Forever 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.

Much better.

So you’re the Hindu, can you explain to me what’s happened?

Nope.

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?

Of course

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 ….

BANG.

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.

Phew

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.

Oh no not again 2

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.

Oh no, not again.

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.

So…..

I also went to pick up a framed picture of Manjula.

Can there be too much?

As if we don’t have enough already! That was Manjula’s general attitude when I brought new things home, especially new art. She’d usually complain that there was NO MORE ROOM. There always is of course.

Well she also used to comment that there were too many pictures of herself, Madam English being a bit of a Madam. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. I can’t get enough of them, whatever she’s doing. 🙂

So I’m very pleased that even though she’s moved on, severed her links with her last body and is now well and truly making a massive impact wherever she is now….. I have the consolation…… of sorts, of wonderful memories, cool shared friends, super videos and still shots, tattoos and look at this

……. just like buses, some things come in twos. And these are the things that at this difficult time, are aspects of Manjula that can actually grow 🙃 what superb painted portraits of my beautiful wife. They really do her justice. How grand are these? I hope she’s looking now

You’ve already seen this one that was waiting at home when I returned, it’s from Johanna in Switzerland who visited us late last year, quickly followed by her mum and dad.

And this painting arrived a day after I returned home ….

It’s from Janie (Amy’s auntie, Amy is one half of the lovely couple and was our celebrant at our wedding in 2018) in New Zealand who visited us early last year, who’s already immortalised Manjula in black and white. See below.

Thankyou to J and J, you’ve made a sad man very happy. How amazing to come home to be greeted like this? Thankyooooooooou both so much.

A Mysore view

A short story with a serious edge from Stephen Farrell

A Mysore view

The cyclists meandered around the Rangoli, passed by the Hero Stones and entered the bustling square to find the usual rich mix of India.

Women fetching water and washing their pans, children playing and slowly becoming intrigued, being drawn to the new visitors. Men hanging out at the corner shop.

Slap bang in the centre was a fenced-in stone lingam, with the slow ooze of offerings running down its face.

The onslaught of their senses as they entered the square, the smells, the colours, the activity, the extraordinary mix of people living life to the full, reminded them all of their first experiences of this incredibly, unique, paradoxical, unexpected country. 

The visitors, were themselves a rich variety of ages, nationalities and experience, from Europe, down under, Canada and a couple from Mumbai.

Everyone saw and experienced something subtly different. Maybe it was the different housing ranging from the old mud single room dwelling with its country tile roof, or the three storey concrete towers; the clothing, the women washing the front of their house, dealing with the children, the smiles, the welcoming, the dust, the noise, the smells, the chilli and lemon hanging in the doorway, two wheelers, the multiple designs of Rangoli, the auto rickshaws and the old ambassador, the hanging Mango leaves left from a recent festival, the constant presence of Gods and their many temples and symbols.

That cacophony was reminiscent of all that is India, where different things jostle for attention, cheek by jowl.

Now the group were engulfed with interest from the local people… children posing for photographs… women carrying water and smiling as they passed… the lounge lizards at the shop, the friendly stares and conversations were like a returning boomerang and neatly reciprocated….so we wondered out-loud, who is really watching who? 

Most definitely in these moments that make up every day we were building bridges and breaking down walls . Cycling helps us to be participants, to be travellers and perhaps less of the transient tourist.

It was however time to move on….

The flow of cyclists quietly moved through the remaining narrow streets in this compact community in Mysore. 

We gently pass amongst the houses of the poor and the not so poor, cattle ambling or hanging out in their house sheds, cow pats drying, people greeting us, past endless local temples. This represents a traditional way of life that in some ways has unchanged for hundreds of years. Its people may have little in terms of material goods but have a quality of life that the richer west are looking to rediscover.

Just minutes away from the Palace at the Centre of the City. It’s a reflection of the past, of times gone by, of the village that grew and existed way before it was absorbed into the city, yet still retaining much of that earlier character. Above all, people remain connected to each other creating an atmosphere and lifestyle that can be both positive and life enhancing.

Like the society of which its part. Being taken over whilst retaining its character. 

Like India itself regularly invaded over its vast history, absorbing influences without losing its essence.

On our continuing journey we pass through many more areas of the city that seem somehow less colourful, less inter-connected, the community less active, its dustier and dirtier, congested with traffic, the activity is commercial, people setting up shops cooking breakfast, frying samosas, patting breads, its still active but somehow its different ….. something about it is diminished. Its much more ‘developed!’ in a simple sense.

We stop for a chai, an opportunity to consider what we’ve seen. Our different life experiences bring an added dimension to these conversations. We’re all committed to gaining insights and growing through sharing our, opinions, culture, humour.

In our view, there is nothing to quite match that first neighbourhood and its lively community. Its remarkable in many ways and somehow retains something of its original spirit, people are out and about and outgoing, friendly with easy communications whether its a smile, the one handed namaste, the head rock and roll, above all it seems connected, people gather together when others need help, the community is somehow healthier and seems unbroken as its not lost its spirit to the urban juggernaut.

In contrast other areas of the city seem to have something missing.

The connected community, its traditional approach compared to the other more ‘developed’ areas, can be seen to reflect the challenges facing the bigger city. As we grow and change there is the risk we could lose what makes us special. There’s a clear message that we should recognise what’s important and not lose the richness that we have before its too late.

Overall the city has an incredible mix, institutions set up by the Maharajas to serve the community to help with their health, to develop a vocation and gain an education, for all sectors of the community from wrestlers to Tonga drivers, from villagers wishing to better themselves at college to the city dwellers, the opportunity to meet and share their grievances, everyone can be part.

Here, there is, something of a metaphor for Mysore. The city has managed to retain its human scale in the face of urban development, it has an essence worth keeping, a friendly open aspect, connections between people, traditions, with history oozing from its porous buildings and abundant greenery, whether in the form of its formal gardens, the tree lined avenues, lakes and parks. Yet it is changing, it has to and will develop but we need to mimic what happens in the small village or in this great nations history and hold onto what’s special and makes it unique, the magic of Mysore.

The Author: Stephen Farrell

Stephen is from the UK and has a varied career in charities, government and business, the main emphasise of his work has been to help people engage and connect within their communities or organisations. More recently establishing “Seeing is Believing Events” in India to encourage businesses to be more responsible and create leadership programmes for corporations. Stephen has two adult sons living in Vancouver, Canada and London, England and a gorgeous granddaughter.  He now lives in Mysore, where he’s now set up MyCycle: Mysore Cycle Tours to help visitors discover Mysore, Srirangapatnam and their surroundings at a human pace.  

With a little more help from our friends

can you help?

Please send a short (30 second?) audio message (video if you prefer) to make us smile, a recollection, a memory of Manjula, a joke or something else reflecting your enjoyable 🙂 time at Mysore Bed and Breakfast.

Our good friend Faizan is putting together a memory of Manjula and insights into Mysore BnB and this would be a great help.

It’s easy to do on your smart phone!

Thank you so much.

Stephen and Faizan

Please upload here

Or mail it to tadrebelproductions@gmail.com