Publish and be damned – a plan is forming.

Five things lead to a plan

First, a cow peed on the Rangoli.

Missing Manjula. Second Christmas and birthday without her

Next, a dragonfly flew into the hall, circled me and landed on Manjula’s penant that we bought on holiday in the U.K.
Immediately afterwards, a sepia coloured butterfly as a few days earlier also kept circling me.
Some believe that Dragonflies and Butterflies are messengers of love from your dearly departed.

At today’s writers group a presentation from editor Karthika helped clarify what is possible.

I’ve committed to Manjula to write our story with a working title of Full Full. I’ve completed the first draft of many and feels like I’m building the Taj Mahal out of matchsticks. This will take sometime.

Target date March 2022 to complete story

Launch book by August 2022 on what would have been Manjula’s 49th Birthday

Identify Editor, First Readers, Community Publisher advisor,

Create 3000 person mailing list and feature blog posts to help create interest.

Self publish POD and E book with 1000 sale target

Available in Hebden Bridge U.K. and silverfish (mysore) local bookshops.

Next: consider… additional chapters, Children’s book, Online interactive version

Non work station notebooks and printed draft. I have a fountain pen and blank paper. I must be a writer.

Missing my love.

Floaters

The type that we elders 😉 have in our eyes.

I’ve had a squashed fly looking floater a few years ago. The ophthalmologist in the U.K. said it would be no problem but to have my eyes checked if more appeared. One did in my left eye yesterday. It’s like a squashed mosquito. It makes it difficult to hit flying things with our electric tennis racquet.

Called the hospital, arranged an appointment for next morning (cost 260Rs) when they spotted a hole in the retina, followed by a second consultation (300 Rs) and then laser (1500Rs) to put a finger in the dam (seal the hole). Total price 2060 or around £20. All done and dusted by one o’clock.

Now before you Firangis swoon over the speed and price. In a commercialised service, as we have here, (think USA) you’re not quite sure if you’re getting what you actually need. I am however impressed with this hospital’s treatment of me and the Manj. I’m not casting aspersions but you never really know.

and the price may seem cheap but when some only earn 200 rs for a days work, it’s a lot to pay. Their access to service is severely restricted.

As someone born and bred in a country with the National Health Service, which has its faults— especially as the incompetents (politicians) are actually trying to destroy it — it still gets my support.

Serendipity?

What do you think of this?

What does it make you think of? Where might it be from? Made of what?

My very good friend Jill, from England, emailed me today.

“I have been decluttering my ‘office’ now a junk room and found this among my treasures. It was in a box with my mother’s velvet evening bag”

“But what was even more surprising was what I saw when I turned it over and read what was underneath. How extraordinary! Who would have thought all that time ago – a link to somewhere that was to become so significant in your life.”

Jill and I used to work for a local council, in England, jointly managing part of social services. It was a great time in my life. There’s more info here

This was in the early 1990’s and we used all sorts of different techniques to help us innovate and develop a responsive service. I think this elephant was one of the awards we gave to thank our staff for their tremendous work. Jill and I had dressed up as a ringmaster and clown to give out the awards. No prizes for guessing who was who….

The significance of the elephant is the analogy we used and delivered in a workshop to all our staff. ‘Teaching the Elephant to Dance’ was about change and being sensitive to the individual needs of those who used our services.

There wasn’t any connection with India and it would be another fifteen years before I first visited the country and twenty before I moved here to live in Mysore.

Here’s what was underneath.

Waiting rewarded….

Happy Birthday Manjula we love, miss and cherish you.

We wanted to hear from you on your 47th birthday and we’re not disappointed. We have a lovely message… check the video…. below

Thank you Manj.

Manjula never ever let me down and together we created a wonderful life. Thank you Manjula for making me happy.

Lucie and I, are now missing our brilliant smiling light. The memories and intensity of her giving soul of a beautiful caring, compassionate woman lives with us still.

Here’s a challenge:

How to keep in touch and show one’s love, on her birthday, when she’s not physically here, anymore.

I think I have a solution

I have found a famous time machine on eBay for sale by Leonard of the ‘Big Bang Theory’.

so I can travel back in time …..

and pass on a message

That was then and this is now. What fun and a great success but I think I’m back one day early. What date is it?

The next test is whether my strong-willed, determined most positiveness wife can somehow gets a message back to me. As she said: “we’ll see.”

The route is clear

Not……

It’s an update.

To reiterate. I’m required to leave India within 180 days of arriving every visit. Due to the virus that has been extended but I’m likely to have to leave in August. I hope they’ll let me back in

There are three obvious options: Sri Lanka, Canada and UK.

I’m openly discussing this with friends and family who might be affected or kind enough to let me stay, so that we’re as informed as we can be. I wouldn’t want to be someone who came to stay at the house or next door and not be open and honest about the risks and consequences. God forbid.

The first challenge (assuming there are flights) is getting health insurance. It’s available but there is the risk that if there are COVID 19 restrictions it might invalidate the insurance. I don’t need it for the U.K.

