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.

there’s a knock at the door

This is a health warning (part one):

we love our guests so much we go visit them! We sometimes forget to mention that when you book to stay, so be warned. Well you are such an amazing mix of interesting, talented, friendly, open people we’d be odd not to want to return the favour!

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Lucy however is not at all impressed, she’s the one that has to stay at home!

It all started with Kathy and Mark in the USA

Kathy and Mark were two of our earliest guests from the North West. Mark as a vet was volunteering for a Vets Beyond Borders (VBB) Project in Bylakuppe, where the famous Ani Samten lives. Mark was helping neuter dogs and inject them against rabies and other viruses for a couple of weeks. Fact is we met so many vetenarians we felt like we were a branch of VBB. We go to know Kathy and Mark so well from their visits they became part of the family. As of course you all are.

So now switch to 2016

Well Ol and I were on a mini-road trip from Vancouver into Oregon. Now, what do you think? It would be rude not to drop in, as we were so close, wouldn’t it? so we did and had a great time visiting them in their lovely lakeside home Kathy was an absolute wonder and Mark kindly led us on a cycle tour of their amazing city… Portland! We had such a great time and this lovely couple had set the bar very very high, could it be matched?

What a great idea, this could get to be a regular thing.

Back in the UK

Carol and Paul were the first we visited in the UK lovely city of Hereford, and the astonishing black and white village trail, check here wonderful Tudor houses and then a great trip by the River Wye, in and out of the Wales/England border, Manjula’s first real expereince of the beautiful British countryside.

Later we meandered over to see Stephen who has become an annual visitor to Mysore Bed and Breakfast. He’s also quite a storyteller (its the Irish in him) and he’s a dab hand with the bees. We now sometimes cycle together in the UK.

But that’s not all, before crashing over at Stephens we  had a wonderful time through Bath and a wonderful few days with Sally on a narrowboat on the Kennet and Avon Canal (check here)

Its been astounding, how many Canadian guests we’ve had stay with is this last season. They’ve shot up the chart, passed the Australians and are neck and neck with the number of German guests we’ve had visiting this last year.

Well one of the unlikeliest groups were when…

Lise and the rest of the Sari Sisters (a cycling group from Vancouver Island) turned up (see pics above) at Mysore bed and Breakfast earlier this year with a half baked grand plan to cycle from here to Cochin. Most had brought their cycles and after transport to Mysore this was to be the very beginning. but what seemed like a plan on the back of a fag packet it might have been but they floored us with their enthusiasm, get up and go and they did it. An amazing cycling trip full of wonderful adventures. well done!

So of course, as my son Oliver lives in Vancouver and the sisters came from Vancouver Island we just had to pay them a call when I was last over there. It was fab. We met up with the husbands, had a great dinner and cycle ride together and the tip top flexible Lise was our hostess with the mostest.

img_3529Why am I telling you all this

Well, because its part of our story.

We’re often asked how we manage with the constant stream of new faces coming to stay with us. well first off its not constant and second……

Before starting Mysore Bed and Breakfast I hadn’t quite realised what an absolute joy it was going to be.

Think about it.

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We live in a super city that more like a town. We can escape to the countryside in a moment. In a country and with people that are open and accepting (mostly anyway). We have a lovely house, I have a beautiful, caring, sensitive, funny wife, another companion in Lucie (who sort of behaves). We have one adventure after another (thats not just dealing with officialdom). Our business/livelihood comes from the Mysore Bed and Breakfast and MyCycle tours which we LOVE doing, so its not work.

The ingredients of this cake are therefore scrumptious and to top it all…..

The ‘icing’….. the health giving properties of connecting with wonderful people comes from you our guests, our big family, the community.

Thank you.

Ganesh

A Ganesh for Norbert.

Norbert and I were on a cycle tour and came across a wood carver I’d not found before. Norbert quickly decided to order one which, once completed was parcelled and sent for him to enjoy back in Germany.

another one of the difficulties

yes, there was a happening a few weeks ago.

as if Manjula hasn’t had enought to deal with in her life…

she decided to ‘tie the knot’ to a man beyond her years (the age gap is NOT that BIG – ed) and she’s chosen a man from Yorkshire, I ask you! What is she thinking of?

