A beautiful new present slowly evolves. Will it be ready for Christmas Day?
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?
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.
I know what’s happening.
Don’t for one minute think ‘out of sight – out of mind’ or that I’m not still with you.
I am here…… and you worry me
Have you learnt nothing?
I came as your maid, then nine years later, do you know what I’m going to say?
Yes, you’d become my maid.
That doesn’t mean it’s alright to lean on me soooo much. You should also stand on your own two feet.
I taught you how to manage things. All you had to do was copy me. Now look at what’s happened. The house is in a mess, the cleaners aren’t cleaning even when they manage to turn up, and you just hang around doing nothing in particular. (reading? I’ve told you its overrated) and the list of jobs, like hanging those pictures you’ve not done, just gets longer and longer. You seem to be specialising in self-pity. Now that’s sad. I don’t know about glass half full more like empty empty.
You’re a disgrace 😉.
Please get your act together.
Above all ….. realise that I love you more than anything and will always be with you.
It happens but once in a lifetime
It takes a fair amount of preparation.
The proud father.
Some are already finding it all too much
Satish explains that both he and his wife are from villages where it’s still very important to celebrate this event
On the day itself he rushed home
It’s now a couple of weeks later on a specially chosen auspicious day. Hundreds of family and friends are expected. There will be a ceremony, gift giving, photos and a slap up meal.
I think that close proximity to the only foreigner at the event might be what’s worrying them.
It’s filling up…… it’s like waiting for a performance.
It’s ….. Sukrutha, Satish daughter’s coming of age, traditionally in villages it would be very very significant as it would signify that a young woman was ready for marriage.
it’s still very important for Sukrutha and an added advantage is, she can now wear big earrings. 🙂
Manjula would have been very sorry to miss this important event in a girl’s life. When Manjula reaches the same age. She had no idea what to expect and when it happened knew absolutely nothing about it. It was an altogether different experience. There was no family there let alone a gathering. She was working away from home as a maid and her madam spotted what was happening, cleaned her up and explained that she’d started her periods.
It obviously came as a major shock to Manjula. What a difference with a stable family and caring parents.
A girls’ first period, known by some as a ‘date’, would traditionally signify that she’s ready for marriage. Clearly not the case nowadays but still incredibly significant stage as she becomes a woman. The celebration of the event is a great opportunity to bring people together and create community, still especially important in village life.
Manjula’s very different background meant she was already out working at someone’s home separated from her family and without prior knowledge of what was to happen. Where was her mum in all this? Look at how early she was working away from home all on her own.
There are just so many….. photos everywhere (Manjula would complain that there were too many but I never believed her)
These are in prominent positions in the house.
This one with lots of her things as part of the pooja on specific days, they’re not always there!
The logo created by Punith.
Article in the Guardian (photo is taken from the article)
The river Kaveri where Manjula said a prayer after our wedding celebration in the field on Srirangaptnam. A tender memory.
Facebook and blog postings, meals at the Ashram for the elderly residents ……. remembered happenings, and most importantly the piece of her that’s in my heart that will always make me smile, ( the T-shirt I gave her in recognition of this and the rosette I made awarding her best maid in Mysore after working for her for one year…. early signs of my love?)
the jokes, the giggles, bossing me around, the hair (she was losing it) I still find in nooks and crannies.
And what about this from Kate who came to stay with us years ago?
A lovely gesture, trees planted by treesthatcount.co.nz in New Zealand in memory of Manjula.
Thanks Kate, love it!
It is with untold sadness we celebrate my beautiful Manjula. She came into my life just nine years ago…..Worried that there was no electric mixer/grinder in the kitchen.
You might never imagine from meeting and experiencing her and the spark she created the trail of positiveness she left, how difficult her life had been from the very first second after birth.
Not only has she been able to blossom and grow she has had an impressive lasting impact on all she met and especially on the gruff Yorkshireman.
Manjula’s spark, her warm and welcoming personality, her openess, the richness that she brought to her relationships with everyone, the connectedness she created with people around the world is of course one part of this rich picture.
She transformed my life and now I have an immeasurable gap.
It’s not that I haven’t known this was coming, we’ve known for years that it might be touch and go and her life might be tragically cut short.
She would often joke that nine years ago she came as my maid and now I’m her maid, so true in so many ways. In particular in these last few months when she lost so much weight and had to deal with one problem after another.
