It’s an old joke and a serious question this week in Mysore.
Remember the first time you rode a bicycyle? As a child you have no fear but when you’re older it can be scary.
The uncertainty …. Your nervousness, worry, hesitancy … once on the cycle your sweating, hands are clammy, the whole thing wobbling, feet slipping from the pedals,
Now imagine your first time, if you were blind…..
You’ve never seen a cycle, what does it look like? How do you get on and pedal?
We wondered if it was possible for a visually impaired person to cycle with our tandem.
On the ‘Manjula’s Gift fun day’ organised by Manjula’s Mysore and its partners, three young volunteers: Tusharr, Megha and Sarvesh from MYCycle Tours were there to guide. They provided clear instructions: explained how to get on, feel the saddle, hold the handlebars, step over the frame, find the pedals and sit comfortably. A sighted person on the front steered, set the pace and kept the balance. Another volunteer cycled along and explained what was happening.
“After 1-2-3 we’ll be off, 1-2-3 we’re turning a corner, 1-2-3 there’s a hump coming up. Now let’s freewheel down the hill.”
Now think back to your first time, when you’re cycling along, remember the breeze in your hair and a smile on your face. Was it like flying along?
We could tell from their oohs, aahs and boundless enthusiasm that for the young women who are visually impaired, it was a transformational experience.
We now know that someone who is visually impaired, with our caring support and their trust, can ride tandems.
It was part of a day of activities to entertain forty visually impaired young women who live at Divya Jyothi Trust in Mysore and celebrate our founder Manjula on her birth anniversary, organised by Manjula’s Mysore and their community partners.
The women had great fun, we also learned a lot: realising what strength, courage and confidence these young women need to face life’s challenges.
“A pair of silver anklets poured out. He lifted them against the cheek of the evening sky and he shook them to unspool their rhythmic zhan-zhan-zhan. ‘Take them with you,’ was all she said. Years later he realised what she had really given him. The sound of her feet. The preface to her movements.
As I’m now officially a writer. Ha ha. Well I have pen and a blank sheet of paper.
I spend time reading with two perspectives: firstly as the reader, I always was, appreciating the journey I’m being taken on and secondly realising more about how the writer has created and revealed their story.
I quote another book to help reveal why I like the one above.
“This feeling resonated in me. It was the resonance that had lingered on, exactly as it does when the last page is turned of a book which reaches the heart.”
I want Manjula and my story to reach the heart as it did for me.
I blame myself. Nurse Farrell is trying to rehydrate Lucie. It’s a drip set up for water under her skin that will then spread into her body.
So it’s relatively straightforward and not intravenous. It’s twice a day and there’s lots of water.
Between us though we manage to add complexity.
Last night, after a major spillage of half the water it was relatively easy-going.
Next day, not so good.
First thing today Lucie decides to do a big shake as if she’d just stepped out of a river, presumably because the bad bad nurse dropped a smidgeon of water on her fur. So needle came out and I had to replace it and jab her again.
Next she was standing rigid, clearly uncomfortable, I got her to sit down. The early puppy training of SIT! being useless so it entailed manhandling. Eventually I get her to lie down without knocking the needle out but on my feet.
I’m now stuck here watching the interminable drops expecting it to last an age.
I have time to catch up with my writing. 🙂✍🏽🚴🏽🗄🧷🖌☮️🚭🔔 and realise there’s soooo many emojis.
But I’ve still not had my breakfast!
Do we really need to do this twice everyday? It’s taking hours. I’ll plan better with my paraphernalia around me…..
So who’s the drip?
Evening drippping completed in 40 mins morning torture must have been something else problem. Only issue this eve was jittery ness from fireworks.
Farrell Factoid: Lucy has had both liver and kidney issues this year, primarily shown through, vomiting and ‘loose’ motions. She seems quite good in herself and most recent blood test suggests kidney situation has stabilised. This all might be due to age or Tick fever earlier this year.
This annual Hindu event known in Mexico as the ‘day of the dead’ but of course, quite different, is known as Mahalaya Amavasya. We remember our loved ones and provide help and support for their journey to the next place. In our case to Manjula’s reincarnation.
Thank you to Sowbaghya, Satish and Vasanth for your loving kindness to Manjula. You made it very special.
It’s easy to forget how different we are within and between countries and cultures. Living in India and hosting visitors from around the world is precious. It helped Manjula and I realise and celebrate our similarities and differences.
We all generally travel for fun and many of us wish to create a shift, from our comfort zone, using that journey to appreciate how different things are.
I’ve now lived her for ten years and often forget what its like back in my own country, the disUnited kingdom.
This reminds me of the quiz questions I’d give to business executives before bringing them to India.
As part of my presentation I’d emphasise that: Its ‘differently organised’ and seems transparent but can be confusingly opaque, and my favourite its: ‘consistently inconsistent’.
Please realise this comes from a love of the place and its people and not just the very special one.
Check out this selection of questions and see how you fare but remember its ‘consistently inconsistent’ and it’s rapidly changing. Some of these are sweeping generalisations but I was a sociologist. Answers are in UK pounds.
1 How do you traditionally greet a woman?
2 When do you use your car horn? a – in an emergency b – to inform other road users you’re there c – to tell someone to get out of the way
3 Imagine you’re driving between two poles or structures with enough space for one and a half vehicles, do you drive a – to one side b – equidistant from either side
4 what the ‘accepted’ minimum daily wage rate in India (this is converted into UK pounds) a- 2.50 b- 5.00 c-7.50
5 How much did Manjula get paid per month for running (managing the staff, greeting the guests, cooking and cleaning) the Mysore Bed and Breakfast a – 50 b – 100 c -150
6 How much is it to stay at Mysore Bed and Breakfast (including breakfast) for two people sharing?. a- 24 b- 28 c- 32 How much to stay at an equivalent in the UK? a- x2 b- x3 c- x4
7 How much did Stephen get paid per day in the UK for delivering a days training for businesses. a – 300 b – 500 c- 1500
and the impossible question for which there is no obvious answer: how much do you tip? there is top tip on this on our site: http://www.manjulasmysore.in
1 hands clasped together at chest level, as if in prayer and say namaste otherwise wait to see how a woman greets you and follow. Traditionally it’s unusual to touch. The greeting for a man is similar but in business might be a hand shake. In Mysore there is a more informal version of Namaste just using one hand with a casual raising to the chest.
2 all the above, most often to inform the vehicle who’s just pulled out in front of you that you’re there and coming round. Generally its not used aggressively although that is changing.
3 of course it depends on the situation, but people in India will tend to drive to one side and in the west down the centre. In a busy place with lots of people you’ve all got to fit in! The issue of personal social and living space is perceived quite differently. That includes how people look and its not rude to stare!
4 a – 2.50 most people survive on very little, its worth checking Maslow’s hierarchy as most people in western terms might be seen to be struggling but determining the impact it has and levels of ‘satisfaction’ can be different and complex.
5 b – 100 and that’s not accounting for the bliss and joy we were paid. I clearly did nothing and was paid nothing, just allowed lo live here and be fed.
6 a – 24 we’ve no idea what the equivalent would be in the UK
7 between a and b when delivering training events as more recently I worked for one of the Prince of Wales’s charities working directly with international corporations. I mostly chose to work on behalf of not-for-profits, community organisations and government. The usual corporate rate was c and above.
It’s actually impossible to know the answers and part of the learning to compare and contrast our countries and cultures. The unpredictability is one of the attractions of diving into the unknown and ‘going with the flow.’
I know little. I continue to stumble and trip in my efforts to be connect with this wonderful country and its people and even I had the most beautiful, caring, giving guide, I could wish for in the world.