Family Memories of Tea


Lynda Tedesco Story  Calcutta
Lynda Tedesco in Bangladesh
The Imrie family Story
Mike Ghosh Reminisces


May 16 2009

Lynda has produced the final episode of her trip 

"On Grandfather's Trail


I have finally caught up with everyone! I have been delayed by health
issues. My very last leg of the Tea Garden journey was to visit Rampore
TE where my grandfather was born.

As I left Zabayer behind in Bangladesh, a taxi pulled up, care of The
Summit Guest House, Farouk and June Hossain, proprietors. This
warm and generous couple had sent their driver, Bipul, to collect me.

After an afternoon's wander around Shillong, enjoying the cool breezes
off the hills and a stretch of the legs, I tucked into bed for a restful, i
f short, sleep.



The next morning Bipul and I made an early start for Silchar. Assam. We passed
several truck jams along the way and a horrible bridge collapse where a wash-out
swallowed a bus and killed 70 people.

After 7 hours of travel to cover 235 kilometres, we arrived in Silchar in a short but
fierce thunderstorm to be met by Mr. R.R. Dutta, and his son, Satia, who had
driven in from Mizoram to meet me. Teachers are highly respected in India and

I was honoured to be treated to pakoras and "real" cappuccino (coffee lover hereJ)

Then on to Rampore, over the Barak River and up the other side. There I was
welcomed warmly by manager Mr. Sandip Nagpal and his beautiful wife, Dishta.


The Cachar Polo Club Cup 

1860's Exterior of the Rampore bungalow


The Rampore Bungalow today


January 6 2009

Here we have the second story from Lynda Tedesco. It tells of her visit
to Bangladesh. She obviously had a great visit with such a special moment,
to think that she was the first Ross-Jones offspring to visit this site in
100 years! --Thank you Lynda--Editor


I craned my neck to see as much of the land below me as I could as I flew into
Dhaka via Jet Airways. I was amazed by the greenness, so rich and dark,
interspersed with so much water! I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't
this lushness. A quick drop over a city that seemed to spread forever and I was
at Zia International Airport where I was met by a fellow member of Servas
International. ( for those who are curious). "Bonny"
(Mian Taimur Hussein), his wife Mukti and daughters Samira and Sumaya
were hosting me in their home apartment in Dhaka. Actually, they were sharing
me with another Servas member, Mrs Sultana Rahman, and introduced me to
a third Servas friend Mr. Ram Proshad Ghosh, whose wife, Silpi, prepared a
beautiful evening "tea" with traditional Bangladeshi snacks and finger foods. I
don't think I've ever eaten so much! and all so yummyJ


08.03.20. Samira, Sumaya, Mukti for school celebration 
of Mohammad's Birthday. Dhaka..

My Bangladesh visit had been co-ordinated by my Servas friends as well
as by members and friends of Koi-Hai. Bonny connected with Ali Zaman's
friend Wahidul Haque, manager of Deundi Tea Estate as, through Ali, I had
learned that Wahidul knew the location of the cemetery where my
great-grandfather and his second wife were buried. Great-Grampa had
managed both Amo and Teliapara TE's, dying at Amo in 1908 from a ruptured
appendix. He was predeceased by his first wife, Maria McInnes Littlepage
in 1893 and by his second wife, Hortense Sands, in 1899. Wahid so kindly
organized my visit to the Begum Khan Cemetery and to the TE's, which
were quite close to Deundi.

Anyway, back to Dhaka. I spent six days there while Bonny took me
under his wing and did most of the work in obtaining my "Route Change
Permit". I had flown into Dhaka and the Powers That Be wanted me to
return to Kolkata by air, too. However, as I would be travelling on to
Assam (which is east of Bangladesh) I needed to leave by a land route.
The Karimganj crossing was not allowed to me but after three days
spent at the ministry office responsible for such permits, and several
rickshaw and tuk-tuk trips to get documents copied and exit fees paid,
I did get approval to leave by the north crossing at Tamabil.

Staying with Bonny and Mukti and girls was a delight. Mukti's cooking
was amazing and I quickly became a fan of Bangladesh foods. I became
adept enough at eating with my right hand (great way to find and remove
bones from fish!) that my fingers bore the yellow badge of turmericJ I
visited the London Grace School, where Mukti teaches, speaking to
several classes about Canada, showing photos (courtesy of another
teacher's laptop) of Canada and activities (mostly outdoor) that many
Canadians participate in and answering students' questions. (Is it true
that in winter if you put your tongue on something metal outside that your
tongue will stick to it and you'll rip off the skin if you try to pull it away? -
answer below
) I had brought lots of Canadian stickers, little flags and a
few books with me that I was able to leave with teachers and students.
The students' English was excellent and left me with a sense of sadness
that so many Canadians don't learn a second or third language.

Sultana introduced me to Gono Unnayan Prochesta  (GUP) an NGO
founded by her late husband, Mohammed Ataur Rahman after the
Independence war of 1971. It was set up to improve socio-economic,
cultural and environmental security in poorer areas of Bangladesh.
Sultana is in charge of Women's Issues. GUP offers programs in areas
such as conflict resolution, sanitation, safe water supply and gender

Visiting GUP headquarters, I was privileged to meet Sultana's
fellow-directors and over a fabulous lunch of rice and dahl, pumpkin,
fish, shrimp, mashed potatoes with hot red chiles we had an excellent
discussion on all sorts of topics, exchanging ideas and concepts and
learning about one another's countries and lives. While visiting GPU,
I had a salwar-kameez made that would stand me in good stead for
many weeks. GPU markets hand made goods and original batik-designed
fabrics produced by women to whom micro-credit has been given to
develop small businesses. The fabrics and other cloth items were beautiful.


         08.03.15..Wahab, Lynda, Sultana, Nasir and  "showkat" at GUP office. Dhaka.

Back at Bonny and Mukti's, the elder daughter, Samira, bravely tried to
teach me (and quiz me!) on some basic Bengali words andphrases. My
pronunciation caused lots of good-hearted laughter for us all.

Once my papers were all in order, Wahid and his driver, Zabbayer,
arrived to pick me up and escort me to Deundi.

08.03.20. Bonny and Wahid Haque as I leave Dhaka. 

Soon the city gave way to rural areas, with healthy-looking rice paddies,
sheep and goats, spunky dogs and children heading off to school. The
land became greener and greener still and I was excited to see my very
first Tea Estate! Beautiful tea bushes, all neatly pruned and ready for the
picking season shortly to start. I was in awe of the sprawling, gracious
bungalow, so different to a Canadian "bungalow" which is a small, very
modest home. I could see immediately that the bungalow at Deundi was
full of history and tradition. However, questions would have to wait, as
Zabbayer was ready to take me to Begum Khan cemetery. I'm sure I tired
out Zabbayer with all my questions - the teas, the workers, the seasons.
........ and then, there was Begum Khan and right in the middle of this
small, neatly kept and peaceful cemetery were the graves of Great Grampa
and his second wife. I had such a shiver of excitement, a frisson of
connecting with the past as I read the engravings on their headstones
and let the sounds and colours of the Bangladesh countryside seep in.
It was such a special moment, to think that I was the first Ross-Jones
offspring to visit this site in 100 years! While there, I was able to collect
pictures for James McNie, too, of past friends, and was so pleased to
be able to do that. Tea was served at Wahid's assistant manager's
bungalow.(Mahmuders R.Akana and wife Fatima) I loved all the vegetarian
delicacies and the tea was exceptional!

08.03.20.. grave of g'grampa. "In the Memory of Frederick Ross Jones who
died on the 27th July 1908 at Amo Tea Estate. Aged 58 yrs.
"A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise".

