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.

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?

Manjula gives

She always has and always will. Whether it was her love shared through her wonderful cooking, her gifts, sometimes cash when people needed it and most of all her warm personality. It was in Manjula’s nature to love and connect with people here and around the world. Manjula would draw people to her. Her insights, generosity and extraordinarily sensitive to people’s plight was an integral part of her, maybe resulting from the hardships that she experienced throughout her life.

As a celebration of our engagement we gave gifts: she cancelled what was left of the outstanding loan to Vasanth for his auto rickshaw and gave cycles to the driver’s children and to a project that helped trafficked young people.

Her giving has continued through the funding of meals at a local ashram, the benches in our local park. What next?

We’re looking for ways to continue to reflect Manjula’s beautiful personality and her connecting to people. We’ll keep you informed through this site. Do feel free to make your own suggestions of help we can give in Manjula’s name.

Our latest guest Giacomo (aka Siva and his partner Anita) who has visited Manjula and I in Mysore many times have left a donation towards the next projects we support.

 

its 2 am in the morning

It’s 2 am in the morning and I’ve just given the dog, Lucy a final walk of the day. In the shadows I noticed a mother and daughter, covered with shawls, scarves and carrying bags.Waiting tentatively for me to pass. Once I and the dog had passed by they continued on their journey.

Who are they? what are they doing?

As they continue to walk through the area I can hear the wild street dogs kicking off.  I guess that they are poor people just travelling through. It must be quite scary and daunting with barking dogs at most corners and now I’m back at home I hear the whistles in the distance of the policeman on their beat.

What must their life be like?

It makes me stop and reflect for a moment and think about those poor people and what I assume are very different and difficult lives.

I might live in India but as you might expect, in a middle class lifestyle and quite detached from the experience of many very poor people.

I recognise how important it is for me to not lose sight of the difficulties that people face and somehow to connect.

Let’s give Manjula a Break

Yes, let’s give her a break….. A new visa application is IN.

She needs one, who wouldn’t, after being with Stephen for OVER six Years?! yes Six years!

We’ve been overcome with the support, since the news got out about the rejection, from our wonderful friends, many of whom are visitors to us here at Mysore Bed and Breakfast.

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Thank you, it means a lot to get that encouragement and emotional support. We’ve also had tons of invites for holidays elsewhere. Top of the list at the moment (from the no. of suggestions) are  UK (ha ha thanks for that ), Australia, Canada, Europe (we’re voting to stay IN) and Israel.

So the thing is, the new application is submitted and we think we’re providing firm evidence on the main issue. She just wants a holiday and she really isn’t trying to slip into the country and stay there!!! She doesn’t want to move to the UK

Can you send an Email to Manjula?

Maybe emphasising something on the lines of:

  • how she really is Mysore Bed and Breakfast and is critical to its continuing success
  • how and what you enjoyed about your stay
  • that you’ll be back
  • and any other way you can demonstrate your support

Every little might help, who knows?

Manjula@mycycle.co

She has an established life here, a job, she’s critical to the BnB, we have invested in our life here with a dog, a redecorated five bedroom house, a bike, a car, a successful business, a lovely garden that’s taken an age to create,  has dependents who rely on her, such as her mother and she doesn’t wish to move to the UK.

So why the photo of the Brahma Kamla flower?

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These flowers are very auspices. Each flower only lasts one night. It is at it’s best at midnight and the aroma is beautifully overpowering. They are not at all easy to grow. They are therefore considered very lucky. On the past three nights we’ve had a total of fifteen, yes fifteen of these flowers. So we hope the Brahma is with-us on this next bit of the journey of: ‘The Passage from India!’

 

 

I think we should try

IMG_1143I still facilitate ‘training’ workshops for corporate clients. An absolutely critical part of the sessions is to help people see things from the others’ point of view. This is, of course,  not just relevant to business.

Alexander McCall Smith puts it like this….

“People tried to understand, and many did, but not everybody could make the imaginative leap that landed one in a position of another person, in their shoes, in their very garments, looking out on the world with their eyes, feeling what went on inside their hearts; being made to cry by the things that made them want to cry. That was easy in theory, but hard in practice. They pretended to understand because they could not know – not really know – what it was like to be the other. That was because it was not them. That was why they could not think that. It had to be you.”

in his novel: Trains and Lovers.

