Press Release

Flying Cycles 

Forty young visually impaired women took to the streets of Mysore in celebration of the life of Manjula on her 49th birth anniversary. 

On Manjula’s Fun Day, sighted guides acted as ‘pilots’ steering and pedalling a tandem (cycle made for two) with the visually impaired young women acting as ‘stokers’ pedalling behind, enjoying the wind in their faces, the passing sounds and the sense of movement that is like flying.

It was the highlight of the day of activities, riding MyCycle’s tandem (a cycle for two people), for the young women that included games, music, storytelling, singing, food, drinks, cakes and cookies.

Tushar of MyCycle Tours said: “We could tell from their oohs and aahs that the young women, without sight, were having great fun. It reminded me of when I first rode a bicycle – they felt a great sense of freedom.”

Yamunavva said: “I was scared in the beginning, but the fear left. I felt very happy.” Gowri added: “The cycling experience was so good and I felt so happy that I asked for another ride.”

It wasn’t just the young women who benefited from the fun-filled day. “I began to understand the strength and courage that these young women need to be able to face life’s challenges,” said Meghana from Manjula’s Mysore “They taught us the value of a positive can-do attitude.”

Stephen, Manjula’s husband added: “That was just like Manjula. Together we remembered and celebrated Manjula’s life, her strength and kindness. With her radiant presence and infectious smile, like the sun, she magically brought life and warmth to all she met.”

“What a day. We all left feeling that warmth,” said Sarvesh who organised the day on behalf of Manjula’s Mysore.

The day demonstrated how organisations can come together to make a difference. Businesses such as SAPA, Aroma and Mysore Bed and Breakfast providing the cookies, cakes and meals as responsible businesses. Local community and art organisations of Mysore Storyteller’s Network, Vishnu Sharma Company, Divya Jyothi Charitable Trust, Faizan Baksh and MyCycle Tours gave their services.

Manjula and Stephen were partners for nine years after setting up their business, fell in love and got married. Unlike these young women, Manjula could see but she had difficult times throughout her life. She had to believe in herself and seize opportunities to create the life she wanted. She shared her home and is now known throughout the world for welcoming international tourists to Mysore until her untimely death three years ago.

Manjula’s Mysore will continues to do good, reflecting Manjula’s kindness, through partnerships of NGOs, business and with our team of community volunteers.

Manjula seized the opportunity to set up Mysore Bed and Breakfast with an English guy Stephen and they fell in love. On getting engaged it was her wish to give gifts to people rather than receive them herself. Kindness from the very beginning.They began by gifting bicycles to organisation working in the community a total which has now almost reached 50. 

Her business has now evolved to become “Manjula’s Mysore’ providing accommodation to tourists through Mysore Bed and Breakfast and MyCycle tours, which has been available for the past ten years. But now with the added extra of working with young people, to help them grow, develop and thrive.

Manjula’s Mysore is looking for ideas to do more good in the community.

Further details of our partners.

What and why did Manjula give?

On 21st August 2022 on Manjula’s Birth Anniversary we created a day of activity for visually impaired young women living at the Divya Jyothi Trust in Mysore.

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Here are useful links to those who made it a great success, explaining who we are and why we did it.

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Manjula’s Mysore Continues Manjula’s work including Mysore Bed and Breakfast, MyCycle Tours and working with young people. We organised the event, sang songs, accompanied the young people’s singing and provided cycling. Our team was: Sarvesh, Satish, Sowbaghya, Tushar, Megha, Poornima and Stephen

Satish founder Director of Manjula’s Mysore, finding a useful role.

Our Partners are Manjula’s Kind

Thanks for making this a great success.

Mysore Storyteller’s Network: enables people to revive traditional and modern art forms of India through storytelling. Inspiring and mobilising communities to share their deepest vulnerabilities through stories, using Indian arts(visual, performing and fine arts). They organised games, taught songs, shared stories, played unusual instruments, from Madhavi, Sridevi Iyengar, Gauri Nadig, Shahana, Aditya Swarup

Vishnu Sharma Company: Vishnu Sharma hosted the entertainments, played music, organised the PA, sang songs, and acted as MC 

Poornima sang songs and can be contacted via Manjulasmysore

Local businesses, active in their communities, demonstrating their caring shared responsibility. 

Faizan Baksh photographed and videoed the event. Photos of the event and Manjula, are available. A video is being prepared. Faizan provides video and photograpphy services for events and promotions. Contact Instagram @faizanbaksh

The bakers SAPA and Aroma donated cookies and cakes. 

SAPA started by Dina Weber is an artisan bakery, crafting sourdough breads and fine pastries with patience and love, giving their loaves the distinct flavours of naturally leavened breads.

Aroma is a bakery that offers high quality personalised cakes in its wide range of baked goods, since 1989

Mysore Bed and Breakfast sponsored all the meals for the day

MyCycle cycle tours loaned their tandem supported by their volunteers.

The event was hosted by Divya Jyothi Trust Founder Shivaprakash, co-ordinator Kavya, and is the NGO where the young women live.

Why did we organise the event?

To help our community.

