Matt and Glennie Summors obviously enjoying their life in Australia

Matt Summors

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Glennie's award for service to the Girl guides

Chapter Five - Matt's time in India 
Chapter Six - Matt's Memoirs

August14 2010
Matt tells me --
-our email address can be shown in "Koi-Hai!"  and is
should anyone wish to contact us.  

Glennie was not only a housemother in Dr Grahams Homes before we were married
but she also ran the Girl Guide unit there as well as being a Commissioner for the
Guides in Kalimpong. She continued her activity with that organisation out here in
Australia as well as numerous other  women's groups which saw her being awarded
the Order of Australia medal (O.A.M) in 2004.   Last Sunday she was presented with
her 60 year award for services to the Guide movement in West Australia and other
parts of the globe by the Governor of West Australia. Not bad considering the
movement is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year !!!  

Matt also tells me---Other than a few minor health problems we are both well.

July 31 2001

Matt Summors has written his memoirs and here is chapter five which refers to his time in India

-please enjoy  

Matt Summor's pics

Matt with Ambassador Car

Matt with his Hindustan Ambassador car at Gandrapara 1964-65

A party held in Matt and Glennie's bungalow Nonaipara TE around Xmas 1966
L-R  Matt and Glennie Summors, Barbara ??? a  lady Australian tourist on     
holiday, David Marsh (hidden), Andy Julnes, Dolly and Dick Simpson.

The "burra bungalow" at Kumargram TE in 1969

The Dr Graham's Homes Kalimpong fife and drum band Kalimpong c 1964

Doug Cooper (dec), John and Sheila Grimmer and Matt Summors on the balcony at Keventers restaurant, Darjeeling 1964-65

The Central Dooars Club, Binnaguri soccer team.

District champions 1963 and 1964 and runners-up 1965.   The team photo is L-R
(Rear) Nahendra Pal, Matt Summors, Martin Holl, Chris Doutre, Anil Sarkar, and Bob Philip.
(Front) Peter Banks, Andy MacArthur, Herman Muller, Leo Ferdinands, Mike Das and Mike Dewan.

The three weeks spent on the "Caledonia" as it made its way to Gibraltar, Port Said, through the Suez Canal, Aden, Karachi and eventually Bombay was unbelievable. Being only a small ship owned by the Anchor Line ( it carried around 90 -100 passengers), I soon made friends with many Indians on board heading back to their home country. One person I met was a doctor who would eventually be the only medical practitioner around when Gordon was born in Darjeeling Nursing Home Hospital some eight years later. Another interesting person was an industrialist from Bombay. He took me under his wing and, while in Aden, introduced me to his friends there and some real Indian curries complete with all the trimmings.

On board ship, my bridge playing skills came to the fore as this was a very popular card game with all Indians and we spent many happy hours in all sorts of weather playing cards, deck games and generally having a pleasant voyage. The weather conditions were very calm and serene until we left Karachi for Bombay where we ran into the monsoon winds and rain. This upset vast numbers of the passengers but not the intrepid bridge four. we stuck at it through some rough weather much to the amusement of the crew.

I arrived in Bombay on the 21st July, spent a night at the Taj Mahal Hotel before collecting my luggage and embarking on a two day rail trip across India to C alcutta. The train trip was also an eye opener. I was booked First Class Air Conditioned and the compartment I shared with another teaplanter family was our "home" for the two days. We were locked in when we left Bombay and only allowed out when we arrived at a recognized station for meals. The reason for this was that robbers were known to get onto a moving train during the night, rob the passengers who were not locked in, then vanish with their booty. The trip was also my first and lasting memory of eating fresh chilled mangoes !

