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Sunday, May 1, 2022

They Also Served

by Rajesh Thomas

Dear friends,
I'm so happy that the 'drought' is over and we have new stories coming in. This wonderful 
thirst-quencher from Rajesh Thomas is about  the bars in tea clubs and the good men who preside over them. Cheers, all of you! 

To take the tale back to 1928: A boisterous farewell party is in progress at the High Range Club for a colleague departing in retirement to the isles. Probably ridden with emotion at the departure of a friend and senior whom they adored and respected, the partygoers hoist the planter in question, W.O.Milne, on their shoulders and on to the bar to a merry chorus of “for he's a jolly good fellow”, and prevail him to hang his bowler hat over the bar. 

Beginning thus a unique tradition of having planters with an uninterrupted tenure of thirty years in the district  hang their hat at the men's bar in recognition of their service. Over time, the hats symbolise the legacy of the men who shaped the destiny of these magnificent hills, the High Ranges, the jewel amongst all planting districts in South India.

Fast forward to the present and as one enters the men's bar of The High Range club, Munnar, it feels as if one has stepped into a distant world of planting history where time stands still. Wood-panelled walls, photographs of yesteryear, curios and artefacts donated by planters retiring to distant shores, animal trophies that stare at you from walls and glass cabinets of sporting trophies which tell tales of valour on the sporting field. But the thing that catches one’s eye is the magnificent arch over which is a collection of old planting hats and sola topees with names / initials and dates. W.O.Milne was the first, and now 52 hats adorn this arch. Curiously, two of Milne's sons, also High Range planters, hung their headgear over the bar and this was called Milne's hat trick.

 When one closely observes the other side of the bar, there are also three turbans that adorn the walls of this bar, belonging to retired head bearers and barmen of this club, keeping in tune with tradition, as they also had the distinction of marking thirty years of continuous service with the club.

A sign of respect the planters of yore had for the staff, who served them and the pride of place the bartenders had in the clubs.

As the joke goes, the master of ceremonies at a wedding reception announced for everyone to stand next to the most important person in their life, and the barman nearly got stampeded in the resulting melee. Likewise, for planters, the barman was their go-to therapist, who administered them the weekly elixir of life.

Thangaiah, the barman at the High Range Club
The gentleman bar man who had the privilege of hanging up his turban along with the doyens of planting in Munnar was Yohaan. Yohaan retired long before I joined planting and was revered by the seniors. Many a senior recounted stories of being helped on to their motorcycles after a booze up and he would steadfastly refuse to serve if he felt the gentleman could not handle any more alcohol. His successor at the High Range club and the present incumbent Thangiah is no slouch with handling inebriated Assistant Managers, and Thangiah can whip up a mean Bloody Mary.

Yohan’s contemporary at the Annamallai Club was Murugaya. Murgaya  probably wielded more influence than anyone else in Valparai town did. A jack of all trades, Murugaya seamlessly slipped into administration and looked after the club accounts too later on.

Annamallai club had a second bar for the kids, the barrel bar. As the name suggests in the shape of a barrel, where all the cool older kids hung around sipping coca cola and fanta and eating finger chips.

A characteristic of these legendary bartenders was they knew the choice of all the regulars, and one just had to walk into the bar and instinctively they handed you the right drink.

In the smaller planting clubs, these wonderful men showed they are multi-talented and in a lot of clubs they doubled up as the billiards marker or could hold their own in a tennis foursome when short of a fourth player. A skill they achieved with no formal training.

Balan the barman at the Meppadi Club, Wayanad and Kunhu Mohamed at the nearby Devarshola club across the Tamilnadu border, were some who pulled up double duty on the court and off the bar. A unique feature about the tennis courts at the Meppadi club was the court surface was of bitumen or tar.

The Bartender in the remote Highwavys club Manikam was a one man institution. It was he who dispensed the booze, made up a foursome on the tennis court, played billiards and snooker and if one felt peckish, rustled up a sandwich and generally kept everyone in a good mood. Manikam joined the club as a ball boy on the tennis court in the 1920s and gradually graduated to the green baize and then the bar. He continued to work well into his eighties and even then was reputed to dispense liquor accurately without the aid of a peg measure.

The Vandiperiyar and Peermade clubs of Central Travancore were two of the most lively planting clubs in South India. The old timers who dished out the moonshine were Dasaiah at Vandiperiyar Club and James at the Peermade Club. Besides keeping the spirits high, they were also adept at wielding the cue. Many Assistant Managers learnt the nuances of the green baize from these two.

The Vandiperiyar and Peermade planting districts of Central Travancore were next to each other and were reputed to have tough labour and even tougher management. The Managers and Assistant Managers caught between the two carried a reputation of being a hard bunch that worked hard and partied harder. At a luncheon party over a monsoon Sunday, an argument broke out between two planters as to who was the better snooker player, Dasaiah or James.Soon others joined in with each faction vociferously, claiming their choice was the better player. To settle this, the famous battle of the barmen was scheduled over a Sunday in a fortnight’s time, giving enough time for the contestants to sharpen their skills. I cannot recall who won the match, but a significant amount of money was reputed to have changed hands.

When one talks about barmen, mention should also be made of a unique club bar, the Kundale Club located in a small patch of heaven in the High Ranges, Munnar. A bar without a barman. The club has a unique system where the members pour their own drinks, write out their own chits and drop them in a box. The manager of one of the nearby estates, normally Chitavurrai or Yellapatty come periodically to tally and top up the stocks. Ironically, seldom is a shortage found and more often there is a small excess, like the factory tea stocks.

The Coonoor Club bar
Nathan the gent who doled out the hooch at the Coonoor Club in the seventies had a brood of leghorn chickens and he sold their eggs to the members to supplement his income. Once an English lady who wanted to buy eggs kept asking if they were “fresh and English” and Nathan kept assuring her they were. Unwittingly, she was delaying the next round of drinks to a bunch of impatient men. A voice from the end of the bar called out, "If you want any fresher or more English, you will have to lay them yourselves."

These fine men were not without their faults. During the days when getting imported booze was difficult, one planter had managed to get his hands on a bottle of imported vodka. He organised a golf foursome for the Sunday morning, with expectations of some good quality Vitamin V after eighteen holes. When they reached the nineteenth hole , the parched golfers found out the potato juice from Moscow had lost its potency. Apparently it had been watered down and Vodka had become Wadka, As the furious foursome turned to confront the suspect across the counter, our friendly neighborhood bar-man looked at the bottle and the owner and quizzically asked “was it raining in your estate?”

