Just arrived, a collection of photos of my beautiful wife and our Mysore Bed and Breakfast family. Also available as a PDF. Why not come visit and see the album for yourself? You’d be sure to feel and meet Manjula too. 🙂
There was a quiet mouse who came to check whether it was worth the risk working for a strange foreign man. Thankfully she agreed to give me a chance. That was ten years ago. It’s not always been easy partly because of her illness and dealing with life in India but this small bundle of beauty, of strength, of fun…. changed my life. For that I’m eternally grateful. We had a wonderful life together.
Today is the anniversary of celebrating our weddings two years ago, in a field on Srirangaptnam Island. Please follow the links to find out more.
Get off me……..
As we approach the anniversary of Manjula slipping through my fingers and leaving for her next life, I’ll post a mix or memories and reminiscences and continue to share with you what a wonderful strong, caring woman we’ve lost.
Further thoughts and feelings as Manjula flies the nest.
Postings from April through to August
Grief, the three bucket method….beginning to work out how to manage some of the grief and push some away! There are all sorts of ways to deal with this situation Unreturned love of my star, including poetry and more of the journey Private mission: grief recovery and wobbles Key stages, behind the scene. Happiness is a choice you make is a very helpful perspective in this difficult situation, Three stages are quite apparent now. Stepping stones are another analog in Doddery
A significant anniversary, four weeks after Manjula died she sponsors meals at the Ashram but what are those symbols appearing on our streets. Which change before our eyes in Mixed feelings. Seven weeks since
Ap pagal hey, are you mad?
To live in others hearts is not to die is such a great way to think about it
A smile, Manjula had a remarkable beacon of a smile a common theme…
Manjula’s watching, still being the boss, sending a message from where her spirit is resting ….. did I say resting?
With a little more help from our friends an appeal for memories of Manjula. Here are some of the memories, others will be featured in other ways! Missing Manjula 2 There must be a Manjula 1 somewhere. We also remember with Jingle jangle and New thing for memory of Manjula
Manjula my muse, and she continues to be…
I’ve been fortunate to get away for almost two months in June and July Back home is a challenge
The factly fiction stories
Life in India
Phew, we have to find some help.
As part of our giving we want to do something new, but Oh no not again and
as i realise the implications of having to relate to officialdom again. Our revise experiences of sorting out IDS, Passport, visa and registering he business with the City Corporation have been detailed in our story.
Our following increases with more people checking out our postings.
This is a new one however.
Ina the perpetual guest really liked a recent one.
It made her think of a Robbie Burns poem….
She asked why wedding rings are made of gold;
I ventured this to instruct her;
Why, madam, love and lightning are the same,
On earth they glance, from Heaven they came.
Love is the soul’s electric flame,
And gold its best conductor
And then she had this dream….
She entered a jewellery shop,
In the centre of the floor was a wooden chair.
It was covered in carvings of people’s initials.
The jeweller explained that it came from a school where it had been carved by young lovers.
It was symbolic of first love and that was the role of a jeweller recognising and celebrating love.
Ina blames my story for her dream….
everyone wants a home and needs to feel wanted
a short factly fiction tale, a monologue, written by Stephen, but its NOT him speaking…
‘Isn’t she lovely…isn’t she wonderful, isn’t she precious’……
“Stevie Wonder, really got it right…. I feel good.”
[Stevie Wonder’s ‘isn’t she lovely’ is playing in the background. Our own Stephen is out looking for something, but what?]
“It’s so crowded here and a bit too bright for my liking. It seems very orderly but I reckon that we’re held in a bit too tightly. How am I supposed to get noticed in the midst of all this? How can anyone see me, let alone pick me?
Here, what about me? Hello, Hello……, yes, me! Look here!
What’s your problem? I’m beautiful – obviously, bright – yes, I could just about be a star… reach for me!”
‘Isn’t she lovely, made from love….life and love are the same’,
“yes Stevie, take it away.
Hang on, Who’s this? He looks well meaning, clearly got purpose, we could make it work.
What is he doing? He’s got it completely wrong. No, not her, put her down, what about me? Come on get a grip.
I’m yours for the taking.
