When we get back home..

At our interview the assistant passport officer stated that they would issue the passport and get police verification (they visit your home to check you’re who you say you are and that you live there) done afterwards and When we get back home….. We realise. He wasn’t telling the truth.

imageThe passport will NOT be issued until after police verification and there is a statement about verifying original documents. This isn’t going to be as straightforward as we once thought and it’s going to take longer. It was clearly a waste, doing the affidavit and following the ministerial announcement.

 

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What’s in a name 6

All we want is a passport, so Manjula can visit the UK. Is that too much to ask?

Well it feels so much like a board game we’ve created our own. Looks complicated? Well it is!

We’ve had to find four items of ID to prove:

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name

gender

address

date of birth

and ensure they are all accurate and consistent (no mean feat).

Move down each vertical line to realise each of the things we’ve had to complete. Sometimes we’ve had to create something from scratch, with others we’ve amended most of the key details, with others, well we’ve been running alongside Alice for some of the way and no were not mad, yet!

This is however, only part of the journey and until we’d got all these forms of ID we were unable to submit the application for Manjula’s passport. Well we’ve passed another significant milestone and we are now ready to apply.

imageImagine you are a poor illiterate person. Admittedly, if you’re poor, you’ll be less likely to require a passport, but that’s to miss the point. I reckon most people would find this intimidating. Bureaucracy seems to be designed to hinder people and not to help. When you understand the complexity of something that should be relatively simple you can see how disabling this is and how ‘brokers’ are so necessary in life. All this causes stress ( I can vouch for that) and money!!

what’s in a name? part 2

So what to do next?

remembering that our eventual aim is to get Manjula a passport, but let’s build up to the big tasks and start with something more straightforward

a simple first challenge was to get a PAN card for Manjula. You get a PAN card when you register to pay taxes. Country needs people to pay taxes so you’d expect it to be relatively easy. Well it, sort of, is and I’ve got one (as has the company), so it can’t be that difficult, can it?

pics of ID cards have been removed

This would be important as would be to learn from the process of obtaining it, we’d need to get Manjula’s various ID’s in line (rather like ducks) and the card itself would be a valuable addition to helping create a formal identity suited to the modern age 😉 yeh, right! what are we waiting for?

So the man to manage the process would be Ganesh, my very able accountant. He copes with my idiosyncratic accounting practices, so is nothing, if not flexible and adaptable.

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But of course, the balloon (ie me, do check our business card) is ‘the fixer’ or is it gopher?

 

First stage is to get her three forms of ID that show her photo, name, Date of Birth and address… now let me just find them out…….

How can cycling grow in India?

Cycling is still seen by many in India as poor people’s activity. We are however seeing a slow but dramatic increase in cycling, particularly amongst young people. If this follows the trend seen elsewhere cycling will hopefully grow with more and more people from all sectors of society joining in. This will bring tremendous benefits for our personal health, the environment and the community in general. Yet as we see from this article the conditions for city cycling are getting worse and this disproportionately affects the poorer people in society. So what can we as keen cyclists do about it?

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/terra-india/2013/oct/24/indian-cyclists-squeezed-out-of-cities

Golden Opportunity

The new companies act in India and the Responsible Business week in the UK are two of the many opportunities for businesses to stop, reflect and, I would hope, work towards being a more responsible company. It is of course a constant and continuing journey.

In this case, in my view, a business needs to look BP –  that is Beyond Philanthropy.

Philanthropy is undoubtedly a force for good and some of the real catalysts and facilitators such as Dasra, Innovaid or Centre for Responsible Business in India or Business in the Community in the UK are helping individuals and businesses look beyond the simple ‘crumbs off the table’ approach to philanthropy, to something much more strategic that can be scaled up and therefore make a significant difference on the social landscape. Well done to them, they’re doing a great job

Its important that philanthropy leads to investment in our communities that has a lasting effect but that isn’t enough. If our businesses in India or the UK or anywhere else for that matter stop there, at what is just a baby step, they are less likely to survive as a business. There are many mature companies that are leading in this field and in the future will thrive partly because they are already looking way beyond philanthropy and so are already doing much much more. Their stories are invaluable to help guide and support us all.

To go Beyond Philanthropy for a business, is to look at all aspects of their business and its behaviors, of course, recognising and responding first and foremost to what’s relevant to their own business and essentially understanding and interacting in a sensitive way to all their stakeholders. In my view its about aligning with the overall business strategy, gaining buy-in at all levels, developing a shared understanding, adopting a straightforward model and continually reviewing, adapting and changing.

I’m now developing (as well as spending sometime with corporates) my very small business here in India and its just as important for me to think about how I serve my customers, treat my employees, and grow my business in ways that are ultimately sustainable. Otherwise other people who are socially and economically excluded will be left behind in the headlong pursuit of economic growth  and if we’re not extremely sensitive I wonder what will be left of the world for us to support our living and for us to enjoy.

I hadn’t quite intended that http://www.meandmycycle.com would so quickly get into this subject but its been asked of me and I suppose its unsurprising now that I’ve just completed working in the field for fifteen years.

 

I’d value your view and if there is the interest could continue the conversation.

Stephen

Why?

So why?
India….
Cycling….and a BnB

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Think of it. Moving to a new country at age 54, launching a completely new venture in a field in which I had no previous experience and all this in India which at the best of times is mildly confusing and frequently incredibly frustrating.

If I’d thought about it for too long, it may have seemed daunting.

The fact is. Work was drying up in the UK. There was a financial crisis affecting everyone and a key market for our leadership and team training, the very banks who created the crisis (and clearly needed more effective teams and leaders with a smidgeon of sense and ethics) and other businesses suddenly didn’t require our services. It was time to find new cheese and that was to be in India in 2009.

Cycle tours and a BnB were in fact on the cards but not straightaway.

I have a track record of trying out and developing new things. My careers have ranged from social and community work, varied management roles and latterly as consultant and trainer with international companies. The only leads I had were a lifelong interest in cycling, a realisation that I thrive on meeting and engaging with people and maybe, just maybe a sign of real potential in the beautiful city of Mysore. A human scale city with great traditions, lovely people and a place where people go to retire ha ha.

Above all I’d fallen in love in India, in my 20’s and from a distance. A sort of blind date. But it wasn’t for another 25 years before I’d managed to meet her and realise the love was real. Like so many others before me, I wanted to get to India as much as possible.

I had indeed dipped my toe in the water by organising some events in India in 2006 (more of which later) so I knew a little of what to expect and I already had a small set of supportive friends here in Mysore, two in particular: Vasanth and Cary in Mysore.

To tell the truth….I hadn’t realised what an absolute joy it would be setting up and running this business in India.

Mycycle, Mysore Cycle Tours

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Mycycle is my business in South India that provides short guided cycle tours for visitors to the wonderful city of Mysore.

So the My refers to Mysore as well as my experience of over 40 years as a cyclist. But I fully intend that this blog will be much more than that…about our view of life in India that on the way will take in an eclectic range of interests and experiences.

We have now had the privilege of hosting, guiding and hopefully entertaining over 900 guests since we launched a little over two years ago. We’re often asked about the history of our business here, what drew me to Mysore and what adventures I and the team have had in living in India and developing Mycycle and Mysore Bed and Breakfast.

This is an attempt to share something of that experience.

please do join us on the journey

details of what we do can be found on http://www.manjulasmysore.in

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