It’s so easy to fall into the quagmire pit of negativeness. Dwelling on the sadness of her last few weeks,the whipping stick of blame or the grief of how much I miss her. She is of course happily still with us in so many ways. I am so fortunate to have fond memories that I cherish and as the brain gets more befuddled I have lovely videos of Manjula talking to me and you. I came across one yesterday on a posting about us both coming to terms with the changes. You can find it here with her lovely humour even at the most difficult of times. I love you Manjula
Annoying things in India
I often explain on a cycle tour how much I love India, at something like eighty percent. I have after all chosen to adopt India as my home and married a beautiful Indian woman. However there is fifteen percent I can take or leave and maybe five percent that’s ugly that, I hate. That last bit includes the violence and aggression but also milder forms of behaviour. Examples of this might be Babu’s giving you the run-a-round or businesses not understanding customer care.
In my view this results from the extreme hierarchy and the deference expected of people. It’s reinforced in the home, at school or college and at work. Do what you’re told and don’t question things. Know your place and don’t challenge the way things are, seems to relate to caste.
Even in the simplest of situations it feels like your treated like a child.
Today was a case in point. It might seem a simple thing, and insignificant but I think its part of that overall problem. I’ve investigated this and now realise all the mobile phone companies are the same.
I’m at the Airtel shop, I’ve gone as my phone is not working, I’m told that the SIM card was faulty and needed replacing. For them to issue me with a replacement I need ID. I have a copy of my passport on the iPhone and after some kerfuffle get a print out. Sorry sir we need to see the original hard copy.
I’ve been a customer for maybe over 7 years. It was the number used by Manjula so is very significant and sentimental. I’ve provided my ID to set up my account, it’s on their system THEY KNOW WHO I AM but still they require an established customer to prove who they are but it MUST be the actual document. Just to get a replacement SIM card for the faulty one. This will be my fourth trip to the Airtel shop. Inconvenience sir, no problem.
I object to the employees but they treat us as children because that’s how they’re treated by their managers. Who can blame them? Employees are expected do as they’re told and not question things. Treat people like children, they’ll behave like children and not take responsibility.
For years I’ve delivered workshops in London and a roadshow for TATA that’s about empowering employees to make decisions to be able to innovate, be creative and focus on creating a quality customer experience.
That’s not valued here and is nigh on impossible to create in a system that prioritises deference, doing as you’re told and not in any way thinking for yourself.
My tolerance levels are diminished since Manjula died. She’d just laugh at me.
I went back to the Airtel shop with my ID card, fully annoyed but relatively calm. The new SIM was issued and installed by me later that day. Just don’t ask about the need to install it in a simple-smart phone before finally installing it in a smart-smart phone. BUT it still didn’t work so on my 5th trip back to the Airtel shop they’ve admitted that the SIM card and the rigmarole in visits 3 and 4 we’re unnecessary. I’m told it will be working by tonight. What lessons I can take from all this, I’ve no idea and I’ve lost the will to live.
For Manjula, an important part of her life here at Mysore Bed and Breakfast was her cooking. Here’s a video of her at work.
Her sumptuous meals – were all from memory and experience over many years of serving others. The new additions and innovations she which she’d excitedly reveal, came from watching her favourite cooking programmes.
It was part of her constant giving, her love, her care and connecting to others.
Tonight was very special.
It was the first time since Manjula died that we’d had a dinner here. Partly in her memory and partly to continue her tradition.
Thank you Manjula.
The No 1 cooks were Tanuja and SB (aka Sowbhagya) who works for us now, ably juggling cleaning, cooking and tolerating me. Keerthi, Tanu’s husband was called in for technical support. Our guests wolfed down the lovely food and helped finish off the washing up.
We will continue to invite our friends to share their cooking skills with future guests.
Manjula, once again, bringing people together.
“This feels com-ple-tely weird
How the heck, did it happen?
Please, move over, I’m feeling claustrophobic. We are so, not the same size!
To me it feels like the two of us are crammed into a sleeping bag, just like the one we bought for you to go camping in England. If you curl a bit I’ll curl round you, like two spoons together. Yep, yep, that’s it.
So you’re the Hindu, can you explain to me what’s happened?
OK, I’ll hazard a guess.
