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…

Tom and Amy

img_0246Tom and Amy first keep to visit us what to them might seem like a hundred years ago. They were introduced to us by the lovely people at Indiasomeday which continues to be our favourite agency.

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After that first trip, we decided to designate them as our adopted children as we got on really really well. On their return home they got married, resigned from their jobs and became nomads.
They now have an exciting adventure filled life as itinerant travellers working then travelling, travelling and working.

 

Tamy have become part of our lives. Amy was our celebrant at our wedding and Tom took the photos. They continued to be with us during Manjula’s difficult times due to her illness. When she died earlier this year, they immediately changed their plans, rode over the hill to the rescue….. well, flew back to India to stay with me for a couple of weeks. I hadn’t realised how important that was to me, they were a godsend . They’ve now visited three times, this year alone and some guests have come to think they actually live here.

We meet up to eat a vegan when our paths cross in London.

They’ve created two lovely videos of Manjula and I and our work here. Please check here for the videos and a link to their own seeking skies site.

Manjula absolutely adored them, Tom and Madam’s witty banter and humour fed off each other.

Did I mention they’re vegan? Real activists who live their beliefs, working hard to try and save our planet, to show the older generation their mistakes and provide a positive path to the future.

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Thank you Tom and Amy for helping me survive this incredibly difficult time.

 

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11th August 2019

Satish

Satish became such a close friend (or brother) to Manjula she would telephone him most days to bend his ear and share her stories. He was a source of invaluable support, especially in her last few months.

He’s one of our main drivers and been an incredible help in so many ways. We spent days hunting down our Ambassador car (which he hopes to get in due course) and his project management skills came in handy to prepare for our wedding ceremony.

Tanu and Satish have joined me as Directors of the business in Manjula’s place.

Today Ina and I were invited to his home for lunch as it’s Mahalakshmi’s big day (more info here).

Delicious!!

We’re working on a new project….. more later.

Tanu

Tanu, no let’s get it right her full name is Tanuja Dasharath Haunsbhavi So what does that all mean? D…..is her fathers name and . H…… is their village name.

Here she’s with her husband Keerthi, who’s a film maker. They’ve just called round to pick up a Divan (single bed) for the accommodation she’s just opened for the yoga students that visit Mysore.

So who’s that cheekily, peeking out between them?

I first met Tanu when she was running the Green shop here in Mysore and sold me tea, juice, jams and wonderful elephant cups none of which I’m able to get anymore. I wonder why!? That’s also where Tanu and Manjula first met and which was to grow into a very significant relationship. So who is Tanu and what’s important to her in life?

Tanu reminds me of friends back in England. She has a strong and clear moral direction, is committed to changing society for the better and is a wonderful supportive insightful friend. Some mornings you’ll find her leading groups on nature trails at one of our main lakes here in Mysore. She seems to have fingers into many things. I’ll bump into her at the literary festival, see her selling products at pop-up shops, promoting organic, generally being a connector in our community.

Tanu became a sister to Manjula. Someone she’d call to get things off her chest, probably often about me…. often when I was away, Tanu would be a significant support to Manjula, at the end of the phone and often calling round. Tanu was there straight away to help me when Manjula died.

Now she is one of my most important supports as I deal with the grief and mourning from losing Manjula. She’s been fantastic. Recently becoming involved in our business together with our good friend Satish to take Manjula’s place as director.

A little bird told me of a recent conversation.

A group of Indian wives were discussing the belief amongst some that partners would be reunited when reincarnated. In Kannada it’s: Eelu Eelu janamaku neene nana Ganda/hendati yagabeeku OR for the next seven lives I want you to be my husband/wife

When one of them asked if Tanu would be happy be reunited with her husband she declared:

“Yes, of course but would he be happy to be reunited with me?”

I like this..

I’m up for it and look forward to meeting up with Manjula again, I just need to work out if there’s anything to do, to help it happen.

Ina

Meet our friends

Ina (aka Thomasina) is one of our more cherished guests. She travelled to Australia, as a young child, with her parents on an assisted passage from Scotland over sixty years ago. So please note, all Australians that went from the U.K. are not crooks 😉 it’s a joke, ok? She’s just been telling me about that first voyage and how they stopped off in Sri Lanka.