The Gun Bar at the Wellington Gymkhana, The Nilgiris

But these lovable rascals had a way of worming their way back into your heart. Thumba the veteran gin slinger who presided over the magnificent Gun Bar at the Wellington Gymkhana in the Nilgiris was one. A tale often related by my father’s colleague and friend Babu Jayaram. Babu Jayaram’s father Mr.K.K.R.Menon was the first Indian planter in South India and the Wellington Gymkhana was one of his familiar haunts. Hence Thumba knew Babu from his growing up days. As newlyweds, they were passing through the Nilgiris and were taken to Wellington Gymkhana for dinner by their friends. He introduced Thumba  to his bride at the bar and later proceeded to their dinner. When they asked for the chit to sign, the bearer replied there was no chit for the drinks and dinner as Thumba  had already paid for it. When Thumba was confronted on the way out, he just shrugged and said, “After all the years I have known you, the least I could do is buy you dinner when you get married.”

Meet the writer:

 Rajesh Thomas introduces himself:
"A second generation planter. Born and grew up in the planting districts of Southern India. Started my career in the High Ranges and Annamallais Planting Districts for twelve years. Had a stint in Africa for two years. Since 2009 been planting in the Nilgiris.


Read all of Rajesh's stories at this link: https://teastorytellers.blogspot.com/search/label/J.Rajesh%20Thomas

Is this your first visit here? Welcome to Indian Chai Stories! 

Do you have a chai story of your own to share? Send it to me here, please : indianchaistories@gmail.com. 

 My name is Gowri Mohanakrishnan and I'm a tea planter's wife. I started this blog because one of the things that I wouldn't want us to lose in a fast changing world is the tea story - a story always told with great seriousness, no matter how funny - always true (always), maybe a tall tale, maybe long, short, impossible, scary, funny or exciting but never dull. You will find yourself transported to another world! 

Happy reading! Cheers to the spirit of Indian Tea! 

ADD THIS LINK TO YOUR FAVOURITES : https://teastorytellers.blogspot.com/

Friday, April 29, 2022

The ‘Taste’ of Tea

by Sudipta Bhattacharjee 

A note from the editor: Some friends asked me if the blog was still a going concern, because they hadn't seen many posts going up since the year began. Here's what I said to them: 'I don't pester people to send me stories. If they have one to tell, I know they will send it in. A story can't be produced on demand. It has to come straight from the heart.'
Sudipta Bhattacharjee's does just that. Thank you, Sudipta. Cheers!

My first acquaintance with a tea garden was at Kakajan in Upper Assam, when I was four years old. Hazy memories of a lush garden firmed up five years later, when we visited my maternal uncle, Sukumar (Dhruba) Sengupta, then manager at Majuli Tea Estate (then owned by Finlay) in Udalguri, Assam.

The drive from Guwahati airport whetted our appetites and as we neared our destination, the sylvan expanse of tea bushes filled us with a delicious sense of anticipation. Alongside the driveway there was a swing, which became a favourite haunt over the next few days.

My uncle had two dogs, a German Shepherd called Rex and a Cocker Spaniel, curiously named Tipu Sultan. I was so terrified of canines at the time that I steered clear of both. They were perfectly well-behaved pets but I always kept a wary eye on them as we gorged on the most delicious snacks at tea-time, served with typical garden fanfare.

The children were, of course, not allowed to sample the celebrated brew whose “liquor” and “aroma” the grown-ups extolled. We were served large glasses of milk that we abhorred. I once tried to taste some tea from my mother’s cup, but one stern look from my aunt, Tanima, put paid to such ambitions.

Young Sudipta gets her prize for topping the class!
One day, I was sitting on the swing engrossed in a Noddy book, when I saw my uncle approaching me, Tipu in his arms. When I looked up, he promptly put Tipu on my lap! I screamed, Tipu yelped; no prizes for guessing who was more petrified. Uncle very patiently picked up the pup and put him back on my lap. “Hold him, he won’t bite,” he instructed. I put my quivering arms around the warm ball of fur and was won over for life.

My uncle was so pleased with the success of his mission that he asked me what I would like as a prize. I said I would like to visit the tea factory. A planter to the core, he not only kept his promise but ensured a conducted tour. The resultant impact on a curious nine-year-old was an overwhelming desire to taste the forbidden brew. If it was only dried and rolled leaves, why could we not sample it?

As luck would have it, a tea taster arrived at the garden during our visit, generating a flurry of activity. It appeared to be a momentous occasion; we picked up the sombre vibes and the general alacrity with which the staff reacted. The situation was further compounded because a herd of elephants had trumpeted around the bungalow that night.

All this provided me with the ideal opportunity to finally quench my curiosity. Since my uncle and aunt appeared preoccupied with their official guest, I had ample time to approach my mother’s morning cup of cheer and take a guilt-ridden gulp! Oh, the disappointment! It tasted worse than our cocoa-flavoured milk!

Decades later, having learnt to savour the garden brew enough to distinguish the first flush from the second, we came across a tea taster during a visit to Darjeeling. In the course of our conversation on silver tips and oolong, he invited us to observe him at work the following morning.

It was an experience of a lifetime, the sight of the little bowls arrayed on the table as he moved from one to the other, sampling the brew and marking it. We marveled at the skill and expertise it entailed. When he finished his ceremonious trial, he asked us to try it for ourselves. As avowed tea drinkers now, it made our day.

To think it all began when a frisky little tea garden pup was unceremoniously dumped on my lap!

Meet the writer:

 Sudipta is a career journalist who joined The Telegraph in Kolkata as a trainee in 1985 and retired at the end of August as Resident Editor (Northeast). She moved to Shillong in 1992 after her husband was transferred to Meghalaya on a three-year posting and continued to report for The Telegraph from there. She travelled to the United States on a Fulbright Research Fellowship in 2004-5 and returned to base thereafter. Her tryst with tea gardens began as a four-year-old to Kakajan in Upper Assam, where her uncle, Sukumar (Dhruba) Sengupta was posted. She and her family visited him in Majuli Tea Estate in Assam in 1970 and 1973 and by herself in December 1975 to the Dooars, when he was posted at Damdim Tea Estate. She has visited gardens in Darjeeling (where a tea tasting session was hosted for her), the Nilgiris and Munnar, Sri Lanka and hopes to share her experiences through this blog, of which she is an avid follower.

Sudipta is now adjunct professor of media science and journalism at Brainware University. 