While Bombay was quite a cultured centre,  the shock I had when arriving in Calcutta was quite unreal. Calcutta would have to be one of the most unhygienic cities anywhere in the world. I think it was Howrah Station I arrived at with a seething mass of humanity everywhere. A staff member from Duncan brothers  -  the Calcutta agents for Walter Duncan & Goodrickes - met me then took me to the Grand Hotel where I was put up for two nights before flying north on the 25th July to my first real job as an assistant manager on the Gandrapara Tea Estate near Banarhat in the Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal. Flying in an old Dakota DC3 owned by a company called "Jamair" from Dum Dum (Calcutta) to Telepara Airstrip was also exciting. The airstrip at Telepara was made of gravel and about 300 miles north of Calcutta. We landed at two other small airfields before getting to Telepara where I was met by my first manager, a vertically challenged Scotsman by the name of Sandy Fraser from Aberdeen. He was the Acting Manger while the permanent manager, Sandy Elliott was on leave in the UK.

Being a Monday morning, Sandy Fraser was wearing dark glasses and appeared much the worse for wear after having had a late "session" in the Binnaguri Planters Club the night before. We drove back to his bungalow for breakfast before he took me on a trip round the tea estate on the back of his Vespa motor scooter !!  Needless to say, I was terribly sunburnt after a few hours of this. I was eventually destined to live and work on Gandrapara for the next three years serving under three different managers.

My first bungalow was an old three roomed building on the west end of the tea estate. Not knowing the language was going to be a problem but I soon got to know the garden staff who could speak English as they were the people I would be dealing with on a daily basis. The office staff were all Bengalis, very astute and also quite crafty. The tea pickers  and other workers were a mixture of people from Bihar, Orrisa and Nepal - neighbouring States and areas to West Bengal - who had migrated to the area to get, hopefully, full time work. It is difficult to imagine how a tea estate operated in that time but I shall try and give an overall view as this will be part of history.

Apart from the manager, there were normally two or three assistant managers one of which was an engineer. The office staff consisted of a "Barra Babu" or Chief Clerk with six to eight others. The factory where the green tea leaf was processed into black tea had a Head Factory Clerk and a deputy. Each tea estate was divided into sections with an assistant manager (types like me) responsible for the supervision of the planting, growing and harvesting of the tea bushes. To do this their was a field staff of up to 600 in each section consisting of men, women and children over the age of twelve. The men did the heavy work like pruning of the tea bushes, hoeing weeds, clearing the land for planting and also tea picking. The women were the main pickers as well as doing some light pruning. The children were employed to clean around small bushes and other light tasks.

To help me with the supervision, their were a series of Senior Foremen and Under Foreman, may of them able to speak English.  They had the responsibility of getting the workers to start on time, in the right area, check the work was being done correctly, the quality of the tea leaf picked was suitable for manufacture.  

To give an idea of a year round programme on a tea estate would be as follows 

 May-June    Start of the main picking season

 June - October   Start of monsoon and main picking time.

 November - January   Winter time. Planting time and also pruning of tea bushes  

 February-April     Repair and maintenance of roads, buildings, factory equipment

During the main picking time we would work for six days a week and the factory sometimes seven days. Sunday was the "Bazaar" day when all families went and bought their weekly supplies. Remember, there were no fridges or freezers for the lowly paid coolies. All food had to be used before it went "off".

My salary was paid in rupees into my bank account in Calcutta (National Grindlays) and an allowance given each month from the garden safe by the manager. I was entitled to a personal staff of two - a cook and a "bearer" or valet !! This was paid for by the garden account. I also had two gardeners and a night watchman as our compounds were quite large and needed a fair bit of looking after. These were also paid for from the garden account

As the accommodation was limited on certain estates, it was often necessary for unmarried assistant managers to share a bungalow. This was the case at Gandrapara when I was asked to share with Sonny Bonnerjee, a new Bengali assistant manager. Sonny was quite a humorous individual but lacked the work ethic. He also did not like the idea of sharing with a European. He insisted on keeping all his food in one part of the fridge we shared as well as his own cook doing the cooking for him only. This lasted for a matter until October when he was transferred out and eventually sacked. As part of the "indianisation" plan, for every European employed, the company had to take on two Indian assistant managers. Sound in principle but led to a high turn over of staff. 