 

P1080246Ina first visited us in Mysore five years ago with a plan to meet with Dorjee, a Tibetan Monk living close by in Bylakuppe (reputedly the biggest Tibetan settlement in India, less than two hours away). She had sponsored him for almost twenty years since he was a thirteen year old child when he first came to India. She brought chaos with her on the very first visit. Manjula was away at her mothers, Ina managed to lock me out of the house and brought an unexpected although very welcome guest …. a gate-crashing monk. 🙃

This was their first meeting. A wonderful occasion we were so happy to be part of..

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Ina is from Adelaide in Australia with a lovely family her daughter Naomi, son Daniel and four lovely grand children. She has now visited each year, only missing once when Manjula and I were in the UK and became Manjula’s closest friend amongst the many close friends from our guests.

Ina’s also widowed, as her Singaporean husband Daniel died almost exactly ten years ago. So she has personal insights and has been incredibly supportive, helping me through this astonishingly difficult time.

I would often joke with Manjula that Ina has one of the strongest Scottish accents I’ve ever heard yet has lived in Australia since just a few years old. How did that happen then? She has been known to interpret for other guests yet Manjula never had any problems understanding her.

Ina is with us now and is constantly regaling me with her intimate stories of the time she spent with Manjula. They’d go out on trips together as they did last year to Bylakuppe, we’d celebrate Manjula’s 45th birthday as a group. Birthday breakfast was Ina setting the table, Willian (workawayer from Brazil) chopping the fruit and moi, making the mushies, eggs and toast. We were all on tenterhooks will it meet Madam’s high expectations? Manjula was the boss!

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Manjula admired Ina’s jazzy shoes and just a few weeks later, a parcel arrived in the post, shoes for Manjula.

It’s all a bit of a mixed blessing, as life is now, because I love to hear about Manjula and remember her especially through a close friends eyes but it also reminds me of what I’m missing. We recall how Manjula was so giving and how everyone that’s ever visited us, has taken a bit of Manjula away with them.

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My beautiful, who has gone and left me.

I realise that Ina is a goldmine of reminiscences and must capture whatever I can from her memories of Manjula to help grow Manjula’s story that I’ll post over the next few months. So this morning Faizan came to video Ina’s reminiscences of Manjula.

I do wonder however how Ina will manage during this visit, without Manjula and having to tolerate too much of that chap…. what’s his name again? You know the beautiful Manjula’s husband!

Dreaming

She’s dreaming, check this latest episode from Ina’s stay.

I’ve had to add a bit more… to Ina’s bit on the site. These photos come from her second visit and I’ve now realised how important a person Manjula was to Ina as I’d realised before how Ina was so important to Manjula. Its been hard for Ina being here without her great friend and having to tolerate the Englishman but its been wonderful seeing my beautiful wife from even more angles.

Manjula’s story March and April 2019

I recognise how difficult it can be to keep track of the mish mash of postings. I’ve therefore put together a sort of index list of the most recent postings about Manjula.

I’ve found it it a real help to share my feelings at this very difficult time, the openness reflects the sort of life we’ve created and the amazing family (yes you) we now have throughout the world. I know its not always easy reading. Your support, feedback and encouragement has been great.  Its early days of course to decide what happens next but I may continue to post but in a different way, to bring to you some of the stories of her life that Manjula has shared with me.

So to help you see what I’ve recently posted here’s a list (with links) from March and April, a very very difficult time.

Team Briefing 17th March, link here

This came about as Manjula in a heartfelt way was worried that she couldn’t do any of the things she’d previously done. its her recognising how things were changing and my attempt to help Manjula recognise her continuing value and the priorities in her life. Links with Manjula taking back control on 29th March link here which I wrote a few days after she’d died. its here

Lucky 23rd March link here an old man recognising he’s so fortunate and first announcing the sad news,

Thank you 24th March the statement I made on the Saturday with friends and family gathered to say farewell and a lovely video of her talking to camera here

Manjula captured my heart here’s a graphic of a birthday card I made for her based on some famous graffiti by Banksy, in the original the little girl loses the heart but not in this case! check here

Missing Manjula 1 a couple of examples of friends comments and photos with an appeal to send more examples, its here 

I’ve been so touched by the many many many emails, messages, postings from around the world. I’m also not surprised. Sorry but as yet, Ive not managed to reply to everyone and want yo do it personally. Its also proving to be a bit difficult to work out what to do ….  There may be Missing Manjula 2 might be a posting or might be a book of highlights!