Is this your first visit here? Welcome to Indian Chai Stories! 
Do you have a chai story of your own to share? Send it to me here, please : indianchaistories@gmail.com. 
 
My name is Gowri Mohanakrishnan and I'm a tea planter's wife. I started this blog because one of the things that I wouldn't want us to lose in a fast changing world is the tea story - a story always told with great seriousness, no matter how funny - always true (always), maybe a tall tale, maybe long, short, impossible, scary, funny or exciting but never dull. You will find yourself transported to another world! 
 
Happy reading! Cheers to the spirit of Indian Tea!

ADD THIS LINK TO YOUR FAVOURITES : 

https://teastorytellers.blogspot.com/

 

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Spooky Places

 Hello again, dear readers! Happy to bring you a new story to mark a birthday - yes, Indian Chai Stories is four years old!! What could be better than a 'bhoot' story - and cha ka baba Dip Sengupta has sent us a story that we'll all love. So pick up your cup of tea, and say cheers - cheers to the spirit ( and the spirits ) of Indian tea! Over to Dip.

What is it about ghosts and pianos?

Growing up in tea gardens in Assam and North Bengal, I was no stranger to ghost stories. The setting of most of these tales were the colonial bungalows, some over a hundred years old , often located in the middle of nowhere . As a child, I have some memories of these bungalows. High ceilings, with wooden rafters where bats sometimes hung, fortress-like walls which would sound hollow if tapped, dark Victorian furniture, deep shaded verandas. And each room, every doorway hinting at more things than could be seen.

In short, spooky places.

And almost each bungalow had a ghost story. Old timers in these bungalows , usually the cooks or the ayahs , some of whom had worked for the British planters , would whisper about footsteps in the corridors, peals of laughter in empty rooms, voices which called out urgently, the tinkle of cutlery in the dining room well past dinner time. And in these isolated bungalows, with the heavy darkness that descended every sundown, such stories were believed.

As was the story of the ghost playing the piano.

This was a story I had heard from my parents. In one bungalow in Assam, sometimes, on moonlit nights, the old piano in the sitting room would begin to play a tune. No one would be at the keyboard, no one would be in the room, but the clear notes of a waltz or a marching tune from another time would break the silence. Even the old timers would shudder and sit closer.

The story goes that the planter who was the current occupant of the bungalow when the last instance of piano playing happened decided that he had had enough of the ghostly business and arranged to have the piano shipped all the way to Calcutta .There, in a famous piano shop on Wellesley Street, it was taken apart, piece by piece, chord by chord. Bits and pieces missing or broken over the years were meticulously replaced. It was rewired and re-tuned by experts who were called in from a renowned music academy. It was scraped and painted and polished till it become an almost new piano.

And then it was returned to the bungalow in Upper Assam, where on a moonlit night, with no one sitting at the keyboard, a tune from an earlier time played all over again.

When I first heard the story, I was a kid and I believed it with all my heart. As I grew older, I
believed less and less. In the bustle of city life, ghosts did not play pianos, much less in tune.

It was a good story to tell and that was that.

But years later, the unexplained came back to me.

On the last day of a road trip to Jaipur, we - my parents, my wife Kajari and our daughters were going around Nahargarh palace. Built on a steep wooded hill dramatically overlooking Jaipur city, Nahargarh was built by a king for his nine queens, each given an identical set of rooms to avoid jealousy. Narrow passageways, nine cupolas each crowning the nine living quarters , the ochre and peach of century-old vegetable dyes glowing in the afternoon sun - it was a step back into another time.

I remember we were all together in one of the queens' rooms, looking around and listening to the guide. I lingered on for a bit, while the others went up to the terrace. I wanted to spend a little time in this room, where long ago, a queen had lived, alongside her other eight sister queens. What conversations had these walls heard, what secrets did they hold? What little instances of love and loss? What conspiracies, what heartbreak, as each of the nine vied for the king's attention?

Wandering around the room, I saw a wooden cupboard which was open. It looked a little odd since the others beside it were closed. On a whim, I shut it.

The next instant, I could not stand. A sharp pain shot through my right leg forcing me to grab a part of the cupboard for support. I tried to hobble away, hoping the pain would go with some movement, but it just kept getting worse. I tried to rub my leg thinking the pain to be some sort of cramp, but to no avail. I was sweating now, and wondering whether I would be able to drive back to Delhi at all. The pain was like a vice around my foot. From the terrace I could hear Kajari asking where I was and why I wasn't coming up to see the lovely view.

It was then that an absurd notion occurred to me. If shutting the cupboard had brought on
this pain, would it go away if I opened it and left it as it had been?

I had stopped believing in ghosts when I left the tea gardens. I do not believe in the supernatural. But the pain in my leg was excruciating. I decided to give it a try.

The cupboard refused to open. I tried, normally at first and then with all my might. I pulled and paused and pulled again, with one hand and then with both. The pain forgotten in the strangeness of the effort, I focused only on opening the cupboard. I was frantic by now. An unexplained logic seemed to tell me that the remedy to the pain lay in opening the cupboard which I had closed.

I remember that I had almost given up, when with a small movement, the cupboard swung open.

At that instant, the pain in my leg vanished. Fully. Completely. As if it had never been there.

I walked without the slightest discomfort towards the terrace where the others were waiting impatiently.

What is it about ghosts and half open cupboards?

Meet the writer: 

 Dip Sengupta Dip grew up in tea estates in Cachar and Terai and the first words he picked up as a two-year old was not in Bengali but in “Madhesiya”, much to the horror of sundry relatives. He has a rich and varied experience of “Bagan life”, including elephants dragging out refrigerators from the dining room ,leopards on the porch and snakes in the storm drains. When memory overwhelms, he tries to put theses in writing and marvel at the wonder of it all. An advertising professional of 25 years, Dip now lives in Gurgaon, with his wife and two daughters. Occasionally he drives up to the mountains to feel once more the magical stillness of the tea- gardens and hear the sound of a leaf fall to the ground.


Is this your first visit here? Welcome to Indian Chai Stories! 
Do you have a chai story of your own to share? Send it to me here, please : indianchaistories@gmail.com. 
 
My name is Gowri Mohanakrishnan and I'm a tea planter's wife. I started this blog because one of the things that I wouldn't want us to lose in a fast changing world is the tea story - a story always told with great seriousness, no matter how funny - always true (always), maybe a tall tale, maybe long, short, impossible, scary, funny or exciting but never dull. You will find yourself transported to another world! 
 
Happy reading! Cheers to the spirit of Indian Tea!

