Manjula gives masks

mask mask mask mask no shortage of them at Mysore Bed and Breakfast

As part of remembering Manjula: Vasanth and Satish distributes mycycle masks and small monetary gift to each of our team of drivers.
Our big thanks to Ina seen here on the right at Manjula’s birthday party. Ina sent money to help drivers.
Babu
We love logo as it’s part of celebrating Manjula.
Anjum
Lokesh
Non branded supplies from Vasanth.
Shafi
Akram

Birthdays

Events that bring people together help create our Mysore BnB community.

Manjula, special in many ways also had two different birthdates but unlike the Queen, celebrated neither of them. Once Mr English lets-get-organised differently was involved, she decided to adopt the 21st August birthdate and drop the one she shared with Jesus. After that she expected a celebration every year that was full on fun.

2016 age 43

We might have breakfast, a visit out for the day and a meal at home or in a restaurant. It was a celebration of Manjula’s choosing: our life, and good fortune, the home we’d made, together with local friends and often with special guests like Ina from Australia.

Her 45th, in 2018, was extra special after that worrying time in Intensive Care. Ina and Willian, (he’s from Brazil) were with us for a ’rounding’ as Madam would say: a visit to Somnathpur, lunch on Srirangapatnam and a gathering of our immediate clan for dinner at the Roopa. My ‘sweetness’ was on form making the best of her every single moment.

We will always celebrate Manjula and her birthday whether she’s here or there. As we approach her 47th birthday we’ve placed the benches in the park and paid for meals at the Old people’s home. I hope for more to follow, maybe I’ll hear from herself and could the phantom smiley painter return?

…….watch this space….

a letter to Manjula

My dearest Manjula,

I’ve written this letter many times but non have been right. I think it’s now time to just do it. I’m writing to say sorry and thank you.

You’re everywhere, with me, with Lucie, all our friends and always will be but where’s your spirit now?

We’ve done all the Hindu rites to help you on your way. I hope your beautiful compassionate spirit soul will be closer to your moksha as you were so positive, good and kind in this life, even with all it’s difficulties.

I wish you were here with me now. I’d be looking into your eyes and be able to tell if you hadn’t understood any words so I could change them for you. We were amazing together and you are the most important thing to me in my life.

I’m devastated by losing you, I will always love you. You made me happy but I got some things wrong and for that I’m so sorry.

When you died, I felt a lot of pain and still do. I wish that things were different. I feel guilty and wish I could swop places with you. You’ve left the most unbelievable gap in my life, nothing can ever be the same but the good thing is you’re still here and always will be.

I’m sorry for letting you down.

When you were diagnosed: I should have contacted more people for advice and got you to a doctor in England; got married straight away and if need be, moved there. I wish I’d tried everything to help you live longer and have a good life. I trusted that they would sort it out here and I was wrong, maybe nothing else would have worked, we just don’t know. I now have to accept what is.

Overall I should have been less the action man, taking charge and been more in tune and sensitive to you. You had a terribly difficult time but you were so strong, positive and caring, and didn’t show how hard it was for you. The last months and especially that final week I didn’t know what to do for the best.

On the last Friday night you had a heart attack and they brought you back to life. The Doctors said that if you had another they would need to use the ventilator and might not be able to get you off it. You only wanted to be on the machine for one day so when you had second attack, I had to ask them to let you go.

That is and will be the most difficult decision in my whole life. 

Your illness and all that followed was also difficult for me, I was numb by it all and not as aware as I should have been. I was grieving a long time even before I lost you, we both knew that was happening but I couldn’t recognise and deal with it, it was all too much. I often didn’t know what to do.

I am so sorry that I was angry with you that last Tuesday when I realised you hadn’t taken your tablets. There was never any problem affording the drugs, hospitals or doctors, I told you but I realise now you’d had enough. I hadn’t been properly listening to you. I wish I had done more and better.

For these things I am so sorry, I let you down and now because of that I don’t have you with me.