Sri Lanka might initially seem the best option. Shortest distance, clear polices and systems, no need for quarantine/self-isolation, open to tourists in August. BUT it might mean a domestic flight in India which I’d prefer not to do. I’ll be required to travel with a negative test result taken within 72 hours of the flight, which might not be obtainable. I’d have to stay in a government sanctioned hotel. Yuk?. I could pay any health costs directly but I wouldn’t get to see any family or friends.

Canada is a stronger contender. Means double the distance to travel than the UK, I’d have to remember how to cook, and I wouldn’t want Oll my youngest son to be tried for murder. Insurance maybe a problem and I couldn’t afford to pay health costs directly.

U.K. well clearly….
It’s a well managed place, no problems with the virus, competent leadership, no idiot behaviour and the country isn’t disintegrating. A safe haven.

I jest, of course, it provides the opportunity to catch up and be with friends and family which I feel that I need due to fragility, I would have to be 14 days in isolation so that and the risk puts a lot onto whoever is kind enough to take me in. I don’t need travel insurance and hope the Health service can cope. It does involve risky travel to and within the country.

I think you can see which way I’m leaning.

I’ve had a beard trim but no hair cut for quite a few months

If only I’d learn

People, mainly men are gathering on the street corner.

One is clearly very senior. I can tell from the way he’s bossing everyone around and then he turns to me. Instructions spew forth.

For a moment I forget I’m in India. I ask who he is. He refuses to tell me. Name? ID? He orders me into my house.

I slowly begin to recall I’m in a land where civil servant doesn’t mean civil and doesn’t involve service. It symbolises I’m above you, do as I tell you and don’t question.

The reason for all this?

Our neighbour has tested positive for the virus so our street is now closed off, clamped down and we’ve been tested.

I understand the situation and will comply with the restrictions because it’s for our common good but why do we have to tolerate this sort of attitude?

I need to know my place. Coming from northern working class England where we don’t do deference isn’t easy and is no preparation for this.

I could say it’s this sort of attitude —, (I’ve saved you the tedious details), the hierarchy, do as your told, no questions asked — that helps lead to authoritarianism. But then I look in western countries. I include the US and UK where we’re brought up to challenge and officials can be quite a lot nicer but still we have to tolerate tin-pot dictators.

Where are you Manjula? I need you

Consistently inconsistent, that’s my India…


1 Bearded ladies

Bearded ladies, I’m joking, it’s about people wearing face masks, they do sometimes look like bearded ladies. At lockdown 90% of people walking the streets were wearing facemasks, astonishing to see that level of compliance, it wouldn’t happen in England. Now that lockdown has loosened its 80%. That’s worrying as over the next few weeks expecting thousands of repatriated Indians from abroad should be even more careful but credit where it’s due people are unusually for India, following the rules.
bearded lady with a disguise.

2 mobile phones

not driving while using the phone, haha, you must be joking… on a carefully calibrated sophisticated sampled study, yes random cars driving past me standing on a corner, before the ‘time of virus’, over 50% were using their phone. Hardly any were on hands free and a fair proportion were even texting. and the number one loser was a policemen.

He was in his fancy big SUV/Jeep type police vehicle, driving along the double road (dual carriageway) with his arm out of his window texting on the phone. Bad.

This is normal in a place with normality, that’s NOT following the rules.

This is not to say it doesn’t happen elsewhere in the world, this just happens to be were a live, it may be exactly the same everywhere else, it just isn’t

3 Drinking water

Now this is the most consistent thing I’ve ever found in India. When drinking an unbelievable 99.9% of people don’t let their lips touch the glass or bottle and this, in the land of inconsistency. Apart from being a great safe practice, this is probably number one example of people in India following an ‘unwritten rule’ seriously. It’s true, even where water is in a jug at a chai shop , or yes, on a wall alongside a construction site, everyone does it. Astonishing!

Why write to Manjula?

Thank you for your kind responses via messages, phone calls, Facebook and here on this site, to my two letters. It’s been important for me to share and feel your support.

In passing through the grief portal of pain to love, to understand and know Manjula better. I’ve found a few useful books.

The letter to Manjula was me talking to her to recognise my loss, and share with her, my remorse which I wasn’t able to before she died. It’s part of a process outlined in the grief handbook the book on top of the pile.

Is the latest I read, especially useful as there was a distinct loss of meaning and still is to an extent.

I’ve maybe written the letter a dozen times but it’s only now I’ve felt able to share it with her. In therapeutic groups or pairs they’ll often read their letter out to each other.

It’s quite interesting to shift from focussing on her body/ego to her soul spirit wherever that might now be.

It’s been quite a journey from the devastation I felt through to recognising my absolute love and devotion to Manjula. There’s now more sweet and less bitter and my first thought is now more likely to bring a smile, than a tear.

I now know her better, partly as I’m researching and writing our story.

Meanwhile Mysore comes back to life. There’s been an unlocking. Here’s a few shots from our morning walk

Taking home a palm branch for his fire.
Any opportunity to sell and survive
Lucie in our park after today’s walk. Determined to keep away from me and entice ticks.
Ha ha this one isn’t from our walk 🙂 it’s one of Manjula’s favourite flowers and now a tattoo.