Today’s adventure

Lovely group of young people on summer camp organised by outback adventures more info here

The stick is magic, of course and together with the sling, were used to entertain and help create team chaos. 🙃 Thanks to Faizan for inviting me to another diversionary tactic.

Friends

Friends in Sri Lanka

The geezer kept following me around, he’s known in both India and Sri Lanka. The local storyteller in Galle Fort told me he was Makara. Check him out here

I’ve made some other cool friends on this latest trip to Sri Lanka. Here’s the youngest sharing my breakfast and.,,,

Nicking my shoes and socks. In conversations with her mum I realised that Sri Lankan’s are more than happy with the standard of the govt schools where I believe most children are sent and taught in local language. So not like India, except perhaps in Kerala.

My good driver friend, Nandan

Visa escapades in Jan and March

Here’s an update on my visa situation. Be prepared it’s a long one!

I’ve been based here for nine years. I’ve set up a tourism business for Manjula to ensure she has a secure income.

The first mention of a little local difficulty was Here where I give credit where it’s due

The story starts when entering Bangalore Airport in August (after five weeks in U.K.) I was questioned by FRRO/immigration. They let me in but insisted I register with the FRRO on arrival in Mysore. I did. I’m a bit confused as to why.

Anyway, I registered.

So in October, I get a phone call from Anant, one of the original Directors of the company. He’d been contacted by the FRRO (police/immigration) in Bangalore with a whole series of questions. They were investigating me.

Subsequently they wrote to the very local police station asking them to contact me and get documents and a statement. They were focusing on the fact that I’d ‘wilfully’ not registered at the mysore FRRO each time I’d come back into the country.

I wrote a statement saying that if I had to register and hadn’t it was purely a mistake. I also explained Manjula and I had got married earlier this year, the company was set up for her, I wasn’t employed by the company and received no remuneration. They subsequently asked for my tax returns which I couldn’t supply as there were none as I wasn’t employed and had no income. Get it? 🙃

So as of last week.

I was due to fly to Sri Lanka for my first ever visa run. The time between my arrival in August and the next time in the U.K. was over 180 days so I had to leave the country by the end of Jan.

So what could go wrong?

The day before I was due to leave the Mysore FRRO telephoned and asked me to come in. It was the same helpful chap featured here

Bangalore had informed him, they had decided that I was on the wrong visa.

Sugar!

It was presumably because of the low level of investment/turnover in the business. It’s a small business predominantly for Manjula so doesn’t earn much money and doesn’t require much investment, just some furniture and cycles.

Sugar, this is a real problem. If I leave the country as planned they will not let me back in……

This is a critical time for us.

It’s our busiest time with just a few days with hardly any guests so my plan has been to nip out and rush straight back. Also Manjula had not been well, because of a recurring problem (more later) so I was essentially holding it all together (that’s juggling all the stuff, preparing rooms, making breakfast, leading cycle tours. ( I know, I know violins are playing, but I’m a man, multi tasking is NOT easy) thankfully there was the help of our two cleaners and a Special mention for Tom, Amy, Anne and Dave and of course the forbearance of my panicking – will he get back in- wife.

I’ve just got to go. It’s now or never but it can’t drag on.

What to do?

I feel like I’m appearing in Fawlty Towers and Keystone cops! here I come 🙃

The great guy at the police commissioners gave me an option. Apply for an x (aka entry) visa as a spouse. Great idea. I wonder how long would this take? I just can’t be away from home and Manjula for more than a few days. It doesn’t seem feasible.

I’d planned to fly out of Mysore to Chennai, then onto Colombo on the friday (next day) and back on Sunday. Tickets were bought, small bag packed. Eek.

Tom had a solution: Get a tourist e visa to get back in. I applied on the Thursday, it would take 72 hours to be processed, I flew out on the Friday due back on the Sunday but wouldn’t expect to get the visa until Monday so would forego the flights and dash back as soon as I got the visa. Then I would fly in to Chennai where I’d hope they’d let me in.

Phew. Sounds like a good idea. An Indian solution.

I apply and I’m off….

So it’s Saturday and this trip has proven to be one mishap after another. More details here.

After a day walking aimlessly in Colombo I had supper ( no micro breweries) and headed back to the hotel with my sea view from the balcony.

You know, sometimes things just work out. It’s a hallmark of India. On getting back I get an email confirming my e tourist visa. Wonderful! Not only has it arrived it’s in time for me to go back as planned on the Sunday using the tickets I’d bought!

So what was Sri Lanka like? Loved it. As they say it’s India lite. More later.

Back in our piddling little airport. Yes we walk from the plane.

Next.

I go and get an x visa in March in Sri Lanka when we’re not busy and hopefully Manj is feeling better.

Oh no I won’t.

It’s now March and I’m just heading back to Sri Lanka for a few days. I have a second e tourist visa that will see me through to May when I return to the U.K. and I’ll get an X visa.

