getting back into the vibe

today was a day of contrasts

I’d gone into the city for one of the endless visits to the city corporation (more of that later) then diverted to buy flowers in the Market. These will traditionally float in water in the brass Urli bowl beneath Madam’s photo and garland to go the photos themselves in each of our two halls (aka lounge or living room).

In the city were so many local women in sari’s going about their business, it reminded me of Manjula and how she connected me to so many aspects of life here. It brought a tear to my eye, not that that’s unusual.

I’d passed the iconic Lansdown building that has now been waiting years for a decision of whether they will renovate or demolish and rebuild. There’s no prize for guessing which the politicians in cahoots with the developers would prefer and why.

Lansdown Building

Then the day began to turn.

Not the hotel, it’s another angle of the Lansdown building.

I went to a favourite ‘hotel’ (aka cafe) the Indra Paras, the owners son, manning the cash desk and the waiters all recognised and acknowledged me, creating a good feeling as I ate my Masala Dosa and Sev Dahi Potato Puri (crispy hollow puri balls, filled with a mix of crunchy, yoghurt, potato and a tinge of sweet) another favourite.

Then I squeezed past the guys selling clothing and material on the pavement and round the corner to the fruit salad, ice cream and traditional juices shop for my regular sarsaparilla and soda. Again the guys at the shop all asked how I’d been and wondered if I’d just come back. No I’ve been at home here in Mysore for two years, gifting me another warm vibe.

Then the usual, trying to find an auto with a working meter, after rejecting one and hanging about aimlessly by the roadside a guy hailed my as his friend stepped out from sharing the front bench seat. 

The driver knew me, and Vasanth, and had taken many of our guests back home to the BnB. He’s friend couldn’t quite place me.

“It’s the cycle man”

I’m nothing to do with this which, just happened to be there, and represents the usual Indian randomness

So I pulled down my mask and he remembered me from nine years before when Vinay and I had started the cycle tours and he knew of our base at the Palace Plaza Hotel. 

So a bittersweet mix, of missing Manjula and realising how she critically helped me adjust to my adopted city through re-connecting with people and sharing memories.

Next: More drinks to try are here

It’s not Irish…

We’re famous for our coffee here in South India.

As someone who is neither a coffee or whisky drinker I was intrigued to discover Classic’s Whisky barrel-aged Coffee from Harley’s Coffee Estate.

What an interesting idea. I needn’t have worried. It’s an intriguing taste and aroma which I immediately liked.

Once we’ve reopened Mysore Bed and Breakfast after the pandemic we’ll introduce this great innovation to our guests from around the world.

We know they’ll love it combined with our range of teas and coffees to enhance our reputation for great breakfasts.

Bloody typical

The virus situation goes from bad to — we’ve got rid of it, to —- disaster.

Leaving things until the eleventh hour, no … it’s more like one moment before midnight is not a sensible policy but it’s standard practice. No lessons learned from the first wave, infrastructure collapsing, shortage of beds, no oxygen in many hospitals, exhausted staff, people confused.

Indian politicians fail their communities. They have other, presumably more important things to worry about.

Now we have a lockdown in all but name and it’s piling confusion onto inconsistency onto chaos.

Is the instruction to close most businesses for all of everyday in which case it would be a lockdown or just when there’s a curfew?

The govt diktat is totally confusing. If it’s just overnight and weekends. What’s the point it’ll have minimal effect on the virus. If it’s everyday it’s a lock down a term they don’t politically wish to use.

The police statement adds to the confusion with the statement “it will be normal from tomorrow” so there will or will not be a lockdown/curfew from tomorrow. Of course it probably means that closure of businesses will seem like normal tomorrow.

Clear as mud.

It’s the day before the non-lockdown, I’m just back from cycling, with nobody wearing masks in the villages, most wearing them back in Siddarthanagar. I passed a wedding. In a field presumably outdoors (but in tents) in response to the situation but the limit to the gathering is supposed to be 50! There’s almost that number already preparing for the event and the guests are yet to arrive.

Recently Sowbhaghya asked why a shop keeper wasn’t wearing a mask as he should be, he declared there was no coronavirus here.

The combination of poor confusing communication from authority, default to deference and the anything goes attitude of the Wild West, is part of why we’re here. 

Here’s useful guardian articles summarising how we might have got into this stupid situation.

Oxygen supplies low

Photos and summary of the oxygen problems

There were unfulfilled plans to build more units for creating more oxygen.