She’s not only learned English, non of it from me, she’d hasten to add, she also took on her own brand of English humour. A joker yes, quick witted but warm caringly connecting.
Good things don’t always last but me and the many many people here and around the world we’re touched by this extraordinary woman and celebrate her intensity.
For that I’m blessed I will forever cherish the time, our experiences, the lessons I’ve learned and the love we shared.
Thank you my darling, my precious, my love.
Your husband Stephen
I relayed this during Pooja at our house with Manjula resting outside. Immediately afterwards Manjula was taken to the crematorium.
It was an important statement to celebrate Manjula and our relationship.
The wonderful Mysore is featured in the UK Newspaper, The Guardian. Please check here.
See if you can spot two mentions and a photograph of our very own team.
So, its probably 2010, Manjula the maid is now working for me at Moksha Marga. She’s an experenced Maid working for Indian families but what is her view of foreigners?
this quote is taken from a series of recordings made by Manjula in her own language and details an incident from before she met me and started working here….
” I lived at my brother’s place. Once my brother’s wife and I were out to purchase something from a shop, it’s a small village, it comes after Hassan, it’s called Salgami. On our way back home we saw two foreigners, a couple, they were cycling. My brother’s wife said in astonishment, “Look how these English people are cycling in our village. I think they like to see villages.” She continued, “If you work at an English person’s house you will earn well enough, they’ll offer you good food, nice and rich food. Imagine, if I was not married, I would have worked at an English person’s house. I would have eaten the same food as they did, I would be happy and jolly. “
I said, “Ayyayappa! English person’s house? A big NO to their house. They eat insects, they eat all kinds of meat, they eat cow’s meat, pig’s meat and what not! And a few also eat insects.” I said this as I had watched in television; in a few shows which showed them eating many creatures “
She said, “It’s not necessary that everyone eats. The ones who eat will eat and there are the ones who don’t eat at all. “
Later we reached home.
After 6 months, I came to Mysore. Look what happened with me? The same thing what my brother’s wife had said, I got a job at an Englishman’s house. I remember Stephen had asked for a maid for this house, a girl or an old lady. I was lucky to find his house and he was lucky to find me.
I was wondered thinking about all kinds of meat I might have to cook. Later I heard it from Vasanth that Stephen was looking for only vegetarian food to be cooked. “Thank God!” I was relieved.
I eat chicken, mutton and fish. I can cook them all but if it was any other meat I wouldn’t have touched it. I would have reluctantly said “NO” to cook any other meat.
Vasanth with his trusty auto rickshaw (not its not a tuk tuk!) provides a great ‘Fare’s Fare’ service to our guests. I met him hustling for a fare when I arrived in Mysore on my very first trip after a few days in Bangalore. He’s become a great friend and an invaluable source of help and support.
I arrived at my friend Cariappa’s house to meet the prospective maid.
I have no photos of the meeting. I think the whole thing, for everyone involved was all too intense! We were checking each other out. How weird. Would we get on? How would we know? It’s quite an intimate thing. Inviting someone into your home to cook, clean, and look after things. This was a whole now experience for me. Manjula of course had been here before she had worked as a maid for over ten years for one family, amongst many other things. Me, I was the beginner, the intrepid explorer stepping out into the unknown.
I’d only supposed to come out to a India for a few months’ pilot. Now I was renting a house, furnishing it, employing a maid. What had happened there… A whole new adventure, in a crazy land and with so many twists and turns…. Whatever next!?
…. if only I’d known!
What would she be like? What did I want and how would I communicate it?
What would she think? (I found out later!) Working for a foreigner would be so different, maybe! It’s worth me remembering I’m from a poor background that’s shifted into the middle class and now living abroad in India. ‘The old poor made good’ which as it turned out, is exactly the path that many in India are taking.
Manjula was quiet, shy, reserved. She’d brought a friend with her for moral support. Good idea! We spoke a few words with Cary and his wife Ganga helping out. I just wanted someone to cook a meal and clean. We then walked round the corner to my house. Things seemed to be going well. They looked around the place, it seemed so big to me. There’s so much to clean but only me, honest! Just the upstairs house with three bedrooms (known locally as a 3BHK) the downstairs house came later. It was sparsely furnished with little on the walls, it’s hard to imagine what it was like ( so, so different now) but then oh no……..we hit a problem….. it was all off ……we’d found the deal breaker..