ADD THIS LINK TO YOUR FAVOURITES : 

https://teastorytellers.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Four More Shots

Hello again, dear readers! I'm happy to bring you more stories by Dilip Syam - these four shots will have you laughing out loud. Thank you, Dilip, for a most enjoyable read! Waiting for more!

by Dilip Syam

'Bhejai Daw'

Unwritten law in the tea garden which still runs true to this day is that all garden sahibs and memsahibs must speak and communicate with the tea garden workers in Hindi -- native language for the workers. It was the garden dastoor (standard practice/custom of the gardens). Now that can be quite a significant challenge to me and non-hindi speaking sahibs, who with diverse background and cultures have never known Hindi, let alone how to converse in the language, prior to working in the tea gardens. Of course, we all learnt Hindi or specifically garden Hindi, through our interesting escapades with the language.

This was also true and a hard lesson for a newlywed demure Bengali bride of a colleague, who had just come from her native place in Shantiniketan. One winter evening the newly wed couple invited a few of us to their bungalow for tea & evening snacks. We were all enjoying the warmth from the fire lit in the fireplace with our backs facing the main door. Slowly with the evening setting, the cold air from the open front door started drifting in.

Our host called out to his wife and asked her to tell the bungalow bearer to shut the door. Caught unawares and needing to pass the message to the bearer, she told him, “Bahar se Dorja thu Bhejai Daw” (“close the door from outside” literally translating the message from her native Bengali). He looked at her perplexed and worried and then went away. Suddenly we felt a gush of cold and then we saw water flowing down from under the door and into the room. We were stunned as it wasn’t raining yet the water was flowing in.The host looked at his wife and called out to the bearer. He came panting and had a bucket in hand with water filled to the brim. On being asked what he was doing, he said that Memsahib had told him to wet (bhejai) the door (dorja) from outside (bahar se) and he obviously needed a 'Balti' - a bucket - to do exactly that. Of course, he did not understand why she said it but he only did what he was told to do by Memsahib.

The poor newlywed couple felt very embarrassed and stunned but after a while burst out laughing aloud.We all looked at each other in unbelieving silence and then suddenly we all burst out laughing. We mustered up some courage and congratulated the hostess on her excellent Hindi. She too burst out laughing and found it hilarious. She agreed that she better learn Hindi at the earliest or else we might have many such escapades at her expense. She said she would feed us dinner if the whole experience was never shared ever at her expense. Well we all solemnly agreed, and I promised that it would only be shared if I ever wrote a book and she agreed to it knowing very well that the book would never see the light of the day. Well, little did she know and here we are- sharing another garden Hindi misadventure with you.

 Cow Eats Coal

Cows are revered in the tea gardens especially as people feel they have supernatural powers. People offer prayers to cows and celebrate any auspicious occasion by buying new calves for the homes.

One such story which shows the extraordinary ability of Indian cows is shared below with you.

There was once a huge and sudden shortage of coal in the garden factory and there were no plausible explanations for it. Unable to find any solution to this scarcity, the manager notified the head office in London.Finding the whole matter strange and suspicious, the senior management sent 3 auditors to visit the garden to investigate the matter at the earliest. The worried manager called his head factory babu and informed him about the auditors and shared his concern about the whole sudden shortage of coal. The head babu was a senior member of staff and very experienced. He asked the manager for Rs 100 and told him not to worry and not to visit the factory for the next couple of days.

On the third day, the manager went to the factory with the visiting auditors and went to investigate the coal storage area. They were all surprised by the sight of 50 cows happily eating and munching away at the coal stored on the ground.The investigating auditors could not find any clue for shortage but reported the findings -- immediate requisition of fund for making proper fencing of coal storage area, as Indian cows eat coal. After the auditors left, the manager asked the head factory babu about the cows. The factory babu said that the Rs 100 went towards the purchase of 50 kgs of molasses which was mixed with water. He poured and covered the entire coal stock with the molasses.He gathered the cows from the local labour lines and had them ushered into the coal storage area just prior to the visit of the auditors. So, when the visit happened, all the cows were happily eating away all the sweetened water off the coal.

Manager was hugely impressed & factory babu was rewarded with three increments to his salary for his bright idea which saved the day! Thus came the story that Indian cows eat coal, and this can,of course, only happen in the tea gardens.

'Saram' :-

At the beginning of my tea career when posted at Khaspur - out division of Urrunabund T.E.-  I was almost physically assaulted one day because of my poor knowledge of a specific tea garden Hindi word & its real meaning. Generally tea pluckers as per their understanding feel - a tea basket must be fully filled with leaves in order to make it compact for higher weight, so that they are paid higher. In order to make it compact they usually jump on these fully filled baskets after putting the leaf in it. Seeing this I told a lady plucker “Didn’t they have SARAM (meant ‘shame’ in Hindi), jumping on the leaf!!”

After weighment exercise finished, I noticed some lady pluckers were surrounding me in a threatening mood, demanding an apology for using a dirty word SARAM which means RAPE in garden Hindi. Fortunately the field staff understood what I had meant & explained to all who were in an aggressive mood. Since then I learnt my lesson - not to use any Hindi word (especially with a local langauge association) without actually knowing the meaning of that word !!!

 Five A Side football

All my colleagues were very sports minded & we used to play all kinds of games such as cricket, football, golf, volleyball, tennis and badminton. Our children, along with other assistants' children (all between 5 –18 years) had assembled during their holidays & used to make their parents' life miserable with their antics. Once these boys' team challenged their fathers for a 5 –a-side football match supported by their mothers. Fathers team accepted the challenge & fixed a date. When we went to the field, we found quite a lot of spectators which included our wives, labourers, and staff with their families. When game started with our 2nd Clerk as referee we noticed 95 percent were supporting the boys team, sledging & shouting at us. In fact the wives were very vocal & aggressive. Half time ended goalless.

 At half time we noticed that all are surrounding the boys team encouraging them & no support for fathers team. Also noticed referee was talking with ladies. Two goals in favour of fathers team were disallowed by the referee earlier. Closer to match, fathers team scored a goal with the boys responding  in the dying minutes. Before the penalty shoot out  there were arguments & suddenly referee was noticed running away to save his life as the ladies were running towards him with chappals in hand. There was total chaos in the field, match was abandoned, but we all enjoyed the tamasha with all the fun & frolic that can be seen in the tea gardens only.

