Sally

Sally is one of those guests that you’ve no idea when they first arrived and keep popping up so much you wonder if they ever leave. She’s clearly become besotted by India.

Sally is a creative who works in broadcast media in the UK on one of the most iconic soaps as Costume Designer. But can turn her hand to many things: design, textiles, writing, costume making, continuity, tours, and her beautiful home and garden, all while supporting her mum.

I’ve lost count how many times she’s been to visit and has now set up her own business providing carefully curated textile travels in south India. She’s also on Facebook and as Textile Travels

On Manjula’s first holiday to the U.K. we had an amazing adventure with Sally and her partner Mike in a narrowboat adding travel along the canal to Manjula’s list of great experiences in our all too short time together.

We have a lot in common, not least that we both recently lost our loved ones. Recently she’s taken the lead in helping us design a patchwork quilt and appliqué banner from Manjula’s clothes that will soon appear at Mysore Bed and Breakfast.

I look forward to her return and the way she’s going think she’ll spend more and more of her year in India.

Sally is a diamond gal (what does that mean Stephen? Your writing is supposed to be improving – the gentler Ed) officially now ‘family’ and has joined those who’ve returned here to provide incredible support over the most difficult time in my life.

Thank you Sally

Test form

Here’s my coronavirus test form. The name’s wrong but that’s to be expected, it’s listed that I have symptoms when I don’t (a contact, my neighbour, tested positive so that’s why I’m here) and I had throat and nasal swabs, again not properly indicated on the form.

We’ve not been informed when the results will come through.

I’ve now discovered that my neighbours samples were originally lost so it was almost a week before he got his positive results and taken to hospital.

Our testers with biohazard suits.

If only I’d learn

People, mainly men are gathering on the street corner.

One is clearly very senior. I can tell from the way he’s bossing everyone around and then he turns to me. Instructions spew forth.

For a moment I forget I’m in India. I ask who he is. He refuses to tell me. Name? ID? He orders me into my house.

I slowly begin to recall I’m in a land where civil servant doesn’t mean civil and doesn’t involve service. It symbolises I’m above you, do as I tell you and don’t question.

The reason for all this?

Our neighbour has tested positive for the virus so our street is now closed off, clamped down and we’ve been tested.

I understand the situation and will comply with the restrictions because it’s for our common good but why do we have to tolerate this sort of attitude?

I need to know my place. Coming from northern working class England where we don’t do deference isn’t easy and is no preparation for this.

I could say it’s this sort of attitude —, (I’ve saved you the tedious details), the hierarchy, do as your told, no questions asked — that helps lead to authoritarianism. But then I look in western countries. I include the US and UK where we’re brought up to challenge and officials can be quite a lot nicer but still we have to tolerate tin-pot dictators.

Where are you Manjula? I need you

Why does the foreigner

Save that old stuff

The neighbours think I’m bonkers and a joke.

Art work from every place in India is throughout the house. They can sort of understand that, but it’s not practical or functional.

Why save the wooden wheels, the cart sides, painted chairs?

I remember as a child, the horse drawn wagons, workshops repairing wheels and tailors in every town. They’ve all gone now.

We still have them here but they’ll go. In the eight years of mycycle tours the number of wooden ox carts being made at the workshop we visit has decreased by over eighty percent.

Hopefully some will recognise what is happening and work to preserve the heritage…, fab city, life affirming trees, characterful market, .. beautiful colourful women, skilled artisans there so much wonderfulness. , Otherwise in future years the neighbours will remember the crazy foreigner and realise he was right and understand what they’ve lost.

New things

My good friend Faizan introduced me to the Mysore Storytelling Network. A lovely group of people working to promote storytelling. I’ve joined a couple of their meetings to help where I can in creating the foundation. Here’s our last agenda.

I’ll try develop a reading and storytelling project as an example of MAnjula giving.

Here’s why the New Yorker think this is important:

“Storytelling is the oldest form of entertainment there is. From campfires and pictograms—the Lascaux cave paintings may be as much as twenty thousand years old— to tribal songs and epic ballads passed down from generation to generation, it is one of the most fundamental ways humans have of making sense of the world. No matter how much storytelling formats change, storytelling itself never gets old.

Stories bring us together. We can talk about them and bond over them. They are shared knowledge, shared legend, and shared history; often, they shape our shared future. Stories are so natural that we don’t notice how much they permeate our lives. And stories are on our side: they are meant to delight us, not deceive us—an ever-present form of entertainment.”

From New Yorker 6th July

All Change

Part One

Our Garden has been a wonderful addition to the home we share through Mysore Bed and Breakfast. It’s been a memorable part of our life.

todays team shifted the plants to the ground floor

the owner of the house has arranged to resurface the roof as after nearly forty years and a garden for ten it’s letting water in.

He’s understandably nervous of the plants going back on the roof. It took six of us around four hours to shift them. So we have a new arrangement.