Hang on a minute, I’m getting attention from him. Yes, that’s it, pick me up, look me over, no no , you’re tickling. Oh no, now he’s putting me back. What an idiot!
Hey, he’s coming back, let’s look extra special, maybe if I send positive waves, he’ll appreciate my OBVIOUS charms. Yes, He’s looking my way again, picked me up, stroking me, yes, yes, you’re getting it. Now he’s talking to the nice lady, getting out his wallet, yes we’ve got a RESULT…. wonders never cease.
He hands a card over, payment is made, I’m nicely prepared and we’re off.
This is sooooooo exciting.”
‘I can’t believe what God has done’,
“back to Stevie Wonder, this is so my song.
I’m with the guy who picked me and I really think I’m about to meet my life’s purpose.
But now I wonder, what will it really be like? I don’t really know this character, can he be trusted? Where does he live? He’s white skinned is that good or bad? Calm down. Peace man. Give him a chance. Less of the anxiety. It’ll be OK, remember those positive waves.
Hang on. there’s another man with him who I hadn’t noticed. I can just about make him out. He looks like Father Christmas, big white beard and belly. Now this is a bit weird. Does that mean, you know, that they’re together? an item? Oh no, that’s not my idea of bliss. I’m not judging others, you’ll understand, it’s each to their own but if I’m moving into their place I need to know the set up. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m modern, I’m fresh, I’m new, I know that gay marriages, partnerships, people living together without getting married are all the rage but I just need time to adjust.
It’s not what I’d expected. I’d wanted a more traditional thing, I ooze tradition, obviously. OK, OK, Don’t prejudge, let’s calm down and see.
So, where are we now. Back home, I expect. It looks big, difficult to tell as I’m so small. There’s plenty of space, loads of plants, we could make this work even if its not what I expected when I was brought into this world.
Hang on. What do I see, through a crack? There is a woman, Now as Stevie Wonder says I’m lovely but hey this woman is something else, she’s absolutely beautiful. A gorgeous tasty chocolate colour, unlike the pasty white guy. The other guy I now realise, was just a friend. Pheeeew…
‘Isn’t she lovely…isn’t she wonderful, isn’t she precious’ Stevie Wonder, I imagine, would sing and now there’s two of us!’
I get it now. The first guy who picked me up, and bought me and the woman are clearly together, there is a soft warm vibe that I feel. I’ve always been complemented, by the others, of being ‘in tune’ and understanding the humans.
Yes its happening, he doesn’t hang around. Non of this waiting for the best time, he’s straight at it.
‘Manjula’… he says, then I can’t quite catch the rest…. blah blah blah….get on with it man. blah blah… Wow what a smile she’s got, I’ve got a full view of her now. Now she really is a star. I could get to like her. What did she say? I didn’t quite catch it.
She’s acting very shy, coy even, which is probably not surprising in the circumstances.
So what was that I heard?
Spot on, wonderful that’s made my day… no, my year, my whole life… I hope this means happily ever after.
…. she’s beaming at me and him, I suppose, and let light into the whole room, Ok I admit, probably accentuated by the fact that my box is now fully open. Whatever, its love all around, I’ve come to a wonderful home. Yeeeeees!
She takes me out of the box, Strokes me. She’s radiant, I really really love this, and her, I’m going to be so happy.
He slips me on her finger. She had said yes, I’m over the moon.
This is absolutely wonderful. I have my very own family.
Life settles down to a sort of normality, a routine. I’ve been her engagement ring now for over two years. I’ve travelled to England (where he is from), been photographed so many times, shown to what seems to be absolutely everyone, mainly foreigners admittedly. I’m not always on her finger, only on special occasions and when she has on her ‘sunday best.’ But it’s then I’m at my best. We were made for each other.
Otherwise I’m placed back in the box or wrapped in a tissue, and tucked away in a warm place in her bra, under her mattress, in the midst of her many many saris or bedside drawer.
Since that very first day it’s been an absolute joy. This is a very happy house with many people from Mysore and around and from all over the world (whatever that is) constantly coming and going and I’ve even got used to the big black dog.
I had expected a companion, yes a wedding ring but it seems like its not their thing. There was however the crowning glory and yes, eventually TWO YEARS LATER they did get married (twice), so we all had our day of celebrating their love.
