Getting out

I need to get out more.

Sunday was the second Mysore literary festival. Great to get out, meet old and make new friends.

Discussions about wildlife and how we can promote conservation, Roy’s films, presentations on Mysore Palaces and our wood inlay traditions, all great stuff.

Maybe the best of all for me was hearing from a young woman from a very poor background who at age four had been given a new opportunity in life. A philanthropic organisation sponsored her residential education through to her 20s. Not straightforward. An amazing life opportunity but controversially perhaps takes her completely away from her family. I’ve ordered her autobiography. More later.

A great new slogan 🙃

A different segment and layer of society in Mysore. Mostly women, middle class and of an uncertain age.

Great people watching and meeting. I only knew a handful of the maybe 150-200 people..

I do realise from this, that with the challenges at home and the build up to busy-time I do need to get out for a bit of newness now and again.

Connections

Remember that song?

The this bone connected to the that bone. Well it’s connections and especially medical or body ones that are the subject of today’s missive.

We’re visiting the umpteenth medical centre.

Manjula has been losing weight having gone from a Telly Tubby (Ok I exaggerate) to being thin as a rake at 35 kg in just a few months.

so very worrying.

Well her usual doc tested liver, kidney, thyroid all ok so he’s sent us to Dr Darla who tested and found her deficient in vitamin D.

Well we hope that’s it and the treatment works.

The connection?

Since being ill earlier this year and as a result she’s been home based hence there’s been a lack of sunlight. One problem, response, leads to another, a vicious circle of happenings let alone connected bones.

It occurs to me (and I’ve checked it’s OK with the Maharani) that as we’ve had so many friends ask about her health it’s about time we brought you up to date, so watch this space.

Credit where it’s due.

I have here a piece of paper….

Neville Chamberlain’s infamous attempt of appeasement with hitler.

Well I also have my own piece of paper.

Here it is….

ok it’s nothing like the first one.

On my return to India in August I was pulled aside by the immigration officers.

It seems that there has been a rule change and I was told in no uncertain terms what it is! (Maybe that’s the link, the current govt is definitely changing things for immigrants, ring any bells?) I’m here on a five year, multiple entry business visa which means I have to leave the the country every 180 days but can come straight back. At first I was uncertain. Does the rule change mean I can only stay a max of 180 days in any one year (in which case I’m very worried) or that if I go over 180 days in one year I have to go register with the police?

Anyway, it seems that if I stay over 180 days in the same year I have to register with the Police. But here’s where the credit comes in….. The FRRO the bit of the Police Commissioners office where one registers were superb. First off, I made a mistake with the form and the documents with an hour to go before the deadline, they sent me off to a chap to sort it out at little cost. Then once completed and an extra letter explaining the situation within a week I got my paper, my residential permit. Hooray!.

I once had to do something similar when I had an employment visa. It was one of those, go to about five different offices, provide duplicate forms, pay different lots of money, fetch receipts, hundreds of photos, wait endlessly…. now just one form and documents submitted online and take copies to the office, nothing more not even a fee, thank you Mr Kumar, job well done.

Let’s just hope the immigration officers are half as helpful when I next try to get in the country.

a wedding ceremony

a ceremony but where?

you already know, there was only one place to choose for our wedding and the formalities themselves were completed at the registry office 🙂

no it wasn’t in a glitzy bhavan with hall for reception (means a totally different thing out here – its the photo opportunity and gift giving session with the newlyweds seated on thrones on a stage) and another hall to feed hundreds, nor a band, althoug that would have been nice

instead, we decided on Srirangaptnam island, of course  …… my favourite place. As you may have seen already we chose a tree in a field

once we decorated the tree… all sounds a bit pagan 😉

we made final personal preparations at Satish’s house…

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there were around twenty guests: local friends and members of our team,

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Vasanth’s family (V was ill), Satish (project manager) and his family, Rakesh (mr energy), Lokesh, Babu, Vidya ( a good friend who transcribed Manjula’s recordings) Heechang and her friend and family (husband Justin was away picking Henna), Asha, my yoga teacher, her family and Suresh, (who arrived fashionably late so aren’t n this photo) and the friends from the UK: Mike and Sue, Tom and Amy. We’re sorry to say that Tanu, Vasanth and Vinay were indisposed with a heavy bug so they just had to watch the royal wedding ceremony on the TV (I’m joking, OK) and not together!

the ceremony itself

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we and the children used a traditional Mysorean Tonga (horse drawn taxi) to our next stop

20170304-DSC03432where we visited  one of the wonderful riverside locations on Srirangaptnam for a prayer  beside the Kaveri and to float our flowers

followed by lunch

and finally …. tea and cakes at Satish’s house

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here’s a link to the full set off photos of the wedding ceremony and here for the meal

Left or right brain?