Do follow to see what happens.

Bereft and Tearful, says it all, reflecting from a Mysore Park and wanting help here

The follow up about continuing Manjula’s creation and how we’d like you to get involved is here please do see if you can help …… by following the blog or coming to be part….

Ashi Vasarjan the ceremony where I immersed Manjula’s ashes in the Kaveri river at Paschivahimi. Great video although some might find it a bit hard. Its here

It’s a hot hot day, Manjula’s brother and his wife come back to Mysore to discuss preparations for the very significant 11th day. It’s not straightforward.  details of that meeting are here

The 11th day, here, was itself quite a challenge, its an important event but the dynamic of they only discovering we were married at the Ashi Vasarjan added to the complexity of the situation and wasn’t helped by their attempts to try and get anything of value to sell!! (exactly why Manjula didn’t want us to the tell them about our marriage)

Tender, my true love a few soppy words from a lover here, (What is this man like?) the photo is in our lounge and was decorated with fresh photos every day. There’s now a lovely photo of the beautiful Manjula on each floor with a special sandal wood garland thing.

An important part of the Hindu rituals at this time is to give and offer food. On the 11th day food was offered to Manjula (plenty of meat, its me that was the veggie) as part of the Pooja this food was also taken on to the roof for the birds to eat. That’s symbolic and shows that Manjula has eaten and its part of the process of helping her move on and her spirit finding a new resting place. We also offered food on her behalf, to others by paying for meals at an Ashram, a home for older people, it was lovely and its here. 

As you will have noticed there has been tremendous help and support not least from Tom and Amy who flew in from Malaysia when they’d heard about Manjula’s death. They stayed for two weeks and have been incredible support, I couldn’t have managed without them. We first met them when visiting us as guests years ago, they’ve now been here three times this year! Last year Tom filmed our wedding and Amy was the celebrant  who created the whole ceremony. Satish, Tanuja and Vasanth have been sorting out the whole series of things we’ve had to and been very tolerant of the English man’s crazy requests. Others have just spontaneously helped such as the team from Royal Mysore Walks (aka Gully Tours) who brought breakfast round one morning. Super  there have been some many great was to remember our Manjula.

I love my stick insect and she did get a bit thin with one of her videos showing her character and humour. its here

Manjula has changed me in so many ways, it has well and truly taken me out of my comfort zone now, but it also did challenge me over the last few years of helping her through her illnesses. It cannot in any way detract from our nine years together that has been an illuminating joy. Here’s one take on what I think she has done in creating our home and in becoming my wife. If I can get my head around it and  improve my writing I hope to share more of that story. The challenge is to be entertaining and accessible in my writing, erm!

I realise that in the land of ‘nothing ever works as planned’ Manjula has been my golden key, my ‘get out of jail free card’, I’m now alone but check here she’s also been my and others boss, even demanding peaches being brought from the U.K.

This whole awful experience has got me thinking in so many different ways, its a bumpy road with bumps, rocks, pot holes, mental turmoil and the grief we receive as part of the process and ‘choose’ to give ourselves….What about swopping places?  gives a bit more insight here

I hope that helps you make sense of what has been posted so you can choose to check through anything you’ve missed and get a more coherent story.

getting ready for a wedding

It might not be the big glitzy Indian affair but we still have to prepare…..

step one, decide on a location

an island …… check,

a tree ……. check,

a field …… check

we’ve got it all

erm, there’s a lot of water, a stream and paddy fields to cross requiring some nimble steps over a simple bridge (must remember to build one) and balancing on a mud wall. No one said it was going to be easy! but we will work it out.

step two

do a check list, create a ceremony and find a photographer

Tom and Amy first visited us a few years ago and have now been many times and have become part of our family. Its absolutely wonderful that they are here to be part of our celebrations and have critical roles as celebrant and photographer.

