It has to change.

You have my sympathies.

I’ve posted what must seem a constant stream of feelings. It also can’t be easy to find your way around the many postings.

It reminds me of an interview I gave to a journalist in the UK, years ago. I was working on an innovative approach to engage local communities in helping guide local public services to be more responsive to their needs. After I’d explained my approach. He said, so you launch a whole series of custard pies some hit and some even stick While some fall by the wayside.

I’m beginning to think meandmycycle.com is not dissimilar. A series of disconnected postings ranging from the bizarre, mildly interesting and hopefully a fair few that connect to you.

I’m working on that same theory. Randomly works, sometimes.

Thank you for sticking with it and me.

But I think I need to get a bit better organised and the blog more focussed.

So over the next few weeks I’ll start to focus on:

Our story, with two separate parts Manjula’s amazing story (I’m not biased, the more interesting by far) and Stephen’s

There will also be insights into this amazing country….

Life in India

and some bits a pieces:

Titbits a sort of hotch potch

Clearly labelled (yeh!)

I’ll use feedback to review, amend and revise.

So please….. As always, comments are appreciated and feedback on what works for you and suggestions of how I can improve would be great.

Thanks for your invaluable support.

Have a heart

You’d think that after almost four years of Manjula and my experiences of the ill health industry, that would have been enough.

Well no, clearly not. I’ve had a battery of check up tests including an ECG with a little irregularity spotted, so move one step forward to ECHO.

Result is ….. high blood pressure has resulted in slightly enlargement means watch diet, do exercise and monitor blood pressure. At or over 140 on a regular basis go see the Doctor.

I had, of course, to make my stale joke about there not being any stress in my life. 🙃

A getaway

Lucie and I are away on our own in Wayanad.

Anjum the ever enthusiastic drove us.

And here’s the the view at Dhanagiri homestay.

She’s been on edge. Primarily of course she’s sad dog as we’ve lost something from our heart. Then with me getting ready and packed she thinks I’m going to leave her, no sweat there but then the longest car ride ever, almost four hours. Now plumped in a coffee plantation.

Where are we, what’s happening? Tell me!

Update

Thunder, lightening, rain….. strange environment, she is sooooo not impressed.

Update again.

Breakfast finished, next to walk up the hill with Manjula, Lucie and Abha.

Guess who’s with us in more ways than one.

This trip is proving useful to help me connect with the spirit of my soul. I know, it all sounds a bit new age or Hebden Bridge (the alternative place where my house is in the U.K.). I realise it’s one of the messages from Manjula that I now see more clearly. It’s not really new age, more slowing down the hare and learning from Manjula’s grace. More later.

Help

With a little help from our friends we’ll keep Manjula’s creation going.

First, please do stay in touch and continue to read the postings at http://www.meandmycycle.com

Second, if anyone can come stay and look after Luci when I’m away that would be a great help and comfort for her. Possible timings are May, July and September.

Third, come and help out. In return for accommodation and breakfast help me keep the place going.

In my view this is a way to keep our home available, to share with the rich mix of people from around the world and maintain those wonderful connections.

Or ….. of course please do return and invite your friends to come as future guests of Manjula’s at Mysore Bed and Breakfast.

I write and postc this as Tom and Amy say hoagie bartini (see you again) and drive down the road with dogs chasing them away….. after coming to the rescue and supporting me for these past two weeks. Super troopers, thank you so much I couldn’t have managed without you!

and back to you guys….. I look forward to seeing and hearing from you.

Peas and love

Stephen and Luci

What’s this then? Twisted logic, you’ve got to laugh to break away from the tears. An imagined back to the future, reincarnation: Manjula as a 1940s Englishwoman and Stephen as an Indian sailor, mini size with Luci as the boss.

Asthi Vasarjan

Manjula died just before 11am on Saturday 23rd March of a heart attack. I’m asked if there were any last words. Not as such, we had in fact not been able to discuss the situation and what to do.

I’d complained that since the night before she hadn’t shared one of her beautiful smiles. So she obliged and gave me a smile and a giggle. Not her usual standard or the right circumstances but exactly what was required. My lasting memory amongst millions.

As a dutiful husband and with our closest friends we’ve now by Wednesday fulfilled what’s required for her Hindu faith.

We’ve helped continue the process of being released from this body and to go to the next.

On Saturday we brought her home, laid Manjula out on the Divan that’s been her bed for for the past year.

Family and friends gathered to say farewell.

Next day, Sunday, Manjula was taken to the crematorium and finally to the auspicious river Kaveri to immerse her ashes on the Monday.

This is the ritual called Asthi Virsarjan more info here

We will be certain to do more …..

My thanks to all our friends for making this horrendously difficult time slightly more manageable.