Here’s part one, of this bit of our story.

This is India so you’ll appreciate that getting married is organised differently, obviously and it’s like a TV adventure challenge game,  to be able to spot, be ready for and to respond to the unexpected.

There are three types of marriage. Hindu, Muslim and special. So obviously we went for the special one.. of course (aren’t they all?) .. but actually because Manjula is Hindu and I’m ill-defined (in so many ways)  😉 there is no real option. Next decision is, do you have a ceremony and then retrospectively get the Governments approval, certificate thing or do you do the registry thing first with a follow up ceremony sometime later. We decided to do the latter, with an exceedingly loose definition of ‘ceremony’.

First things first… go to the registry office  on 24th Jan, (as you can see its not exactly a marriage place, its where non-movable sales are registered!) … together with your kind, patient witnesses, with many ID photos, properly completed forms, various forms of ID, (you know the pack drill from our earlier escapades) and ‘bang’ you’re off….. the start of the thirty nail-biting days (yeah, really)  with your details posted on the noticeboard, inviting comment or maybe just derision. You’ll understand, its just to anounce your nuptials and check that no one objects to us getting married. so the machinery is well and truly in motion and that was quite easy…. I’m assuming someone actually asked the UK High Commission! I think I read somewhere that as a cost cutting exercise that the UK Government doesn’t now respond to such requests. Well, we’ll have to see.

Nevermind let’s thank the witnesses: Tanu, Vasanth and Sudha, with a well deserved lunch..

So you’ve seen the photos, and that’s just to begin the process, I think you get the gist of what it’d going to be like to actually get married at the registry office… a bit chaotic.

Anyway on the 26th Feb 30 days are up… me being me, I went to the office to speak to the head honcho, to check all was OK.

There had been no objections, phew! Did I need to do or bring anything? (I know my stuff, I’ve lived here eight years and I can get a bit anal when planning things. So I’m double checking.)

No….. no need for anything else…

1st March

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So its the first BIG day…..

remember its in an office where they register land sales, houses, things like that… lets just say its a hectic Indian office. Its not geared up for anything fancy.

So it’s nigh on impossible to pinpoint the exact moment when the actual marriage took place .

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Was it the entry of the data on the computer?

rushing off to get extra photos? (the boss was wrong, we DID need extra ID photos, I should have anticipated that one, could we find a photo shop to do some more? no we bloody couldn’t, so quick nip home),

the colour copying of the photos? (so that the mixed ones all taken at different times that I’d managed to find, looked the same),

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was it the sticking of the photos on the certificate?

was it one of the many documents we signed, or maybe the flitting from one desk, to kiosk and back again, queue here, queue there, stick it in, stick it out, shake it all about..

Bloody chaos? nah, just normal.

sugar… next problem, the registrar isn’t in the office today, what to do?… its just not a problem,  a sidekick signed. its as easy as that. Unexpectedly, I get the feeling that this journey might be marginally easier, here than in the UK.

So when was the actual moment the two were brought together.. who knows?

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This will have to do.

But we all know it’s over and done when Vasanth hands out the sweets! 🙂

Well that was the official thing,

we’d have to do something else, but we need help, so lets drag in the guests to help out……

next installment, the actual ceremony.

Photo credits, shot by Tomy Gunn

Farrell Footnote

there’s a couple of earlier blog entries that provided early clues that this might happen, check this entry and the weird form we were expected to complete, notice from the date, how long this project was in the planning. There is a whole other story about this delay that we can’t quite reveal at this stage….

You might also be interested in this original declaration from the old man, why I’m so happy

Maid in India 5

so, to explain the job. Ok we don’t speak the same language, she’s probably a little worried and intimidated, coming to work for an unknown quantity: foreigner, male, living on his own, can be a bit loud and over-energetic… so of course, I used my well developed training skills. …… and got out the whiteboard, flapped my arms and generally danced around a bit. I seriously wonder what she thought. On many occasions she shown people the photo of my drawings. Promptly followed by sniggers and giggles.

So I wonder what she really thought of working for a Firangi!