Teliapara and Amo TE's. Teliapara was built in 1895 and, amazingly, was
still the original bungalow where my Great-Grampa had lived. Yes, there had
been a few changes - a larger deck and sheltered entrance way, but essentially
the same building. The manager, Mr. Murad Ahmed Chowdhury, allowed me to
visit all the rooms in the bungalow and take pictures of original features to show
my dad on my return home. The rooms were amazing - so roomy, with elegant
proportions and high, airy ceilings. Mr. Chowdhury also took me through the tea
processing procedures - there had been a late picking and that was the last tea
to be produced until next picking season began. So I had a rare privilege, indeed,
to have such a comprehensive tour of the manufacturing process. There is also a
Military Memorial to the 1971 War of Independence that was very moving.

After a fine tea with Mr. Chowdhury and wife Sultana and daughter Taspiya,
we motored on to Amo TE for lunch. This is a very new bungalow, and the
thatched roof was just being re-installed. Unfortunately, all that is left of the
original Amo TE where my G Grampa died, is a tall and lonely chimney.
It seems the original Amo was a fire victim in the Independence War.
Manager Mr. Faruque Chowdhury gave the royal tour of Amo. Hillier
than Deundi or Teliapara, it's narrow, grassed lanes (would be fabulous
for running) were a were the monkeys, the tea trees (I didn't
think tea could grow any highter than a bushJ) grown for seed and imagine
my surprise to find that Tea Plot #1, planted in the 1800's, still contained
a few elderly tea bushes which would have been planted in my G Grampa's day!

Too soon I had to be on my way to Assam. The evening before I left, Wahid
escorted me to a dinner at nearby ( 12 km distance) Rema Tea Estate
(spelling?). To get there we bumped along over dark roads, passing workers
walking home, until we reached a tributary of the Kuweye (spelling?)
River where we were poled across to the other side on a small, flat
"wide-canoe-type" boat. We jumped off the boat onto the moist, sandy
bank and were whisked away by waiting jeep to the bungalow. I enjoyed
listening to the conversations very much, learning more little incidental
facts about the issues and difficulties of managing these large estates.
The evening ended about 2 a.m.!

08.03.21.. Night crossing of Kuweye River to 
attend dinner at Rema TE.

Zabbayer was ready promptly at 7a.m. to escort me to the border at Tamabil
and this was to be my last look at Bangladesh. We wove through rice fields,
hectic and sprawling Sylhet and more plains until the Khasi Hills appeared,
abruptly soaring out of the plain to the highlands of Meghalaya above. The
border officials were all so pleasant and when people heard that I was a
teacher from Canada I could hear the excited whispers travel down the line:
"Teacher! Canada!" This was very moving. Then, so quickly, two lads "shared"
my bags; one to the middle of the border line, and a second to take me to the
taxi waiting on the Indian side. There was hardly time to turn around for one
last wave to Zabbayer.

08.03.22. Deundi. Saying good-bye to Wahid and Zabbayer.JPG

Once many warm thanks go to those who made possible the
Bangladesh section of my trip: Ali Zaman, Devika Duncan, Bonny Hussein,
Sultana Rahman, Wahid Haque, Zabbayer and the managers of Amo and
Teliapara Tea Estates. You and the Koi-Hai group who gave great advice 
and direction remain large in my heart.

Below are some photographs taken by Lynda at Teliapara T.E. March 08

..sorting tea, removing fibre.JPG

.. sorted tea ready for packing in 35kg sacks..

roller removing fibre?.

.. Teliapara. Tea Tasting..

Next instalment: Assam


August 11 2008

                            by Lynda Tedesco

I guess one could say that my wish to see the Tea Estates where my
great grandparents lived in the late 1800's started when I was a
pre-schooler. My grandfather's sister (Great Aunty Bunnie) lived with
us when I was small, and she told me stories of Rampore - of tiger eyes
shining in the night beyond the front compound, of a python circled
around the water cistern in the "cold house", of the burra bungalow
so gracious and airy, with fans being turned by the Punkah Wallahs.
She spoke of the jungle, the monsoons, trips to Darjeeling to escape
the hot season, and of the Himalayan Mountains one could see there.

My grandfather, Arthur Littlepage Ross-Jones, who also lived with us,
made me giggle with descriptions of the antics of the children on board
the ships taking them to school in England, and of "hiding" the bland
food of boarding school as he much preferred the spicy foods of India!

These stories stayed with me and finally, retired, children all grown
and with   my dad's increasing interest in his father's birthplace, I decided
to help him out by using the internet to find as much information as I
could about the Tea Estates, and specifically Rampore T.E. where my
grampa was born.

The more I searched, the more snippets of information I discovered, the
more "hooked" I became on the research and so the idea of actually
going to India and Bangladesh took hold.

By accident I stumbled across the Koi-Hai group, found an email
contact, and sent a quick email into the ether, fishing for any assistance
or direction this group would be kind enough to offer.

Well, the contact I made was with David Air, a wonderful man who replied
almost immediately! and who passed on my details to other Koi -Hai members.
Many people then went to work to help me out in ways too numerous to mention.

The upshot was that I was actually able to plan a trip to Asia to fulfil my
dream (and vicariously the dream of my father, Keith Ross-Jones).

I left for Kolkata two years after the start of my searches and on the
centenary of my great-grandfather's death.

(now, here I will take a little aside and say that at the conclusion of my
submissions I will include the names of all who assisted me - I truly hope
I will not have left anyone out!)

I arrived in Kolkata at 10:30 pm., 19 long hours after leaving
Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Devika Duncan, a former colleague and friend of Ali Zaman, had her
driver meet me and whisk me to the Fairlawn Hotel on Sudder Street.

I had been told by a friend, who had been to Kolkata, that I would be
hit with an onslaught of smells, heat, noise and confusion to a level of
which we never experience in Canada. He was right! There were small,
smoky fires all along the roadside into Kolkata as people cooked
one-pot meals over their chulas. There were rich aromas of spices,
pungent smells of body wastes and stagnant pools, sweet perfume
of night flowers, acrid diesel and gas fumes......all very new to me and
very exciting.  I actually didn't know how to respond to sights of ramshackle
shanties bordering the road, some habitations no bigger than the shed
in our backyard and with whole families living in them! Part of me was
appalled, part of me sad for these families, part of me admiring that a
cohesive family and social structure could be created in what to me
would be "impoverished" surroundings. The social scientist in me
(Soc. Sciences being one of my university majors) was impressed to see
how people had formed a life for themselves, managing basic daily needs -
some form of shelter, food, family/social support, a way to deal with bodily
functions and hygiene. I was truly astounded!

Just as I thought I couldn't be more surprised, we slowed for large group
walking and dancing in the middle of the street (highway?) playing drums
and some other instruments that I didn't recognize. Several cows placidly
paced along with them. Due to our language differences I was unable to
ask my driver what celebration was taking place. My Hindi consisted of
(and pardon the inaccurate translations): namaste; May-ra naam Lynda hay
(my name is L. T.); Char sau pachaas, ji? (450 rupees, right? - the cost of
my transport to the hotel).

I wondered where on earth I was going as the driver navigated narrow,
twisting roads, finally stopping at a huge excavation hole. I had arrived
at the Fairlawn and was immediately introduced to road reconstruction
in IndiaJ I was shown my room and promptly ordered "milk tea". I was
already in "India mode".

Roadwork blocking entrance to Fairlawn Hotel.

My first quest in Kolkata was to find the Methodist Episcopal church
where my great-grandparents were married. Alan Lane directed me
to #151 Dhurrumtollah Street and to India RootsWeb for further information.
Pamela Stockhall confirmed that the church still existed and a chap on
the India RootsWeb gave me the street's new name: Lenin Serani.