Confused?

I just wonder what form the U.K. itself will take in May.

Sheer agony

It’s been 48 hours. Can you remember ear ache as a child?. I’d forgotten how bad it was. I’m certain there’s worst but it escapes me at the mo. There was the full-on blood throbbing pain alternating with the swish swish of the chain. Horrible. I was tempted to OD on my paracetamol. I’d turn from resting on the right (bad ear) Then there was the dagger like pain on my left shoulder. I couldn’t sleep and even tried three different rooms. No not embarrassing myself before guests. We had none last night 🙃

Well this morning the ear ache has subsided. What a blood relief. But the aching shoulder has become much worse. So it became…. Jag time. He’s a master. He’s considered a physio but he’s on a totally different planet. One of Mysore’s gems.

According to my appointment card it’s nine years since my last visit. On that occasion Jag declared that my Carpal tunnel syndrome was nonsense and traced the problem to a nerve which he spotted on my shoulder. After three visits and his trademark manipulation it was sorted.

This time, I also suspected nerves. But no after one jab he could tell it was a pulled muscle. So he picked me up lick a rag doll, threw me around the room, wacked me a few times, smacked me on the bed and sat on me …… no of course he didn’t. His gentle but on this occasion painful manipulation and he’d done the trick. Wonderful. That will be 200 rupees. What a bargain!

I return to manhood🙃 ok whimp hood.

Huge Burden

A recent conversation with two young things who have become our adopted ‘children’ reminded me of a situation in the 80s

I worked for local government in the UK in social services. I was in my late 20’s with responsibility for managing the grants given to voluntary organisations (aka charities) who provided services that complemented ours so they were given financial assistance and developmental support. I also began developing programs to consult local people to engage them in reviewing services.

It was one of my favourite jobs and I was fortunate to get such a senior job at a relatively young age.

I was in many respects a ‘young Turk.’ Full of new ideas, wanting to challenge and innovate, create revolution. We did some really cool things.

There was an assistant director who we nick-named Huge Burden (it was almost an alliteration (?) of his name). We’d often cross Swords (blunt ones, it was govt!) and there have been times we’d have stand up rows. Well actually, it would be me, berating Hugh. Sometimes I may have been unfairly over-the-top at other times my concerns would have been quite legitimate but I now recognise, I could always have improved my approach.

So how does this relate to the recent conversation?

My lovely friends and I were discussing media relations. They were not particularly challenging me nor was there approach inappropriate, that’s not my point. They were, of course, dealing with a knowall Yorkshireman of a certain age. I felt I knew much of what they referred to, and maybe showed it too much being a bit harsh, reflecting insecurity? I’d designed and delivered with the wonderful Carol Barbone, a national roadshow for the U.K. government twenty years ago on media relations (clearly times have moved on but I’d say principles are much the same but they are the bright young things and so maybe it’s a young/old Turk situation regardless of the what’s and wherefors) so the real point is ….. I don’t want to be a Huge Burden but maybe I am.

That’s the fear, I’ve become the miserable grumpy old git! The old Turk!

Getting out

I need to get out more.

Sunday was the second Mysore literary festival. Great to get out, meet old and make new friends.

Discussions about wildlife and how we can promote conservation, Roy’s films, presentations on Mysore Palaces and our wood inlay traditions, all great stuff.

Maybe the best of all for me was hearing from a young woman from a very poor background who at age four had been given a new opportunity in life. A philanthropic organisation sponsored her residential education through to her 20s. Not straightforward. An amazing life opportunity but controversially perhaps takes her completely away from her family. I’ve ordered her autobiography. More later.

A great new slogan 🙃

A different segment and layer of society in Mysore. Mostly women, middle class and of an uncertain age.

Great people watching and meeting. I only knew a handful of the maybe 150-200 people..

I do realise from this, that with the challenges at home and the build up to busy-time I do need to get out for a bit of newness now and again.

Babel fish

I have now developed a long and significant list of excuses for why I’m unable to speak ANY foreign languages:

The British Raj, due to them the English language is so prevalent I can easily get by without Kannada here in Mysore.

British Arrogance, see above.

My parents and therefore my genetical inheritance.

Wax in my ears and assorted other hearing limitations.

A wife and extended team that speaks English and seemingly endless other languages. I get by.

Teachers that couldn’t cram French or German in me.

Probably the top of the tree…. abject laziness combined with being idle, severe inability to stick with anything for more than five minutes and being 🐻 of small brain.

This list is to help whenever I’m questioned why after nine years do I not speak Kannada. (Clearly I cant speak English properly anyway)

STOP PRESS

Manjula reckons it’s because Ive got a short stubby tongue.

Whereas Manjula, with all the languages at her disposal, yes you’ve guessed it, has a long slender one.

I rest my case