An essential aspect of any wedding is a trip to Vasanth’s house for Sumati to do the Henna designs for the ladies

Mike and Sue, who I know for over thirty years were also visiting from the UK. What a wonderful coincidence, given that there hasn’t been any advance planning and they quickly became part of the growing team. They also have the heavy responsibility of representing the whole of the British Isles, especially my sons who  couldn’t get here, but then we didn’t tell them about it…… Ben and Ol, Alice and Poppy, daughter in law and grandaughter and the other very important people in my life such as Liz, aka BIG X.

we decided to have a ‘dara’ a sort of friendship thread with wooden bead, to recognise our coming together and to provide a souvenir for each of our guests.

and finally on the day itself, we’re out on Srirangapatnam Island …

but we needed to make the place a little bit fancy and solve the ‘how to get there problem’. So in answer to the questions from many guests whove visited the famous market: what do they do with all those flowers?

even a simple little ceremony like ours needs plenty of flowers: for the horse, the auto rickshaws, the car (more on that later!) our little patch of land, (we just decorated the tree,) so imagine how much is required for a puka Indian wedding!

and to resolve the other problem: Satish, project manager extraordinaire, brought some planks from his house to build a bridge so that we could get across the stream (aka an irrigation channel)

perfect!

typical Indian planning, where there doesn’t seem to be any, yet it just comes together, nicely.

A Farrell Footnote

The full set of photos taken mainly by Tom are here

the BIG trip to the UK

Madam English, as she’s known hereabouts is back from her BIG trip. We travelled the length and breadth of the country, for over six weeks, fitted VERY important family events in, had a reunion camp, got muddy in Wiltshire, met lots of Mysore Bed and Breakfast guests, spent a fortune and had a rare old time!

Thank you to the lovely people we know and love for making this such a super trip.

Presents (limited, of course, to sensible cost and numbers), include: spinners (mad craze in the west), nail varnish (highly sought after western quality), shiny things, and various other odds and sods are being distributed as I write. A really big hit for the guy who runs the veg shop (hi!) is Gordons Gin, from duty free. He’s paid for it (we’re not made of money, although many think, I am) and he’s ecstatic about the flavour, its clearly a notch above the local gin.

Well what a trip it was……

 

We’ve covered the North, South, East and West, wet old things in Yorkshire,

 

Dorset, Teesside, Tyneside, even Lancashire (there’s long-standing issues between Yorkshire and Lancashire), Derbyshire, Wiltshire, my son’s wedding to Alice,

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sorry wrong photo (I’ll deservedly get into a lot of trouble for that!)

Oliver, my other son’s visit from Canada,

connectiong with my lovely Granddaughter Poppy, family reunion camp, WOMAD music festival,

family in Sheffield, Hand made parade in Hebden Bridge….

oh, and London, of course

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Madam English now knows why we Brits go on some much about the weather, we’ve had it all. She now knows about being prepared for it to change in a nano second, carrying endless clothing variations, layering and Hot Water Bottles when camping.

She’s so English, she has learned how to complain (Indians, generally not being big complainers and just tend to get on with it, really?) but still manages to have a great time.

we thank everyone… so much… for making this such a wonderful experience.

We’ve  lost count of how many of our old and new friends, including so many Bed and Breakfast guests we’ve seen, met in London, visited their homes, bumped into at the music festival, its been superb…. and did we mention all the meals we’ve eaten….

and at the end of it all we’re a bit tired

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all our photos (these and many more) are at the usual place at flickr

So what does Madam English think about the place?

How did  Lucy manage with Eric?

A BIG THANKYOU to Cary.

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I couldn’t have managed without you

Cary has been my key supporter and lifeline to help set up here in Mysore. Whether its renting the house seven years ago, ‘owning’ my scooter and motorbike, crazy adventures to investigate raising sheep or looking at land to buy, a listening ear for my frustrations, to help me understand this wonderful crazy country, introducing me to the ‘club’, early morning swims and being a part of his lovely family.

We originally met horse riding together (well he can ride and I can just hang on) with the Mounted Police. (yes the Mysore riding school was with the mounted police). I can’t find any photos of the cowboys!

Cary has been a real friend. It just wouldn’t have been possible without his help and support.

Cary, is rightfully proud of his heritage as a Coorgy. He and his wife Ganga, originate from Coorg or Kodagu and they have a son Gagan and daughter Sunaina  It is a distinctive and separate community or race of people who live in the western Ghats a few hours west from Mysore. They have a  traditional dress and culture, are known for being tall, proud and dependable, many join the army and they know how to live (and party!!). Cary is an active businessman and farmer but the pub he ran, where I used to hang out is no more. Probably better for my belly!

He lives close by here in Siddarthanager.

So thank you Cary on the anniversary of me being here SEVEN years!