What and why did Manjula give?

On 21st August 2022 on Manjula’s Birth Anniversary we created a day of activity for visually impaired young women living at the Divya Jyothi Trust in Mysore.

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Here are useful links to those who made it a great success, explaining who we are and why we did it.

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Manjula’s Mysore Continues Manjula’s work including Mysore Bed and Breakfast, MyCycle Tours and working with young people. We organised the event, sang songs, accompanied the young people’s singing and provided cycling. Our team was: Sarvesh, Satish, Sowbaghya, Tushar, Megha, Poornima and Stephen

Satish founder Director of Manjula’s Mysore, finding a useful role.

Our Partners are Manjula’s Kind

Thanks for making this a great success.

Mysore Storyteller’s Network: enables people to revive traditional and modern art forms of India through storytelling. Inspiring and mobilising communities to share their deepest vulnerabilities through stories, using Indian arts(visual, performing and fine arts). They organised games, taught songs, shared stories, played unusual instruments, from Madhavi, Sridevi Iyengar, Gauri Nadig, Shahana, Aditya Swarup

Vishnu Sharma Company: Vishnu Sharma hosted the entertainments, played music, organised the PA, sang songs, and acted as MC 

Poornima sang songs and can be contacted via Manjulasmysore

Local businesses, active in their communities, demonstrating their caring shared responsibility. 

Faizan Baksh photographed and videoed the event. Photos of the event and Manjula, are available. A video is being prepared. Faizan provides video and photograpphy services for events and promotions. Contact Instagram @faizanbaksh

The bakers SAPA and Aroma donated cookies and cakes. 

SAPA started by Dina Weber is an artisan bakery, crafting sourdough breads and fine pastries with patience and love, giving their loaves the distinct flavours of naturally leavened breads.

Aroma is a bakery that offers high quality personalised cakes in its wide range of baked goods, since 1989

Mysore Bed and Breakfast sponsored all the meals for the day

MyCycle cycle tours loaned their tandem supported by their volunteers.

The event was hosted by Divya Jyothi Trust Founder Shivaprakash, co-ordinator Kavya, and is the NGO where the young women live.

Why did we organise the event?

To help our community.

Manjula’s kind

Manjula seized the opportunity to set up Mysore Bed and Breakfast with an English guy Stephen and they fell in love. On getting engaged it was her wish to give gifts to people rather than receive them herself. Kindness from the very beginning.They began by gifting bicycles to organisation working in the community a total which has now almost reached 50. Her business has now evolved to become “Manjula’s Mysore’ providing accommodation to tourists through Mysore Bed and Breakfast and MyCycle tours, available for the past ten years. But now with the added extra of working with young people, to help them grow, develop and thrive. 

This was a celebration of Manjula who would have been forty-nine on the day. This strong woman created Mysore Bed and Breakfast and is now known throughout the world for welcoming international tourists to Mysore until her untimely death three years ago.

Stephen is Manjula’s husband, always on the look out, for ways to remember Manjula and share her with more people. 

“I was riding my Enfield through Mysore city centre. In one of the busiest junctions were two young woman one with a white stick so one at least was visually impaired. They were trying to cross. I couldn’t stop and as far as I could see, no one helped so I wondered what it was like for young recently impaired women in Mysore. 

If Manjula was here we would’ve discussed it and she would’ve been keen for us to find out and do something. So I contacted  Divya Jyothi Trust and went with Sarvesh to meet the centre staff, the founder and the young women who live there. As a result we’ve organised activity on what would’ve been Manjula’s 49th birthday and who knows where else it might lead.”

What’s Next from Manjula’s Mysore?

“Manjula’s Mysore will continues to do good, continuing Manjula’s kindness, through partnerships of NGOs, business and community volunteers.”

Let us have your ideas

Manjula’s Gift on her birthday

We celebrated Manjula’s birth anniversary, on the 21st August 2022 with a day crammed full of activity of cycling, games, music, storytelling, singing, drinks, cakes and cookies for the forty visually impaired young women who live at Divya Jyothi Charitable Trust.

Our day was a rich mix of sounds and fun: laughter, singing, clapping, some hesitancy — then enthusiasm, excitement, care, trust and beaming smiles. 

Organised by Manjula’s Mysore with our partners: Mysore Storytellers Network, Vishnu Sharma Company, in memory of Manjula.

The young women especially liked the game ‘What’s in the box’ identifying objects through touch and smell, organised by Gauri Nadig. Then we all shared songs with Poornima singing and Vishnu Sharma playing guitar, Sridevi teaching songs, accompanied by Sarvesh on his Cajon clap box

Shahana told stories

Aditya Swarup and his group filled the room with unusual music by playing singing bowl, Handpan drum, Didgeridoo, and tweeting clay bird

Cycling was a big hit with Tusharr and Megha, volunteers from MyCycle tours giving rides on a tandem (cycle for two people). For all the blind women this was their first time on a bicycle. LINK

Sowbaghya and staff from the centre looked after us all day. Satish presented Manjula’s Mysore and Sarvesh was event organiser.