It’s been unpredictable

Rural areas hit

So what’s the Government got to do with it?

another good summary

or a crime against humanity

I would be so stressed out if my poor Manjula was here and having to deal with this, now that’s a weird sense of relief. What a topsy turvy world.

What happens to old and disabled cows?

Where do the elderly cows go? and the bulls no one wants?

Out cycling today Veerendra and were invited into the local Pinjrapole society to see their work.

Imagine an old people’s home for cows.

I’ve visited many times over the years, we even used to visit as part of a cycle tour for veterinarians. They were ‘vets beyond borders’ volunteers working on a dog project in the Tibetan settlement in Bylakuppe the vets would often stay with us at Mysore Bed and Breakfast.

It’s a great place.

Ayudhapuja!

It’s the one day of the year when we wash our cars, cycles, motorbikes and tools, to then ask the Gods to bless them. Originally a Pooja for our weapons!

Lucie checks they’re doing it properly at the local hotel.

It’s the penultimate day of our big annual festival (Dasra or Dusshera). Commemorating the goddess Chamundeshwari (lives on the hill behind our house), killing the demon, after which Mysore is named.

Sowbhagyhya has already instructed me to wash my Enfield, Ambassador and Specialized. She’s now done the full on Pooja.

Lucie, probably because there’s a sliver of MAnjula in her, has to check things over, again.
The family downstairs doing Puja for their transport. Meanwhile Lucie and the puppy try to co-exist, moderately successfully.
It’s over a year since MAnjula escaped to a new life so we can do Pooja’s.

we say Happy Ayudhapuja!

Our world becomes smaller

Lucie couldn’t believe it. She’d adjusted to our road being closed because a neighbour was positive. Walking up and down the street, escaping via the park, squeezing through the railing at the road end. She could manage.

Now they’ve shifted the fence to enclose just our house and the neighbours. So Lucie’s patch is small and access to the park tied up.

I completely support them rearranging things so the whole street isn’t inconvenienced. But we’ve been tested and presumably found to be negative. We can only assume that as we haven’t heard from them.

The owners son Manu and his daughter who’ve tested positive are now in hospital.

We’ve spent three months being really careful. I’ve only been out to walk Lucie and cycle in the morning. So how’s this happened?

The owners family called me two weeks ago. The grand parents are elderly at least one with underlying conditions, Bangalore was getting more incidence of the virus, the dad was working from home and daughter not returning to school before September.

If it was available could they come and use the downstairs house? After some discussion mainly about looking after my stuff, (furniture, art, Manjula’s significant picture) I agreed. Happy to help out where I could.

Of course we didn’t expect to have the virus brought into the building (downstairs house). We just have to deal with it. Poor SB is quarantined in a small house and we have this hassle here. We’ll manage and try minimise the risk.

There is however two very annoying things.

He must have thought he may have had the virus before he came here otherwise why get a test the very next day. Thoughtless? Uncaring?

We’ve avoided the virus in the whole layout for months. Now it’s here some people will think it’s down the foreigner …… that’s annoying.

Manjula and I always tried to be kind, helpful and positive. I’ll leave the last word to Lucie.

Why does the foreigner

Save that old stuff

The neighbours think I’m bonkers and a joke.

Art work from every place in India is throughout the house. They can sort of understand that, but it’s not practical or functional.

Why save the wooden wheels, the cart sides, painted chairs?

I remember as a child, the horse drawn wagons, workshops repairing wheels and tailors in every town. They’ve all gone now.

We still have them here but they’ll go. In the eight years of mycycle tours the number of wooden ox carts being made at the workshop we visit has decreased by over eighty percent.

Hopefully some will recognise what is happening and work to preserve the heritage…, fab city, life affirming trees, characterful market, .. beautiful colourful women, skilled artisans there so much wonderfulness. , Otherwise in future years the neighbours will remember the crazy foreigner and realise he was right and understand what they’ve lost.

New beginnings are disguised as painful ends

It’s late at night and the page is blank so I turn to Laozi and Pooh bear.

Actually that’s not true. I turn to you…… to help me get the ball rolling, to create and share my and Manjula’s story. It’s the age old writer’s conundrum. As you see I have a pile of full notebooks but how to get the blank page filled to begin to start the actual story. Can you help?

If you know Manjula and I or even if you don’t 🙃 what’s the key ingredients of our story that might interest you or a wider audience. What are the main themes that will interest people?