and that we’d found each other again.

I’m sending positive warmness to her husband and daughters.

The loud whispers ? : people’s deaths, great conversations with the 97 year old and Manjula’s near death experience this year .

The message? : cherish what you have, make the most of it, keep connected to the precious people in your life, be good.

From the Peace Gardens, one of our places in Sheffield

Farrell factoid

* a Victorian swimming pool often had slipper baths alongside. Small bathrooms where you could go for your full wash. Instead of the tin bath in the living room on the fire hearth

I blame my parents

I was there……

In the middle, to the foreground with the wings….

No, not actually in the photo. This is Butlins holiday camp pool in the early 1970’s when I most definitely was or had visited with my family. Take in the photo. Look at how white we were and slim! How things have changed.

So why do I blame my parents? A convenient excuse? A contradictory mix of experiences that helped me prepare for the consistently inconsistent life that is India. On the one hand we’d be pioneers driving through England and France to holiday in Spain. Visiting quaint villages that are now over fifty years later, Temples to package tourism. That was in the early 1960’s when I was a little nipper.

My holiday education did also include ten years later the decided working class holiday at this very holiday camp. Rows of cabins, knobbly knee competitions for the Dads, beauty completions for the mums, activities for the kids, soooo non pc. In terms of my working class upbringing, let’s not forget the ultimate: Charabanc (coach) trips to Blackpool illuminations and Skegness from our home in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England., organised by the archetypal ‘Working Men’s Club’

So why am I telling you all this?

It helps make up who I am.

Check the Guardian article that relates to the photo.

Coincidentally Martin Parr, who’s exhibition this all refers to, lived in Hebden Bridge early in his career probably shortly after this photo was taken. In 1986 when Liz, Ben and I moved to Hebden Bridge we bought the very same house where he’d lived.

a new direction?

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We’ve had a blog for a few years now and while there’s been a fair amount of interest we feel its not necessarily been very focussed (now there’s a surprise, given who’s written it!) and not necessarily too relevant…. thank you to those who do follow us and your helpful feedback.  We’re trying something slightly better as of now, for that read:  The management has instituted a review.

There will be three interwoven (ha ha) threads or broad themes.

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Top of the tree will be Manjula’s story.

We’ll start that first with ‘Maid in India’ it’s definitely the one to follow.

Next up will be my take on India and life in this amazing country. So maybe, it might be worth

dipping into (and out of!)42731480-A5D7-4D0D-993F-28592EEDBD5E1

51FEED26-61C2-4E8D-9762-B510F65465D41The third will be Lucie’s view which essentially is the place to find the odds and sods, maybe even the political soap box (she is a dedicated “participant observer’)  and a slightly alternative viewpoint.

We don’t offer a better understanding of anything. We are after all unfathomable people by the very nature of homo sapiens. We are, of course, living in the most wonderful, startling, infuriating, beautiful country full of the most smiley people but whose twists and turns, consistent inconsistencies, joys and horrors creates an overriding paradoxical roller coaster ride.  I hope you’ll find some interesting insights and an entertaining journey. I reckon that you’ll get to know Manjula in a different way and its the connections between the three themes that can provide more insights.

We ask you for your help…..Please do follow us and pass on to friends with an interest in India or those you may wish to punish in some bizarre way. 😉 and equally importantly do give critical feedback: tell us what works and doesn’t, do feel free to provide fresh ideas for content and suggest how we can get it out to more people. Above all please do get involved and create a conversation.

But ultimately don’t get your hopes up!

It’s not really written by Manjula (although I will be delving into transcribed recordings from her made over the last couple of years in Kannada and our own conversations) or by Lucie (she is a dog!)

It’s still written by me.

Yes the man from North England (where’s that? …Yorkshire) who hasn’t quite got the grasp of the English language but who has a wealth of insights stolen from our wonderful guests, the amazing people we meet her in India and frankly anyone else with a half decent idea.

So there you have it, please get involved, watch this space, give feedback so we can learn and improve and pass on to those you think might be interested.

We’ll continue to post on Facebook and our info-insights-tips to help visitors to Mysore have a great time will be on the main site here but the real richness,  if you can call it that, will be on the blog itself.

Special 


A very special friend, the lovely Leela, invited me out for a drink, to celebrate my ‘significant’ birthday. (Yes, I’ve been celebrating it for quite some time now!) this was during my April trip back to Blighty.


Well Leela. Is something of an innovator and is really great at helping others as a facilitator and coach. She’s especially good at using her artistic skills to help people create a shared understanding and most importantly act on it.

Come on Farrell. Get to the point!

well she’s working her magic on me.

Here is my birthday gift, drawn in the next four pictures…… and  no that’s correct I’m not 42 😉



Its an invitation.

to work out what it is I love.

what would be your 42 things?

more to follow…

Time for a change

As I almost reach sixty and a half it’s time to reflect, review and introduce a view changes.


So I’ve got out and dusted off the plimsolls (does that word still exist?). The classic Green Flash.
Yes I’m heading to the gym…. But one step at a time … for Yoga., at this stage.

Already I’m feeling results, my stiff back is beginning to ease up a tad. I am however beginning to think I’m the class clown. Yes they laugh at (not with me) my grunting (kindly teacher calls it music), or my silly walks, try walking on the inside edge of your feet (or IS IT just me?) and to top it all. .., This morning after the final lie down relaxation session, the mat (these are plasticky gym mats) had a perfect image of my body in sweat. Uncanny no one else has any sweat!

Next step cardio. Bring out the buckets. (For the gallons of sweat)

Oh and…

yes they do still sell them