Stephen, Manjula’s husband, smiled throughout and enjoyed it all.

We ended the day with cookies and cake, after listening to Manjula sharing her own stories from recordings made in the last years of her life. “Hearing Manjula speak.” “Learning about Manjula.” “Finding out she was like us.” “Her love story” were some of the comments we overheard from the young women.

We all learned a lot from our day together. We found out about and better understand, what life is like for young women who are visually impaired. Realising how resilient they are to face their daily challenges. The confidence and trust they quickly develop to get the most out of a situation. Their positive joyful attitude from which we can all benefit.

This was also a celebration of Manjula who would have been 49 on the day. This strong woman created Mysore Bed and Breakfast and is now known throughout the world for welcoming international tourists to Mysore until her untimely death three years ago.

Our thanks to each of our partners and the support of local bakers SAPA and Aroma.

Observations from behind the scenes.

“We could tell they loved taking part.”

“There was a buzz throughout the day amongst the young women and our team of organisers and entertainers.” 

“Waves of smiles and chatter passed through group who sat crosslegged on the mat as each entertainer began”

“The enthusiasm hit the roof with the games and sing-a-long.”  

“Once they felt comfortable and confident. They oohed and aahed with beaming smiles on their faces as we cycled around the area.”

Manjula’s Mysore will continues to do good, reflecting Manjula’s kindness, through partnerships of NGOs, business and with our team of community volunteers.

Manjula seized the opportunity to set up Mysore Bed and Breakfast with an English guy Stephen and they fell in love. On getting engaged it was her wish to give gifts to people rather than receive them herself. Kindness from the very beginning.They began by gifting bicycles to organisation working in the community a total which has now almost reached 50. 

Her business has now evolved to become “Manjula’s Mysore’ providing accommodation to tourists through Mysore Bed and Breakfast and MyCycle tours, which has been available for the past ten years. But now with the added extra of working with young people, to help them grow, develop and thrive.

My Manjula’s birthday

On the 21st August 2022 it was Manjula’s Birthday.

After we were engaged, in 2015, I worked to ensure all her IDs were in order.

That involved her deciding which of the two dates were her actual birthday. She decided that the 21st August was most likely. That year she switched from previously not recognising her birthday to full on celebration.

Since then we’d always do something special, go out for the day, sometimes for lunch and in the evening have a meal for our friends.

Here’s a video compilation of some of the videos she made for me in the last few years of her life. Thanks to Faizan.

For those who met her you’ll recognise her wonderful character shining through. If you’re one of the many new friends to Manjula you’ll feel her warm, shining love as we all continue to do.

We continue to celebrate since losing her three years ago.

So what did we do this year?

We relaunched our business Manjula’s Mysore (previously that was just our domain name) and its new logo but that doesn’t really count. So what did we do?

Can you ride tandem?

A Tandem is a cycle made for two people.

It’s an old joke and a serious question this week in Mysore. 

Megha and Tushar

Remember the first time you rode a bicycyle? As a child you have no fear but when you’re older it can be scary.

The uncertainty …. Your nervousness, worry, hesitancy … once on the cycle your sweating, hands are clammy, the whole thing wobbling, feet slipping from the pedals, 

Now imagine your first time, if you were blind…..

You’ve never seen a cycle, what does it look like? How do you get on and pedal? 

We wondered if it was possible for a visually impaired person to cycle with our tandem.

On the ‘Manjula’s Gift fun day’ organised by Manjula’s Mysore and its partners, three young volunteers: Tusharr, Megha and Sarvesh from MYCycle Tours were there to guide. They provided clear instructions: explained how to get on, feel the saddle, hold the handlebars, step over the frame, find the pedals and sit comfortably. A sighted person on the front steered, set the pace and kept the balance. Another volunteer cycled along and explained what was happening. 

Megha carefully explains with Tusharr and Sarvesh preparing for the next ride

“After 1-2-3 we’ll be off, 1-2-3 we’re turning a corner, 1-2-3 there’s a hump coming up. Now let’s freewheel down the hill.”  

Now think back to your first time, when you’re cycling along, remember the breeze in your hair and a smile on your face. Was it like flying along?

our volunteers Sarvesh and Tushar
loving it

We could tell from their oohs, aahs and  boundless enthusiasm that for the young women who are visually impaired, it was a transformational experience. 

We now know that someone who is visually impaired, with our caring support and their trust, can ride tandems.