If I understand some of his teachings correctly the Dalai Lama shows that this is what compassion is about. Seeing things from the others’ point of view.

I know its hard but in life, it’s important that we should try.

it takes all sorts

It’s a sad thing.

It was not an unusual type of telephone enquiry for a room at the BnB. An Indian woman travelling with her ten-year-old son required a room for the following day and for a total of four nights.

We did have a room so I offered to send details to her email address so she would know what to expect. It’s our usual practice. She explained that she would be unable to read the email [1] but she’d seen us on the net so knew what to expect. She followed up by sending a text with her name, she was a Doctor [2]

 

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the empty bedroom

 

Next morning I received a phone call from her with some urgency and concern. Could I recommend the best hospital in Mysore? She’d had an accident in her car and her son was injured. They were in a country area, quite a way from Mysore. She’d dealt with his immediate needs and where they now were didn’t have the facilities to treat her son’s condition. It sounded more serious than I first thought. They would need to transfer to Mysore. I recommended the Columbia Asia Hospital.

Beyond that, it was unclear, it seemed like she was now separated from her car, it was I assumed, badly damaged.

Of course, I was shocked and concerned and willing to help wherever I could.

A little later she telephoned again. She had contacted the Mysore hospital and was making arrangements for the transfer. It was all a little hurried and she was understandably panicky and not always making a lot of sense. [3] Someone had kindly covered the bill but she needed some help, to pay him back. Her money, cards etc were left in the car or taken by someone. Her mother was to call me from North India to explain things.

Her Mum was understandably concerned and was planning to get down here from Assam. That would be no easy task. She’d been unable to pay the guy who had helped out by paying the bills, could I help?

There was a bank strike where she was and didn’t have all the details of his branch (the IFSC No) so it wasn’t possible to do a transfer via the internet. It could, however, be paid into a branch of his bank. Of course, I’d be willing to help, she’d transfer 1 lakh to my account and from it I’d pay 40,000 Rs [4] cash into this guy’s account  and the rest would be available for her daughter to use for the hospital bills etc here in Mysore. All I had to do was send my bank details, for some reason she couldn’t retrieve them via my suggestion of an Email [5] so I’d send them via text/sms. Not a problem.

Her daughter calls to give me an update. She’s so apologetic for putting me through this and having to ask for my help. She’s contacted Doctor xx  in Columbia Asia  and they need to get her son there to see the neurologist. Getting the money quickly is critical, so they can get away.

This was clearly a middle-class professional family with exceptionally good English but one of the problems, beyond the obvious concern for her son, was not knowing the local language and being in a relatively rural area.

I receive a text from Mum, as sent from her bank [6], the cash had been transferred.

Mum calls again. The money has left her bank but it might take a couple of hours to reach my bank.

I reflect. It’s no problem for me to sort out, I’m always happy to help wherever I can, I have cash here or money in the Bank, I don’t have to wait for it to come through, I can zip over there on the scooter in no time at all.

This is all quite urgent.

Hang on a minute, though.

I have a niggling doubt.

Is this a con? I don’t want to think it is and I most definitely don’t want to let them down if it’s legitimate. They are in a potentially difficult and maybe life threatening situation.

I think it’s important that we do help people, particularly if they are in distress. It’s only human and to me an important value.

But, there were a few aspects that didn’t ring true (I’ve numbered some of them above) and if it was a scam, it was clever and sophisticated or am I just gullible? I discussed it with Chris and Eliza who are staying at the BnB. Initially, I still felt it was likely to be legitimate  but the more I thought about it, the more the doubts grew.

I easily found the missing Bank (IFSC) reference number and texted to pass it on and suggested that the Mum could send the money direct to his account. If she sent me her bank details I could send back what wasn’t required here in Mysore. I was calling her bluff!

It’s now the evening and its all gone quiet. Thankfully I held off and my doubts were confirmed. There’s been no further contact and the money hasn’t appeared in the bank.

At this distance, it might seem to you that it should have been obvious. It wasn’t then but to me it does seem so now. In many ways, it was cleverly done. But the fraudsters must get results otherwise they wouldn’t try it on.

So there it is, it takes all sorts and I think it is a sad thing.