A beautiful world

I’m called to the door by an Amazon delivery. There are no guests so it’s been an opportunity for a lie in. Now cut short.

Manjula has not been well for weeks stretching into months. Most of the day she’s in bed but with significant wobble will stumble gracefully to the outside sit-out and sometimes a walk in our park.

She excitedly tells me of hearing the birds visiting her window towards the back of the house. It’s her first experience of the morning.

Today, for some reason, I can hear them clearly. The whole air is full of joyous birdsong. Our house outside at the front, in the drive, hanging from the car port, on the mezzanine, the balcony and the sun terrace is bursting with life. Our greenery welcomes, as you arrive.

Now the presence of the wonderful birds brings a whole new dimension.

This to a house already marked by its openess. We’re far from but also reflect a traditional Indian home. The matriarch, the Amma, is Manjula, formerly the maid. Her husband who she declares: ‘the maid’ now provides her necessary support. As with established typical local homes. It’s a vibrant active place. Ordinarily there is a constant flow of people. Our cleaners, gardener and that husband-assistant feverishly ensuring it’s prepared for our paying guests at the Mysore Bed and Breakfast. It’s inward flow of guests, a mix of generations, the conversations mingling from the different lounges,  with their languages from around the world, in a very Indian way creates a mish mash, a melange of jeek by jowl. A pick-a-mix of rich experiences.

The smells, noises, colours, the feel and texture of India is enhanced by the beautiful bird song. Less than an hour ago it was full flow. It added a perceptible glow to the already shining house. The bird song is more than the icing on the cake its part of our whole.

It helps at this very difficult time of Manjula’s constant challenges to bring a natural soundful beauty.

This house, our home and the memories it creates are a natural consequence of my Manjula. Her smile that radiates is for our many guests, the first and last experience and a remaining mark of their visit.

img_5525The presence that is at its heart, the source of our life here, the link to all those who shared our place. This woman from a poor background, with little formal education who has a kindness reflected in those of the stories she shares of her father, a delightful beautiful woman who has made so many people happy by opening her home as the soft, gentle caring golden thread, linking it all. She, my very own Maharani, has…. no surprise here…. gone and stolen my heart, completely bowled me over… leaving me a marked man.

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All this helps remind us of how lucky we are, here in our Indian home in a world of infinite beauty. Where things continue to amaze, draw us out of our sadness and bring a smile on our face.

Getting out

I need to get out more.

Sunday was the second Mysore literary festival. Great to get out, meet old and make new friends.

Discussions about wildlife and how we can promote conservation, Roy’s films, presentations on Mysore Palaces and our wood inlay traditions, all great stuff.

Maybe the best of all for me was hearing from a young woman from a very poor background who at age four had been given a new opportunity in life. A philanthropic organisation sponsored her residential education through to her 20s. Not straightforward. An amazing life opportunity but controversially perhaps takes her completely away from her family. I’ve ordered her autobiography. More later.

A great new slogan 🙃

A different segment and layer of society in Mysore. Mostly women, middle class and of an uncertain age.

Great people watching and meeting. I only knew a handful of the maybe 150-200 people..

I do realise from this, that with the challenges at home and the build up to busy-time I do need to get out for a bit of newness now and again.

A Mysore Day….

First stop. Diagnostic centre. These places are all over Mysore. You’ll see patients traipsing around the city with files and bags full of results. Doctors having sent them to their ‘preferred’ centre so the get their backhander. But not here at Kannan, the first established here in Mysore they have a fair and transparent policy of No commissions. Lakshman the head doc has been especially helpful to Manj and I.

Well I deposited my blood and urine samples with the instructions to go have breakfast and come back to repeat the process in two hours.

Next

For Idli, (twenty rupees for two servings, that’s 4 Idlis) at reputedly one of the best joints in Mysore opposite Wellington Lodge (why’s it called that? Find out on a cycle tour…. sooo blatant! Says mythical Ed)

Number Three, chai, eight rupees.

4 shopping therapy, yes I can even get enjoyment from buying a replacement squirty water gun for the toilet. Know what it’s for? This photo is between Ashoka Road and Gandhi Square of the hardware capital of Mysore 🙃

5 next one of my fave places, old trad juice shop for sasparilla soda.

6 hotel Indra Paras for sweets!

And just to proof there’s often action here and we don’t have to wait for the big annual Dasara event which only finished last week…. a great procession brought the centre to a chaotic standstill as opposed to the usual

chaotic movement….

And finally the diagnostic centre to take the piss as they want more blood. Results back at the end of the day. Cost is very reasonable at 2200 rs. That is however almost ten times the supposed minimum daily wage.

Connections

Remember that song?

The this bone connected to the that bone. Well it’s connections and especially medical or body ones that are the subject of today’s missive.

We’re visiting the umpteenth medical centre.

Manjula has been losing weight having gone from a Telly Tubby (Ok I exaggerate) to being thin as a rake at 35 kg in just a few months.

so very worrying.

Well her usual doc tested liver, kidney, thyroid all ok so he’s sent us to Dr Darla who tested and found her deficient in vitamin D.

Well we hope that’s it and the treatment works.

The connection?

Since being ill earlier this year and as a result she’s been home based hence there’s been a lack of sunlight. One problem, response, leads to another, a vicious circle of happenings let alone connected bones.

It occurs to me (and I’ve checked it’s OK with the Maharani) that as we’ve had so many friends ask about her health it’s about time we brought you up to date, so watch this space.

Wooden spoon

I don’t know about you but I can get by with a fair amount of idleness. But sometimes activity takes over.

Today I punished the stairwell, drilled holes and stuck up more pics.

The cleaning ladies appreciated hanging around, chatting, chai while waiting for my mess.

They now believe we’ve more Gods per square inch than most Hindu houses.

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And sometimes one needs a hobby. Not too difficult you’ll understand. I am from Yorkshire and reached a golden age. Yes, over 50.

The current thirty-second hobby (ie this month’s) is very much Hipster Dad territory. Very Hebden Bridge, or Stroud in this case.

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Wayne of Wayne’s Wood, yes from Stroud (sorry these are English jokes) was at WOMAD music festival.

The workshop is featured on the WOMAD site. Check the photos on the site here. Spot anyone?

Will Wayne come here, I wonder. He says he’ll come to ‘your place!’

I’m now into carving wooden spoons and here’s the first two.

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The lower one is the first and my gift to Manjula. She tried is with some soup but wasn’t impressed as the spoon bowl was too small and shallow. Number two was a great improvement!

I have my knives, oil, emery paper I just need to find some more wood, preferably Mango… where’s Satish?

 

Strike!

The Pourakarmikas who clean our streets and collect our rubbish are gradually coming back to work. They’ve been on a strike related to conditions of employment (promised contracts not having materialised) and pay.

Their timing has been spot on as the big event of the year in Mysore starts today. We can’t have litter filled streets now can we? Well some might wonder if we’ve been able to tell any difference in the ordinarily messy streets. Well we have. It’s been even messier. It’s one of the many things that visitors just can’t get. How come people just dump their rubbish in the streets. We’ll return to that subject.