an invitation arrives……

No it’s not from the queen to invite Manjula to the UK!

It is however related to royalty…….


This very week Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, the latest in the long line of Mysore Maharaja’s (a previous one was amongst the richest in the world) will be married this week.

The previous Maharaja died a couple of years ago and there was no heir to the throne. This being India there are, of course, flexible ways to deal with such problems. So after a dignified period his widow the Maharani chose to adopt a relative to be the Maharaja. He’s already been crowned and this year gets wed!

The invite to the wedding because that’s what it is, was received by our new friend Dr Pai.

It’s told that a Queen from a neighbouring state, after losing a battle with the Wodeyars, cast a curse on the royal family that in future there would have no children so no natural heir to the throne. The law was therefore changed many years back to allow them to adopt the next Maharaja.

Here’s Dr Pai with his personal invite to THE event.

There is always a back story and in this case, a member of the Wodeyar family is challenging the adoption in the courts, nothing straightforward eh?


We’re not reaching for the moon.

We’re not reaching for the moon …… that we already have

“the moon is all about love.” He said. The moon is about how we love others. About how we just want the best for those we love. We want them to be happy. We want everything to work out for them. The moon wants that for us you know. That’s what the moon is”

from Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith. A book kindly left by one of our guests.


who wants a holiday in the UK?

Well Manjula does obviously! I’ll be in the UK on one of my three trips per annum in July and plans are in place to take Manj.

An application for a tourist visa has therefore been submitted to the British Government.

We used the opportunity, in yet another trip to Bangalore, to see the sites and grab some food. No micro-brewery as I’m off alcohol, partly to reduce the flab!

I’ve pretty much done all the work on the visa application. I’m not quite sure that Manjula completely understands about the process and rules. I’m not sure that I do myself. Does anyone?

I’ve explained, in the application, I hope, that Manjula as my fiancée, really is my dependent so I’ll be financing the whole trip. We have an established business here in Mysore and Manj has her mum to care for, so we will be returning. I think there are two main areas of concern they will have: that there is enough money available and that she has an established life here and will definitely be returning.

The excitement is palpable and I’m trying to tone it down a bit, explaining that we might fail and why the UK Govt might not give it.

Anyway it was submitted two weeks ago. We now await the result and we expect it VERY soon.

what keeps us going?

What keeps us going?

the things that can motivate people in corporates, works for Manjula too!

Guests are usually amazed by Manjula, (I am constantly!)  particularly when they realise something of her poor background and education, not to mention the difficulties she’s faced. As we all know, she’s extremely capable in running the BnB and shows great wit and intelligence in her day to day interactions. This is the woman who wouldn’t sit in the same room as me (traditional deference) when she first started working for me. Yes FOR me, not me working for her, as it is now! Yes for those who’ve met her it might be difficult to believe that I was once the boss 😉


In another world I’m also a corporate trainer.

One of the workshops I’ve helped design and deliver may help provide insights. It’s about Engaging Employees and we have a three stage model to help businesses Motivate, Mobilise and Measure. As part of this workshop we get participants to watch and discuss a RSA Animate video by Daniel Pink about then surprising thing that motivates people. Take a look for yourself at

What motivates people?

I can see this at work in Manjula.

Pink highlights three key motivating factors beyond cash or remuneration, these are: autonomy, mastery and purpose. In Manjula’s case she
-has the latitude to make decisions
– is good at many things in particular making people feel at home and her cooking, (and she knows it!)
-has a clearly defined purpose and knows how to achieve it.

Running a BnB is one of those jobs where people’s satisfaction is easily observed and absolutely critical, the purpose it pretty obvious and very importantly….. one’s ability and effort has a direct and recognisable impact.

That’s why we love it so much. It’s one of the few things I’ve done in my various careers that brings such immense personal satisfaction, thanks to you guys!


And well let’s not forget, it has also brought Manj and I together 😉

Fond farewells


We absolutely love having our wonderful and diverse range of guests. There’s no continent which hasn’t been to see us, except perhaps the Eskimos and Penguins, and their neighbours.

Stephen is often heard declaring how it’s one of his best jobs he’s ever had (except it’s not really a job), because it’s providing great opportunities to engage and communicate with people and we realise how much people appreciate our efforts. It’s Fab!

We’re so lucky.

So as we reach the end of yet another season, we celebrate being one of the top 1% around the world for the fourth year running, because of the wonderful reviews on TRip Advisor. Our MyCycle family extends, the Mysore BnB community grows, and as we say goodbye, we feel a warm glow but it’s also sometimes feels sad to say goodbye.

Thankfully, so many of you return.

Stephen and Manjula



Knock knock

who’s there?

It’s the ‘P’ Man, who’s the P man, is it Pat, the postman calling?

well yes but I’m also the Passport Man Today,



WARNING WARNING! MiXed Metaphors approaching


It feels like we have the proverbial iceberg, the passport itself is wonderful but beneath the depths it has so much meaning and provides incredible opportunities.

