Snakes and termites

On our MYcycle tour of srirangapatnam guests are intrigued by the termite hills converted into desirable ac accommodation.

There’s always signs of Pooja around the main hill we pass near the site of the fourth war of mysore.

This column from the ‘Star of Mysore’ explains more

Chips off the old block

I’m often asked about my sons and what they do.

Ben, my eldest made a dramatic change about ten years ago and switched from working on computers to become a chef. A big and very successful step change. I like to think that my flexible approach to careers and work helped encourage that. 🙃 He now lives in London with Alice his lovely wife and his teenage daughter, age six.

Ol, my youngest, lives in Vancouver. He does a bit of this and a bit of that. His latest role in addition to events management is, wait for it…… drums roll,…

a …..

cycle tour guide 🙂

 

Customer service

I’m fresh back from delivering a workshop on engaging employees as a responsible business here in London.

We hung out with swans

We covered the usual stuff including issues related to quality, services, customer satisfaction and empowering employees to innovate.

I find a message waiting for me.

It’s from the cycle shop in Mysore. I’d left my main cycle to be fixed.

They’ve written to tell me that they’ve installed the wrong part which affects/reduces the performance of the cycle gears by one third.

Why have they written to tell me instead of just fixing it?

In my view… free consultancy…. it’s pretty clear what the options are….

1….Do it again, this time with the correct part.

2….Replace with the original part and give back to me as it was.

This sort of thing is common in India but I can’t say that I can really understand it. How is it that the supplier didn’t supply the correct part? Did the cycle shop order the wrong part and did they not check before they installed it? Why haven’t they just solved the problem? Do they expect me to take it back like this?

It reminds me of the case of the Chinese Oil….

I’d ordered Tung or China Oil to treat our new Rosewood chairs and sofa. The seller was in Delhi who would arrange delivery. It didn’t arrive.

Me: where’s my oil?

Seller: it’s with the transporter sir.

Me: where’s my oil?

Transporter: we can deliver the container sir but there’s no oil in it, it’s leaked.

I’ll not bore you with the whole story. Suffice to say. ‘The it’s not my fault guv’ wasn’t accepted. The seller and transporter sorted out responsibility between themselves. It was eventually delivered.

I’ve placed trust in people and they are accountable to deliver what they’ve promised. Any problems, well it’s up to them to sort it out, if necessary to apportion responsibility. Hopefully we all learn from our mistakes and improve for the future and the business continues to thrive and survive. From it I also know who to trust, maybe.

What’s so difficult about that?

For some reason my Indian friends just accept this poor service and don’t challenge. In that case how will anything ever change?

is this a little too soon?

Mysore is a wonderful city, feels like a Town as its human scale and hasn’t YET been irrepairably damaged by over-development. Its a great place to cycle and our many MyCycle tour guests are a testament to this. However, I worry that there is the risk that half-baked projects might do more harm than good.

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We already have the first dedicated cycle lane that I’ve ever seen in India. We also have cycle lines on main roads formed by a white line. (no, its not a joke, its real. Yes, in a country where no one takes any notice of lines on roads!)

In my view they do no harm and are a great asset but on their own withough being part of wider infrastructure changes, effective measures to educate other road users and promotions for people to take up cycling, it has limited value.

Here are yesterday’s guests on our Mysore tour on the cycle lane.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been consulted on the viability of a cycle share scheme on the lines of the one first developed in Paris and subsequently copied by cities such as London. In places they’ve been a great success, in others an abject failure. This morning on my (occasional ) cycle back down Chamundi Hill I saw this…

It looks like its the installation of shelters for a cycle hire scheme. In principle that’s fantastic, the more measures to promote cycling, the merrier, but might it just be a little too soon, particualrly if its not part of a wider programme to support cycling?

My worry is that currently cycling is seen as a traditional activity of the poor villager or something for the crazy foreigners. Admittedly we’re seeing a dramatic increase in cycling as a leisure activity and the fact is we get a fair number of enquiries for cycle hire at MyCycle BUT many are the early adopters, the young people who are particualrly interested in high end cycles and going out on races! The question is will the mass, the people in the middle of the ‘market’ buy into cycling in Mysore and use the cycle hire scheme. I’m not sure that they will and it might be a bit early.

I hope I’m wrong and a good friend of ours may take on a role helping research take-up and help develp the initiatve. I worry that if it fails it will set back the progress of cycling in Mysore. You know the sort of thing… “promoting cycling? we tried that with a scheme, in 2017 but it didn’t work so no point promoting cycling again”. I reckon it will only work if its part of a wider programme to educate other road users, infrastructure development, promote safe cycling in schools and encourage young people (and especially women) to continue cycling as they get older.

I’ve developed lots of projects over the years and in my view its critical to understand the patterns of behaviours in a particular community (interest or locality) and build on that and not to blindly parachute in ideas from elsewhere, which might have worked in one place but need significant amendment and careful timing to work in another.

Many people worry about cycling in the city but are nicely surprised once they join a properly guided tour and they gain the confidence to go out on their own. Its no accident that our most popular tours by a very long way are in the low traffic routes on Srirangapatnam.

A better idea might have been cycle hire shop(s) in places where there are a network of potential cycle routes. That’s not a big capital scheme that reflects well on the powers that be so it would not be favoured. I know of such a place. It’s where our most popular cycle tour is held 😉 I’d wait to introduce automated cycle hire schemes to a time when there is more of a critical mass of cycle users, tamed traffic and more dedicated cycle lanes in the traffic intensive built up areas.

Back at Moksha Manor

this week we’re adjusting back to life in Mysore and welcomed our first few guests who were from the UK and India, Ani from Bylakuppe and our old friend Vinay, Manjula experiences jet lag, discovered what might be a Brexit prequel (there may have been a few) and a keen observation on differences between the India and the UK

 

Today’s Cycle Tour: we’re back in action

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Resting

Manjula is a little rundown, which is not altogether surprising given the mammoth feat of five weeks travelling in the strange country of the UKaos, so we’ve been to the doc and she needs to take it easy and get rid of that cough!

UK and India

Abi, part Yorkshire, part English and part Indian, (what a lovely rich mix? aren’t we all?) is staying with us at the moment and is a researcher into violence against women and mental health implications in Mumbai. (I’ve so told you that we have incredibly diverse and interesting guests!) She came out with a great observation, today, it is of course, a generalisation, but it resonates for me:

at first meeting in the UK people are usually really helpful when they see someone struggling with something whether its a real emergency or just helping with a simple task. Close friends and family by comparison might be more inclined to just leave you to get on with it… not neglect, you’ll understand, but just expect you to sort things out and let them know if you really wanted help.

in India if you’re doing a job, tackling something, often someone (a stranger, or friend) in India will just watch and not get involved, intervene or help unless, of course, its a real emergency. In contrast a relative or close friend would be extremely forthcoming in offering and insisting you took a helping hand, maybe even over do it.

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the weird Englishman hoists the flag outside the manor!

IMG_5965 IMG_5966Brexit a  prequel

Today is independence day and we’ve celebrated it by raising the flag (I so wouldn’t do that in the UK!) and led a cycle tour of two and a bit indians. they had a chuckle about the ‘turned tables’. It occurs to me, however, that previous versions of Brexit were examples of the UK leaving other people’s countries, very often without so much as a vote involved. We celebrate 70 years of independence!

 

 

and the dogs barking so it’s time for a walk!