Now, the map in  The RoughGuide to India showed Lenin Serani St.,
so I thought I could probably find the church by myself. Introduction to
Walking Kolkata Streets 101! Never did find the church  but I had a most
enjoyable couple of hours getting "lost"? (never lost - just taking an
"alternate route"J)). I showed many people my map, repeated the name
of Calcutta Girls' School (next door to the church) and received many
smiles and waves of hands wafting me in different directions. Wherever
I stopped, a group would form around me and if anyone spoke English
I was asked who I was, why I was in Kolkata, and where was my husband.
Most were surprised and concerned when I said I was travelling alone.
I wandered up and down various streets and alleys and had a marvellous
time observing everything around me and eventually worked my way back
to the Fairlawn.

The next morning I was a little smarter and hired a car and driver. I must
introduce you to China (pronounce Cheena).


He is a small, proud man, working hard to send money home to his
family in rural India so his children can go to school. His oldest son
is in college and China beamed whenever he spoke of his family.
He took me under his wing with a "Don't worry, Mum. China can do it." ...
and he did. He got me to the church, into the grounds and talked an
attendant into securing an interview for me with the current pastor.
He shielded me from traffic when I crossed the street to get photos
of the church. He later drove me to all the places I wanted to see........
the Botanical gardens, Howrah  Station, Howrah Bridge, the "new"
bridge,. He drove me through back alleys and areas where he said 
I shouldn't walk alone. We stopped at the Maidan and the Victoria
Memorial. I enjoyed his company immensely. He knew a lot about
Kolkata and had even played a role in Peter Holt's book, In Clive's
, (1990, pub: Random Century).

Thoburn Methodist Chirch

I  met Rev. Noel Prabhuraj, the first Indian pastor to be appointed, 
who determined that the Thoburn Memorial Methodist Church did
not have records back to 1880, when my great grandparents were
married.  This was certainly a disappointment but it was still a thrill
to walk around the church and imagine my ancestors there.

That evening I joined Devika and Ali at the Calcutta Cricket Club. 
and it was a pleasure to meet them face to face (after dozens of emails!)

Devika, Lynda, Ali at Calcutta Cricket Club

Unfortunately, there was little time to visit with Shireen, Ali's lovely wife,
who was busy with other guests. As we nibbled wonderful Indian snacks,
Ali and Devika , who had worked so hard on this!, outlined my itinerary
for my Tea Estate visits, starting in Bangladesh. I was truly on Grandfather's

  (end of submission #1 by Lynda Tedesco ©)


January 27 2007

Below is a collection of stories from a family with ties to Assam, Nagaland
and Manipur--the stories are told by different generations
We are indebted to Edward McKillop Nicholl  who compiled
his  family site and has given us permission to use the IMRIE
segment who are the Tea People. The Nicholl family crosses many
borders and they even have a branch in Ulster of the McNamara's
from Ballymena!  I am told Edward is a Nicholl but he has researched
all other connections (they were originally from Scotland)--- 
Thank you Edward,  for giving us permission to show your family story
To read the stories please click on the coloured items below

Ethel Jolly (nee Atkinson)

Joy Elizabeth Peckham (nee Imrie)

Living on a Tea Garden in Assam
Marjorie Persus Jane Imrie
Thomas Imrie

Ethel Jolly (nee Atkinson)
1876 - 1953.

Born in Madhapore, Northeast India in 1876, Ethel Jolly went to Manipur with
her husband Alfred Percy Jolly when he was appointed by the Indian Government,
to construct the road from Kohima to Munipur at the turn of the century. 
When she first arrived in Manipur she was met at the railhead at Dimapur by an
American Baptist missionary.  The missionary had been asked by her husband
A.P.J., to meet her at the station as he had been called out to an emergency and
could not be there to meet her. This must have been disappointing for her
but she had to accept the offer and climbed into the pony and trap that was to
take them to the Dak bungalow, which was one of the many Government Resthouses
provided for Government officers throughout India.  On the way they were
met in the road by a man, a local Naga tribesman, wearing a top hat and not a
stitch of clothing, which must have been acutely embarrassing to a young bride
riding in a trap with a man she had only just met for the first time.

     She was the only white woman in Kohima and was so for many years.  She
was completely without a colour bar and was able to make friends with the local
women and encouraged them to develop their local arts and crafts.  Her
first child Marjorie Persus Jane, my mother, was born in August 1899, in Kohima.
 The first white child to be born there.  Ethel was very artistic and with the local
women, wove, dyed, and made articles that over the years were sent to Liberty's
of London. Then her second daughter Mary was born

    In those days, children were sent back to England for their education and
were under the care of various Aunts and Uncles form the age of about six or
seven.  So it was that her two girls went to school in England, leaving
her to develop the centres for which she became well known.  After a period of
time, the exiled Maharajah of Manipur was succeeded by his son Bor Chundra,
who took a keen interest in the work she was doing to foster and encourage the
native Naga and Manipuri arts. 
      He invited her to set up a school to encourage more women and girls to
keep their skills alive and to market them overseas.  By the late 1920's the
work on the Manipur road
being almost finished, APJ retired to England a sick man.  But Ethel with her
interests in Manipur stayed on in India and the work she started then, is continuing
today.  In 1933 she was asked by the Indian Government if she would start another
school to try and preserve the weaving and dyeing arts of the hillspeople of
Kalimpong, which is in the foothills of the Himalayas, north of Darjeeling, on the
way to Tibet and Sikkim. She was there in 1936 when the Everest Expedition
passed through and stayed in Kalimpong.  Expedition members included the
two climbers who lost their lives while climbing the
mountain, Mallory and Irving.

     She stayed in Kalimpong till just prior to World War Two, when she returned
to England for good.  The work she did in Kalimpong is no longer being carried
on, although the buildings and her old home are still there.

     Although she spent so much of her time in India, she was in England at the
start of the First World War and became one of London's first Police Women.
 She told us tales of the times she worked among the low-life in London
and was always warning us about people who were "out there and would cut us
 I think we thought her an alarmist but realise now that what she must have seen,
then, would have made her aware there were people out there that would do
others harm, as has been proven on many occasions since.  She could not go
back out to India while the war was on but was able to leave England with her
two daughters early in 1919 on one of the early ships to take passengers.  It was
typical of her determination that when she heard that berths were available on
ships going to India, she went to the shipping office
and would not leave till she had the three tickets needed. The voyage was via
Cape Town and must have been a trial for her as her two daughters would
have given her quite a few headaches as they were both young and high-spirited.
Both her daughters were married within a couple of years of arriving in
India.  Marjorie married tea planter Thomas Imrie or "Timrie" as he was known,
and Mary married Benbow Hibbert who was in the Colonial Office.

     Ethel was always a very restless person. She was always on the move or
planning to be on the move.  She travelled between India and England far more
than most people, always having to go for some reason or other.  Even in later
life when she had retired she was always moving from place to place, visiting
members of the family and within a matter of hours of arrival would be making
plans to be off somewhere else, without any reason for leaving and without any
real plans as to where she was going. She gradually accepted
that the war would curtail her movements but even so she was always setting
herself up in a flat somewhere and leaving again within weeks.  She spent the
last few years of her husband A.P.J.'s life seeming to settle down. Soon after he
died in 1945 she was aimlessly on the move again not knowing what she was l
ooking for.  She was surprisingly naive at times for a person with her experiences. 
She had a great sense of humour and enjoyed a joke at her expense.  As children,
we used to tease her and she always took it in good part.  As she got older she
got very difficult and would not settle down and when Marjorie and her family came
out to New Zealand she went
into a home and died in 1953.

Joy Elizabeth Peckham (nee Imrie)

      Born 16 October1923 in Shillong, Assam, India.  (I cannot
                            remember the event).