I’ve never had regrets before and I’ve cried so much I think I might need a top up of salt.  😉

I miss you so much and wish you were here. We will connect again.

What’s important is, we found each other, fell in love and created a wonderful life together. Thank you for giving me a life lived with love and joy, sharing yourself with me. You are the kindest person.

Here and now I’ve just lost more salt. I wish there was more hugging you, kissing you, touching you, listening to you, telling you I loved you and more honeymoon (Kama) together.

Our friends have been wonderful support, Lucie has taken your place as my new boss. I know, I know, as we both said, we were equal.

You’d like the things I’ve done: gifts of Manjula pens and steel straws to our friends, four, yes four stone benches in parks to remember you, for all the people to use, meals at the Ashram, I’ve cycled a giant photo of you around Mysore, made a memory tree and even got Manjula flags in the hall made from your clothes. I’ve told everyone in the world that we were married and I love you, which I always wanted to do. I’ll do more.

I promise to write our story. As I write it and better understand your recordings, I realise how you had such struggles throughout your life. Maybe we thought they were in the past when we met up but the illness created even more problems. It must have been especially hard for you for those last few weeks. I’m sorry I wasn’t listening enough, providing better support and showing my love more.

One of the many wonderful thing about you is even though you’ve had all those difficulties throughout your life, you’ve always been kind to people helping whenever you can and so many tell me, you lit up their lives (and mine) and blessed them with your bright wonderful smile.

So this letter to you is to say and I’m sorry and to thank you for being with me and the wonderful nine years we were together, when I know you were mostly happy.

But it isn’t yet the end. It’s the beginning of something else. You aren’t rid of me, there is unfinished business.

I miss your smile, your wit, our fun and love,

Love from your forever  husband,

Stephen

x

an open letter 

 

to our extended family, our friends from around the world, the community that grew around sharing our home

27th March 2020

Dear family,

thank you for your patience, kindness and support.

It’s been an awful twelve months since Manjula died, a pot-holed, rocky roller-coaster ride. Being able to speak to you directly, through my writing and sharing my feelings has been tremendously helpful. Your direct responses and visits have helped me through these difficult times. Thank you for those who’ve also been here to provide direct practical and emotional support, you know who you are and have made an impossible situation manageable.

Thank you for being a witness as Kessler writes:

“Each person’s grief is as unique as their fingerprint. But what everyone has in common is no matter how they grieve, they share a need for their grief to be witnessed……… they need to feel their grief acknowledged and reflected by others.”

As you know, I’ve shared and its helped. Thank you for letting me share with you, gain your support and help me to manage this tragic loss. I’ve most definitely been through the five stages (Kubler-Ross) of loss: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance, often all at the same time and what I hadn’t realised was the anticipatory grief years before Manjula actually died that we also had to experience. 

Loss of a lover, loss of a life, loss of control, loss of the opportunity to do things differently, loss and the grief that results from it, is for me the hardest thing in life.

I also know now that: Grief unites us.

“You will never forget that person, never be able to fill the unique hole that has been left in your heart,” 

I’m so pleased you met and go to know my beautiful smiling brilliant wife directly through visiting us, or introduced through these pages. She leaves a wonderful legacy in what she created and leaves part of her in all of our hearts.

It goes without saying that she will always be with me and I know the grieving will never be over but I look forward to finding the right balance in Manjula continuing to be part of me and me finding meaning and growing beyond that loss, then ……….  “the time will come when memory will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes” (Kessler)

We’ve now recognised Manjula’s death anniversary with a Hindu Pooja ceremony and lunch for immediate friends on the 12th March (the official Hindu anniversary), shared the BIG photo album (a copy is on this site) then on the 23rd I cycled Manjula through the city, sponsored meals for older people at a local ashram, and had a few drinks here at home. We still have Manjula’s shoes carefully positioned around the house in case she returns and needs them. (Didion) 

Over the year I’ve been careful to do the Hindu rituals, placed flowers at her two main photos in our living rooms monthly, some times weekly, sited benches in our park and at a city museum. I’ve printed t shirts in her memory, hoisted bunting made from her clothing, created a memory tree (Teckentrup) (please ask how you can add a memory or wish) and given gifts of Manjula’s pens. 