I can feel the nervous worry of guests around the world.

Don’t worry, we’ll have it ready soon and Madam is keeping an eye on things.

The work continues

over the next few months we’ll have three smaller more intimate super gardens and Manjula’s stone benches in the park opposite.

Virus 5

On your own in lockdown? Who do you talk to?

First and foremost MAnjula. In the morning, last thing at night and as I write, aspects of her story. This is her favourite colour and one of her chosen flowers. It’s on of five crore and one memories. Roses were for specific events such as birthdays or just to say I love you. Yes, me, fab.

On solo lockdown I’m here walking with Lucie who together with the crows and squirrel in the tree by my balcony are my feathered furry friends.

I’ll say hello to neighbours and pass the time of day but my closer friends are further away. I get regular calls and emails to check I’m OK

Zoom and FaceTime are of course essential. Particularly to be in touch with daughter-in-law (aka family lubricant) and sons Ol and Ben. Oh and of course my granddaughter when she has time in her busy life and is telling me to wait. 🙃🙂😉☀️☝️

Don’t forget the plants

Or create an entertaining video about the very subject.

Or see how untouchability serves this new situation and helps create a new other

Social distancing

Social and physical distancing, our new normal, in this time of virus has different cultural implications here in India. For more, check this article

Manjula has helped illuminate, for me, something of the prejudice arising in society related to religion, caste, class, race, gender and colour. Aspects of this will feature in our story.

The virus and society’s response highlights those inequalities. This isn’t solely about two distinct groupings of the untouchables and the non- untouchables (savarnas) It’s far more complex and relates to a finely layered strata that’s not confined to Hindus and India.

The right wing shift experienced in most of our societies, does by its very nature exaggerate these differences for political advantage. The social, economic, political distancing is therefore a tool which we’re now reinforcing.

So here’s the next giant leap. This prejudice, elitism, separation of the haves and have-nots, call it what you will, is nothing new, fact is it’s obvious and everywhere and been here for aeons. It’s fundamental to all our societies but it doesn’t have to be.

The factor that connects all these seemingly dispirate disconnects is the way we organise ourselves, our hierarchy, dog eat dog mentality. It might have served us in the past (that’s debatable) but it (yes including brutal free market ways of organising focussing on growth regardless of consequences) is NOT fit for purpose.

It doesn’t serve our needs.

By ‘our’ I mean everyone and not just the self appointed master class or the people in the ‘developed’ countries and not just humans. Another interesting article in two parts here and here covers this.

It’s no accident that the poor in the UK have been demonised in recent decades to support and reinforce a range of political policies including ‘austerity.’

We’re in a sorry state, in so many ways which are clearly interrelated and need to realise it and act. We have opportunities now.

.

Says he, sitting on a balcony in south India who can’t even activate himself to do yoga.

Our separateness politically, economically, socially, spiritually is not sustainable. Rant over…..

And I’ve just found a New Yorker article helps illustrate aspects of what I’ve tried to cover.

Another article here helps illustrate how extreme this was traditionally in India and how a new ‘other’ forms

It’s Tom’s Day

“O Captain my Captain! Our fearful trip is done.”

Well I can’t say it’s not been a challenge because it has.

Yesterday’s Tom day was a great success. I managed to get through the whole day without access to the iPhone (except for the alarm clock at 6 am) or the IPad. I used the MacBook for writing ‘our story’ and that’s all. It really made a difference.

The one failing, if you can call it that, is I did watch Netflix in the evening (the crown if you must know).

Here’s the link to the video that’s finally got me to follow Tom’s sound advice. Not everyday will be a Tom day, that’s not possible, but I will do full-on detox days sometimes and I will limit my gadget and t’internet access on all days so I can focus on something very important like ….. Writing Manjula and my story.

Lockdown has added values.

See below for original posting on Facebook.

Tom’s Day

Have you seen or heard them on shoulders? The angel or fairy observing one’s every move, whispering ideas, making suggestions, gently guiding, even tut tutting when you’re hovering over the line, the limen between good and evil. Our little friends like the elves are here to give a helping hand and nudge us just when we most need it.

What a lovely gentle positive image.

Well I’ve got someone else, he’s a little fella but with big hefty presence. He sits on my head, sometimes flicking my ears, drumming his fingers on my skull, loudly whispering his thoughts, his key messages, usually something like… get-off the technology, write that story, meditate, eat this and that, eat properly-sit up straight (oh, no that last one was a dad memory).

I love him dearly, my very own Tom Thumb.

So in recognition that we both care and to show I really do listen; I’m designating wednesday of this week Tom’s Day. Its when I’ll try my best to do my best without looking at my Ipad, Iphone, Netflix or Amazon. The only permitted technology on Tom Day will be the lap top JUST for the ‘word processor’ I’ll not access the news, F book, Instagram, the blog thing and I’ll report back on what it was like.

Question: anyone know one of two possible links to the first line?