An important ‘date’, a big event

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.

Farrell Factoid

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.

Swop?

I can understand how some people might wish to swop places with their loved one who has died or been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

I could do that, no doubt.

But it misses one of the many points.

There would still be the grief, the loneliness, confusion of being only one part of the whole.

And how would it work? I would take on Manjula’s illness she would have all our money, material goods (she’d definitely demand the washing machine) the house, Lucy. No sweat. But it’s no solution. We’d still be apart. Maybe we could go for a hybrid two halves as one.

No I’m not going bonkers this is how my mind ordinarily ‘works’.

If it was just a case of a straight swop. I’d worry that even though Manjula can be strong as a rock, gentle as the waves, she actually comes from a very poor background and in this extremely layered patriarchal society it will always be a challenge for a woman on her own.

Until of course it really changes.

Thank you

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.

Settling in…

We’ve set up Manjula in the NQAR (not-quite-a-room)  we use it for children, grand parents, Liz and Tibetan Buddhist nun from Oregon. (Get your head around that one) sorry Ani

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We’re getting into a bit of a routine. Eight tabs after breakfast alone, sixteen in a full day, not to mention syrup and the tss tss. Nightmare getting the drugs today. pharmacists had no stock of a v important one. Mask and ventilator overnight , oxygen concentrator during day (hip new oxygen bar to be opened next week in Garage).

Doing her lung exercises, as demonstrated earlier in hospital. Maybe one of Manjula’s biggest challenges came next….. My cooking. 😉

Manjula says: ‘ nice veg pasta, very light not spicy, very very good’

so who was it who just trumped?

Maid in Mysore

Often when I relate our story, Manjula interjects to declare: ‘you’re my maid.’ Well she might be right. Tools of my trade this morning are: hard box (Thali thing for serving breakfast), handle to adjust bed recliner, hands for holding (when having umpteen blood tests) and destroying mosquitoes, remote for TV, motorbike for fetching things…. I now have my role in life 😉

Maid in India 6

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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….

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” 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 “

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these are previous guests Simon and Fiona and we’re reliably informed that they don’t eat insects in Cheshire.

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.

Farrell Footnote

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.

Maid in India 5 plus one

img_0170we’ve had requests to provide a bit more of an explanation.

So this was over seven years ago, maybe a few months after she’d started at ‘Moksha Manor’. good old enlightenment street!  She came every day for two hours, had to make lunch and a range of other jobs for the princely sum of 1000 Rupees per month. In theory with one days holiday each week.

Starting from the top left and working clockwise in a sort of spiral. Some jobs were daily, weekly or monthly…

floor sweeping, sink cleaning,  pooja, dusting pictures, cooking, cleaning work surfaces, tables, f (special one this, looking after her skin. she was having a reaction to something, it worked out to be the sun, after a few false trails), watering flowers, cleaning toilets (yes cleaning toilets, more on that one later), being friendly to the dog, teaching me Kannada (big failure there, on my part, obviously) feeding the dog when I’m not there and bathing her, washing clothes, daily time keeping, cleaning the grills (anti crime and Monkeys) at the windows, floor cleaning, dusting and washing shelving in ‘hall’, cleaning bathroom.  Clearly this was also supposed to be fun! and there were a few other more complicated concepts such as trust 😉 believe it or not and it did take the involvement of a few friends but we even managed to discuss egalitarianism (using different words, obviously) so what had she let herself in for?

Maid in India 5

so, to explain the job. Ok we don’t speak the same language, she’s probably a little worried and intimidated, coming to work for an unknown quantity: foreigner, male, living on his own, can be a bit loud and over-energetic… so of course, I used my well developed training skills. …… and got out the whiteboard, flapped my arms and generally danced around a bit. I seriously wonder what she thought. On many occasions she shown people the photo of my drawings. Promptly followed by sniggers and giggles.

So I wonder what she really thought of working for a Firangi!

Maid in India 4

Well it’s pretty obvious it wasn’t a deal breaker. Not only did Manjula start working for me, that was almost eight years ago, she’s now taken over in more ways than one!

So what was the problem?

There was no electric mixer!

I can assure you one was bought the very next day. It’s done sterling service ever since.

The panic was actually created by the traditional method of grinding…..

Which just wouldn’t do. Manjula, as I was to find out is a very modern miss.

So, what next?

Explaining the job.