But its also a hill and its taken so much effort to climb this hill: you know it, if you’ve read our missives, getting all the ducks in line and then the application itself but in this moment of absolute glory, it’s all forgotten because…

Above all ….

this is one proud woman, well done Manjula!

and I’m so pleased, so onto the next task!

How difficult can it be, to employ a maid?

I’d only been here a few weeks (it was six years ago) and I asked my friend Cary and his wife if they knew of someone looking for a job.

I was was called round to their house to meet Manjula. She seemed quiet, even timid and perhaps she was a little worried about meeting me and the prospect of working for a foreigner. She’d brought a friend with her who seemed to know her stuff. After the simplest of introductions. (We didn’t speak each other’s language.) We went round to my house.

I was looking for a maid. Yes a maid. My two sons (who were in their twenties and back in the UK) were not impressed. “You’re seriously going to have a servant!”

we’re a very liberal, left wing family so even the idea of having a cleaner back in England was a bit of a stretch.  A maid? Quite another matter. I explained as best I could, that it’s different here. It’s about giving employment and I’d be a good employer. They weren’t convinced.

I just wanted someone for a couple of hours a day. To do some cleaning, clothes washing and cooking.

so we arrived at my home.

They  ladies were not impressed. The place was sparsely furnished, not unlike a trad Indian home. So that’s not a problem. But horror upon horrors. There was little equipment in the kitchen and THERE WAS NO ELECTRIC GRINDER. I had just this……











I promised to get an electric one!

By the next day it was bought and installed in the kitchen. Kudos and Brownie points or what?

Hang on a minute! What have I done? I’ve set the pattern

so, on reflection, it was pretty easy to employ a maid (it’s maybe not so easy now) BUT how do I get her to understand what I want her to do?

I’m sick of seeing the Passport service home page

and the message… “application being reviewed by the Regional Passport office” which is a completely useless update.

So we’re all going to have a break and not do the passport blog thing over the weekend.

I can hear the sighs of relief and hip hip hoorays reverberating around the Facebook and blog world…. 😉

To bring it, nearly up to date (blog time is like winter time as its a bit behind) so far, we’ve:

  • revised and amended Manjula’s ID ( Aadhar card) so it is now correct and consistent,
  • visited the Bank manager for documents  to prove her address,
  • obtained the TC (transfer certificate from her school)
  • applied and received a PAN (tax card) card,
  • sworn an affidavit with the advocate,
  • submitted the online application and documents,
  • attended the Bangalore office to actually submit the application itself and for Manjula to be interviewed,
  • met the police,
  • neighbours signed forms and verification report gone from Police to Regional Passport Office.


It’s cost thousands of Rupees, endless meetings, hours on the internet and in traffic and a ton more grey hairs

and I’ve learned a LOT

but there is the risk of it taking over and lethargy air got there first, so let’s have a nice relaxing weekend and a cycle trip with Simon in the morning

passport service, a deserved award winner?

I must congratulate the passport service on gaining triple ISO certification and its various digital awards.

In my view, and I say this as a sometime consultant who has reviewed services and systems in the Government, not-for-profit and corporate worlds, a system and service is best judged on how well it performs when everything doesn’t go smoothly or according to some abstract plan. It should perform even better when it doesn’t go to plan. It’s essential that a citizen’s service such as this can be properly accessed by all sectors of the community including the poorest, least able and uneducated. Only then should it be considered a success and have met its objectives.

It’s critical that individuals operating the system should be able to spot problems and resolve them, with flexibility and an absolute focus on serving the recipient.

OK, rant over but it’s hard to convey how powerless this makes one feel because as you’ve probably guessed, I don’t think the service has performed well.

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 12.50.20 pm


we’ve got the service on our side

Ok ok we were disappointed that we weren’t getting the new slick service promised by the minister. BUT we do have two other services on our side:

The police service are with us and on the job. They might be a bit traditional BUT we’ll have no worries


Thankfully,  we’ve also got the SMS service also ‘on our side’ otherwise it might be confusing and not very fast.

So its happening

Manj has met the Policeman, neighbours sign to say Manjula is who she says she is and lives here. Result!


Our SMS arrives on Stephen’s trusty phone (it even gets a chortle from our friends in Mysore!)

they come fast fast and furious, usually in the middle of the night…

Your GSC no. for Passport verification is xxxxxxxx. Contact Nazarbad PS for verification. Courtesy: Police Computer Wing 20/02/16

Your Passport Verification is complete. Contact your Passport Office. Courtesy: Police Computer Wing. 05/03/16

Police report has been submitted by your Thana and its under review at Commissioner Office, District Mysuru city. 09/03/16

Police report not yet finalised by Commissioner Office, District Mysuru City (Mysuru). Contact Police for details 11/03/16

xxx Police has submitted clear report for your current address. 11/03/16

called at Police Commissioner, report has gone to the RPO, I called, they received it. OK the final bit did take ten days but it’s sorted. The Police service has had to deal with 800 verification reports just for passports. It must take a heavy toll.

the SMS service has now gone quiet