Yes they can with Tushar’s help

It was part of a day of activities to entertain forty visually impaired young women who live at Divya Jyothi Trust in Mysore and celebrate our founder Manjula on her birth anniversary, organised by Manjula’s Mysore and their community partners.  

The women had great fun, we also learned a lot: realising what strength, courage and confidence these young women need to face life’s challenges.  

Volunteer Sowbaghya giving an extra helping hand and getting feedback after their rides.

Further background information about the day and its partners visit: http://www.meandmycycle.com

Knock Knock

I’ll often joke to our guests that there might be a knock at the door….

Well there was for…,

Jony, Sue, Chris and Ruth

It wasn’t the secret police but a return visit from me.

Jony kindly put me up after passing through WOMAD on my tour of the south west that included Dorset, Trowbridge, Kingsclere and Bath.

I was also hanging out with other critical friends in Kingsclere.

At the home of Stephen who edits

After Dorset I was

Resting and reading about …

At Ruth’s in Bath and reading from her latest book of poems, all about India….

That’s Ruth the poet.

I think I’ll export some to India

I have…. What next?

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Thank you all for you care and kindness

I’m so happy to have created something special with MAnjula which continues to grow our wonderful family.

Check out the next posting to see how we continue to celebrate Manjula and continue to grow our family.

Why I’m so lucky

I first shared ‘why?, in a posting in 2015

I’ve just rediscovered and want to share a recording that Manjula made that year. It’s quite long but you’ll get the gist pretty quickly.

I’ve had difficulties uploading it so please follow the link to see the video, it’s one of the best

I share this gift from Manjula — as a follow up to Why? — as we approach what would have been her 49th birthday. On her birthday itself we hope to make a few other friends. Please check back to find out what happens.

In the meantime, if you’re interested, there’s more of our story here.

Wo no Mud

I very nearly didn’t go to the WOMAD festival this year. I’m glad I did otherwise I would have missed meeting members of our Mysore family.

I camped with my friends who I’ve known for years but unusually this time I bumped into so many others…..

Lots of guests of Mysore Bed and Breakfast who have become friends and now officially part of our family. I’m missing photographs of Mike and Sue who were at our wedding, and Stephen of bicycles and bees, and friends from behind the bar.

It cheered me up no end.

It tells you a lot about the wonderful, friendly, easy-going people that visit us and make up our warm caring community.

It was exceptional and a real tonic, thank you…. Ruth, Alan, Gill, Don, Paul, Lisa, Oliver, Emma, Lucy, Liz, Mike, Sue, Stephen, Paul and Ros while not to forgetting the bar crew and our usual WOMAD gang. Phew!

Oh and there was also music, drink, wooden spoon carving (more later) food and great vibes…… which I would otherwise have missed.

And the usual quirkiness, including these dancers from Taiwan

There was no rain so no MUD (there have been challenging muddy years), the weather was great.

I just missed my star, the last time she was with me.

Should I be Retracing steps?

After meeting up with our mysore BnB family at WOMAD and knocking on a few of their doors I went camping.

I was apprehensive about revisiting the same places in Dorset where we’d had a family camp to celebrate Alice and Ben’s (eldest son) wedding and my 60th birthday during Manjula’s second U.K. holiday

I shouldn’t have been.

It proved to be a tonic.

I like Weymouth
Rachel and Simon of the lovely ‘hive’ cafe even remembered our visit five years ago.
Catching a ferry
Making new friends from Yorkshire
Who’s that bearded idiot?
Then back to Ruth’s in Bristol,

over to bee-man Stephen to drop our beautiful tent, return the fancy hire car and prepare to return home

In my experience, when grieving, we regularly get ambushed by memories of magical times together. They make me both happy and sad. I’ve learned not to run away but to face them, even create them, so it was ok to retrace my steps.

Thank you for joining my journey and your support.

Durdle Dor in Dorset England

A wonderful place to visit in south of England.

I’ve been here before with ‘you know who’.

This time it’s not raining

There are always one or two other people but not on the scale of India

While sitting in a cave reminding me of my teenage trip Crete and Joni Mitchell but it’s the family camping visit here to commemorate my eldest son’s wedding and my 60th birthday and with my beautiful wife-to-be makes me happiest.

It was our second big trip together in the U.K.

Baby Dor

above all adding to my magical memories of time spent with my MAnjula

How lucky am I?

Obviously, I am so grateful because MAnjula and I found each other,.

But as highlighted in one of Oliver Jeffers wonderful books a little girl, in my case two help bring light and joy.

It’s my granddaughter Poppy who lives in London and my ‘adopted’ granddaughter Kaveri who lives in Mysore.

and how fab, that they are both into cycling.

Not forgetting my Lucie