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.

Our world becomes smaller

Lucie couldn’t believe it. She’d adjusted to our road being closed because a neighbour was positive. Walking up and down the street, escaping via the park, squeezing through the railing at the road end. She could manage.

Now they’ve shifted the fence to enclose just our house and the neighbours. So Lucie’s patch is small and access to the park tied up.

I completely support them rearranging things so the whole street isn’t inconvenienced. But we’ve been tested and presumably found to be negative. We can only assume that as we haven’t heard from them.

The owners son Manu and his daughter who’ve tested positive are now in hospital.

We’ve spent three months being really careful. I’ve only been out to walk Lucie and cycle in the morning. So how’s this happened?

The owners family called me two weeks ago. The grand parents are elderly at least one with underlying conditions, Bangalore was getting more incidence of the virus, the dad was working from home and daughter not returning to school before September.

If it was available could they come and use the downstairs house? After some discussion mainly about looking after my stuff, (furniture, art, Manjula’s significant picture) I agreed. Happy to help out where I could.

Of course we didn’t expect to have the virus brought into the building (downstairs house). We just have to deal with it. Poor SB is quarantined in a small house and we have this hassle here. We’ll manage and try minimise the risk.

There is however two very annoying things.

He must have thought he may have had the virus before he came here otherwise why get a test the very next day. Thoughtless? Uncaring?

We’ve avoided the virus in the whole layout for months. Now it’s here some people will think it’s down the foreigner …… that’s annoying.

Manjula and I always tried to be kind, helpful and positive. I’ll leave the last word to Lucie.

Test form

Here’s my coronavirus test form. The name’s wrong but that’s to be expected, it’s listed that I have symptoms when I don’t (a contact, my neighbour, tested positive so that’s why I’m here) and I had throat and nasal swabs, again not properly indicated on the form.

We’ve not been informed when the results will come through.

I’ve now discovered that my neighbours samples were originally lost so it was almost a week before he got his positive results and taken to hospital.

Our testers with biohazard suits.

If only I’d learn

People, mainly men are gathering on the street corner.

One is clearly very senior. I can tell from the way he’s bossing everyone around and then he turns to me. Instructions spew forth.

For a moment I forget I’m in India. I ask who he is. He refuses to tell me. Name? ID? He orders me into my house.

I slowly begin to recall I’m in a land where civil servant doesn’t mean civil and doesn’t involve service. It symbolises I’m above you, do as I tell you and don’t question.

The reason for all this?

Our neighbour has tested positive for the virus so our street is now closed off, clamped down and we’ve been tested.

I understand the situation and will comply with the restrictions because it’s for our common good but why do we have to tolerate this sort of attitude?

I need to know my place. Coming from northern working class England where we don’t do deference isn’t easy and is no preparation for this.

I could say it’s this sort of attitude —, (I’ve saved you the tedious details), the hierarchy, do as your told, no questions asked — that helps lead to authoritarianism. But then I look in western countries. I include the US and UK where we’re brought up to challenge and officials can be quite a lot nicer but still we have to tolerate tin-pot dictators.

Where are you Manjula? I need you

Sunflower day.

Hello from lockdown land here in Mysore. Lucie and I were getting bored with each other so we’ve created sunflower day. It’s a day to invite friends to visit. Here they are in the photo. Can you spot them?

How many are there?

Someone’s sneaked in five pictures of Manjula. That’s cheating and only counts as one.

Update: I can see three gods clearly, and there are two hidden away.

There’s more detailed photos below

There’s three gods in this photo, where’s the Australian animal?
One god and a dog
We have so many friends…

It’s Tom’s Day

“O Captain my Captain! Our fearful trip is done.”

Well I can’t say it’s not been a challenge because it has.

Yesterday’s Tom day was a great success. I managed to get through the whole day without access to the iPhone (except for the alarm clock at 6 am) or the IPad. I used the MacBook for writing ‘our story’ and that’s all. It really made a difference.

The one failing, if you can call it that, is I did watch Netflix in the evening (the crown if you must know).

Here’s the link to the video that’s finally got me to follow Tom’s sound advice. Not everyday will be a Tom day, that’s not possible, but I will do full-on detox days sometimes and I will limit my gadget and t’internet access on all days so I can focus on something very important like ….. Writing Manjula and my story.

Lockdown has added values.

See below for original posting on Facebook.

Tom’s Day

Have you seen or heard them on shoulders? The angel or fairy observing one’s every move, whispering ideas, making suggestions, gently guiding, even tut tutting when you’re hovering over the line, the limen between good and evil. Our little friends like the elves are here to give a helping hand and nudge us just when we most need it.

What a lovely gentle positive image.

