The election is coming!

Will Donald win again? No the election is in India not the USA but you’d be forgiven for thinking that politicians are much the same the world over. No not because of corruption, that’s true, or supporting their mates in business, that’s also true or being primarily focused on self interest rather than the good of the community, tick tick tick. All probably true. . It’s also about how they choose to focus on often non-issues to polarise the community, exaggerate them to create even more divisions of us and them and shift us even more to the right.

Well we’ve known an election is on the cards here because…

The local paper for weeks on end has had a headline complete with the PM’s photo , no wait a minute it’s an ad paid for by the govt to tell us how successful they are. Now the date has been set, the model code of conduct is in place and such crafty practices are not allowed.

We in Mysore also have the honour of supplying indelible ink for the elections. Once painted on someone’s finger it stops them biting a second time!

This is all getting exciting!

India and Italy

India and Italia

Unexpected connections…..

It’s a little light relief..

India and Italia, begins with I and ends in A

Some of the best Veggie food in the world…, India and Italy.

What seems like chaos on the roads, Italy and India.

Do you get the Drift? It’s uncanny really. I’ll continue…..

Corrupt politicians, India and Italy.

Politicians in Jail, India and Italy.

Politicians who should be in jail.

The need to bribe public servants to just do their job,

The highest concentration of wood inlay artists in the world. India (Mysore) and next is a village in

Italy…

Sexist society, well OK thats everywhere.

male dominated, Patriarchal society, Italia and India.

except at home Where the big boss is mamma (Italy) and amma (India) , who serves their little ones, fusses and feeds their children until well into their teens and sometimes beyond

The family and it’s extensions are pretty big in both countries and children, particularly boys, are worshipped,

so, Extended family, children focussed, India Italy.

People who squeeze children’s cheeks, India Italy.

Spoilt boys who become little Princes, India and Italy.

And what’s all that about not getting round to things until the last minute, if at all, ever? Maybe Manana was not from Spain after all…..

there are some bits which are not so easy to be light hearted about…

Preoccupation with skin colour between north… light and south, dark.. (southerners, work in the fields, of course!)

And that’s playing safe, without getting into the politics

And who’s responsible for these uncanny links…. I wonder?

Dysfunctional state

This might seem a big jump but…. when I first began to realise how senior civil servants were appointed and shifted at a moments notice, here in Karnataka …. I just couldn’t believe it. I previously was a senior manager in U.K. local government. I just couldn’t have done my job if I was continually looking to protect my own back to check that a politician wasn’t going to ‘punish’ me if I’d acted to challenge unacceptable practices or somehow crossed an invisible political red line. How does someone such as a District Commissioner locally manage on a day to day basis or for example challenge corruption, especially where politicians are concerned if in an instant they can be effectively demoted and sent to the back of beyond!

I write this at a time when we’ve just gone through a period when civil servants have been regularly changed as if passing through a revolving door. I mean very senior people shifted every few months, even weeks! How can an organisation function? Maybe that’s the point.

I write this as today we will get the results of the Karnataka state elections.

Check here to see how it now works in the US

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!

Who is Cochrane?

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According to ‘The Times’ (in UK) :

“He was a Radical, whereas those were the palmy days of Toryism. He was outspoken, whereas officials admire reticence and discretion. He was resolute in exposing abuses, and therefore constantly creating trouble. He was impractible – a term still in favour for describing inconvenient excellence; and he head a strong spirit of independence – a quality which as very recent controversies have shown is singularly obnoxious to the official mind.”

This biography of a unique man, helps illustrate how institutions such as the Royal Navy in late 18th and early 19th century were corrupt and how the establishment ‘looked after its own’ and wouldn’t countenance the challenges represented by the radical movement and in this case Lord  Cochrane.

In some ways it helps show how Britain might have introduced or at the very least encouraged those practices through the British Raj in India.

Back to Cochrane. Historian Sir Archibald Alison stated…

Lord Cochrane was, after the death of Nelson, the greatest naval commander of that age of glory. Equal to his great predecessor in personal gallantry, enthusiastic ardour, and devotion to his country, he was perhaps his superior  in original genius, inventive power and inexhaustible resources.