Meet the writer:  

Dilip at the Koomber office

Dilip Syam is a seasoned tea planter with over 40 years experience in the lush tea gardens of Assam and North Bengal and across borders too. Eldest of 3 siblings, Dilip and his sisters were raised by his mother singlehandedly after the loss of their father at the tender age of 7years. His maternal uncle played a significant role as a father-figure guardian of the young family. Dilip was a keen sportsman since youth and even had dreams of serving the nation in the defense services. He was honored to represent his state as a NCC cadet during the Republic Day Parade in Delhi on 26th Jan’1960. Unfortunately, family responsibilities took precedence and Dilip started his career in Tea in 1962 (4th generation in Tea following in his father’s footsteps).

Dilip started his journey in tea as a Trainee / Executive Asst. Manager with M/s. PC Chatterjee Group and grew slowly and steadily in his career. He joined Koomber Tea Estate in 1967 then a part of M/S Jatinga Valley Tea Co. (London) & in 1975 it came under Koomber Tea Co. Ltd. (part of Goodricke Group of Companies, incorporated in India). He covered multiple roles in India and Bangladesh with Goodricke Group of Companies. He finally retired as the Managing Director of Koomber Tea Co. Ltd. in 2004.

During his professional stint, he received many recognitions & awards – most notable ones being ‘The World Aware Award for Social Progress -1995’ from Her Royal Highness Princess Anne in London for his role in Goodricke Group, ‘Bharatiya Udyog Ratan Award’ under IEDRA (Indian Economic Development & Research Association) from Govt. of India in 2001. 

Dilip has decided to pen down his adventures, stories and learning spanning his life as a tea planter for people to laugh with him. Every one of us has a story to share and his Chai Bagan stories are an attempt to make people enjoy the lighter side of life and experiences, especially the new generation of tea planters and his granddaughters. Dilip believes that without the support and patience of his wife, Shipra and family, his stories may not have seen the light of the day. 

Is this your first visit here? Welcome to Indian Chai Stories! 
Do you have a chai story of your own to share? Send it to me here, please : indianchaistories@gmail.com. 
 
My name is Gowri Mohanakrishnan and I'm a tea planter's wife. I started this blog because one of the things that I wouldn't want us to lose in a fast changing world is the tea story - a story always told with great seriousness, no matter how funny - always true (always), maybe a tall tale, maybe long, short, impossible, scary, funny or exciting but never dull. You will find yourself transported to another world! 
 
Happy reading! Cheers to the spirit of Indian Tea!

ADD THIS LINK TO YOUR FAVOURITES : 
https://teastorytellers.blogspot.com/

 

Monday, January 24, 2022

Tea in the Time of a Pandemic

Hello again dear friends, and all good wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous year ahead. I'm delighted to present Shona Bagai's first contribution to the blog. Her story touches the heart and brings comfort in a way that only a tea story can. Read on!

by Shona Bagai

There’s just something calming about a cold winter day, when you have a hot cup of tea in your hand, and watch the snow fall softly to the ground just outside your window.

My mind is a jumble of thoughts today. The world around is in disarray. The pandemic continues to rage on with new names. Even the seasons seem to be in turmoil on the Pacific west coast of Canada. First, there was a heat wave this summer. It was followed by floods, only for the coast to be walloped by huge amounts of snow and winter storms. So many things are as they should not be.

All pix by author
My thoughts wander back to the cup of tea in my hand. I’m beginning to ration the loose-leaf black tea I usually bring back from India. I haven’t been home in over two years. I’ve dug out the reserve stock of tea. It doesn’t matter that it’s really dated. My father, of course, would consider it undrinkable, and unthinkable that the tea is past its prime. I still remember their visit to us one year. He took one whiff of the tea I had made and told me the batch was over a year old. No surprise. His connection with tea has spanned over half a century. He would know.

As a teenager I remember wanting to take a dive under the nearest table when we went places and, God forbid, somebody served us a bad cup of tea. There was a silent shaking of heads, some cluck-clucking, and wondering what the world was coming to.

Over the years though, I found the ritual of my mother’s tea-making very comforting. Whenever I am in Assam, the tea is still served in a tray lined with a delicate lace trimmed embroidered cloth. The beautiful teacups and saucers are perfectly lined up. The water is just right, as is the measure of the tea leaves. The time to brew is exact. 

It was always fun when my father was entrusted with the job of playing timekeeper. He would get lost in thought or conversation and the minutes would tiptoe by. The tea would over brew, and he would be reprimanded like an errant schoolboy for being neglectful. He tried switching the wrist on which he wore his watch so he would be more alert but even that wasn’t foolproof. Then there was the timer on the phone. Now a sand hourglass has replaced my father’s time keeping efforts (I could swear the tea always tasted better with the added drama though). Anyhow, once the tea has been steeped to the minute, the tea cozy is taken off, and the brew is poured carefully into the waiting cups. It is followed by a few drops of milk and some sugar. With the passing years, however, the quantity of sugar or the lack of it was dictated more by girth than by taste.

Now this ritual seems to belong to another world. In fact it is. Yet, it never felt that way when I was able to travel home every year. Across the expanse of land and sea that divides my two homes, I still drink my cup of tea, but with half the fanfare. I’m not even sure I know where my tea cozy is. My kettles are out of reach. And, as I sit nursing my cup of tea, I long for the tea my father helps make, and the cup that my mother brews. In our home, there’s isn’t one without the other. It’s the perfect blend.

Meet the writer:

Shona is a Chai Ka Baby who now lives in the west coast of Canada. She is currently an elementary school teacher but has worked as a journalist in the past. She was with The Telegraph and The Asian Age and has authored several non-fiction books for children. Some of her fondest memories are of her childhood and adulthood time spent in Assam and Dooars.

Is this your first visit here? Welcome to Indian Chai Stories! 
Do you have a chai story of your own to share? Send it to me here, please : indianchaistories@gmail.com. 
 
My name is Gowri Mohanakrishnan and I'm a tea planter's wife. I started this blog because one of the things that I wouldn't want us to lose in a fast changing world is the tea story - a story always told with great seriousness, no matter how funny - always true (always), maybe a tall tale, maybe long, short, impossible, scary, funny or exciting but never dull. You will find yourself transported to another world! 
 
Happy reading! Cheers to the spirit of Indian Tea!

ADD THIS LINK TO YOUR FAVOURITES : 
https://teastorytellers.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Friends Forever

by Dip Sengupta

Hello again, dear readers, and a very happy Diwali to all of you! It’s lighting up time, and Dip Sengupta has a bright and heartwarming story for all of us today. Thank you, Dip. 
 