Well I’ve got someone else, he’s a little fella but with big hefty presence. He sits on my head, sometimes flicking my ears, drumming his fingers on my skull, loudly whispering his thoughts, his key messages, usually something like… get-off the technology, write that story, meditate, eat this and that, eat properly-sit up straight (oh, no that last one was a dad memory).

I love him dearly, my very own Tom Thumb.

So in recognition that we both care and to show I really do listen; I’m designating wednesday of this week Tom’s Day. Its when I’ll try my best to do my best without looking at my Ipad, Iphone, Netflix or Amazon. The only permitted technology on Tom Day will be the lap top JUST for the ‘word processor’ I’ll not access the news, F book, Instagram, the blog thing and I’ll report back on what it was like.

Question: anyone know one of two possible links to the first line?

Virus 3

Curfew

we had one for a day yesterday then made some noise to recognise the people who are invaluable in providing support

we’re now entering a proper period of isolation

gora (aka whitey)

I’ve now had one or two incidents of looks, avoidance and neighbour calling the kids in as Lucie and I walked past. We’ll give the benefit of the doubt and assume they were worried by the dog. They’ve known us over nine years. Another example of how easy it is to polarise and create distance from the ‘other.’

of course the fact is that the risk of getting the virus here is mainly from returning Indians, the holidaying foreigners have mostly gone. A whiteness label helps feed prejudice

Manjula’s death anniversary  

most ideas have been deferred to August when we’ll celebrate her birth and life

today I’m cycling around Mysore with her and keeping a safe distance from anyone

being careful 

I’m  washing my hands carefully. This is according to Manjula’s high standards: lather the soap, Thoroughtly wash backs, fronts, between fingers, nails, wrists, up arms. A MAnjula finishing touch was to rinse the tap Before turning it off. She did this religiously over our nine years together  

My problem is, first thing after my hand wash I write my daily pages my creative journal thing but I get the pages wet and the ink runs.

Why?

My bracelets are wet through.

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What should I do?

stop being a wus

i think we can see that on the scale of things (fingers crossed) that I’m managing this virus thing quite easily. Not that it hasn’t been an awful year because of losing my love and if MAnjula was here with her condition I’d be the proverbial Panicking worrying headless chicken.

It brings home to me how fortunate I am and how people around the world living from hand to mouth already have such hard times which are exacerbated in these terrible circumstances.

Virus update 2

16th March ish

Canada

my son Oliver and partner Rachael live and work in Vancouver. In some ways they are typical millennials with a portfolio of different jobs. Their jobs vary but might all be considered ‘casual’. They are in the service industries: fitness, restaurants, guiding tours. All are affected as things close down. If there’s no work, there’s no pay. They might just about get by for a couple of weeks but what about medium and long term?

The risk and therefore the cost is more likely to be covered by the individual rather than the company or society.

There are many people in this situation. There’s a good argument for a minimum guaranteed income.

Imagine what it’s like for poor people in India and elsewhere. Check here

in India we have a curfew day with minimal testing. It’s just not good enough  

SB has the week off on full pay which will be extended

My plans

are currently on hold. Eric was going to look after Lucie and the house while I was away for three months. He’s now back in the US under the instructions of his scholarship funders

Otherwise I’m at home or walking Lucie 

in the U.K.

at last they’re catching up …… there are clear cases of over reaction and hysteria, this is when we need the wartime posters to keep calm and carry on. Oh and learn from the Indian communities, use water and NOT toilet paper. 

Virus update 1

15th March

America recalls students. India sort of gets involved.

We’re at the end of season so our very last guest left today. a PHD student Adam who’s been recalled to the US. Eric another student who was to look after the house and Lucie while I was planning away for three months has also been recalled. He’ll not be available to help me. They have no choice as their funding was to be withdrawn if they didn’t return. It seems OTT (over the top) but who knows. Isn’t it creating unnecessary worry and travel? But Donald (Duck?) is in charge so it’ll all be OK.

I have to rethink my plans.

As I return from walking Lucie there’s a gathering of neighbours in the street. There’s been a visit from the city corporation and foreign tourists have been asked to leave. Exactly as happened to Sally in Kerala. I explain that there are no more tourists expected until August. That seems to satisfy them.

Fact is it’s only been friends staying here this season. 

I am however a foreigner, so where does that leave me?

India is typically consistently inconsistent. In this case no different from anywhere else.

Here’s a few headlines from the local paper.

closing places to reduce passing on the virus and continuing big events….. it’s a conundrum


In England
, one friend and her husband, have isolated themselves in a country cottage. Everyone seems uncertain and confused

Happenings create opportunities for the powers to promote their agenda. This may be a way to polarise and emphasise ‘the other.’

It could lead to all sorts of social changes and new challenges, both positive and negative.