The monsoon period in North East India was hot, very wet and humid - ideal conditions for growing tea. The day temperatures in July - September were around 30-35 degrees C; the humidity was always (night and day) around the 80-100% and it was not unusual to get 6" (150mm) of rain in a day. The average rainfall for a good monsoon period in West Bengal would be around the 150 -160" or 3500 - 4500 mm.

This all fell between late April until November. Needless to say the rivers coming out of the Himalayas during the monsoon were raging torrents of water.

  With all this water around, it was necessary to have a good drainage system on the tea estate. By good planning before a new area was planted, an efficient drainage system could last for quite some time. For instance, Gandrapara was first planted out to tea around the 1890's. Even in the 1960's those drains were still operating and the tea bushes still in production. The drains were set about twenty to thirty metres apart and interlinked to eventually lead to a main drain leaving the property. The soil profile was also quite deep and this took a fair amount away. Planting of tea bushes around the turn of the century was in a triangular formation around 5' X 5' apart. The latest planting in 1960 brought this down to 5' x  2 1/2 ‘ in a hedge formation. To protect the delicate tea leaves from severe sun burn, there was also planted shade trees about 40'x40' apart. These trees grew a broad canopy up to 50' above the tea bushes providing shade and shelter.

An average tea picker could pick up to 30-40kgs of green leaf a day. We had some Nepali girls, who loved to work as hard as anyone, capable of picking 120kgs a day. As they were paid by the quantity picked, they made much more than normal. Quality was more important than quantity and checking by the foremen at weighing time was very important. Some of the girls would hide their "lunch" in the baskets to increase  the weight marked against their name; some even tried putting rocks in the basket or dunk them in a drain to get paid more !  To produce 1kg of black tea you had to pick around 4.5kgs of green leaf - this was called the tea leaf ratio. Knowing how much green leaf you paid for, technically you should get a certain amount of black tea after processing. In wet weather this ration could go up to 5 : 1. What we did was to make sure that the weigh scales for the green leaf were suitably "tared" to allow for wet weather, extra heavy baskets or "rumals" ( hessian bags).

Obviously we had to weigh several times a day to get rid of the leaf picked as it would soon heat up and start fermenting. Once weighed, the leaf was taken by truck or tractor and trailer to the factory where it was quickly unloaded and allowed to cool down in case it had heated up.

There were three types of tea manufacturing systems going then - the orthodox system, CTC (cut, twist and curl) and Legg Cut. Gandrapara was a Legg cut manufacturing system.

Briefly, the orthodox method was the oldest at the time and relied on wilting the green leaf to a certain moisture %, putting a given quantity into huge drums mounted onto concentric turning tables with a weight or screw action plate on the inside of the drum. This action was similar to putting a leaf into the palm of your hand and rubbing them together. The whole basis of tea manufacture was to break up the cells of the leaf, allow the broken leaf to ferment to given stage then stop the whole procedure by putting the leaf through hot air ovens/driers without burning the leaf. This was the art of good tea manufacture - knowing when to stop fermentation and how much to dry the leaf and at what temperature.

The dried black tea leaves then had to be cooled to normal temperature before being graded over a series of oscillating mesh screens. As a general guide, the larger the leaf the higher the quality. The orthodox system of manufacture did not break the leaf  up as much the other two method and this gave tea of a much higher quality. The top of the range tea was a GFBOP. These letters stand for Grand Flowering Broken Orange Pekoe. and consisted mainly of the tip of the tea shoot plus a bit of the top leaf. It should be remembered that the ideal tea leaf picked for manufacture should be only the last two fully emerged leaves plus the growing tip. The next best grades would be FBOP followed by BOP and OP. The two other types of manufacture also produced other grades and they were Pekoe Fannings (PF) and Pekoe Dust (PD).  

