What happens after we die?

A letter to my Granddaughter Poppy.

I’m staying with her and her mum and dad.

It’s her dad Ben’s birthday.

This morning on waking Poppy gave me sweets and asked if Manjula liked them and if we could telephone her.

So she doesn’t know about what’s happened, or maybe she does and she’s looking to me for further explanation and understanding, hence this letter to be read out….. to her, which I’ve just done after supper

Manjula has died.

When people’s bodies become tired and can’t manage anymore they stop working, they die. Usually it’s when they are older, sometimes when they are younger.

It’s OK to be sad, to miss her and to cry. I do a lot of the tIme. She’s still with us in our hearts and in our minds.

We don’t know what happens to their spirit when someone dies because it’s not happened to us yet. Most of us believe part of us, usually called our spirit carries on.

Manjula (and I and lots of people in India) believe that part of us carries on and usually comes back and lives within another body. So that would mean we never really die, nobody really knows.

In India when someone’s body stops working it’s cremated and the funeral ceremonies are about helping her spirit move on….

Some people think that afterwards they hang around in a beautiful place, like a valley, where they sing, dance and have great fun.

Some believe we’ll catch up with each other again, hold hands continue to be friends and carry on.

Some people believe that butterflies or dragonflies are messengers or they find some other way to pass a message back to their loved ones.

I know Manjula’s spirit is still alive – where exactly I don’t know – maybe waiting for me, maybe waiting to be the spirit once she finds another body.

We know she was loved and gave love and we can’t ask for anything more we still love and miss her.

I know she had a happy life when we were together, she was a very good person, looked after others wherever and whenever she could. I think and believe our spirits will meet again somewhere in the future.

So it’s sad because we miss Manjula but it’s also happy because she’s left us with wonderful memories, she’s still in our hearts and her spirit lives on.

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!

a new direction?

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We’ve had a blog for a few years now and while there’s been a fair amount of interest we feel its not necessarily been very focussed (now there’s a surprise, given who’s written it!) and not necessarily too relevant…. thank you to those who do follow us and your helpful feedback.  We’re trying something slightly better as of now, for that read:  The management has instituted a review.

There will be three interwoven (ha ha) threads or broad themes.

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Top of the tree will be Manjula’s story.

We’ll start that first with ‘Maid in India’ it’s definitely the one to follow.

Next up will be my take on India and life in this amazing country. So maybe, it might be worth

dipping into (and out of!)42731480-A5D7-4D0D-993F-28592EEDBD5E1

51FEED26-61C2-4E8D-9762-B510F65465D41The third will be Lucie’s view which essentially is the place to find the odds and sods, maybe even the political soap box (she is a dedicated “participant observer’)  and a slightly alternative viewpoint.

We don’t offer a better understanding of anything. We are after all unfathomable people by the very nature of homo sapiens. We are, of course, living in the most wonderful, startling, infuriating, beautiful country full of the most smiley people but whose twists and turns, consistent inconsistencies, joys and horrors creates an overriding paradoxical roller coaster ride.  I hope you’ll find some interesting insights and an entertaining journey. I reckon that you’ll get to know Manjula in a different way and its the connections between the three themes that can provide more insights.

We ask you for your help…..Please do follow us and pass on to friends with an interest in India or those you may wish to punish in some bizarre way. 😉 and equally importantly do give critical feedback: tell us what works and doesn’t, do feel free to provide fresh ideas for content and suggest how we can get it out to more people. Above all please do get involved and create a conversation.

But ultimately don’t get your hopes up!

It’s not really written by Manjula (although I will be delving into transcribed recordings from her made over the last couple of years in Kannada and our own conversations) or by Lucie (she is a dog!)

It’s still written by me.

Yes the man from North England (where’s that? …Yorkshire) who hasn’t quite got the grasp of the English language but who has a wealth of insights stolen from our wonderful guests, the amazing people we meet her in India and frankly anyone else with a half decent idea.

So there you have it, please get involved, watch this space, give feedback so we can learn and improve and pass on to those you think might be interested.

We’ll continue to post on Facebook and our info-insights-tips to help visitors to Mysore have a great time will be on the main site here but the real richness,  if you can call it that, will be on the blog itself.

Horse Riding in Mysore

I sometimes think that Vasanth, who I first met ten years ago and now co-ordinates our transport, used to dread my return trips to Mysore. I’d often arrive with an idea for a new project. One such project was my interest in horse riding. It actually lasted a few trips. We searched far and wide for opportunities for me to go horse riding. Vasanth was convinced we’d get nowhere. I was beginning to believe him. He found tourist horse riding trips in Srirangaptnam, nope not my ‘cup of tea’, we even visited the stables at the horse race course. Nothing! I was sure, there had to be something.

Then one day, we had one of those typical India experiences. I was leaning over a garden wall admiring a small traditional Mysore house. The lady came out and we got chatting. I complemented her on the house and garden, as you would, and happened to mention our search for horse riding.

” Oh” she said,”you should go meet my father, he’ll be able to help.” He was an officer in the Mounted Police. Well, sharpish we headed down there and tentatively entered the grand horse-shoe-shaped archway entrance and result! our project was a complete success.

it works out that the Riding School of Mysore was with the mounted police. I kid you not! After a meet with the Commandant I became a visiting member.

It worked like this:

if you wanted a ride that morning, a member would go to the horse exercising and practice fields before 6am

It would still be dark but one could hear the movement of men and horses, with snorts and neighs…. As the darkness was broken by sun rise and any mist began to lift, there were up to 50 men and horses lined up on parade. The officer on duty would check all his men were in line and in horsey attention, then ride and report to the commandant, who by now had arrived and was smartly facing his men. The officer reported on who was and wasn’t there and the plans for the day.

Impressive!

Once the ritual of being ‘on parade’ was completed Commandant Shetty would turn to whoever had arrived from the ‘Riding School’ and after a short ‘how are you?’ informal sort of conversation, would call over sufficient men to give up their horses for the members of the ‘School’ waiting there.

It was absolutely amazing. Who would have believed it possible to go borrow mounted police and horses to go riding in a morning. If just one person had turned up, more often than not, you’d do left to your own devices to ride your horse alone in one of the fields. Otherwise a policeman might lead you in an improvised lesson.

I subsequently discovered that many locals learned to ride in exactly this way.

One of the many unique ways of life in the city I would later adopt and move to.

I was reminded of  all this on reading this article about …..

The Mounted Police in Mysore