Unkindness

This situation is something of an analogy.

Manjula was the kindest person I’ve probably ever met yet she’d be let down badly by people throughout her life.

I also try to be kind and considerate and I’m beginning to realise it doesn’t work well when others are insensitive, thoughtless, can’t appreciate the ‘other’ and are ultimately unkind. I know, I know I’m a naive 63 year old.

I’m now isolated, in quarantine at home, the street is blocked by fencing on either side of my house, the washing machine is disconnected, I’m unable to shop. Lucie is confused and I can’t walk her. I’m disrupted.

Sowbhagya who works for me is also in a difficult situation quarantined with a sticker on her door confined to a postage stamp house separated from her son.

On the positive side I am in a comfortable home, received home deliveries, stocked up the freezer, Lucie is a street girl and can figure things out. I am extremely fortunate, there are people in terrible situations and have been for months. I should complain less and be sensitive to their situation.

This situation is however completely unnecessary and could have been avoided with a little thought and care.

Two weeks ago the owner asked if they could use the downstairs house for a couple of months. I readily agreed as we have no guests in the current situation. I use it but can manage. There’s one of me and counting the ground and first floor house it’s four bedrooms, library, two lounges you know the sort of thing. Help others, share it out.

The five members of family: grandparents, parents and daughter were living in an apartment in Bangalore and were concerned about the increase in the spread of the virus. At least one of them has underlying health conditions, and the elderly are from a vulnerable group. Once we discussed a few conditions primarily about looking after my stuff and complications about shifting the washing machine plus getting confirmation this was a temporary arrangement (many of my friends were suspicious it was a con to get back the houses) but I checked that one out specifically.

It was a hard thing to do emotionally. Manjula died a year ago. This is our home. She moved and properly set up the Mysore Bed and Breakfast when we took over the downstairs house around eight years ago. But I could so I should help. They could exclusively have the downstairs house with me and Lucie upstairs, separate entrances etc.

They moved in ten days ago.

The adult son of the owner who I deal with now informed me after six days, he’d been tested positive for coronavirus and would go into isolation in hospital.

The rest of the family and I were tested the next day. It seems that the only one other who tested positive was his daughter and she’s now with him in hospital.

Of course it’s just one of those things we have to deal with the best we can, everyone around the world has the same challenges. However, we’ve spent almost three months in lockdown being careful not to get the virus. That care paid off as we’ve had no cases in our layout Siddarthanager, until now, that is.

Now we have what seems to be a completely avoidable situation. Were they suspicious that they might be carrying the virus? Probably, otherwise, why go for a test the day after arriving?

If there was a suspicion a test should have been taken before shifting from Bangalore or gone to their isolated rural farmhouse rather than completely disrupting our lives.

It’s a practical problem but was quite an emotional pull letting them use the house. Manjula’s room was downstairs and for her last few months we created a lovely set up for her. This was her place I was letting go. I’d asked for her picture, the one on which we’d placed flowers every day for a month and then every month to be left on the wall. I discovered they’d taken it down and stuffed it in my storeroom down there. It’s now upstairs with five other pictures of her so maybe a bit over-the-top.

It’s now reflected, when I said at the beginning, kindness met by at the very least insensitivity, to me and my situation and to Manjula even after she’s gone. People don’t care for others enough.

The world is in a sorry state, we just don’t care. The virus, climate change and our responses are actually symptoms of that malaise.

Latest read

A lovely novel translated from the Swedish about a man coming to terms with a difficult new situation. Five golden stars.

A man called Ove.

I worried, as I started reading the book that, he was like my father and I was getting to be like that. Oh no! It didn’t quite work that way.

New beginnings are disguised as painful ends

It’s late at night and the page is blank so I turn to Laozi and Pooh bear.

Actually that’s not true. I turn to you…… to help me get the ball rolling, to create and share my and Manjula’s story. It’s the age old writer’s conundrum. As you see I have a pile of full notebooks but how to get the blank page filled to begin to start the actual story. Can you help?

If you know Manjula and I or even if you don’t 🙃 what’s the key ingredients of our story that might interest you or a wider audience. What are the main themes that will interest people?

What helps

It’s so easy to fall into the quagmire pit of negativeness. Dwelling on the sadness of her last few weeks,the whipping stick of blame or the grief of how much I miss her. She is of course happily still with us in so many ways. I am so fortunate to have fond memories that I cherish and as the brain gets more befuddled I have lovely videos of Manjula talking to me and you. I came across one yesterday on a posting about us both coming to terms with the changes. You can find it here with her lovely humour even at the most difficult of times. I love you Manjula

The Phoenix Coup

Our factly fiction five parter: The Phoenix Coup…..

….  ‘life will never be the same again’, meet Maisie and her family and the extraordinary events they face in this five parter.

All five parts are now posted on line. This is amongst my first attempts to write fiction. I promise I will get better. Do let me have your feedback to help improve my writing.

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

Part five

 

Screenshot 2019-08-26 at 08.00.00

Oh no, not again.

The officer gestures for me to sit down and a tea immediately appeared, as if by magic.

That’s a good start.

I’m at Mysore City Corporation bringing a letter for the Commissioner. Her PA is the first guy I meet.

“I have a letter for the Commissioner”

“Please do sit down”

“I’d like to introduce my wife and here’s my letter”

I handed him a photo of Manjula and a letter.

‘I’m asking for permission to pay for and site a bench in our local park in memory of my wife who died earlier this year.”

‘That’s not possible”, he declared.

” We’ve never given permission for this as so many people might want to do it. It would have to go to corporators.”