      My earliest memory must have been when I was about two or three, when
ourhouse burnt down.  I can remember my mother and father rushing out of the
house trying to rescue things.The roof collapsed and flaming embers fell on
my father's arm burning him.  At that time we lived in a native-style mud hut,
until another house was built.  I also remember going to the club often.  Our
ayah came with us to look after us and to keep us away from the grown-ups
who were all busy playing sports and socialising. We were very fond of our
ayah, Vicki, who was an Angami Naga, who, only a generation before, were
ferocious head-hunters.

     At the age of seven I was sent away to boarding school in Darjeeling. 
The Convent school was run by very high-church Chloe Sisters, and I hated
every minute of my time there.  The Sisters or Nuns were dedicated to the
church and to the children and were very kind. The other teachers were
unmarried, left on the shelf bitter old spinsters who were unkind, even cruel. 
I was frightened most of the time, and with the family so far away, had
no one to turn to.  It took us three days and two nights of travelling to get to
school from Assam to Darjeeling. We went by bullock-cart lorry, riverboat
on the Brahmaputra River and the world famous "toy train" from Siliguri
up the foothills of the Himalayas.

     While at school we were given a desert spoon of castor oil every Monday
morning. I dont know weather it was for the good of our bowels or to wash
away our sins.  Then we were taken for a long walk.  I'm very pleased we
did not have to do the washing as there must have been many disasters.

     My brother Alister was born in 1928 and I wanted to exchange him for a
puppy.That was 70 years ago and am pleased that I still have my brother today
. My sister Hazel, was born while I was away at school in 1930.  She was quite
a big baby by the time I saw her as she was five months old when I returned
for the Christmas holidays.

     Alister and Hazel were both sent to the same boarding school before their
fifth birthdays. We were all in different buildings and did not see much of one
another. I can remember a Mr Archie White coming and taking us out for the
day and buying us presents.  I still have an elephant I was given on that occasion.

     In 1936 our parents told us we were to return to England.  It was a six- week
voyage from India and we had a storm the first night at sea, which frightened me. 
A few nights before we set sail,we saw the film "Mutiny on the Bounty" with
Charles Laughton, which was also our first talking-movie.

     I can remember stopping at various ports along the way.   Madras,
Colombo, Aden, Port Said, Marsailles, then Tilbury.

     My first impression of England was of children in the streets late at night,
the cold, so many people in the streets and the shops all lit up at night.


     It was to Manipur, in north-east India, this "out-post of the Empire", as far
away, and as primitive and as blood-thirsty as it was possible to get at that
time, that A.P. Jolly, (known as A.P.J) brought his bride Ethel, in 1899.

     Although Ethel was the daughter of an Indian Army Officer, had been born
in India, with numerous relatives on both sides of her family who had lived,
worked, and died in India, and had spent most of her life in India, nothing
had prepared her for the life that she was expected to live in Kohima and
Manipur. She was the only white woman there.  And so it was for many years.

     The living conditions were, even for those days, primitive in the extreme.
 Her husband was away for most of the time, as it was his responsibility to
survey the local road with only the basic of instruments.  As the road was
surveyed and planned, local workers known as "coolies" followed to clear the
vegetation and they did not even have the luxury of wheel barrows.  Baskets
were filled and carried away on the heads of a continual line of women
sometimes numbering hundreds at a time.  As each section of the road
progressed along the line surveyed, so the road camps moved up every
few weeks,
to shorten the distance of the camps to the work face. All supplies had to
be brought up from the railhead, mainly by bullock cart.  These placid slow
plodding animals only travelled at a three mile an hour pace when in a hurry,
so it took many carts to keep the camps, which had hundreds of workers,
supplied not only with food, but also water at times. Some camps were at
the top of the mountains and water could be a problem.  At other times,
during the monsoon for example, there was far too much water when whole
stretches of newly formed road was washed away.  Not only did this have
to be rebuilt to reform the road, but also to allow the camps to be kept supplied.

     It was APJ's responsibility to keep the work up to schedule and to do
this, he had a number of semi-official tasks as well.  He had to keep the local
Kukis and Nagas from one another's throats.  Numerous petty squabbles
could develop into wholesale murder and riots if allowed to get out of hand,
so diplomacy and tact had to be used.  A third factor was the introduction
to the area of Assamese natives who were the drivers of the bullock carts
and who were considered to be intruders.  They considered themselves to be
superior to the backward hill people who of course considered the Assam
Plains people indolent and lazy, just sitting in their carts all day doing nothing.
These bullock carts formed long lines plodding along twenty or so in a group
seeming to go nowhere at a snail's pace, but it was the only transport there was.

     So A.P.J. had a full time job keeping harmony in the camps without anything
else.  He was also the camp doctor.  The workers themselves looked after
themselves as to the day to day problems, but on such a project as this accidents
were bound to happen.There were the usual cuts incurred when chopping through
undergrowth of the jungle, which was to be expected, but the most serious he
had to contend with was the danger of falling rocks.  Without warning whole
landslides would fall on or from the workers. Rescue teams would then have to go
down to bring survivors up back to the road
or dig away rocks that had buried people working on the road under the fall.
Terrible injuries were suffered by workers, both men and women. Broken
compound fractures that had to be attended to on the spot, with little hope
of relief till they reached the doubtful benefits of civilisation at Kohima which
could be a journey of several days in a swaying jolting bullock cart,if they lived
that long.  The dead were taken care of by their own people with the resultant
hold up of the road building. Medicine was not APJ's forte, but he did what he
could to help those who were injured.  Often without proper medical supplies he
had to set bones and sew up gashes without anaesthetics under the most
unhygienic conditions and was often in danger himself, from falling debris.

Living on a Tea Garden in Assam
The Diary Notes of Marjorie Imrie (1899 - 1996)


Where is Assam? It is a province of India, a North Eastern state in between
Nepal, Bhutan China and East Pakistan. Existing in Assam are two major
river valleys.  One formed by the Bramaputra River flowing 1800 miles and
the Suma River fanning the other.  It is on these rich river plans that the tea
plantations are situated. It was to these estates that men and their families
from England were sent to manage these plantations.  So with this background
my mother tells her story of her early life in India.

     I was born in Imphal in Manipur in 1899.  My father was a civil engineer
constructing a road and building bridges ( some of these bridges can be
seen today bearing the initials A.P .J .stamped on them).  My mother was
Edith Atkinson who had met her husband in Nannytall (sic) in ..?.  She was
an artistic person who became very interested in the weaving of the Naga
women and she encouraged them building up a small business exporting
this work back to England for sale.  I was six years old when in 1906 I left
India to go to school in England. Sent to a Catholic Boarding school for
girls.  My holidays were spent with a bachelor cousin in London.  Not much
of a family life !

     When I had finished my Education it was thought fitting that I find a husband
( I has suggested that I would like to train for a career but in those days it was
not considered right for a young lady to lower herself to work) so my sister
and I were packed off back to India after the first world war.  These ships were
to be known as the 'fishing fleet', because they were packed with young
women looking for husbands heading out to the colonies.

