Stairway to heaven

Stairway to heaven….

I think not!

But it is a new beginning.

We know there are many of our friends in India and around the world looking forward to hearing about our latest tussles with the bureaucracy.

So here it is….

We’ve taken the big friendly giant (BFG) step and now fully registered Mysore Bed and Breakfast with the Police, the City Corporation and the Karnataka State Government. It’s been an absolute ‘joy.’ Yes, really 😉

If you like to see ‘the big picture’ first check the one at the bottom.

Step One

Visit: The Police Commissioner, followed by the local Police Station, to get a letter saying Manjula is a cool chick. No no no…. to show there are no objections ie. she’s a great character, has no record and the Police and neighbours have no objections.

Please note we’re saving you the agony by missing out 90% of the actual experience of visiting and managing the differently organised police service.

Step Two

ok, so you’ve got your ‘get out of jail free’ card, or your statement saying there’s no objection. Now collect up your documents: rental agreement, letter from owner agreeing to you using the house as a homestay, receipt for payment of tax.

Go to the office.

Then sort out the mistakes: redo rental agreement (letter not good enough) and pay extra tax. Spend two weeks trying to meet up with the officials, get letter typed up, and on and on and on… you just wouldn’t believe it…

is it incompetence, ‘we don’t care’ attitude or an intentional wind-up?

Step Three

The registration with the Karnataka Government was relatively straight forward. Complete the online form, upload the documents provided by the Police and City Corporation and rental agreement. Pay the bill, electronically or face the ordeal of going to a state bank queuing up, paying in cash or bankers daft, getting a receipt, scanning it in, uploading it. Forget that option! paid-up…. We now await the visit of the inspectors.

Step Four

Register on line with the Police to have foreigners come and stay and complete the online Form C within 24 hours of each foreigner who comes to stay. We’ll provide more details of this wonderful…. time consuming employment creation ordeal…. later to enable me (Stephen) to fully flaunt my Yorkshire sarcasm.

So we’ve done it. The team has arrived at the top step, we’ve had our highs and lows, we’ve learned to laugh and cry, we’ve met formidable obstacles, gone with the flow, we’ve sunk our flag in the hallowed ground. It’s taken time, almost a year, we’ve grown as a team and Manjula has made it happen. Phew!

She’s a star!

Next…. we’ll we do it all again next year.

The big picture

The A team includes:

Manjula, aka the boss, on point, who has traipsed around all the offices, made endless phone calls, been endlessly put off, turned up at the key offices to find the ‘houdini’ *official/policeman/Babu/patriarch (*delete as appropriate) has disappeared…. gone for lunch, on holiday, maybe hiding in the toilet, who knows? She gets a gold star for determination, fortitude, strength, with just a little innocence in the mix. madam has seriously been through it all!

Akram, auto driver extraordinaire, helping Manjula face the torture, mysticism and labyrinth workings of the Mysore City Corporation, and hiding outside when she faced the officials of the police commissioners office or the helpful smiley chaps at the local Police Station. To be fair he’s an auto rickshaw driver, rightly with an innate fear of coming into close contact with the constabulary.

Vidya and Tanu. Our knight-ettes in shining armour. Being Manjula’s counsellor, advocate, comforter, advisor and support in dealing with the Police.

Stephen, The clerk, computer operator, form filler, recorder and scribe. He lurks in the background. In the belief that to show his pale face will significantly add to the costs of said registration process.

 

Thank you for your invaluable help!

what keeps us going?

What keeps us going?

the things that can motivate people in corporates, works for Manjula too!

Guests are usually amazed by Manjula, (I am constantly!)  particularly when they realise something of her poor background and education, not to mention the difficulties she’s faced. As we all know, she’s extremely capable in running the BnB and shows great wit and intelligence in her day to day interactions. This is the woman who wouldn’t sit in the same room as me (traditional deference) when she first started working for me. Yes FOR me, not me working for her, as it is now! Yes for those who’ve met her it might be difficult to believe that I was once the boss 😉

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In another world I’m also a corporate trainer.

One of the workshops I’ve helped design and deliver may help provide insights. It’s about Engaging Employees and we have a three stage model to help businesses Motivate, Mobilise and Measure. As part of this workshop we get participants to watch and discuss a RSA Animate video by Daniel Pink about then surprising thing that motivates people. Take a look for yourself at

What motivates people?

I can see this at work in Manjula.

Pink highlights three key motivating factors beyond cash or remuneration, these are: autonomy, mastery and purpose. In Manjula’s case she
-has the latitude to make decisions
– is good at many things in particular making people feel at home and her cooking, (and she knows it!)
-has a clearly defined purpose and knows how to achieve it.

Running a BnB is one of those jobs where people’s satisfaction is easily observed and absolutely critical, the purpose it pretty obvious and very importantly….. one’s ability and effort has a direct and recognisable impact.

That’s why we love it so much. It’s one of the few things I’ve done in my various careers that brings such immense personal satisfaction, thanks to you guys!

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And well let’s not forget, it has also brought Manj and I together 😉

Why?

So why?
India….
Cycling….and a BnB

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Think of it. Moving to a new country at age 54, launching a completely new venture in a field in which I had no previous experience and all this in India which at the best of times is mildly confusing and frequently incredibly frustrating.

If I’d thought about it for too long, it may have seemed daunting.

The fact is. Work was drying up in the UK. There was a financial crisis affecting everyone and a key market for our leadership and team training, the very banks who created the crisis (and clearly needed more effective teams and leaders with a smidgeon of sense and ethics) and other businesses suddenly didn’t require our services. It was time to find new cheese and that was to be in India in 2009.

Cycle tours and a BnB were in fact on the cards but not straightaway.

I have a track record of trying out and developing new things. My careers have ranged from social and community work, varied management roles and latterly as consultant and trainer with international companies. The only leads I had were a lifelong interest in cycling, a realisation that I thrive on meeting and engaging with people and maybe, just maybe a sign of real potential in the beautiful city of Mysore. A human scale city with great traditions, lovely people and a place where people go to retire ha ha.

Above all I’d fallen in love in India, in my 20’s and from a distance. A sort of blind date. But it wasn’t for another 25 years before I’d managed to meet her and realise the love was real. Like so many others before me, I wanted to get to India as much as possible.

I had indeed dipped my toe in the water by organising some events in India in 2006 (more of which later) so I knew a little of what to expect and I already had a small set of supportive friends here in Mysore, two in particular: Vasanth and Cary in Mysore.

To tell the truth….I hadn’t realised what an absolute joy it would be setting up and running this business in India.