It’s been a bit of a weird week. A couple of diary pages (yes it’s a paper diary) helps illustrate. The first picture are from a usual busy day. Most rooms are booked out, small drawings indicates which room is reserved for which guest. Cars are booked to drop people at their next homestay and one will pick up guests arriving at the airport. A cycle tour is planned on Srirangaptnam. Simple!

On the other hand these pages tell an altogether different story.

Sometimes things come in clusters.

The pages show that the Bed and Breakfast is at the status of FF which means we’re so full that I haven’t a bed room. We have guests from France and the UK, numerous arrivals, dinner planned, transport arranged for trips in Mysore and further afield, cycle tours everyday, rooms allocated, drops to the next homestay, guests returning for a second time, and many enquiries that had to be turned down.

It can become a bit of a challenge when one thing after another doesn’t quite fall into place.

First mistake, the booking clerk (yes that’s me) expected a guest in February when they were in fact due in March, (not really a problem), another guest reserved rooms in Feb instead of March, two companies made reservations that didn’t materialise, yes and the very same booking clerk also forgot to charge guests for some transport, what a hectic few days…. and to top it all, Lucie managed to get herself locked in a nearby house when the owners had gone on a ten day pilgrimage to a distant Temple!

….. I wonder if this page actually reflects how my brain really works…. or doesn’t, should I be worried? 😉

women’s role models

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From a few months ago….

As I wait for today’s cycle guests. I’m chewing the cud with one of my Ganjam friends who is aged around 11,  she’s a neighbour of Satish’s where I store my cycles. We’re wondering why in India, most girls stop cycling when they become women. There are plenty of positive women role models cycling around the world and of course on our MyCycle tours. There were two from U.K. and Australia yesterday, two from Germany and Switzerland today and some very slightly older women from the UK and Australia tomorrow. Well done to them for setting a superb example! its really noticed by the girls as we cycle around.

But it’s VERY rare (exceptions above, prove the rule!) to see Indian women cycling and when we do see it, its clearly a change in society that comes from the growing middle class. That’s of course superb but we don’t see it often enough. Why?

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Yes, why do Indian girls tend to stop cycling when they become women? Another conversation might help provide some insight.

 

 

Manjula tells me that part of the attractiveness of the opposite sex, (in addition to the usual rigours of determining suitability for an arranged marriage: caste, wealth, stars, parent’s occupation and much much more), there are certain physical characteristics that are looked for. (This doesn’t of course mean it applies across India’s diverse groups!) You know the sort of thing. Small feet for women etc. Well a novel one she’s just told me relates to foot arch. Men’s arch needs to be clear and distinct, women’s feet should be flat! really? its a patriarchal minefield.

My point is, this preoccupation with attractiveness and that includes all sorts of pressure to be perceived as ‘normal’ includes the barrier, the challenge, the tradition, the clear message that cycling when a girl gets older,  makes her less attractive or desirable as a poteniutal bride.

Another friend of mine, who will remain anonymous, as a young women, did some really innovative community projects, in terms of helping poor families. When it came time to look for a husband she had to ditch that work and commitment and hand over to others, to ensure she was able to find a husband!! Otherwise, she might be seen as less desirable with all that baggage!

So likewise, I reckon a woman’s desirability, eligibility, acceptability vis-a-vis marriage is enhanced if she DOESN’T cycle! What a shame! Its so the wrong way round.

Now I’m all for sensitivity to cultural difference, I pride myself on having designed and created many projects in tune and partnership with the communities they served BUT that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be critical of tradition, there are also many things that should change. Patriarchy and oppressing the ladies to conform is one of them. Here’s to the different approach for these future women!

but I do realise that there is such a long way to go…

To be fair its an intenational challenge, women around the world face barriers to taking up or maintaining cycling. A previous guest and our good friend Tiffany Lam has written on this very subject, please follow the link here

to find out more.

Strength to the girls. (and women)… keep on cycling!