The second method of manufacture was CTC. This relied on passing your wilted green leaf through two inter-meshing rollers revolving at high speed. The rollers had to be designed so that the teeth did not touch but could still crush, twist and curl the leaf. This meant that the cells were broken down much more quickly, your fermentation time was quickly started so increasing the factory throughput. The rest of the procedure was the same a the orthodox system  with the exception being that most of the tea leaf graded after drying was in the BOP to PD range.

The Legg cut method which many of the Duncan Brothers tea estates operated was based on using the machines for cutting tobacco leaf. The leaf did not have to be wilted for a start. It was fed fresh onto a slow moving conveyor, passed through a heavy steel blade cutter which chopped the leaf into 1/16" pieces, turned 90 degrees and passed through a second cutter into 1/32" pieces. This started fermentation almost instantaneously and improved once again the factory output ( lowering your costs).  The final tea leaf quality was even less than CTC but produced a very strong liquoring tea which was acceptable in the UK market.

Duncan Brothers were more interested in profits than who could produced one batch of tea superior to anyone else. We did have several tea gardens in Darjeeling where only orthodox tea was produced and one of them held the world record price in the early 1960's for GFBOP. I should add that Duncan's operated nearly fifty tea estates throughout NE India, East Bengal (now Bangladesh) and South India (Nilgiris). They were eventually absorbed by another major tea company and produced around 25% of all the tea produced in the late 1960's early 1970's from over 150 tea estates in India and Africa.

Back to life on Gandrapara. With Sonny Bonnerjee leaving, there was temporary lull until all hell broke loose in October/November  1962 when the Chinese invaded India. All women and children were flown to Calcutta immediately. The Chinese army just walked over the Himalayas into upper Assam causing chaos. Nobody knew when or where they would stop. We made plans to sabotage the factories before heading south. Luckily common sense prevailed and after a matter of weeks. Peace was declared. The staff of our Assam plantations fled into West Bengal and one of them, Bob Christison from Aberdeen, ended up on Gandrapara sharing a bungalow with me.  

At this time the Indian army were told to defend the main part of India by filling up the area between East Bengal (Bangladesh) and Bhutan. The narrow strip of land lying between these two countries is approximately 40-50 miles wide and 100 miles long the area was inundated with around four divisions of the Indian army (300,000 men). Life in the tea gardens changed forever after this. We needed to have special permits as we classed as potential spies. These had to renewed every so often. We could not go from one area to another without a special permit. Travel restrictions were a pain.

About the same time, the next door garden, Lakhipara, had another two Scotsmen - Bill Fraser from Glasgow and Richard Hardwick (English educated but of Scottish parents). For the next nine months chaos reigned in the area whenever we were around. We all played golf - Bill being an ex-professional golfer on a 6 handicap, Richard and myself on an 8 and 9 and Bob around the 14 mark. Needless to say we swept all inter club competitions before us. We also played rugby for the Dooars ( the local district name) as well as soccer. Add tennis and a bit of cricket and lots of  parties and you can see that we had a ball. Perhaps we were lucky to have some understanding managers in the area. Being all bachelors we had to let off steam somewhere and this would normally be at the club on a Sunday night with some rather prolonged drinking sessions. The cold weather ( winter) of 1962-63 would have to go down as one of the most entertaining times of my life as we did not have to work too hard during the day finishing work around 2.30 p.m. and the weekends could start on a Friday and finish on a Monday lunchtime !!! We played up sometimes too much. One night around the morning, on going back to Bill Fraser's bungalow - we only had one car between us belonging to Bob Christison - We had to stop at a railway crossing outside Banarhat station. The gates were closed, the nightwatchman would not open them until the train had left the station so Bill Fraser said "OK, I'll drive the train through", which he did !! Needless to say the District Commissioner for Jalpaiguri was told of our exploits and made arrangements for all four of us to be deported for breaching the Defence of India Act. As I said earlier, we had some very good managers, especially mine Sandy Elliott, who greased a few palms in the right areas and the matter was dropped. Needless to say he made us work twice as hard to compensate for our misdemeanours!