     I met my husband Tom Imrie a Scotsman and was married in Kohima
in 1920. We moved in to a tea plantation in the Naga hills.  Naga means
naked.  The native Indians who lived in these hills were head hunters but
to us they were very hospitable, very friendly and made you welcomed into
their houses. Their villages were situated on the top of the hills and so
everything had to be carried up to them -women did this work.  All the wood,
water, food and other necessities of life had to be carried up these steep
winding tracks.  The men went hunting! Their hunting regalia was very bright
and colourful - all home weaving, using the Hornbills feathers for their head
dresses and elephant tusks for armlets.   The Naga houses were all made
of mud, wood and straw and everyone was in together, dogs, hens, goats
etc.  A fire was the centre of the house so smoke was a constant 
factor  it was thought it was the major reason why so many of them suffered
from bad
eyesight and went blind at a young age.  No Naga girl marries against her
will.  If they find that they are not happy in their married life they can return
home and bring the dowry back with them!  It is also interesting to note there
is no caste system, which plagues the other Indian societies.  They weave
capes using leaves to weave into the fabric to keep off the high rain fall, up
to 450' a year. I have seen it fall at the rate of 4 inches in half an hour. Their
main diet is rice which the women cultivate on the terraces, they take their
babies with them and bury them up to their armpits in the mud!  What a perfect
solution to child minding problems!  A girls hair is cut short like a boys until
she marries and this is her own choice.  In earlier times the Naga warriors had
carried out raiding parties down on the plains and valleys and had carried off
women and cattle  But the British put a stop to this by stationing troops at these
outposts on the borders.

     Kohima was the Governrnent headquarters on the border of Burma and Assam.
 Our wedding was the first European Wedding held on 13th April 1920, it was a
mixed wedding both Europeans and Nagas attending.  The bridesmaid gave
me a bunch of Marigolds, the smell of which I have disliked to this day. Pujah
Flowers!  After our wedding we went by river steamer down the Bramaputra to
Calcutta.  This took eight days.  Then to England via Egypt where we stayed at
Raffles Hotel and rode a Camel to visit the pyramids. It was a hard time to travel
- strikes every where this was in 1920.

     After a few months in England and Scotland, meeting the in laws we returned
to India to a Tea Garden on the Plains. My first home was a lovely bungalow built
up on iron girders and large verandahs for coolness.  A lovely dining room and a
drawing room, three bedrooms and plenty of servants. There was no electricity
at this time.  The fans were worked by Punka Wallahs, who sat all day pulling the
ropes to operate the fans (shades of"lt ain't half hot"!).  We had three Cocker
Spaniels.  On the Plains it was hot, and during this time the rains came - from
June to the end of October / November.

     The Tea Gardens were owned by British Companies, young men were sent out to
these plantations to manufacture the tea for the Companies.  Older men with
more experience managed the day to day running of the gardens, they looked
after the labour force, housing etc.

     The workers on the gardens were Indians who came from all parts of India for
work. Each family would be given a house, land to grow rice and helped to buy
a cow. In the colder weather every member would be given red blankets to shield
them from the colder climate.  You would often see these workers travelling up
from Southern India draped in blankets on the rivers steamers. They received
free medical care from the hospital and Doctors on the Tea gardens.  Also the
European Doctor called once a week for complicated symptoms.

     The tea is grown along the river valleys in the rich fertile soil. The tea
bushes are planted out in square acre blocks, 4 ½ feet apart giving approx.
3000 plants to the block. Tall Shade trees are planted amongst the tea bushes.

     The best part of the tea bush is the two small leaves and the bud.
This  gives the best flavour, large leaves are not collected.  The women
only do the plucking going out at sunrise and finishing at noon, when
they take their baskets of leaf in for weighing.  It is then put through rollers,
fermented, then fired, sorted and packed..  'Flowering Orange Peko'
was the tea variety.  Tea comes from the Camellia family, tea bushes do grow
in New Zealand but they are not suitable for commercial production. 
The men do the cultivating, digging and pruning of the tea bushes.  Many
also work in the factory where the tea is processed. It takes three pounds
of green leaf to make one pound of dried tea.

     An average tea garden would be between 500 -1000 acres.  Rice plots,
bamboo and jungle would also be part of a tea garden. The garden Indians
or coolies were low cast Hindus, so all the Hindus festivals were celebrated, 
eg. Festival of the light, where little pots of oil and wicks are placed all along
the walls and building.  A very colourful festival.

     Another one takes place in Autumn - Durga - Puja where models are
made of thegod.  It is worshiped and paraded for 10 days and then thrown
into the river.  It Is during these times that fighting between Hindu and
Moslems takes place.

     My first baby a daughter Joy was born on 16 October 1923 in Shillong. 
Pregnant women had to travel up to the hospital 2-3 months before the birth.
I was looked after by Mrs Weymouth.  Joy was born In a Welsh Mission Hospital.
(Methodist).  The nurses were from the Khasia tribe very clean and trustworthy. 
Many of these women became Ayahs or children's nurses with the European
families on the Tea gardens.  Shillong was a beautiful hill station, 5,000 feet
above sea level.  It was the headquarters of the Assam Government. 
Many people came to the hills to escape the very hot temperatures down
on the Plains, even women and children from Calcutta would come up
for their holidays.  This was a time of parties, dinners, tennis tournaments
and of course polo games.  After another month of confinement I travelled
back to the Tea gardens 'Koomsong' but my Ayah, Vicki who was a Naga
told me she wouldn't be coming back to the garden
with me but was going home to the Naga hills!

     Horrors!  I had an overnight journey on my own with a tiny baby - I did not
sleep much.  It was also the first time I had had the baby on my own for the
night!  Luckily Tom (Imrie) was at the Timsuka railway station to meet us. 
The bungalow was looking so nice after being away for so long. My dog
Jumbo was delighted to have me home again.  He did not leave the baby.
He sat under her cot and if any of the Indians came near, he was up to let them
know he was in charge and no one ventured in without permission!

      We had plenty of servants but they were not always of suitable standard.

     The best workers were taken for the garden so the house servants were
often limited.  Like the gardener watering the garden while it was raining, and
the cook being too fond of the bottle.  Some of the meals were most unusual -
thought up by the cook!  So when you were having a dinner party you had to
make sure they followed the recipe and turned out something presentable. 
There is a story of travellers having a meal in the Dak Bungalow and when they
asked the cook what they were eating he went off and brought back a
monkey's paw!

     Another embarrassing event was when I served up the dessert at a
dinner party only to see to my horror a frog in the bowl!  Apparently
while the pudding was cooling it was put on the window ledge and a frog
jumped into it!

     We had a lovely life of leisure, it was a very social time, people
gathered at the club to play tennis and golf and to dance. One of the
bands I remember was called the 'Hush Hush' Band.  We were ladies
who did beautiful needlework and had lots of tea parties.  Children were
looked after by the Ayahs so life was lovely.

Compiled from Granny's notes by Marnie.
Typed by Daniel Vandenberg

Marjorie Persus Jane Imrie (nee Jolly)
The life of a typical English woman in Assam 1920-1936.

     The perceived life of luxury and high living is a popular myth concerning
the lives of European people living and working in India at the time of the Raj.
Certainly there were conditions that made life very much easier than life in
England in many ways, but it was not always so.

     Firstly there was the tremendous heat and humidity in the summer. There
were no air conditioners then, while refrigeration and refrigerators were very
basic and inefficient. Electricity was not always available and again it could
be very temperamental. But taking those things into account, life was what you
made it and as in life everywhere, the more one put into it , the more one got out.

     Several servants did most of the household chores of cleaning, cooking,
washing etc. which took care of the basic housekeeping, but this in turn raised
other issues. Keeping an eye on the various activities of the servants was the
most onerous task that the English expatriate women had to contend with. The
cook was quite capable of flattening chapatti's ( a type of savory pancake) in
his armpits , the gardener pulling out precious seedlings, the Ayah or children's
nurse could give the noisy baby a nip of something to make it go to
sleep and frequently items disappeared and no one could be found to be guilty.

     In the "rains" it was hot and humidity was high. Roads were not good at the best
of times and were virtually impassable with the mud and water . Rain was torrential
at times, with inevitable flooding so traveling was just about impossible, which led
to the biggest single problem, that of loneliness, especially for the women.

