Three Princesses

and a Sun with a beard

Ritu brought her lovely painting of Manjula’s and Stephen’s home

with thanks to Desai Somesh, Rita’s dad who took the photographs.

Remembering Manjula.

It’s all go..

We use any and every opportunity to recognise and remember, what would have been Manjula’s 48th Birthday is extra special.

On monday afternoon, 23rd August (postponed from Saturday due to a curfew) we have open-house for friends to drop-in for a drink and cake or sweets, to visit the garden we’ve just planted, see Manjula’s two painted portraits and have a chat.

We’ve now got two paintings by Cinderella, more here and here
Karan a student at CAVA Art College is creating something to entertain.
Tom and Amy helping out
by kindly sponsoring the meals for the elderly people living in the Ashram (not the children’s home!)
Tanuja, one of the MyCycle Directors, helping plan the garden with a little shopping trip
It’ll look better in a couple of years 😉
planting a special tree for Manjula
Sowbhaghya with her new T shirt
Satish, MyCycle Director, nearly working.
earlier photo (we’ve had no international guests for over a year) of one of the three benches in the park,
As we reach the end of the day on her birthday it’s been raining for hours. So an earlier photo.

Happy Birthday Manjula

Today Manjula would have been 48 and it’s yet another reason to celebrate and thank her for the time we were together (we still are).

Manjula sent messages with her love and for me to know all is well on her soul’s journey to her new life. She’s most definitely not a ‘hungry ghost’.

Here’s a video message from my love. Previously we’ve also heard from her via messengers

Manjula captured my heart

We’ve done a few things that Manjula would like and maybe make her giggle. Like the remembering garden. we’ve just planted in the park opposite our house.

She’s left audio and video recordings which I’m using to help write our story. We’ll release some of the videos in 2022

So what’s a hungry ghost? One of the tales that will be featured in our story, to be published before we reach what would have been her 50th birthday.

getting back into the vibe

today was a day of contrasts

I’d gone into the city for one of the endless visits to the city corporation (more of that later) then diverted to buy flowers in the Market. These will traditionally float in water in the brass Urli bowl beneath Madam’s photo and garland to go the photos themselves in each of our two halls (aka lounge or living room).

In the city were so many local women in sari’s going about their business, it reminded me of Manjula and how she connected me to so many aspects of life here. It brought a tear to my eye, not that that’s unusual.

I’d passed the iconic Lansdown building that has now been waiting years for a decision of whether they will renovate or demolish and rebuild. There’s no prize for guessing which the politicians in cahoots with the developers would prefer and why.

Lansdown Building

Then the day began to turn.

Not the hotel, it’s another angle of the Lansdown building.

I went to a favourite ‘hotel’ (aka cafe) the Indra Paras, the owners son, manning the cash desk and the waiters all recognised and acknowledged me, creating a good feeling as I ate my Masala Dosa and Sev Dahi Potato Puri (crispy hollow puri balls, filled with a mix of crunchy, yoghurt, potato and a tinge of sweet) another favourite.

Then I squeezed past the guys selling clothing and material on the pavement and round the corner to the fruit salad, ice cream and traditional juices shop for my regular sarsaparilla and soda. Again the guys at the shop all asked how I’d been and wondered if I’d just come back. No I’ve been at home here in Mysore for two years, gifting me another warm vibe.

Then the usual, trying to find an auto with a working meter, after rejecting one and hanging about aimlessly by the roadside a guy hailed my as his friend stepped out from sharing the front bench seat. 

The driver knew me, and Vasanth, and had taken many of our guests back home to the BnB. He’s friend couldn’t quite place me.

“It’s the cycle man”

I’m nothing to do with this which, just happened to be there, and represents the usual Indian randomness

So I pulled down my mask and he remembered me from nine years before when Vinay and I had started the cycle tours and he knew of our base at the Palace Plaza Hotel. 

So a bittersweet mix, of missing Manjula and realising how she critically helped me adjust to my adopted city through re-connecting with people and sharing memories.

Next: More drinks to try are here

Snakes and termites

On our MYcycle tour of srirangapatnam guests are intrigued by the termite hills converted into desirable ac accommodation.

There’s always signs of Pooja around the main hill we pass near the site of the fourth war of mysore.

This column from the ‘Star of Mysore’ explains more

Manjula’s Kind

MAnjula embraced everything and everyone.

She experienced unkindness throughout her life, yet always and especially in the last nine years was the most kind.

MAnjula continues to give

Kulfi for the cleaners. They used to work on our street, knew us and would stop for water, chai and chat (that’s talking not snacks).

Our fine house was a place of support and conversation for women and not just our guests. Manjula’s networks. We’ve continued to support our drivers and they’ve joined the Manjula Mask Movement.

Vasanth and Satish modelling our mycycle masks but the big favourite is …
the one where Manjula seems to be sniggering and who years before the pandemic was telling us to mask-up, modelled by Rakesh aka Peter Pan
And masks have been donated for the vaccinators for when they finish work.
Many cycles have been gifted here for Sowbhaghya’s son Naveen.

I still am

relying on and remembering Manjula’s kindness

Manjula’s kind

more on kindness

I hope I’m getting there.

KINDNESS 
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

This is another direct lift, aka homage to the great gathering work of Maria Popova and her brain pickings, clearly hers are not slim pickings!

‘Beloved’
A portrait of Manjula, step-by-step

We have had great feedback about Aadirika’s painting of our beautiful Manjula with requests to see the step-by-step process in one post. Here it is….

Aadirika was absolutely dedicated to doing justice to Manjula’s memory.
Manjula was with her every step of the way
Lucie posed, not.
this has taken astonishing commitment and skill
Stephen’s love for Manjula .
Weaves a bridge,
between our worlds.
A bridge made of heart strings,
a bridge of exploration to the multi dimensional.
Manjula’s love for Stephen.
Pierces through the veil,
as a warm ray on a chilly day. 
by Aadirika Kawa
on the day following the unveiling of the painting a dragonfly flew into the house, circled me and landed on Manjula’s pennant.
It’s a sign, it’s a sign. A message of love.
Manjula and I, was and are very happy

‘Beloved’
A portrait of Manjula
by Aadirika Kawa