Back home

India never ceases to amaze.

On the plane before we landed I’m watching an episode of Fleabag. A hit TV comedy in the U.K. that’s managed to pass me by, until now. In this episode, the family are at dinner and after a fight, almost all of them have bloody and bleeding noses. At exactly the same time the traveller in the next seat starts to have a nose bleed. I’m not making it up.

Off the plane and immigration are their useful helpful best and the finger print machine isn’t working so I have to wander off to find a different desk. That one isn’t working either. The Babu squeezes and rubs my fingers, squirts hand hand cleaner on my hands and manages to get it in my eye, gets me to rub them (the fingers that is) and try each finger one by one while chuntering on about how dry my hands were! He gives in.

This is all pretty irrelevant, I’m avoiding thinking about returning to an empty home without Manjula. I need to be tender and tough at the same time.

Shafi is waiting for me to drive me home. It takes ages as the Jains have got a big three day event that’s blocking the main highway between Bangalore and Mysore. Lots of people in white with their masks on to stop inhaling and killing living things, thousands of others venerating them.

I explain that over the years I’ve probably arrived in India over forty times. All bar one feeling very happy to be back. This time I have mixed feelings of being both sad and happy. We’ll have to see how it goes.

The place seems pretty messy. Rubbish everywhere. It doesn’t compare well with the three countries I’ve visited. I think it’s the longest time I’ve been away from India since moving here nine years ago.

Shafi kindly points out that Manjula was very lucky to meet me and especially as she had two trips to the U.K. and her medicines paid for. I point out that I was also very lucky to have met Manjula, to be looked after by her and had such happy times together. We buy some flowers for Manjula’s portrait, just like the ones on my tattoo. Their aroma now fills the house.

The other flowers also featured on my tattoo have already bloomed and died as they last just one night. We used to have bets on which night they would come out.

Lucie is not here. I whistle manically and eventually find her at someone’s house and we go for a walk. I keep catching Manjula out of the corner of my eye. No one is like Manjula of course, but just with a glimpse, the colourful saris can easily confuse.

I wonder what Mangla the cleaner has been doing while I’ve been away. The place is the dirtiest and dustiest I’ve ever seen it.

We have a parcel on the sideboard, from a lovely young couple, Johanna and Piero, who visited us last year from Switzerland. Johanna has painted and sent a beautiful picture of Manjula. How cool is that?

Stairway to heaven

Stairway to heaven….

I think not!

But it is a new beginning.

We know there are many of our friends in India and around the world looking forward to hearing about our latest tussles with the bureaucracy.

So here it is….

We’ve taken the big friendly giant (BFG) step and now fully registered Mysore Bed and Breakfast with the Police, the City Corporation and the Karnataka State Government. It’s been an absolute ‘joy.’ Yes, really 😉

If you like to see ‘the big picture’ first check the one at the bottom.

Step One

Visit: The Police Commissioner, followed by the local Police Station, to get a letter saying Manjula is a cool chick. No no no…. to show there are no objections ie. she’s a great character, has no record and the Police and neighbours have no objections.

Please note we’re saving you the agony by missing out 90% of the actual experience of visiting and managing the differently organised police service.

Step Two

ok, so you’ve got your ‘get out of jail free’ card, or your statement saying there’s no objection. Now collect up your documents: rental agreement, letter from owner agreeing to you using the house as a homestay, receipt for payment of tax.

Go to the office.

Then sort out the mistakes: redo rental agreement (letter not good enough) and pay extra tax. Spend two weeks trying to meet up with the officials, get letter typed up, and on and on and on… you just wouldn’t believe it…

is it incompetence, ‘we don’t care’ attitude or an intentional wind-up?

Step Three

The registration with the Karnataka Government was relatively straight forward. Complete the online form, upload the documents provided by the Police and City Corporation and rental agreement. Pay the bill, electronically or face the ordeal of going to a state bank queuing up, paying in cash or bankers daft, getting a receipt, scanning it in, uploading it. Forget that option! paid-up…. We now await the visit of the inspectors.

Step Four

Register on line with the Police to have foreigners come and stay and complete the online Form C within 24 hours of each foreigner who comes to stay. We’ll provide more details of this wonderful…. time consuming employment creation ordeal…. later to enable me (Stephen) to fully flaunt my Yorkshire sarcasm.

So we’ve done it. The team has arrived at the top step, we’ve had our highs and lows, we’ve learned to laugh and cry, we’ve met formidable obstacles, gone with the flow, we’ve sunk our flag in the hallowed ground. It’s taken time, almost a year, we’ve grown as a team and Manjula has made it happen. Phew!

She’s a star!

Next…. we’ll we do it all again next year.

The big picture

The A team includes:

Manjula, aka the boss, on point, who has traipsed around all the offices, made endless phone calls, been endlessly put off, turned up at the key offices to find the ‘houdini’ *official/policeman/Babu/patriarch (*delete as appropriate) has disappeared…. gone for lunch, on holiday, maybe hiding in the toilet, who knows? She gets a gold star for determination, fortitude, strength, with just a little innocence in the mix. madam has seriously been through it all!

Akram, auto driver extraordinaire, helping Manjula face the torture, mysticism and labyrinth workings of the Mysore City Corporation, and hiding outside when she faced the officials of the police commissioners office or the helpful smiley chaps at the local Police Station. To be fair he’s an auto rickshaw driver, rightly with an innate fear of coming into close contact with the constabulary.