     Children were taken care of by the Ayah who was often also the mothers maid.
They were usually local women of whom the children grew to be very fond and
the affection was reciprocated. They would start as young girls helping an older
more experienced ayah, and gradually took on more responsibility. Some stayed
with a family and cared for two or more generations over many years. This gave
the mothers ample time to indulge their own interests. If the children became
troublesome they were handed over to the ayah who took them away to be dealt
with. In the "cold" weather life was a lot easier. Days were pleasantly warm and
dry, but the nights could be quite cool, needing fires to be lit at night. Then social
life became active. Tennis parties were held, card afternoons and visits to one
anothers' bungalows. Highlights of the week would be the Club Days, which was
the center of the social life of the District. Tennis, golf, polo and dances at night.
The dances were very formal with the Ladies in long dresses and the men in
white tie and tails. Music was by gramophone with a large trumpet speaker or
if there were members who could play reasonable dance music a band would
be formed to play. Timrie, (Marjorie's husband Tom) being a good pianist, was
called on to play at many dances and even at one time played in a fairly
competent dance band. Consequently he never learned to dance. Shopping
was another very important activity on Club Days. Everyday groceries could
be bought at the local bazaar with the Indian shop keepers trying to get the
custom of the Memsahib.

     Other items could be bought at the local "Planters Stores." Everyday clothes
andshoes and household items could be had, but anything out of the ordinary
would have to be bought by mail order. Vast catalogues with the picture and price
of every conceivable object would arrive and from which you made your selection.
I remember in particular tinned sausages which I loathed but also four gallon tins
of boiled sweets which we were always dipping into. There were also traveling
tradesmen who would call and mend or make just about anything you needed.
The "Derzee" or tailor for instance, would sit cross legged on the verandah with
his hand turned sewing machine and an enormous pair of scissors and would,
within an hour, produce a dress with only a picture of the desired dress to go by.
Shirts or shorts would also be run up in next to no time with the very barest of
implements. The carpenters were also itinerant, calling in on the odd chance
that a job may need to be done. Nearly every European household had a number of
large wooden chests, about a meter long with mitred joints and sides , zinc lined
and used to store blankets and woollens away from white ants and termites. These
were made by the local craftsmen, with the very basic of tools. Show them
the picture of a piece of furniture and they would produce a very fair copy just
from the picture. Visits lasting two or three days were made to other Clubs with
competitions in sports and handicrafts. The men were all required to join what
would be a Territorial Regiment, to be used in case of civil disobedience. Ever
since the Sepoy Mutiny when hundreds of Europeans were killed, the Indian
Government had this volunteer force to call upon if necessary to support
Government troops. Most tea planters had horses and the cavalry was the most
popular. Parades were held regularly in full field service uniform, complete
with sword, rifle and lance, just as in the Boer War.. Each year a special
Parade was held involving all the surrounding districts and the Senior Regular
Officer in the Province took the Salute. There were as many as four hundred
horsemen involved and took part in various manoeuvers to keep up to date with
"modern" tactics. One that will always be with me was the sight of the Cavalry
Battalion taking part in the Full Charge. All four hundred horses in extended
line abreast stretching for several hundred yards moving slowly forward at the
command of a bugle call. At the next call increasing to a trot, then a canter
and finally at the call of the bugle a lowering of lances till they were all
pointing slightly at the ground and the horses at full gallop charging across
the parade ground. Another call saw them pull up out of the charge, about turn
and trot back to where they started. An impressive and exhilirating sight, with
the sound of thousands of thundering hooves. Shooting competitions and other
martial "arts" such as map reading etc., were held between the various
districts. Those without horses were formed into Infantry Platoons and were
transported in trucks with seats on the decks. A full camp under canvas was held
each year. This was all very serious stuff and only one day in the week long
camp, were family and friends allowed to visit, which itself developed into
another vast social occasion. Wives and children from all the various Districts
came from miles around and were able to meet one another, perhaps the only time
in the year, as many had to travel long distances to attend these camps. It was
also about the only time many of the planters ever went to church, as there was
a compulsory Church Parade with all the pomp and ceremony and even a clergyman
to take the service. So if the life of a tea planter's wife was lonely at times,
it was also a very social one at others, with everyone knowing one another and
all having to support one another, to make the best of living in an environment
that could be unpleasant, hot, humid, and generally unhealthy.

     Because of the harsh climate, children were either sent back to England to
relatives at the age of six or seven, or they went up into the hills for their
schooling. Darjeeling was one of the more popular places for children to be sent
from Assam, as it was high in the foothills of the Himalayas and close to the
borders of Sikkim and Bhutan. Darjeeling was cold in winter with snow quite
common in the winter.There were numerous, mainly Church schools catering for
children from 5 to 18 years of age and all based on the English school
curriculum. The school term was nine months long from February to the following
October to cover the length of the hot weather. A long time for 5 years olds to
be away from their parents, but it was the accepted situation at that time. Air
travel has now made that situation a thing of the past and children are sent
back and forth without any problems. Half way through the term there was a weeks
holiday when parents could come to the school and take their children away for a
weeks break, but children who's parents lived too far away, such as in Assam would
often stay with friends

     Servants were a mixed blessing. They all had their allotted tasks, under the
Bearer who was usually the senior . He had often been in European households for
a long time and knew the ropes as to how a thing should be done.He would have
started out as a young "car boy" or a "Syce" who looked after the horses or and
the car, then gradually climbing the ladder to house boy then bearer. He was
responsible for the smooth running of the household, rather like the butler in
England. He saw to it that the other servants did their jobs and did them
properly, having done it all before himself. He was the waiter at table, saw to
the laying of the table , cleaned the silver and passed on the orders of the
Sahib, in fact was the most responsible member of the staff. A good bearer was
very valuable and often stayed with one family for generations. He often had an
underbearer or houseboy who was learning the ropes. The houseboy was responsible
for looking after the masters clothes, preparing his bath, and cleaning his
uniform for Parades.

     The Ayah was very like the bearer only she looked after the Ladies side of
things. Hers was an onerous job as she not only had to look after the children ,
especially when they were fractious and troubled by the heat, but she also had
cleaning to do in the house. She too would have a young helper that was learning
the ropes.

     Then there was the cook. Like cooks everywhere they were brilliant one day
and a disaster the next. How or where they learnt their skills is not known but
presumably they serve a type of apprenticeship somewhere and keep moving from
one job to another as cooks do all over the world. It was the Memsahib's job to
keep an eye on the cook, especially the new ones, to find out what they knew and
what standards of hygiene they set, if any. Many horrendous stories are told of
cooks and their antics in the kitchen.

     Water and the carrying of water into the bungalows used to be a very
important job before the advent of plumbing made life easier. But water was
still heated over open fires in 44 gallon oil drums. The cold water had to be
carried to the drum and the hot water carried to the bathrooms and the kitchen.
So the "pani waller" or water carrier was an indispensable member of the
household. The open fires were always a danger, not only for spreading fires but
for children and animals falling into the fire, which often happened.. The "mali"
or gardener was supposed to keep the garden and the outside areas clean and
tidy. Most had little idea of what a garden was , so they did what the Memsahib
told them to do, or what they thought they were told what to do ,with sometimes
disastrous or hilarious results. Washing of the clothes was done by the "Dhobi
waller" or washer man. They would collect the dirty clothes, take them down to
the muddy river and beat them against the rocks to get rid of the dirt. Such
treatment was not good for the shape or the length of life of the clothes but
the results were surprisingly good. The clothes were then dried, ironed and
returned later the same day. Not exactly snow white but very clean under the
circumstances. In the heat and humidity, clothes were often changed as many as
three times a day, so the washing was important.

