Herausforderung

I’m reading a very interesting book recommended by a recent guest: ‘Reinventing Organisations, a guide to creating organisations inspired by the next stage of human consciousness.’ So there! Exactly the sort of thing that’s ‘up my street.’

I’ve just come across a reference to herausforderung a German word that means “being called to grow from the inside out” I like that and I immediately make a connection.

As Manjula shared her story with me (as I plan to with you through this portal/blog thing/website) I became aware of the incredible challenges she had faced as a child and through adulthood. She had shown strength and resilience through thick and thin to be herself and survive.

When we met after our initial stumbling communication with the help of a Vasanth. I provided a pictorial job description to at least get a basic understanding of what I needed, it was also important to me to share something of my approach to life.

I’m not impressed with the deference we find here and she’d been on the receiving end of the extremes of hierarchy and patriarchy as a woman from a poor background with limited education.

I wanted Manjula to understand that I saw everyone as equals, yes we’re different with varied life experiences, different skills and aptitude’s but to me we’re all equal. In a word egalitarian, not a word I could use in this situation but which explains it well.

So it was important we set out on the right footing. She seemed to understood and responded to that.

I firmly believe that the opportunity we were able to jointly create was an example of where she was able to ‘grow from the inside out’ to be herself, fulfil her potential and she did exactly that. She blossomed!

She started with what she knew. Building on years of serving people and their houses. She’d make sure it was clean, the house was spick and span, laundry was done, kitchen was established, amazing meals were prepared. She’d always strive to improve by watching cookery programmes and always trying new things. Then she made it into a home. In some ways a typical Indian place: open, accessible, a hive of activity with a rich mix of people. She’d grown into her role, created the shared open space that is mysore BnB and made it her own with her strength of character and confidence, on the way, learning English, showing astonishing wit and insights, and of course, managed and taught me…. (more later) blossomed, bloomed, and shared her petals around the world.

Maid in India 5

so, to explain the job. Ok we don’t speak the same language, she’s probably a little worried and intimidated, coming to work for an unknown quantity: foreigner, male, living on his own, can be a bit loud and over-energetic… so of course, I used my well developed training skills. …… and got out the whiteboard, flapped my arms and generally danced around a bit. I seriously wonder what she thought. On many occasions she shown people the photo of my drawings. Promptly followed by sniggers and giggles.

So I wonder what she really thought of working for a Firangi!

Why a blog?

the journal, our bloglet  is an experiment. Is there a story to tell? can it be told competently and ultimately, will it be engaging?

Only you and time will tell.

Our guests at the BnB are always asking for our story and often  suggest we share it to a wider audience. So here is our humble attempt, to relay our story of life in India. Manjula as a ‘young’ Indian woman and me as a much much older English guy. (the age gap isn’t a big as it looks…. he said defensively!)

We intend to introduce ourselves and our life here in India, local characters and the wonderful guests, from around the world, who come to Mysore to join our Mycycle tours and stay in our Mysore Bed and Breakfast. Its already a bit of a mad mix. On the way we hope to share insights into this amazing, crazy, challenging, annoying, ‘consistently inconsistent’ beautiful place and it’s people.

Please do regularly check into meandmycycle.com

If it’s of interest do share and pass on to others.

We value your opinion.

Do you want more of the same or something different? what shall we post? insights into Manjula’s life as a poor woman in modern India? an understanding of what its like for me as an English guy adjusting to life in this ‘differently organised’ world? our personal story of coming together from different cultures and backgrounds, the fun we have and the challenges we face? a better understanding of India (is that possible?) from our own limited experience.

Do let us know.

our very best wishes,

Manjula and Stephen

Oh, and exactly on cue I hear Lucy calling from downstairs. We haven’t forgotten she is of course the third and, dearly loved, part of our family here in India.

and Lucy, of course…

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Why?

So why?
India….
Cycling….and a BnB

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Think of it. Moving to a new country at age 54, launching a completely new venture in a field in which I had no previous experience and all this in India which at the best of times is mildly confusing and frequently incredibly frustrating.

If I’d thought about it for too long, it may have seemed daunting.

The fact is. Work was drying up in the UK. There was a financial crisis affecting everyone and a key market for our leadership and team training, the very banks who created the crisis (and clearly needed more effective teams and leaders with a smidgeon of sense and ethics) and other businesses suddenly didn’t require our services. It was time to find new cheese and that was to be in India in 2009.

Cycle tours and a BnB were in fact on the cards but not straightaway.

I have a track record of trying out and developing new things. My careers have ranged from social and community work, varied management roles and latterly as consultant and trainer with international companies. The only leads I had were a lifelong interest in cycling, a realisation that I thrive on meeting and engaging with people and maybe, just maybe a sign of real potential in the beautiful city of Mysore. A human scale city with great traditions, lovely people and a place where people go to retire ha ha.

Above all I’d fallen in love in India, in my 20’s and from a distance. A sort of blind date. But it wasn’t for another 25 years before I’d managed to meet her and realise the love was real. Like so many others before me, I wanted to get to India as much as possible.

I had indeed dipped my toe in the water by organising some events in India in 2006 (more of which later) so I knew a little of what to expect and I already had a small set of supportive friends here in Mysore, two in particular: Vasanth and Cary in Mysore.

To tell the truth….I hadn’t realised what an absolute joy it would be setting up and running this business in India.