Thank you to Faizan for creating this wonderful video

Bereft and tearful

It’s late afternoon, post lunch of pizza and smoothy ….. I’m listening to the shouted messages to ‘eat properly’ and look after myself. I even got to yoga this morning. It hasn’t been feasible for the past three months. I still however sweat like a pig.

I’m in this park now.

Where there’s lots of young lovers hanging out. I don’t know how Manjula and I came to be here, it’s the other side of town. It was probably on one of our endless trips to clinics.

We’d make them extra special times. We’d turn the tables and make a positive out of the hassle of the clinic crawls. Regular visits to clinics all over the city. Sometimes we’d turn it into a trip to a salt cave (yes we have one in Mysore!) and we haven’t been there for a long time, or lunch at one of her fave places, maybe to get some fish or a drive miss daisy/Manjula style outing into the countryside.

We were such idiots (flashback) … I love you, i love you two, three, four, five a crore…. childish, innocent, emotional, warm, connected to the extreme. Now I’m Nourished by my memories of Manjula but of course also bereft, pained and tearful.

It is however, good to stop, becalm, remember, smile and try block out the crap.

It’s been a difficult few months. Manjula has lost so much weight she was the proverbial stick-insect. See she’s here and not at the same time.

We discussed at the beginning of the season whether to keep the BnB open. Manjula was adamant, it was a no-brainier and critical to her. The whole point is …. we have an open house, our home that we share, we invite and welcome people to come and connect. That was her ‘quality’ she might have been ill but this was her life and what she wanted.

I’d keep checking as the weeks went on and always it was the same. She had to take more and more pillS, was confined to the ground floor, a bit doddery on her feet, needed lifting up from the toilet. Her day was made by coming out and speaking, even if only for a few moments, to say hi, connect and get to know her guests, share herself. It would enliven her, be a kick start, we’d get chat, smiles, fun and laughter. You guys know what I’m saying.

So in that spirit I’m Looking for help to come and be part of what we’re doing here.

I’ll get back to you on that, in my next posting.

A beautiful world

I’m called to the door by an Amazon delivery. There are no guests so it’s been an opportunity for a lie in. Now cut short.

Manjula has not been well for weeks stretching into months. Most of the day she’s in bed but with significant wobble will stumble gracefully to the outside sit-out and sometimes a walk in our park.

She excitedly tells me of hearing the birds visiting her window towards the back of the house. It’s her first experience of the morning.

Today, for some reason, I can hear them clearly. The whole air is full of joyous birdsong. Our house outside at the front, in the drive, hanging from the car port, on the mezzanine, the balcony and the sun terrace is bursting with life. Our greenery welcomes, as you arrive.

Now the presence of the wonderful birds brings a whole new dimension.

This to a house already marked by its openess. We’re far from but also reflect a traditional Indian home. The matriarch, the Amma, is Manjula, formerly the maid. Her husband who she declares: ‘the maid’ now provides her necessary support. As with established typical local homes. It’s a vibrant active place. Ordinarily there is a constant flow of people. Our cleaners, gardener and that husband-assistant feverishly ensuring it’s prepared for our paying guests at the Mysore Bed and Breakfast. It’s inward flow of guests, a mix of generations, the conversations mingling from the different lounges,  with their languages from around the world, in a very Indian way creates a mish mash, a melange of jeek by jowl. A pick-a-mix of rich experiences.

The smells, noises, colours, the feel and texture of India is enhanced by the beautiful bird song. Less than an hour ago it was full flow. It added a perceptible glow to the already shining house. The bird song is more than the icing on the cake its part of our whole.

It helps at this very difficult time of Manjula’s constant challenges to bring a natural soundful beauty.

This house, our home and the memories it creates are a natural consequence of my Manjula. Her smile that radiates is for our many guests, the first and last experience and a remaining mark of their visit.

img_5525The presence that is at its heart, the source of our life here, the link to all those who shared our place. This woman from a poor background, with little formal education who has a kindness reflected in those of the stories she shares of her father, a delightful beautiful woman who has made so many people happy by opening her home as the soft, gentle caring golden thread, linking it all. She, my very own Maharani, has…. no surprise here…. gone and stolen my heart, completely bowled me over… leaving me a marked man.

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All this helps remind us of how lucky we are, here in our Indian home in a world of infinite beauty. Where things continue to amaze, draw us out of our sadness and bring a smile on our face.

Birthday month……

It’s Manjula’s and Willian’s (who’s he?) birthdays this month. First however it’s the BIG goddess herself: Chamundeshwari.

Don’t ask her age.

Hence the crowds for the free bus to the top of the Hill.

Here one day, gone the next.

So we celebrate it calmly at home.

Blue for Ganesh. Yellow for Chamundeshwari. Other partygoers: Krishna and Shiva.

Farrell Factoid

Chamundeshwari, known as Durga in the north, lives at the Temple, on the hill behind our house. She famously killed the demon after which Mysore (Mysuru, if you insist) is named.