     Horses were most important especially in the earlier days and most planters
had a horse or two. Those who played polo seriously had two or three polo ponies
as well as other horses for riding round the tea gardens in their work .So a
"Syce" was employed to look after the horses. He groomed the horses and looked
after the leather harness, which would soon get very mouldy in the high humid
conditions during the rainy season. With the advent of cars, the syce also
became the "gharrie waller" who washed the car and accompanied the car wherever
it went, to look after it while the owners were absent while attending social
visits etc. Lastly there was the man who emptied the toilet buckets or the
"thunder boxes" He would be a low caste or "unclean" Indian without any hope of
bettering himself. He would come with his buckets every day and like an
invisible spirit go about his task who everyone ignored and nobody mentioned.
The one man I can remember had the name of "Hero" which I always thought was
very appropriate.

     But he, like the other members of the staff would line up on pay day,
standing below the verandah . My Father would then toss each ones wages down
into the outstretched dhoti they held out in front of them. Most of them lived
in thatched huts that were built behind the house. Each with their family,
cooking over open fires. Many were the horrific burns suffered by the little
children. On one Tea garden the Bearer lost his 2 year-old baby daughter,
because it was presumed that waking on a clear moonlit night she wandered
outside and was taken by a leopard. Such encounters with wild life was not
uncommon in Assam, which had some of the highest densities of wild life in

      The medical care of planters, their families and tea garden workers was taken
care of by the tea garden companies. Most of the workers all came to Assam to
work from other parts of India. The majority came from Southern India and were
indentured to work for a number of years before returning to their homes. The
Company employed a Senior Doctor who over saw the work of young Indian doctors
who used the experience after leaving training hospitals. They could cope with
most ailments, minor accidents and operations. Hospitals were available in most
of the larger towns, many of which were run by religious orders as mission
hospitals. Clinics were held each morning on most tea gardens and the care and
welfare of the workers was very good. They were also supplied with many
household items and it was a common sight to see workers walking between
villages all wrapped up in bright red blankets supplied by the Company.

     I well remember the much respected and loved Doctor who looked after our
health and wellbeing. Dr. McCombie was a genial character who was particularly
popular with children. He used to put on a lavish childrens' party every
Christmas and children were invited from miles around. Many of them had to stay
overnight at the Doctor's Bungalow. The Christmas tree was always massive,
reaching to the top of the high ceiling, decorated and loaded with presents and
once it was lit up with real burning candles. On that occasion Father Christmas
got his whiskers alight and the flames had to be put out by a quick-thinking
guest with a soda flask aimed directly at Santa's face. I remember another
occasion when he was fooling about rolling around in a barrel and he managed to
dislocate his shoulder!! Father Christmas always arrived by unusual means. I can
remember him once arriving on the back of an elephant and on another occasion he
came on a bullock cart. He was once in a very funny mood, and it was years later
we heard that when he arrived at the party he was as drunk as a newt!

Thomas Imrie

Thomas Imrie, also known as Timrie, was born in 1878 in Parton,
Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland.  Thomas was the sixth of seven sons born to
William and Agnes Imrie.  His mother Agnes was the dominant personality in
the family, a true martinet, who demanded discipline at all times.  The
children had a strict Presbyterian teetotal upbringing and were expected to be
seen and not heard. None of the sons were encouraged to talk at meal
times, with conversation being confined to the parents.

     Thomas went to ? Academy in Ayr and on completing High School took an
engineering apprenticeship.  Part of his apprenticeship he spent working
in a coal mine which he utterly detested.  On completing his
apprenticeship, he signed on as Ship's Engineer Officer which he continued until

     Timrie was in Yokohama at the time of the Russo-Japanese war where he and
another officer were arrested as Russian spies.  They were able to prove
otherwise and were carried back to their ship with full honours.  While in
the Red Sea, Timrie witnessed a stoker suffering from the intense heat in the
engine room rush up on to the deck and throw himself overboard.  He was
never found.

     In 1910? Timrie jumped ship in Calcutta and joined a friend, Frew, who was a
tea-planter in Assam.  It took many days by train, boat and horse before
he reached Assam hot, dirty and thirsty.  On his arrival he was offered a
cold drink which he knocked back, then accepted another which went the same way
and he promptly fell flat on his back.  He had knocked back two large
whiskeys while hungry and thirsty and he was a teetotaller at that time!

     He was employed initially as an engineer on the tea gardens which had
machinery to process the tea.  He was a good all round sportsman: low
handicap golfer; top marksman; excellent horseman, especially at polo; until he
had an accident in which he fell and hit a goal post, he was also still playing
tennis until just before World War Two.

     Timrie contracted a tropical disease called Sprue which affects the linings
of the stomach.  There was no medical relief for Sprue at that time. Milk was
the only food he was allowed.  After the effects of the world wide depression 
of the early 1930s, this disease was disastrous for the family.  The only cure
 for Sprue was to leave India.

     Timrie, his wife Marjorie, their children Joy(9), Hazel (4), and myself, 
Alister (7), left in February 1936.  This was a traumatic time for Timrie as he
 had no home, no job, and a family to provide for.  On arrival in England our 
family went to live in Hove, Sussex with Marjorie's father A.P.J.
 (A. Percy Jolly) which did not prove to be ideal.

     A.P.J. was difficult to live with being of a cantankerous nature and
quick-tempered.  He had little experience with children and had known
little of his own children at a similar age.  Harmony was achieved by the
imposition of regimental rules that were strictly enforced.  Eventually it
was decided that a larger house would be better so a move was made to Southsea,
where A.P.J. rented a 3 ½ storey house in St. Andrews Road.  We children
had the top floor.

Friction continued between the adults.  A.P.J.'s other daughter Mary
with her husband and son Henry, also came to live in the same house which
increased the tension.  Henry was a year younger than Joy.

Timrie was still sick but managed to get a job in Southampton using his
marine engineering experience.  For the few years he worked in Southampton
Timrie would return to Southsea each week-end and we three children would go to
Fratton Station to meet him off the train.  Many times he would miss one
train and we would wait with great impatience until he eventually arrived.
  He would often arrive on the same train as soccer supporters on their way
to watch matches at Fratton Park.  We had to stand well back or risk
getting swept off our feet by the rush of men hurrying to get good seats at the
Park.  No matter what time he arrived he would always have a pocketful of
chocolates which we had no trouble devouring.

With the onset of war he found a job in H.M. Dockyard Portsmouth working on
torpedoes. This job continued until 1946 when the need for torpedoes
finished and he retired from the Dockyard.

During the early part of the war Portsmouth was badly bombed and Timrie had a
few close shaves during the bombing.  One night in particular he arrived
home exhausted having been caught out in the open and, on taking off his hat
noticed that the top had been cut open by glass or shrapnel, missing him by
millimetres.  On one occasion he witnessed a German plane shot down and
the pilot parachute into the mud flats near a Polish destroyer .  Every
crew member grabbed a rifle and the pilot was shot to pieces!  As a
Home-Guardsman he was not only working a 12 hour day but was also on guard duty
while not working.  In 1941 his department was evacuated to Thatcham near
Newbury.  Our family went to live at "Thirtover",in Gold Ash, about four
miles from Thatcham.  This was the home of the Ackland family and we spent
four happy years there.  Timrie used to bike to work, there being no
petrol for cars and little public transport.  The family returned to
Southsea in 1945 just before the end of the war and remained in the same house
in Nightingale Road until emigrating to New Zealand in 1953.  While at
Nightingale Road Timrie and Marjorie's youngest daughter Hermione, was born.

With Timrie's son Alister having recently moved to New Zealand in search of a
dairy farming job, Timrie, Marjorie and Hermoine decided to take the plunge too,
sailing on the "Rangitoto" arriving in N.Z. in July 1953.  Alister had his
first sharemilking contract on the Mangawhero Road in South Taranaki, New
Zealand, where all four lived together for a time.