We plan to celebrate Manjula’s life in August, around her birthday, please do join us in person or virtually, that’s when we’ll also re-open Mysore Bed and Breakfast, if we’re through these challenging virus times. I plan to keep this place going for at least a few more years (our first season without Manjula was bitter sweet but worked OK)  and so invite you to continue to share our home.

Manjula will always be here.

I have been trying to write to Manjula for months and failed, I need to share my remorse for things I feel I could have done better and more, to ask for her forgiveness and to thank her for our wonderful, funny, life enhancing nine years together. It will be posted soon.

I’ll continue to post on www.meandmycycle.com which is the best place to follow. Writings will be varied: about life in India, more factly fiction stories and I promise there will be a lot less of the grief. I’ve committed to Manjula to write our story.  I’ve verbally shared bits and people have liked it, I just need to write better to do it justice. Who knows when that gets finished and released, we’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime there’s many of our times together and challenges of living in India already featured here and I’ll add more, including her funny videos.

Thanks for becoming Manjula and my family and I look forward to travelling together on the next chapter of our journey.

Your loving friend

Stephen

and Lucie

PS

Manjula would joke that I as I was bringing so many books into the house it would become a library when I was 75 and no longer leading cycle tours. Well, the quantity and variety of books have grown and grown and now include sections on grief and writing (guess why?)  and so Manjula’s library is now at our house. 😉 and no I’m not 75 yet. Do pay a visit or ask for recommendations.

The one’s referred to in the letter are:

On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the five stages of loss by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler

Finding Meaning: the Sixth stage of grieving by David Kessler

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion 

The Memory Tree by Britta Teckentrup

 

the BIG trip to the UK

Madam English, as she’s known hereabouts is back from her BIG trip. We travelled the length and breadth of the country, for over six weeks, fitted VERY important family events in, had a reunion camp, got muddy in Wiltshire, met lots of Mysore Bed and Breakfast guests, spent a fortune and had a rare old time!

Thank you to the lovely people we know and love for making this such a super trip.

Presents (limited, of course, to sensible cost and numbers), include: spinners (mad craze in the west), nail varnish (highly sought after western quality), shiny things, and various other odds and sods are being distributed as I write. A really big hit for the guy who runs the veg shop (hi!) is Gordons Gin, from duty free. He’s paid for it (we’re not made of money, although many think, I am) and he’s ecstatic about the flavour, its clearly a notch above the local gin.

Well what a trip it was……

 

We’ve covered the North, South, East and West, wet old things in Yorkshire,

 

Dorset, Teesside, Tyneside, even Lancashire (there’s long-standing issues between Yorkshire and Lancashire), Derbyshire, Wiltshire, my son’s wedding to Alice,

DSC07666

sorry wrong photo (I’ll deservedly get into a lot of trouble for that!)

Oliver, my other son’s visit from Canada,

connectiong with my lovely Granddaughter Poppy, family reunion camp, WOMAD music festival,

family in Sheffield, Hand made parade in Hebden Bridge….

oh, and London, of course

IMG_3222

 

Madam English now knows why we Brits go on some much about the weather, we’ve had it all. She now knows about being prepared for it to change in a nano second, carrying endless clothing variations, layering and Hot Water Bottles when camping.

She’s so English, she has learned how to complain (Indians, generally not being big complainers and just tend to get on with it, really?) but still manages to have a great time.

we thank everyone… so much… for making this such a wonderful experience.

We’ve  lost count of how many of our old and new friends, including so many Bed and Breakfast guests we’ve seen, met in London, visited their homes, bumped into at the music festival, its been superb…. and did we mention all the meals we’ve eaten….

and at the end of it all we’re a bit tired

DSC07753

all our photos (these and many more) are at the usual place at flickr

So what does Madam English think about the place?

How did  Lucy manage with Eric?