Manjula’s kind

Manjula seized the opportunity to set up Mysore Bed and Breakfast with an English guy Stephen and they fell in love. On getting engaged it was her wish to give gifts to people rather than receive them herself. Kindness from the very beginning.They began by gifting bicycles to organisation working in the community a total which has now almost reached 50. Her business has now evolved to become “Manjula’s Mysore’ providing accommodation to tourists through Mysore Bed and Breakfast and MyCycle tours, available for the past ten years. But now with the added extra of working with young people, to help them grow, develop and thrive. 

This was a celebration of Manjula who would have been forty-nine on the day. This strong woman created Mysore Bed and Breakfast and is now known throughout the world for welcoming international tourists to Mysore until her untimely death three years ago.

Stephen is Manjula’s husband, always on the look out, for ways to remember Manjula and share her with more people. 

“I was riding my Enfield through Mysore city centre. In one of the busiest junctions were two young woman one with a white stick so one at least was visually impaired. They were trying to cross. I couldn’t stop and as far as I could see, no one helped so I wondered what it was like for young recently impaired women in Mysore. 

If Manjula was here we would’ve discussed it and she would’ve been keen for us to find out and do something. So I contacted  Divya Jyothi Trust and went with Sarvesh to meet the centre staff, the founder and the young women who live there. As a result we’ve organised activity on what would’ve been Manjula’s 49th birthday and who knows where else it might lead.”

What’s Next from Manjula’s Mysore?

“Manjula’s Mysore will continues to do good, continuing Manjula’s kindness, through partnerships of NGOs, business and community volunteers.”

Let us have your ideas

Knock Knock

I’ll often joke to our guests that there might be a knock at the door….

Well there was for…,

Jony, Sue, Chris and Ruth

It wasn’t the secret police but a return visit from me.

Jony kindly put me up after passing through WOMAD on my tour of the south west that included Dorset, Trowbridge, Kingsclere and Bath.

I was also hanging out with other critical friends in Kingsclere.

At the home of Stephen who edits

After Dorset I was

Resting and reading about …

At Ruth’s in Bath and reading from her latest book of poems, all about India….

That’s Ruth the poet.

I think I’ll export some to India

I have…. What next?

…..

Thank you all for you care and kindness

I’m so happy to have created something special with MAnjula which continues to grow our wonderful family.

Check out the next posting to see how we continue to celebrate Manjula and continue to grow our family.

Why I’m so lucky

I first shared ‘why?, in a posting in 2015

I’ve just rediscovered and want to share a recording that Manjula made that year. It’s quite long but you’ll get the gist pretty quickly.

I’ve had difficulties uploading it so please follow the link to see the video, it’s one of the best

I share this gift from Manjula — as a follow up to Why? — as we approach what would have been her 49th birthday. On her birthday itself we hope to make a few other friends. Please check back to find out what happens.

In the meantime, if you’re interested, there’s more of our story here.

Should I be Retracing steps?

After meeting up with our mysore BnB family at WOMAD and knocking on a few of their doors I went camping.

I was apprehensive about revisiting the same places in Dorset where we’d had a family camp to celebrate Alice and Ben’s (eldest son) wedding and my 60th birthday during Manjula’s second U.K. holiday

I shouldn’t have been.

It proved to be a tonic.

I like Weymouth
Rachel and Simon of the lovely ‘hive’ cafe even remembered our visit five years ago.
Catching a ferry
Making new friends from Yorkshire
Who’s that bearded idiot?
Then back to Ruth’s in Bristol,

over to bee-man Stephen to drop our beautiful tent, return the fancy hire car and prepare to return home

In my experience, when grieving, we regularly get ambushed by memories of magical times together. They make me both happy and sad. I’ve learned not to run away but to face them, even create them, so it was ok to retrace my steps.

Thank you for joining my journey and your support.

They’re at it again

Or preparing for another one.
Satish project director with his team, planning or trying to make sense of the firangi’s bizarre ideas

The wonderful team at Mysore City Corporation

Have kindly agreed to the extension of Manjula’s Garden in the park opposite our house.

Here’s the video I provided to make the case

One of Manjula’s benches in the background.

Exhausting but fulfilling Kaveri day.

Kaveri (also anglicised as Cauvery) is named after the holy river, one of the seven holiest in India, a Hindu goddess, who is known for her strength of character and giving nature. As usual the stories vary.

Kaveri and I eventually get a day together but she isn’t dressed for cycling
So I find one of our famous T shirts for her and buy shorts on the island.

The Kaveri river rises in the western ghats in Kodak (Coorg) passing through Karnataka and Tamil Nadu before reaching the Bay of Bengal.

On its journey east it splits to form three islands, one of which is Srirangapatna, featured on our main mycycle tour.

The river helps feed the irrigation systems especially around Srirangaptnam and is source of conflict between the two states.

Some idiot can’t be trusted with a smart phone.
Resting after a hard day, she is over 60
Satish Uncle drives Kaveri (back in her Sunday Best) to Hinkal, in his autorickshaw, as Manjula’s Ambassador has now gone home for a rest.

The day itself.

The third death anniversary of Manjula. We try to do all the right things.

I close the hall (lounge) door behind me as we all leave the house. This is to allow Manjula’s soul spirit to eat. We’ll gently knock on re-entering so she knows to go.
Over the years friends have created a MAnjula memory tree.

Ina the Scottish Australian who became a great friend of ours and especially Manjula calls and arranges to visit later in the year.

Thank you MAnjula for being the all-embracing you, we all miss and cherish you while continuing to feel your presence.

I have another bright idea, I might regret it.