Vidya and Tanu. Our knight-ettes in shining armour. Being Manjula’s counsellor, advocate, comforter, advisor and support in dealing with the Police.

Stephen, The clerk, computer operator, form filler, recorder and scribe. He lurks in the background. In the belief that to show his pale face will significantly add to the costs of said registration process.

 

Thank you for your invaluable help!

Why India? 1

So why did you move to India when you were 53?

Its a question often asked by guests at Mysore Bed and Breakfast. Top Ten answers

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I loved the wild west and its stories from an early age. India seems to be just like the wild west.

True or False?

True, I did used to watch the westerns, with my Dad, on the TV from an early age and really got into it.

True, India in some ways is a bit anarchistic (to put it mildly) so can seem a bit of a free for all as in the old west, without the guns (mostly) but it is of course …..

FALSE, its not the reason I moved to India.

 

STOP PRESS

Here’s further evidence of a young interest in the Wild West and that it runs in the family

one helluva trip

Lipsmackin, thirst quenchin travel …..

…..in a plane, train, open top buses, flash rental car, over and underground, Thames boat trip, friend’s cars, chain ferry, tram, narrow boat, taxi,

 

and a three week road trip to see the sights of England and Wales, London.

Of which… There’s just too many sights to mention….

passing through Chesterfield, Dronfield, Huddersfield, Sheffield, cities that haven’t been fields for a very long time,

Hereford’s black and white houses from hundreds of years back, countryside of Dorset, Oxfordshire, Warwick, Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Wiltshire, Wye Valley, Avon, Bath, steam fair carousel, Kingsclere, Hebden Bridge, ancient standing stones at Avebury and Stonehenge, the white horse, seaside at Swanage and Pool…. phew… no wonder I’m short of breath

burning up the roads or alternatively, gently chugging along whilst at times laboriously stepping up and down the canal,

…… glamping and camping, music festival, hills and dales, breathing in the history, basking in the sun, (amazingly, with very little rain Manjula reckons she brought the good weather), bee hives, art installations, museums, pubs, restaurants, restaurants and pubs, shops, shops, shops, markets, High Tea, Mummies,

 

so much walking Manj complains of aching legs, cycling (only one of us doing that) visiting old and new friends and family, restaurants, shops, political dialogue, (yes BREXIT was discussed and UKAOs)

’rounding’ as Manjula would call it and its a good job I took Gina’s advice ‘not to overdo it’ on reflection it was helluva lot.. who knows what’s racing around in Manjula’s brain 😉

meeting and staying with BnB guests, on sofas, beds, futon, air beds, camping, absorbing difference, chatting, shopping, eating out, appreciating it’s clean and green and above all and what really matters is ….

… meeting and sharing our time with wonderful, kind, patient, caring people.

 

As Manjula would often stop and exclaim…. Wow!

Thank you to you all for making this a special life time experience for Manjula.

 

Vancouver is fab…

I really do like Vancouver.

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This was my second visit to my youngest son Oliver (thanks for moving there Ol). Its a city that seems to have just about everything. A diverse community, buzzing city with great localities and neighbourhoods, superb veg food, and amazing environment whether its the islands, the sea, the beaches. Its a modern city with snow-capped mountains, the sporty lifestyle, a really great vibe and super people.

I had a great time!

Ok, Ol did try to kill me by taking me to the ‘Tight’ fitness club for a session. Picture it. There is a class of people ‘keenly’ exercising  but ALL of them seriously look as if they don’t need to be doing anything of the sort. (maybe that’s the point.. you’ve got to keep at it!!) Except perhaps the old grey haired bearded guy in the back corner getting worrying looks from the trainer… will he survive the class? What is he doing here? Is he about to have a heart attack? Well I did manage to the end and probably did about 50% of the exercises. It’s made me think though I’ve got to reveiw my own lifestyle, loose some of the podge  and get fitter. Hang on a minute though, I AM on holiday, ok?  There is always rooms for a delicious ice cream and a beer.

On this, my second visit we hired a car and headed for a mini roadtrip into the US (where else?) down the stunning Oregon Coast, (en route visiting the famous locations of the Goonies) then …. into Portland, and Seattle… lovely people, astonishing panoramas and ginormous meals (its true about meals in the USA)… and wonderful micro brewing (sorry drinking) and endless opportunities to go shopping…. (which we both love)

 

If you’re a previous guests of Mysore Bed and Breakfast…. this is where you need to seriously worry!

Cathy and Mark, who came to stay with us in Mysore a few years ago when Mark was a volunteer vet in Bylakuppa (the Tibetan settlement), live on a beautiful lake on the outskirts of Portland. Well we couldn’t be in the area and not drop in, could we?

What amazing hosts and a lovely place. We were seriously pampered. It was difficult to leave. Mark took us out cycling with our very own MyCycle Tour of Portland, Cathy, who is ever so trusting, let me borrow her open top BMW for an amazing tour of the wonderful countryside and we just chilled out cycling in a great city. Thank you so much you guys, you were so generous and we had a wonderful time.

So why worry?

Because we might come visit you!

This is actually part of reaching my 60th year (actually 59 years old last December) and the ‘celebrations’ will continue. Next up… taking Manjula to the UK. Where we’ll visit: Ben, the eldest son in London, together with his partner Alice and my granddaughter Poppy, their mum in Hebden, a ton of old friends and one or two other guests of the Mysore BnB might also get a knock on the door 😉

So look out!! Who knows where we might head next.