The Binnaguri Club which served the district had around 30-40 tea planters and their wives as members. It had an all-weather tennis court, a 9 hole grass green golf course and a soccer pitch. Inside the club there was a small bar, a library and a full size snooker table. Each Sunday night we had a film show followed by a general get together a drinking session. We could also travel to the neighbouring clubs for various functions depending on the time of year and weather conditions.

In August 1963, the company had heard enough of the exploits by the four Scots bachelors so we were split up to all parts of the countryside. Richard was sent to Assam, Bill to the far east of West Bengal (Jainti-Sankos) and Bob to the Chel District in the western half of West Bengal. I was left in the middle on my own !  I could give dozens of stories of the things we did over that ten month period, many people would not believe.    

In September 1963, Sandy Elliott was transferred to Jiti our top garden with the highest profit margin ( we were paid commission on profits made) and Ian Clyde took over Gandrapara. Ian was also a Scotsman and a bachelor in his late mid-late forties. In the cold weather of 1963-64, he met an American woman travelling round the world with her mother in Darjeeling. Her name was Betty June Stafford and she came from Seattle in Washington State. Ian proposed to Betty in February 1964 and was married in the Nagrakata Mission Church with me as best man and Betty June's mother the maid of honour. Ian actually told me on the Saturday morning he was getting married and around 12 noon asked if I would be his best man at 3 o'clock that afternoon !  Ian and Betty stayed around until September 1964 when they took off to the States where Ian became involved in running an apple orchard somewhere near Seattle.

Next manager to take over Gandrapara was Chuck Rorrison from Hawick in Scotland. Chuck was and still is a very good friend and we still keep in touch (1999). Both he and Ellen were extremely good to me over the next year.

I should add that it was on the 15th August 1964 ( Independence Day) that I first met Glennie in the Nagrakata Club. The party in Binnaguri was useless so around 11 p.m. three of us set off to travel the long way round to Nagrakata Club getting there about 1 p.m. After being introduced to Glennie by Alistair Bruce (her host), we started to get to know each other with a promise that I would be up to see her in Dr Graham's Homes in Kalimpong where she was a house mother in the school.

Each club in the Dooars had a soccer club and from them we picked a representative side to play against various teams one of which was the Dr Graham's Homes. So it was not long before I was in the side heading to Kalimpong to play soccer and meet up with Glennie again.

The Homes were set up by the Church of Scotland in the early part of the 20th century to look after the illegitimate children of British soldiers or tea planters who were working in India at that time. Latterly they were taking many orphans or refugee children from Tibet. Anyway, in September 1964 we played the boys of the Homes on the "Maidan" - a level gravel soccer pitch in the middle of Kalimpong. Kalimpong is at an altitude of around 5 000' and everyone was soccer mad. Needless to say we were quite a star attraction and we played the match in front of around 10 000 spectators and were thrashed to the joy of all the locals. We were invited back to the Homes where Glennie and her sister Gladys as well as another Scots girl, Val Hardy, were working. That night, like all tea planters we played up a fair bit in Bene Cottage where Glennie was the house mother to around 25 girls between the ages of 6 and 14.

From then on I was making fairly frequent runs up the Teesta valley to Kalimpong. as I mentioned earlier, I had to get a special permit to travel into this very restricted area. Before crossing over the Teesta River bridge to climb the hill to Kalimpong, I had to check in with the Border Police as after this point you travelled into Sikhim and then Tibet. The police soon knew my car and just gave them a wave when coming back down to the hill to return to Gandrapara. One weekend I decided to take a very steep back track down from Kalimpong missing the Border police. Next time I went passed the post, they were quite upset as according to their records I was still up the hill in Kalimpong !

Besides playing soccer, we also had a rugby club in the Dooars and each year in July we headed off to Calcutta to play against local expatriates as well as other teams from surrounding areas in a 7 a-side-competition.