By that he means it’s a council or committee decision

“So it’s not a delegated power?” I asked? “Would it not be possible to get a straightforward policy allowing people to buy a bench, exactly as you already install with simple wording on it?”

I showed him a picture of the park opposite our house which had no benches together with a picture of the benches found in some of their other parks.

He asked me to give the letter in the next office to be passed on to the Commissioner and to go and see the senior engineer.

I did, let’s see what happens.

I had flashbacks to the endlessness of dealing with officialdom for Manjula’s IDs, passport and with the Brits to get her visa. Our preoccupation with health matters, another form of endlessness, we’d had to deal over the past two years had taken its place, so I’d forgotten.

I’ve learned one lesson.

Don’t try and do too much, especially when dealing with government bureaucracy, and have an additional simple little job so that you can still feel you’ve achieved something.

So…..

I also went to pick up a framed picture of Manjula.

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.

Memories of Manjula

There are just so many….. photos everywhere (Manjula would complain that there were too many but I never believed her)

These are in prominent positions in the house.

This one with lots of her things as part of the pooja on specific days, they’re not always there!

The logo created by Punith.

videos ….

Article in the Guardian (photo is taken from the article)

The river Kaveri where Manjula said a prayer after our wedding celebration in the field on Srirangaptnam. A tender memory.

Facebook and blog postings, meals at the Ashram for the elderly residents ……. remembered happenings, and most importantly the piece of her that’s in my heart that will always make me smile, ( the T-shirt I gave her in recognition of this and the rosette I made awarding her best maid in Mysore after working for her for one year…. early signs of my love?)

the jokes, the giggles, bossing me around, the hair (she was losing it) I still find in nooks and crannies.

And what about this from Kate who came to stay with us years ago?

A lovely gesture, trees planted by treesthatcount.co.nz in New Zealand in memory of Manjula.

Thanks Kate, love it!

Manjula …. Taking back control

The idiots in the British Government at the head of the Conservative party seem to have completely lost it, and not just in terms of Brexit

On the other hand …. it’s quite another matter for a woman in Mysore ……

Her main purpose in our nine years together was to invite people to share her home and to connect. In those years she’d done everything to create a beautiful, clean, comfortable open welcoming home. Not just the cleaning, cooking, preparing rooms for the guests, managing the staff, coordinating transport and the garden and above all create that warm, welcoming atmosphere that something in the air.

That useless lump of a husband by contrast was only the booking clerk. She so loved pointing that out!

Of this achievement she was rightly proud. This week we’ve received hundreds of messages from around the world, a testament to how she’s drawn people close to her, connected with them and left behind a piece of her.

This last season, as she lost so much weight and at times became poorly, she would often reflect with me that now that she could do none of what she did over the years. It wasn’t true of course, after talking it through she’d agree that the most important the meeting, greeting and chatting, connecting with people was still very much her role and what she’d love doing. It’s the main reason why we were open over this last season. It was what kept her going.

Recorded on 12th March

She very much kept control, she had a network, fetching and carrying, the fruit and veg for breakfasts delivered by the shop, the gardener dropping in her own Breakfast, Sudha bringing home cooked food every day, organising transport, managing the staff, I’d even jokingly bought her a bell to use when she wanted me but the innovator, the strong woman that she was would just have to ring my phone and pavlov’s dog would come running.

I’d joke that it wasn’t like this before we got married.

But there’s another less comfortable aspect of her taking control.

I think she’d had enough and knew it was time to go.

She was fed up of the uncertainty, the to and fro from the different doctors and clinics, the loss of weight, feeling ill, the many many many drugs she was taking every day, the dodderyness, the tests. She absolutely hated the blood tests, it had all got too much. Last week on Wednesday the doctors wanted to admit her, she wouldn’t go. We went home. I discussed it with her. She eventually decided to go back in on the Friday to an ordinary ward. She was admitted to the ICU as her condition had deteriorated. As we prepared to leave home in the Ambassador to go to the hospital she had one careful look around the lounge, as if she was taking it all in, one last time or as others suggested that she could see something else telling her it was time.

Manjula had a heart attack that evening and was brought back to life then again in the morning she had another and in line with her wishes I asked the doctors to let her go.

Missing Manjula 1

Thank you all for your kind thoughts, precious memories of Manjula and wonderful photographs. There are so many I can’t keep up but please do send more and we’ll create a virtual book.

Here’s some examples.

Dear Stephen
I’m so very sorry to hear about Manjula – she gave joy not just to you but to many others too. I just wanted to share with you some of the photos I took of her. I especially like the one of the two of you that I took while you were still claiming that you weren’t a couple’. 
Sending much love – Anna
………..

Thank you for getting to know a little bit of you, from Dana and her family.

……….

Dear Stephen,

We have just received your news and are just so very very sad to hear of Manjula’s death. it is hard for us to take in and must be so for you. She was such a one-off, we were so happy to meet her, loved her humour, her cooking, the way she had your measure! She also had courage. What a great couple you were. We are so glad that you had your time together, short though it turned out to be and we have such joyful memories of staying with you. Sunday night curry – how she glowed sitting at that table in her beautiful saris, take away pizzas, and fruit salad without papaya for me (against the rules!)! We have many very fond memories. We are so sorry that her life has been cut short but I imagine her years with you must have exceeded anything she had expected in her life! I’m sure tears are being shed across many countries, so many people did she connect with.

We also are just so sad for you in your loss. It must be very very tough. Thankfully you are surrounded by people who also loved and appreciated her uniqueness and hope this offers some comfort in your sadness. Much love to you.

Ros and Paul xx