There were many legal and management problems that took place on this farm.
 Arbitration sorted that out with gratifying results for the family, but
it could not have been done without the moral and physical help of Timrie who
was at times, out of depth with the farming and the bad atmosphere created by
the farm owner.  For the whole year he helped in every way he could to the
best of his ability.  Without him things might have been a lot worse.
 The following year was much easier as the contract stated that labour had
to be employed and it was not necessary for Timrie to work.  In early
1955, when I married Alison Christie, Timrie, Marjorie and Hermoine moved to
Doone Street in New Plymouth.  Timrie worked for Rural Aviation in New
Plymouth for a number of years before finally retiring.  He later helped
with the cattery that Marjorie ran at the Veterinary Clinic.

One evening he decided to walk to the pictures instead of using the car which
was parked outside the shed. He pushed the car into the shed and the next
morning he had his first heart attack.  Over the next few months his
health gradually deteriorated and he died in January 1965 aged 86.

Mike Ghosh Reminisces
This is an interesting reminisce by Mike Ghosh who joined the 
Singlo Tea company in the Sonari District 50 years ago  
This originally was shown in The Camellia magazine and we thank 
Shalini Mehra, the Editor, for allowing us to share it on the web


In the year 1957, Mr. Mihir Ghosh joined King William House group of
companies, which comprised Dooars, Singlo and Empire Plantations of
India and were managed by the agency house known as Gillanders
Arbuthnot and Co.Ltd. In 1984, he decided to retire voluntarily
from Singlo India Tea Co. Ltd. where he was a General Manager.
Thereafter, he served as General Manager and Adviser to two public
sector undertakings, namely WBTDC and TICI. He also worked in
an advisory capacity until 1997 with a proprietary concern having
tea estates inAssam. He now resides in Siliguri. My long tryst with
tea materialised the moment I stepped onboard the passenger
cum cargo carrier, Skyplayer's World War 11 Dakota, on the 7th
of January, 1957. The aircraft took off from Dum Dum airport at
2 a.m. Jorhat airport was closed for repairs and the Indian Airlines
flight that I was booked on was subsequently cancelled. So we flew
into tea by. the Dakotainstead. It was quite a quaint way to fly.
I had the crew, another planter and some livestock for company.
The flight took about 7 hours, which included stops at Dimapur
and Golaghat. We finally landed at Mackeypore airstrip, breezily
displacing grazing cattle in the process. In a finely synchronized
movement, the cowherds rose to the occasion, swiftly shooing thei
wards away from the airstrip cum grazing ground. In
their inimitable
way, they had mastered the ground rules of touchdown. Waiting
to receive us at the airport was the manager's jeep, a relic picked up
at a war surplus disposal auction. We drove through paddy fields till
we hit Dhodar AIi, the famed road laid by Ahom kings. In due course,
we reached the estate, which was in the vicinity of the Naga Hills.
Agency House head office had briefed me about my first manager.
Apparently, he had connections that went up to the company
boardroom in London. On less exalted grounds, he was a keen horseman,
besides being active on the polo fields of Jorhat, Moran and Sonari.
On that momentous first day, Burra Saab received me at his office.
I saw a portly gentleman with a clipped moustache and half moon
spectacles that sat well below the bridge of his nose. His quizzical
gaze rested on me as he enquired about my flight. The induction
over, I was sent to the out garden where I was to share a bungalow
with the senior garden assistant, a Scotsman and as tough as they
came in those days. Sharing a bungalow with another bachelor
had its moments. As a spanking new assistant, I had to learn the
ropes and I grew to enjoy it. My first feel of a tea club was at
Sonari Gymkhana. In those days, the club was located in Sonari
town. A vast open space next to Dhodar AIi served as the polo field.
On Saturdays, members played polo and tennis before watching a
film later in the ,evening. On my first club night, we had' supper
and a few rounds before
my bungalow mate, Archie and I left the
club in his Studebaker half toners, which also held grocery and
canned stuff bought earlier that evening from Haji Mian's shop at
Sonari. His shop and the Nazira club storewere the onlyplaces
within a radius of 50 km that stocked imported goodies.
On our way back that evening, there was a cloudburst and heavy
downpour, which proved too much for the vehicle's windscreen
wipers and they promptly packed up. Braving the pouring nocturnal
rain and zero visibility, Archie tried in vain to negotiate a sharp bend
near the bUffa bungalow, finally landing us, pick-up and all, in a
drain 5 feet deep. We somehow managed to collect our provisions
and extricate ourselves through the left door. For obvious reasons,
Archie did not want to awaken the manager and ask for his car at that
ungodly hour. We had no choice but to walk the half mile to our
bungalow. And that's how we ended up, drenched through and
through with a crate each on our shoulders, trudging along in the
dark through a vast bamboo Bari, steadfastly onward to khetis and
more, until we finally saw the bungalow lights. At 2 a.m., that certainly
was a comforting sight! Archie knew he had to retrieve his pick-up
from the ghai nullah, later that Sunday. It was a bit of a delicate
mission because the manager adhered strictly to Sunday ritual and
disapproved of unusual activities on the garden. However, Archie
finally managed to rescue his pick-up with precision, without Burra
Saab's glare. Hats off to him! As an ex Sandhurstian, the manager
took special pride in letting everyone know that his son was in the
Royal Marines. One club evening, an assistant asked him if his son
was doing National Service in the Marines. Burra Saab could have
glared at him and told him his fortune,but he had mellowed down
with a few Johnny Walkers, which were available at Rs. 301-a bottle
in those days. He informed the assistant, rather icily, "Old bud,
you don't do National Service in the Marines; you have to meet
specific standards to become a Royal Marine". The manager's
son joined tea eventually, after a few years in the Royal Marines.
When he went on 6 months' furlough, he left his German
shepherd with his parents. One morning, the dog accompanied
Burra Saab to office and settled down under his table. The head
clerk entered the office for his morning briefing with the manager
and on seeing the dog, bent down to pat him. The German shepherd
promptly responded with a growl that was followed with a caveat
from BUffa Saab to the effect that Kerani should desist from fooling
around with a marine trained dog! By and large, managers I
came across were firm and fair when dealing with assistants and
other juniors. The "on parade-off parade" spirit was conspicuous in
our remote Sonari circle in those days. Also, barriers between
managers and assistants on club nights were non existent; there
were no managers' and assistants' corners at the bar. There
were a few senior managers back then, who considered the
ubiquitous assistant manager an undesirable necessity. Their
cherished confidantes were usually the head clerks, second
clerks and AMOs. Field work was tough in those days- with
no motorbikes or jeeps to take us around. Going around on
kamjari, riding a cycle, was rather uncomfortable when the
sun was in mid horizon or when it rained. But it did my city bred
disposition a world of good. I soon noticed the positive effects
on mind and body. Needless to say, mental alertness is invaluable
when dealing with personnel. The workforce rarely gave
themselves to gross indiscipline, thanks in part to the
pragmatism of the trade union leaders of the past. It was a
daily ritual of the Malaria Babu (anti malaria staff member) to
report to the Burra Saab who deputed the assistant manager
to monitor healthcare and sanitation measures as well as water
supply in the labour and staff lines. In all my early years in tea,
I don't recall any major outbreak of disease. I remember
leaving the bungalow in the care of the chowkidar and bearer
when I went on leave. There were no window grills and locking
device in those days. Yet, everything was as I had left it. Years
and worlds away from the well "fortified" bungalow of today!
In retrospect today, I see vistas from an altogether fine life:
some dated, some timeless; most of them anchored in themes
of human-nature interface; some spontaneous, some affected;
all evocative of a special world. We worked hard to earn a living
in the backwoods and in our free time,
we lived a fairly gracious life.