In a small house in the green Tindharia hills lived an old man. And with him lived a part of my childhood.

Saila was our one time chowkidar and my friend forever. Tall, gaunt, with a deeply lined face through which shone two merry eyes. A tooth lost in some drunken brawl, long forgotten. Khaki shorts faded by the sun and many monsoons. Dusty feet.

I was ten when we met. My father had just been transferred from a remote tea estate in Upper Assam to one in Terai and with a good school nearby at last, did not want to keep me in Calcutta any longer.

I liked coming to the tea garden for holidays. But my friends were all in Calcutta. And being an only child did not help.

Saila changed all that.

On the day I arrived, he greeted me with his trademark ear-to-ear grin which made his eyes almost disappear. As a welcoming gift, he carved me a lethal looking dagger from a piece of bamboo. I, understandably, became his devoted follower.

With Saila around, life was a blur of activity. We spent long hours setting up wire snares for the rabbits which raided the kitchen garden every night. We poked around dead leaf for discarded snakeskin. We made newer and better catapults but forgot to use them as hundreds of parrots screeched and descended in a blur of green on the Jamun trees for the semi-ripe fruit.

Saila was the wise one, with answers to all questions a ten-year old could think of. He could tell why the wind blew this way and not that way, why the peepul leaves turned a deep crimson in October, which shaded pathway was home to which ghost or how many pineapples a wild elephant preferred for breakfast.

Not everyone held Saila in high regard. My parents considered him a bit of a nuisance but a tolerable one. The others were more definite in their feelings, because Saila was rather generous with his advice. He told the gardener exactly where to plant the roses, he instructed the cook on the finer points of making lemon soufflé. He also knew how much petrol Somra the driver was filching.

Then one day, Saila retired from service and went away to live with his son in Tindharia.

Years passed. I was now in college in Calcutta. One summer, two friends and I went trekking to Sandakphu. Going to the hills was like a homecoming. I was back again in the wilderness of my childhood days, the scents of the forest, among bursts of lilac rhododendron, my horizon filled with white clouds and blue hillsides.

We stayed in Darjeeling for several days. Suddenly, Tindharia and Saila seemed very near. An hour's journey by bus later I was there in front of a row of houses perched precariously on the Tindharia hillside. Several questions in broken Nepali, a couple of misdirections later, I was standing at Saila's door.

Saila came out. The years had taken their toll. The tall frame was bowed, the face was even more lined and he had lost all his teeth. He could not believe that the person standing before him was the little boy he had befriended long ago. But memory flooded back. And the famous smile followed.

We sat in his little room overlooking the quiet hillside and talked. For two, maybe three hours, we talked. Those were troubled times in the hills, with widespread unrest and discontent. But our memories held their own.

And as we spoke long into the evening, we could hear once again the screeching of hundreds of parrots, wheeling and descending, in a blur of green, on those faraway Jamun trees.

Meet the writer: 

 Dip Sengupta Dip grew up in tea estates in Cachar and Terai and the first words he picked up as a two-year old was not in Bengali but in “Madhesiya”, much to the horror of sundry relatives. He has a rich and varied experience of “Bagan life”, including elephants dragging out refrigerators from the dining room ,leopards on the porch and snakes in the storm drains. When memory overwhelms, he tries to put theses in writing and marvel at the wonder of it all. An advertising professional of 25 years, Dip now lives in Gurgaon, with his wife and two daughters. Occasionally he drives up to the mountains to feel once more the magical stillness of the tea- gardens and hear the sound of a leaf fall to the ground.


Is this your first visit here? Welcome to Indian Chai Stories! 
Do you have a chai story of your own to share? Send it to me here, please : indianchaistories@gmail.com. 
 
My name is Gowri Mohanakrishnan and I'm a tea planter's wife. I started this blog because one of the things that I wouldn't want us to lose in a fast changing world is the tea story - a story always told with great seriousness, no matter how funny - always true (always), maybe a tall tale, maybe long, short, impossible, scary, funny or exciting but never dull. You will find yourself transported to another world! 
 
Happy reading! Cheers to the spirit of Indian Tea!

ADD THIS LINK TO YOUR FAVOURITES : 

https://teastorytellers.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Munnar Revisited

by Manjit Singh 

Hello again, dear readers! I am sure many of you will be dreaming of revisiting old haunts after reading this lovely story. Thank you, Manjit!

It had been six years since I left Munnar. I had spent my entire working life there and memories kept coming back. I had to go back for a visit and experience the sights and sounds of Munnar again. I booked my flight tickets to Kochi and headed south on 16th march.

Earlier I had spoken with Mathew the MD of KDHP and old friend Jojo about my intention to visit, and they were kind enough to suggest that I plan it to coincide with the HRC/ Staff College meet and suggested I represent the club in golf - what could be a greater honour!

I landed in Kochi on a sultry evening and was received at the airport by the company driver Pandiraj who greeted me as 'Dorai'. I felt I was back home .Kochi airport has changed a lot – the international airport has come up as a huge complex dwarfing the original domestic airport. The new airport complex with a golf course adjacent to it, and plans to build more hotels and a shopping mall are an indication of the development that is envisaged for Kerala.

Kochi city has seen a change with the introduction of the metro - MG road is not the same - in fact excessive construction has taken place and now from most buildings the view of the bay has been compromised. Fort Kochi has maintained its old world charm-thanks to the strict laws in force to preserve heritage buildings.

After a night's stay at the companys guest house ( where Mariadas the caretaker was most hospitable) I left for Munnar . The drive was very pleasant and I reached Munnar to have a ‘planters lunch’ with Jojo and Neela.

In the afternoon was the Finlay Shield football final between Letchmi and Madupatty estates( Letchmi now includes Sevenmallay and Madupatty includes Chokanad and Grahmsland estate) There was a slight drizzle and one could see thousands of umbrellas in a very charged atmosphere. Football continues to remain an emotional sport which binds everyone in the High Range and nothing has changed; even in the victory celebrations after Letchmi won.

The High Range Club won the cricket match against staff college but has lost the tennis and the squash.The party at the club was organized with a DJ in attendance. It is great meeting old colleagues and the affection they all showed was overwhelming.The party reminded me of all the fun we had during the inter-club sports meet over the years. The only difference being that on this occasion I was a guest !

The following morning was golf - the course I had played on for more than three decades was in superb condition and it was a privilege representing the club again. That competitive spirit emerged again and I put in my best. The post golf revelry and the prize distribution was vibrant. The meet was won by High Range Club and the guests from Staff College were given a warm send off in the evening.

