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.

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.