Manjula was at her most beautiful, whether at the registry office, in the field, on the Tonga, by the river or for lunch hotel, she beamed like a constant smiling beacon, a lighthouse lighting the way for us all.”
“So what’s happening today? It’s almost four years since their engagement and over a year since they married. Everything is out of sorts. Manjula’s husband who I now realise is called Stephen or maybe Stevie, but he’s not a wonder! As you will soon see.
Manjula left the house yesterday in the Ambassador car with Stephen her driver. She left me at home so I thought it was maybe one of her regular trips to a clinic or hospital. Its unusual as she’s pretty much been been here constantly for most of the last year and she hasn’t taken me!
So what’s he doing now? Stephen has come back on his own. Well he’s clearly sad and his eyes are wet.
I’m wrapped in tissue paper, I think I’m under the mattress, which he’s lifted.
Hey! I’m here, be careful! Stop whatever you’re doing. Woooooooaah I’m sent flying through the air, roll along the floor and come to rest in the corner of the room.
The mattress followed by the cot, the bed itself are taken out of the room and outside, what is going on?
Whatever, I’m in the corner of the room and he has no idea that I’m here.
Hey You? Steeeephen, your klutz.. I’m here. Here in the dark in the corner, under something. Come and pick me up. Please.
I give up. It’s been hours or maybe days I have no way of telling. How will he ever find me?
Hang on someone is coming. It’s not him, Stephen the careless. It’s a woman, not my Manjula.
Here, look this way!
She is scanning and has eagle eyes, finds me, picks me up, I’m up up and away… and puts me in a warm place.
My friend Brian, from the UK, and I bought Manjula’s engagement ring at a jewellers in Mysore. On that very day I asked Manjula to marry me. Thankfully she said yes. That was four years ago. We’d been together in one way and another for nine years until she died earlier this year. On the day she died, as part of the Hindu rituals, she was brought home and laid on her bed, that I’d placed outside the house for people to visit, show their love and do the necessary pooja.
I have no idea if rings can appreciate whats happening to them.
The ring is now lost. I have no idea what happened to it. Maybe it was tucked away under the mattress and I lost it when I lifted the mattress then someone else found it, maybe it was taken in the chaos of that day when people were in and out of our house, I just don’t know. It’s not important now.
I’ll be posting ‘creative’ fiction and Manjula’s own actual story, a memoir, over the next few months on http://www.meandmycycle.com
Mysore, July 2019
It gets worse.
So to remind you. The BJP who got the largest number of seats has been given by the Governor (BJP) fifteen days (now shortened after the intervention of the Supreme Court) until today? To demonstrate on the floor of the house that they have an overall majority, (which they didn’t get at the election so they will have to poach Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) to increase their numbers).
Are you still awake?
Now the president (BJP) , remember he’s supposed to be independent and above politics has appointed a temporary speaker (chair of proceedings) also, you’ve guessed it, from the BJP. This is completely against protocol as it’s usually the senior most MLA that gets the role but he’s Congress so that won’t do, will it? The newish speaker has been in the job before who was censured by the Supreme Court for his….. partiality in a previous situation, involving the same main character Yeddyurappa and corruption.
You seriously couldn’t make this up,
In despair, I’m turning away from this soap opera of unbelievableness to some light entertainment.
a ceremony but where?
you already know, there was only one place to choose for our wedding and the formalities themselves were completed at the registry office 🙂
no it wasn’t in a glitzy bhavan with hall for reception (means a totally different thing out here – its the photo opportunity and gift giving session with the newlyweds seated on thrones on a stage) and another hall to feed hundreds, nor a band, althoug that would have been nice
instead, we decided on Srirangaptnam island, of course …… my favourite place. As you may have seen already we chose a tree in a field
once we decorated the tree… all sounds a bit pagan 😉
we made final personal preparations at Satish’s house…
there were around twenty guests: local friends and members of our team,
Vasanth’s family (V was ill), Satish (project manager) and his family, Rakesh (mr energy), Lokesh, Babu, Vidya ( a good friend who transcribed Manjula’s recordings) Heechang and her friend and family (husband Justin was away picking Henna), Asha, my yoga teacher, her family and Suresh, (who arrived fashionably late so aren’t n this photo) and the friends from the UK: Mike and Sue, Tom and Amy. We’re sorry to say that Tanu, Vasanth and Vinay were indisposed with a heavy bug so they just had to watch the royal wedding ceremony on the TV (I’m joking, OK) and not together!
