This blog is dedicated to Leo Caouki, a wonderful friend who recently died suddenly and unexpectedly. Andy and I lived with Leo in Cambridge many years ago, before we were married. When we went round to view the house as potential tenants, he cracked open a bottle of good wine and served up some delicious homemade snacks from his native Turkey. That was just Leo. And we lived him when he celebrated one of his birthdays. The 'few people' he invited turned out to be a handful of the most eclectic bunch I've ever been amongst, both the very young and very old (and everything in between) from every corner of the globe. I remember one woman bursting into spontaneous opera at one point and Leo taking to the floor to tango. Even his email address was 'feelathome' which, really, says it all.
Leo, you were a true gentleman, raconteur and friend. You will be sorely missed and lovingly remembered by people the world over who were fortunate enough to cross your path ♥︎
What I'm coming to realised pretty quickly on this family gap year malarkey is the amount of time we're spending with Maya, Lily and Benji. Duh, I bet you're thinking, the children aren't in school, what were you expecting? Quite so, and whilst stating the obvious, let's just say I hadn't quite anticipated the children going to bed at the same time as us so we really are together...well, a LOT. Trying to get them into bed earlier than us (which we were pretty strict about in Nairobi) is proving a big challenge, namely because of the shared rooms and small spaces we find ourselves in, plus the reduced sense of urgency as they don't have to be up early for school.
This increased amount of 'family time' is proving interesting in the arguments and physical fights department amongst the Narracott Juniors (they only had after school to bicker before). Lily and Benji are missing their friends and Maya is missing the structure of the school day. All this is...let's just say...an adjustment. I'll report back at a later stage on how it's all panning out and whether we've had to place restraining orders on any of them.
So, Mysore (or Mysuru, I really ought to call it now). It's my fourth time here and 3rd time staying in the beautiful Green Hotel. Formerly a palace, it then turned into a film shoot location before the adjoining studio burnt down and it eventually re-opened for tourists seeking a palatial experience without palatial prices.
Just for kicks, I'll share a photo with you of our time here in 2009, when Maya first showed an interest in chess.
And look at my family now! ♥︎
This time in Mysuru, we zoomed around the city in an auto-rickshaw (mostly with a sweet, stuttering driver called Imran who was most honest and earnest rickshaw driver I've ever met and one evening doubled up as self-appointed tour guide); visited the entirely random sand sculpture and sea shell museums (thank you Trip Advisor); saw cows ambling about painted bright yellow for a special Mysore cow festival; attempted some home schooling in a museum and got shouted at (more of the RULES we are up against in the next blog) and ate to our heart's content. At least, Andy, Granny Amma and I did - the children are eating copious amounts of white rice and Indian breads and not a great deal else and we're now seriously considering multivitamin tablets!
I love Mysuru - the faded charm of it's crumbling old palaces and avenues, the smell of sandalwood soap and incense that seems to emanate up from the very streets and the ubiquitous dosa you find on every corner (the best dosa in the world?). There may be a lot of tourists here, but it's not hard to see why. Mysuru has a wonderful old-world, laid back charm which, frankly, we'd need to bottle and take out to sniff at regular intervals if we were to survive our next stop: the craziness of self-styled metropolis, the vast madame bursting at the seams of her sari: Bengaluru.