The next day I visited the Head Offfice to meet all my colleagues – a lively discussion over a cup of tea with Mathew, Srikishnan, Jojo, Mohan, and Cari was invigorating. The tea outlet in the Head Office has been redesigned asthetically and the sales have been increasing every year.The sales outlet and the tea museum are big revenue earners for the company.

I decided to take a drive towards Gundumally estate – the drive brought back vivid memories of my stints in some of the estates we drove past. The Anaemudi peak looked majestic and  I remembered lighting a born fire there in 1978 to commemorate a 100 years of planting in the High Range!The view from the Thenmallay gap was as spellbinding as ever – with the plains of Tamil Nadu seen in the distance. In Southuparai I was able to meet my butler Raje and maids Geetamary and Anthoniamma; they had been part of our lives in the high range and served us with utmost loyalty.

The High Range club exudes an old world charm and Cottage No. 4 is still elegantly maintained. The staff are very courteous and served me my favourite sizzler for dinner! The club was our second home when we were working here; we built strong life long friendships here, enjoyed sporting events and parties. I will always have happy memories of the club of which I am now a life member!

The next days drive to Top Station was the most emotional. 

I had joined in Yellapatty estate in 1978 and this drive past the Madupatty and Kundale dams will always remain etched in my memory.Even though tourism has led to a lot of activity on this route, the pristine beauty still remains.The one place that has stood the test of time is Kundale Club ! I sat in the verandah and gazed with moist eyes at the beautiful golf course- nothing had changed except for the one weeping willow tree on the 4th fairway which had died, and Karuppasamy the caretaker was not there - he had passed away a few years ago. 

How time has flown, as I remembered sitting here on the first day I joined the company on 14th November 1978 with Karuppasamy serving tea!

A visit to the new factory in the MNAP was an eyeopener.It is the best factory I have seen and I could see the pride in Sharans’ eyes when he took me around. KDHP companys long term vision plan is paying dividends- especially the new clearings which have changed the tea landscape of Munnar!

A quiet dinner with the Lahiris marked the end of my visit and the next morning I was ready to leave Munnar. As I looked at the hills again I realized that I will never be able to forget ,where I had spent the best years of my life, the place which had brought so much of joy and where the 'simple tea leaves' had brought us from different parts of the country and the world to lead such a beautiful life !!

Pix from https://www.holidify.com/places/munnar/sevenmallay-tea-estate-sightseeing-1253366.html
 Meet the writer: 
Manjit Singh
I studied in the Lawrence School, Sanawar, and passed out in 1970. I then did my B.A (Hons) and M.A in History from Hindu College, Delhi University. I joined Tata Finlay in 1978 ( in 1983 it became Tata Tea ) and worked in the Plantation Division in South India- mainly in Munnar with a brief stint in the Anamallais in Tamil Nadu. 

I retired in 2014 as General Manager of the Tea Division of Tata Coffee, a subsidiary of Tata Tea. I am a keen sportsman and have represented the Club, Company and Upasi ( United Planters Association of South India) in cricket, squash and golf. After retirement we have settled in Chandigarh and my son and daughter work and live in Delhi. 



Is this your first visit here? Welcome to Indian Chai Stories! 
Do you have a chai story of your own to share? Send it to me here, please : indianchaistories@gmail.com. 
 
My name is Gowri Mohanakrishnan and I'm a tea planter's wife. I started this blog because one of the things that I wouldn't want us to lose in a fast changing world is the tea story - a story always told with great seriousness, no matter how funny - always true (always), maybe a tall tale, maybe long, short, impossible, scary, funny or exciting but never dull. You will find yourself transported to another world! 
 
Happy reading! Cheers to the spirit of Indian Tea!

ADD THIS LINK TO YOUR FAVOURITES : 
https://teastorytellers.blogspot.com/

 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Lychee Tale from Cha Bagaan

by Madhu Nair 

Hello again, dear readers! Time to welcome another new writer/storyteller here. I'm delighted to bring you a story from a 'tea garden visitor' once again. We have had a few of them telling their stories and  I love the visitors' perspective - they see tea life in a way that's different from those who've spent a lifetime in the gardens! You will love Madhu's humorous and engaging story, so read on!

In the early 90s, fresh out of college, I had joined a consulting firm which used to handle the internal audits of a number of tea companies. As part of their routine assignments, the senior chartered accountants used to visit the tea gardens located in Dooars , Darjeeling or Assam to conduct audit of the stores and the factory accounts. Normally the work in a single garden would take three to four days, but as was the practice- multiple garden visits would be scheduled one after the other , resulting in each trip stretching for about 12 to 15 days, covering three to four gardens. The CAs would be put up in any of the estate manager’s or assistant managers' bungalows during the duration of their stay at these gardens. To assist them in their work, these CAs would sometimes take young assistants along with them. The assistants would be paid some stipend for their efforts.

One such CA in our firm was Mr Banerjee ,a middle aged Bengali gentleman, shy and reticent, a quiet number cruncher who was extremely thorough with his work , but when it came to interacting with the garden managers during the evening drinking sessions, he was distinctly uncomfortable. 

Moreover, being a teetotaller didn’t make matters any easier for him. I first got to meet him at Jardines, a company which had multiple tea estates across NE India. Sitting at their office, he taught me some of the nuances of tallying various reports and conducting audits. However, during lunch breaks , he would enquire about my hobbies, my family, and about my home state which was Kerala. Since I was fluent in multiple languages and was good in GK, he would listen intently to my “discourses” on various topics under the sun. Once on the topic of Scotch, I mentioned that I do drink whiskey once in a while – a statement which instantly brought an appreciative smile on his face. 

Needless to add, I seem to have won him over in his decision to choose an apt assistant to accompany him on his garden visits. Very soon he scheduled one such visit and recommended my name to the partner to accompany him. The approvals and the air tickets came within a week and on a hot July morning, Mr Banerjee and I embarked upon on what would be our first amongst numerous sojourns in the tea gardens together.

I had been to several places in India, but never to the North East. I was never aware of the culture or the history of these tea estates, and so when I first set my eyes on the vast acres of neatly trimmed tea bushes carpeting both sides of the road, I was completely mesmerized. It was on that long journey from Bagdogra Airport to a tea estate named Rydak TE , that I fell in love with Tea and everything that tea encompassed; Right from its beginnings , to the Bungalows, the British legacy, the planters' way of life, the process of tea manufacture, the tea tasting process , the different varieties, in fact every single aspect of tea. An enduring love affair that has remained with me to this day.