the ceremony itself
we and the children used a traditional Mysorean Tonga (horse drawn taxi) to our next stop
where we visited one of the wonderful riverside locations on Srirangaptnam for a prayer beside the Kaveri and to float our flowers
followed by lunch
and finally …. tea and cakes at Satish’s house
It might not be the big glitzy Indian affair but we still have to prepare…..
step one, decide on a location
an island …… check,
a tree ……. check,
a field …… check
we’ve got it all
erm, there’s a lot of water, a stream and paddy fields to cross requiring some nimble steps over a simple bridge (must remember to build one) and balancing on a mud wall. No one said it was going to be easy! but we will work it out.
do a check list, create a ceremony and find a photographer
Tom and Amy first visited us a few years ago and have now been many times and have become part of our family. Its absolutely wonderful that they are here to be part of our celebrations and have critical roles as celebrant and photographer.
An essential aspect of any wedding is a trip to Vasanth’s house for Sumati to do the Henna designs for the ladies
Mike and Sue, who I know for over thirty years were also visiting from the UK. What a wonderful coincidence, given that there hasn’t been any advance planning and they quickly became part of the growing team. They also have the heavy responsibility of representing the whole of the British Isles, especially my sons who couldn’t get here, but then we didn’t tell them about it…… Ben and Ol, Alice and Poppy, daughter in law and grandaughter and the other very important people in my life such as Liz, aka BIG X.
we decided to have a ‘dara’ a sort of friendship thread with wooden bead, to recognise our coming together and to provide a souvenir for each of our guests.
and finally on the day itself, we’re out on Srirangapatnam Island …
but we needed to make the place a little bit fancy and solve the ‘how to get there problem’. So in answer to the questions from many guests whove visited the famous market: what do they do with all those flowers?
even a simple little ceremony like ours needs plenty of flowers: for the horse, the auto rickshaws, the car (more on that later!) our little patch of land, (we just decorated the tree,) so imagine how much is required for a puka Indian wedding!
and to resolve the other problem: Satish, project manager extraordinaire, brought some planks from his house to build a bridge so that we could get across the stream (aka an irrigation channel)
typical Indian planning, where there doesn’t seem to be any, yet it just comes together, nicely.
A Farrell Footnote
The full set of photos taken mainly by Tom are here
so in planning for this project aka getting married, I didn’t use a broker, check her horoscopes, or caste, ask her mum (Dad’s dead), expect her to pay for the happening, confirm her status and job, check the flatness of her foot, ponder on her mum’s occupation, I did find out a lot about her, was impressed with her surviving a difficult childhood, her fortitude and stamina throughout life, her flexibility and adaptability in managing and thriving through uncertain and unexpected situations, her compassion and care after such an astonishing series of difficulties throughout her life, things that I couldn’t have even begun to guess about… I did fall in love with her as a person, her humour, her compassion, her beauty both inside an out, her thought for others. her active seeking to help others out, her tolerance of the stupidity of some around her, i hesitated for years as I was concerned that she was in a vulnerable position as employee, an ethical challenge of the first order, but eventually we did come together and i wonder now what did she check out about me…
its been a bit weird as we’re open about our situation with all our guests at Mysore bed and breakfast, many of whom have now become good friends, our establised friends here and abroad knew of our relationship but we have chosen to be discreet here in our own immediate locality and have kept our relationship a secret from her family. Not because of the cross cultural India/British aspects, they’re more easily overcome but because the neighbours, well they might frown upon it because our different societal positions (she’s from a poor background) and because if her family knew we’d never hear the end of it not least, with the constant requests for handouts.
so this was back home immediately after the ‘registry’ office. A few days later a wonderful team came together to create a most memorable event most unlike anything that the majority of indians would accept as a wedding, but for us it was perfect.