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!

What a lovely little tent!

Camping is in the blood.

As a family we camped in South West Wales most years. I sold my first grown up tent, a classic Force Ten, to myself at age 16 when I worked in a camp store in Sheffield.

This year we had a grand reunion camp in Wiltshire and at the WOMAD festival.

Every year we used to camp as a family in South West Wales, now I live in India but every year manage to get to camp in the UK.

So why am I telling you all this?

because we’ve found a wonderful tent, designed and sold by Hari in Bristol, England that is so good I want you to know about it.

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This year as a 60th birthday present to myself I bought a new tent, the one that Hari built ;-). The first I’d bought since the early 90’s (our tents are looked after and last). It’s the one above.

I say small and it is if you compare it with it’s bigger family members but it can take two people, even a family and there’s space for lots and lots of gear. Its quite bulky and heavy when packed up but nothing more than you would expect of this type and size of  tent made of canvas. It is however absolutely gorgeous, easy to put up, a great feel of round ness inside and with no centre pole!

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My grandaughter reckons its a pumpkin or maybe Cinderella’s coach.

Everyone is attracted to it and want to know more. Its not cheap but fairly priced for what it is but then again what is cheap in the UK?

There are a couple of nice personal tie-ups. Lotus is of course a Hindu symbol, it was also part of my logo for my consultancy business set up in the early 90’s and is now even a tattoo on my arm! It is a bell tent, has a clever collapsible-poles-system,  so there are no poles restricting the inside space.

Manjula has got to grips with putting it up and taking it down.

She does however still ask me why to people go camping!? It might be something to do with the rain, wind and completely unpredictability of our weather in the UK …. or perhaps camping in India is seen as something for the military or poor people.

I’m working on her.

Its perceived as a festival or Glamping tent and the big versions we’re being used at WOMAD this year

We’ve camped with the new tent in the gloriously crappy English Summer in Yorkshire, Dorset and Wiltshire. Its been super!

more details are at Lotus belle

its listed as a bud, and now they’ve got an inflatable one!

More photos are available on flickr

or come find us at WOMAD in 2018 where we’ll be using the tent

more change….

We, that’s Manjula, Kamlama and I, drive to the village in the Ambassador, round the backside of Chamundi Hill.

We park round the front of the small village house and follow the sound of the music to the rear. We’re met by a typical scene: a “tent’ a canvas decorated roof to provide shade,  these are often used for events at someone’s house, has been quickly erected that morning. The musicians are seated on the road in centre of the tent, the men are either seated by the music or constructing something out of bamboo.

Our gardener is laid by the side of the house door with his closest women relatives, particularly his wife and adult daughters, crying, prostate around his body. Small groups respectfully go and place flowers. the pile becomes so high that they are often scooped up and taken away to be added to the ‘litter’ the men are building.

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We pay our respects, leave flowers, wait a few moments and leave.

He will be buried later that day. I don’t know why. Most people are burnt on a funeral pyre (helps the soul escape?)  and then the ashes to be sprinkled on water. Locally that’s on the river such as the site we feature on the Srirangaptnam tour. Some are buried.

For the following thirteen days there are a whole series of rituals and customs to be followed. These vary according to location, caste, local and family tradition. They might include: no cooking at home, a process of cleansing, clearing and cleaning, redecorating the house, showering, Tulsi plants, new sari, bangles, sindu. The widow goes to the burial place to break her bangles, takes the flowers from her hair and wipes off the Sindu.

Its complicated, formal and informal and its significance is unmistakeable.

These scenes are common as we pass through villages.

This is the first close member of our team to die. Nariyanappa has worked for us for over three years and in that relatively short time has created a commerative to his abilities as a gardener. He’s made a real and lasting difference to the place.

You can see it, as you arrive at the house, in the downstairs sit-out, up by the back door with the bouganvillia or the best of the lot, the roof top terrace. Even to the very last moments he was concerned to ensure his daughter (who also works for us) was visiting regularly to water and keep the garden in good order.

Respect!

We visited his wife and family during this period of mourning to provide some cash to help them through and the gift of a little sun We thought it was approriate as he’d brought a light into our home with the beautiful garden he’d created which is appreciated by the hundreds of people who visit us here in Mysore.

Thank you Nariyanappa!

 

Manjula’s Crazy Year

we’re looking back on what has been a momentous year for Manjula.

If only for the lots of holidays in India: Kerala three times (twice to Kannur Beach House), Hampi and lots of local day trips. Sorting out her inconsistent IDs, getting her Passport, submitting tax returns, obtaining a visa for the UK and the BIGGY her first trip outside the country.

Now she’s just signed the documents to become a Director of MyCycle Tours and Travels Private Limited.

She reckons that coming to work for me (yes she did actually work for me, originally) and this house has been really lucky

So what next? watch this space.