I must say, as cramped as this is, I am so pleased to be with you, I know its not exactly physical, more meta-physical but I can actually feel you and its wonderful. I just don’t care about anything else. I lost you and I’ve found you again. Super!
Its also amazing how we can communicate just through thoughts. Are you thinking in Kannada or English?
A mix of both.
You clever dick. You’re the boss. 🙂
Ok so here’s my take on it.
I think it’s something to do with reincarnation. Once we die and we’re released from our body our spirit finds a new home, a new body and begins its next life. Agreed?
Well, there’s also a belief amongst some people that couples can be reunited in their new life.
Yes, I remember discussing this with friends and joking about whether we’d wish to be reincarnated with our husbands! Most didn’t seem to want to be.
I did though!
You and I have had some disagreements. I don’t think you realised how hard it was for me, at times but I loved you to the end of the earth, and beyond
Remember me saying that?
I love you too.
So how have we ended up here?
The last I remember, you had a second heart attack and you didn’t want to go back on a ventilator, you’d hated that the year before, even though it gave us another year together. So I asked the Doctors not to resuscitate and you died.
Afterwards, I was on my Enfield, squinting through the tears on my way back to Siddartha Layout, to sort things out so I could bring your body home, when ….
A lorry knocked me off the two wheeler and next thing I know I was here with you.
Where is here? by the way.
I don’t know but I’m beginning to adjust, I’m not feeling bunched up anymore – I’m getting used to it.
I remember being in hospital and you made a joke about me not smiling so I giggled and smiled, last thing I remember I was complaining that my head hurt.
Then I was in a valley, having passed through a bright sun light. People were singing and dancing. I thought of you and whispered a message, that I loved you, to a passing dragonfly. Then as if by Magic, you appeared and I saw you through the crowd coming towards me.
Wow. So let me get this right, we’ve died within minutes of each other and somehow our souls have joined together, reincarnated into the same body. How amazing is that?
I feel that we’re gently melding together, we’re becoming as one.
Well, I didn’t read about this in the Bhagavad Gita! Did you?
Waahay, this could be fun. Maybe we could give a TED Talk.
What a week its been.
Detailed negotiations, with from the left Little mummy (Chicamma), lucky luck (sowbaghya) and Tanuja (can’t remember what it means).
With the help of Ina (aka mirror)
Job well done. Thank you for your help Tanu. Chic and Baghya are the new house team for cleaning and cooking.
It’s been a unhappy history trying to sort out help over the past year.
Well it’s day two and I’m back at Mysore City Corporation.
To recap, I wish to pay for a bench, now grown to two, to be a memorial for Manjula and sited in the park opposite our house.
I’ve now met the the superintending Engineer Bhaskar and his very able technical assistant Meghana. Who reckon they can give permission once my letter comes from the commissioners office and they create a file.
I don’t know who the lady is sitting down but she proved very useful as she loaned Bhaskar glasses to read my letter.
I await with baited breath.
The officer gestures for me to sit down and a tea immediately appeared, as if by magic.
That’s a good start.
I’m at Mysore City Corporation bringing a letter for the Commissioner. Her PA is the first guy I meet.
“I have a letter for the Commissioner”
“Please do sit down”
“I’d like to introduce my wife and here’s my letter”
I handed him a photo of Manjula and a letter.
‘I’m asking for permission to pay for and site a bench in our local park in memory of my wife who died earlier this year.”
‘That’s not possible”, he declared.
” We’ve never given permission for this as so many people might want to do it. It would have to go to corporators.”
By that he means it’s a council or committee decision
“So it’s not a delegated power?” I asked? “Would it not be possible to get a straightforward policy allowing people to buy a bench, exactly as you already install with simple wording on it?”
I showed him a picture of the park opposite our house which had no benches together with a picture of the benches found in some of their other parks.
He asked me to give the letter in the next office to be passed on to the Commissioner and to go and see the senior engineer.
I did, let’s see what happens.
I had flashbacks to the endlessness of dealing with officialdom for Manjula’s IDs, passport and with the Brits to get her visa. Our preoccupation with health matters, another form of endlessness, we’d had to deal over the past two years had taken its place, so I’d forgotten.
I’ve learned one lesson.
Don’t try and do too much, especially when dealing with government bureaucracy, and have an additional simple little job so that you can still feel you’ve achieved something.
I also went to pick up a framed picture of Manjula.