I blame my parents

I was there……

In the middle, to the foreground with the wings….

No, not actually in the photo. This is Butlins holiday camp pool in the early 1970’s when I most definitely was or had visited with my family. Take in the photo. Look at how white we were and slim! How things have changed.

So why do I blame my parents? A convenient excuse? A contradictory mix of experiences that helped me prepare for the consistently inconsistent life that is India. On the one hand we’d be pioneers driving through England and France to holiday in Spain. Visiting quaint villages that are now over fifty years later, Temples to package tourism. That was in the early 1960’s when I was a little nipper.

My holiday education did also include ten years later the decided working class holiday at this very holiday camp. Rows of cabins, knobbly knee competitions for the Dads, beauty completions for the mums, activities for the kids, soooo non pc. In terms of my working class upbringing, let’s not forget the ultimate: Charabanc (coach) trips to Blackpool illuminations and Skegness from our home in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England., organised by the archetypal ‘Working Men’s Club’

So why am I telling you all this?

It helps make up who I am.

Check the Guardian article that relates to the photo.

Coincidentally Martin Parr, who’s exhibition this all refers to, lived in Hebden Bridge early in his career probably shortly after this photo was taken. In 1986 when Liz, Ben and I moved to Hebden Bridge we bought the very same house where he’d lived.

Why tell Manjula’s story?

 

Manjula’s Story

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Manjula is from a poor background.

Her poverty, family instability and the consequences of being a woman in a patriarchal society are not atypical. She has shown great determination, fortitude, even stoicism. It’s a common story for Indian women (and men) coming from difficult backgrounds and managing to survive through challenging life circumstances.

Manjula’s story helps illuminate what life is like for so many people living in contemporary India. There maybe, explosive growth of the economy and with it the middle classes – we can see the evidence in many ways – higher disposable income, spare money sloshing around, leisure holidays, the shift to the cities, flash cars, house dogs, you name it, it’s here.

But as with everywhere else in the world, probably more so here, in India, the rich and poor have traditionally lived ‘cheek by jowl’ yet as the economy grows people are left out and left behind. The distance between the rich and poor actually becomes greater. There is always the risk that their story is not told nor realised, their needs forgotten, a myopia of the modern age.

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Manjula’s fortunes, have changed, she has seized the opportunity of running Mysore Bed and Breakfast and in many, ways she not only survives but thrives. So, she’s sort-of-moved-on but is still a bridge between those different worlds and hence provides invaluable insights. I, therefore, believe it’s all the more critical that we share her story, her experiences and her world.

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Of course, I’m in no way, biased. She is, of course, a beautiful woman of great character, with wonderful beguiling wit  combined with an astonishing tolerance and resourcefulness….

The story shared through this site, comes from recordings she has made, the tales she tells me and our shared experiences since I came to live in Mysore six years ago when I first met Manjula.

…. do join us on our journey.

I’m so happy ….

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I’ve just returned from walking Lucy, the dog. Manjula the light of my life, my muse, catalyst and creator who is at the heart of my happiness here is away at the moment. She’s on a brief holiday visiting her mother. What a gap I’ve become so used to her being here to greet me when I return home… with her warm smile and little jokes. Yesterday, before leaving, she declared that there was a cockroach in my bed… ha ha… I went there, only to find she’d changed the bed. Her jokes maybe come from hanging around with guy from Yorkshire for over five years! Poor her..

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You may have already come to know her, if you’re among the over 1,000 guests that have visited here at Mysore Bed and Breakfast. If so, you’ll know exactly what Im talking about in my ham fisted way. Many of you have assumed that we were more than partners in the business sense and I can reveal, its true. For some time now- Ive known that I love and cherish her dearly.

So there it is ….. announced to the world. Manjula is the love of my life.

I’ll use this record of our life here in Mysore to introduce more of this wonderful woman wherever possible using her own words.

Stephen

Mycycle, Mysore Cycle Tours

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Mycycle is my business in South India that provides short guided cycle tours for visitors to the wonderful city of Mysore.

So the My refers to Mysore as well as my experience of over 40 years as a cyclist. But I fully intend that this blog will be much more than that…about our view of life in India that on the way will take in an eclectic range of interests and experiences.

We have now had the privilege of hosting, guiding and hopefully entertaining over 900 guests since we launched a little over two years ago. We’re often asked about the history of our business here, what drew me to Mysore and what adventures I and the team have had in living in India and developing Mycycle and Mysore Bed and Breakfast.

This is an attempt to share something of that experience.

please do join us on the journey

details of what we do can be found on http://www.manjulasmysore.in

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