We spent an eventful ten day trip to these estates and completed our assignments on time. Daytime would be spent in the factory or stores area and once work got wrapped up at 6pm, we would return to the bungalow, freshen up and sit with the Manager on the verandah over drinks and listen to his endless tales. Mr Banerjee would let me handle the conversations and occasionally make a point or two in between his sips of lime juice. The same pattern went on in all the gardens. 

On a weekend we were invited to the club, where after a drink or two, I was able to show off my dancing skills in the company of the estate manager’s daughter. Mr Banerjee forbade me a third drink, worried I might go overboard and create a scene.

“Remember we are on official duty, and they are our clients”, he whispered in my ears as I was heading for a refill. However at the last garden that we visited named Baradighi TE, we were put up at a young Assistant Manager’s bungalow and as it so happened ,our host was a Malayalee and he was absolutely thrilled to have one of his brethren put up as his guest for couple of days. His name was Mr Alex and he happened to be from the Northern part of Kerala, where I too had my ancestral home, and moreover his brother was a lecturer at the same College in Kolkata, where I had passed out from. 

Our drinking sessions stretched right upto midnight, and the second night Mr Banerjee could take it no more and retired by nine pm. Before going to his room, he again whispered in my ears to stop at two pegs. I literally lost count that night as Mr Alex kept on pouring one after another. Anyway, he was so happy to have met me and able to converse in his native language that the next day being a Sunday, he proposed a day trip to the adjoining forest reserve of Gorumara. Mr Banerjee excused himself citing some wrap up work and so myself and Mr Alex went out on a jungle safari , spotting wild elephants, bisons and rhinos.

Post every garden visit , we would be given a small packet of tea of that particular garden as a token, which was much appreciated. Mr Banerjee had been visiting these gardens for many many years and hence it was routine for him. But for me, it was quite overwhelming.

On that trip we visited a total of four gardens and Mr Alex was our last host. While departing from his bungalow, along with our customary tea packets, Mr Alex handed over a cardboard box full of fresh lychees, requesting us to hand it over to his brother Paul at Calcutta. Since we were not carrying too much luggage, we said fine. Mr Banerjee promptly put the onus on me to take care of the box and its contents, and ensure proper handover to Paul the next day.

We reached Bagdogra in about 3 hours and checked in due time. Back in 90s , Bagdogra Airport was as chaotic as it is now, and the whole process of issuing boarding pass and check in of baggage was pretty remote. We were booked on a Vayudoot Dornier aircraft which was coming from Aizawl. In those days there was a system of verifying our luggage on the tarmac itself, before physically boarding the aircraft. Post verification, the luggage would be heaved manually onto the Dornier’s hold. While verifying our luggage on the tarmac, I noticed that the strings on the lychee box had snapped open. I somehow managed to re-tie the same, and told the attendant to keep this particular box on top of the luggage pile. Unknown to me, he hadn’t heard me properly and he stashed the box in some corner, with disastrous results.

Upon landing at Calcutta, Mr Banerjee and I waited at the baggage carousel for our luggage to arrive. The first few suitcases which landed on the carousel had running stains on them. Passengers started grumbling at the sticky mess and straightaway started heading towards the washrooms, tugging their luggage along. To our horror, Mr Alex’s lychee box came out, completely smashed and leaking juices all over. The strings had all come loose.

We collected our individual luggage, but neither of us had the courage to pick that box up. It went on for several rounds. We could hear our co-passengers cursing the owner of the box, whoever he was, for the sticky juices hadn’t spared any of the flight’s luggage. We waited patiently for the all the other passengers to disperse. By this time the lychee juices were staining the entire conveyor belt too . For a moment we thought of dumping the box and maybe buying couple of kilos of lychees at Calcutta’s local markets to hand over to Paul. But we had to rule out the thought, since Mr Banerjee had a doubt that maybe Mr Alex had inserted a personal letter for his brother inside the box. Hence we decided to wait.

Once everyone else had left, I gingerly picked up the box of lychees and kept it on a trolley to be rolled out of the Airport. The moment I came out, I literally bumped onto a big group of co-passengers who were waiting outside for their vehicles to arrive. Upon seeing the lychee box on my trolley, each one of them literally rained the choicest abuses on me. 

Looking around, Mr Banerjee was nowhere to be seen; clever guy had ran towards the parking lot, leaving me in the lurch. After conveying a thousand apologies, I decided then and there that this box full of smashed lychees had to be delivered right away. No way was I going to carry it home and deliver it the next day. 

Getting into the car, I gave the driver Paul’s address and in an hour I was at his door. Instead of my apologizing for the state of his lychees, it was the other way around. Paul was extremely apologetic at the trouble I had to endure to bring a box full of lychees all the way from Dooars to Calcutta. However Mr Banerjee’s hunch was proved right. There was indeed an envelope inside the box. Enclosed were several photographs and a letter, relatively undamaged by the juices all round. A dozen lychees too had survived and I had the privilege of eating couple of them. Needless to add, they tasted heavenly !!

This picture from https://www.thespruce.com/grow-lychee-inside-1902624   


Meet the writer:

I was born in Kerala, a small town named Ottapalam in Palakkad district. But post my birth I got shifted to Kolkata and have been here ever since. After my graduation from St.Xaviers , I joined a consulting firm, which primarily handled the Internal Audits of major Tea companies like Goodricke, Jardines, Jorehat group, Williamson Magor etc. I spent about 5 years , travelling to various gardens across North Bengal and Assam. I have had the good fortune of spending lot of time with tea luminaries like Prem Singh, Roger Nyss, VK Mehra, Rajah Banerjee, JP Alex, Robin Singh amongst others. In 1996 I moved out to Financial Markets and thereafter to real estate. Currently I am with Tata Realty posted in Kolkata. But the years spent in tea remain the best years of my life.


Is this your first visit here? Welcome to Indian Chai Stories! 
Do you have a chai story of your own to share? Send it to me here, please : indianchaistories@gmail.com. 
 
My name is Gowri Mohanakrishnan and I'm a tea planter's wife. I started this blog because one of the things that I wouldn't want us to lose in a fast changing world is the tea story - a story always told with great seriousness, no matter how funny - always true (always), maybe a tall tale, maybe long, short, impossible, scary, funny or exciting but never dull. You will find yourself transported to another world! 
 
Happy reading! Cheers to the spirit of Indian Tea!

ADD THIS LINK TO YOUR FAVOURITES : 
https://teastorytellers.blogspot.com/