The main reason we went down was to get a taste of civilisation and some night life as well as play rugby.  We normally flew down to Calcutta on the Friday morning flight, paid our respects to the head office before hitting the town that afternoon. We invariably had little or no sleep for the next two days ! We survived on adrenalin, copious quantities of the local grog with a few "extra" stimulants thrown in for good measure. Needless to say by early Monday morning when we poured back on to the Jamair plane, we were completely out of this world until Tuesday.

The "cold weather" in India was quite unbelievable. The monsoon rains stopped around September-October and from then until mid-February you were guaranteed sunshine every day (temperatures around 15-20 degrees) dropping to around 2-4 degrees at night. Up in the hills it became quite frosty at times.

Work during the cold weather consisted of pruning the tea bushes, planting new areas with improved strains of tea plants, overhauling the factory machinery, building and repairing labour houses - generally cleaning up the place after the tea picking season had finished.

It was also an opportune time for playing sport such as golf, tennis and cricket. I also managed to get in some shooting for game in the forests. More on that later.

My golf exploits while in the Dooars (1962-65) were based around the Binnaguri Club. When the "Four Musketeers" were in Binnaguri, we won most of the major competitions including the Colonel Wood Cup, the Dewar Cup, the Hardwick Cup and in 1964 I was the runner-up in the Dooars Championship held at the Chel Club.

I also went to Calcutta many times to play with our head office staff for the McLeod Cup. The two main clubs in Calcutta are the Calcutta Golf Club and Tollygunge Country Club. Both these course were magnificent to play on. Calcutta is a world championship course with masses of water tanks, big rain trees and caddies that play off scratch !! One caddy I had after the first hole told me what club to use for every shot after that and I had a very good round. When I asked how he knew so much, he told me he was the caddies champion and his handicap was 1 !! Made my handicap of nine look fairly innocuous.

Tollygunge was the easier course and by far the most well developed set up in and around the Tollygunge racecourse. Every tree had its own name showing the type and when it was planted, there was a FULL bar facility after every three holes, the clubhouse had a superb swimming pool and squash court facility along with a top class restaurant. The sort of place you could quite easily be a member of at any time.

Back to where and what I was doing around 1965.

In February 1965, Glennie and became engaged. The local labour force at Gandrapara knew all about her as she had been staying on the tea estate and they also knew I was not going up to Kalimpong to admire the scenery every second weekend !  All he women immediately wanted to know what her "dowry" was. In an off-hand way I mentioned that I paid her father two cows, six goats, some cooking utensils and 200 rupees. Within a matter of days, every person on the estate knew exactly what her "price" was. This caused no end of mirth in both sets of our families.

When Glennie wrote and told her parents that she was to get married, Mum Millar  was very excited and she was soon over meeting my parents in Jerusalem (East Lothian, Scotland), where they were living at the time.

The company decided to transfer me after three years away from my "home" at Gandrapara to another of their estates in Assam. So on the 23rd August I headed off in my old Hindustan Ambassador (Morris Oxford) car to Nonaipara eventually getting there on the 24th to meet my next manager Ron Gilmour. Other assistant managers on the estate were Dick Simpson from Aberdeen with his wife Dolly and Yogi Kapur from Delhi.

Once again soccer was in full swing and I soon was playing for the local club against other clubs on the North Bank of the Bramaputra.  

The end of the monsoon saw the start of an unforgettable three months on Nonaipara - on the social scene that is. The work on Nonaipara was completely different from Gandrapara - the labour were very lazy, would not turn up for work if it was too wet, had an entirely different outlook to the Nepalis and Maddasias in West Bengal. They seemed more interested in just surviving with what they could get - no ambitions.

After three years, I was due for a six month leave in the UK and we decided that we would get married in Glennies church in Dundee ( the High Kirk). I asked the company if they would pay her fare back to the UK as we were to be married. The answer was "Wait and see when you get back !"

On the 9th December 1965, Glennie and Gladys made their way from Kalimpong to Gauhati in Assam where I picked them up and took them to Nonaipara. We spent Xmas and New Year there before leaving for the UK on the 11th January 1966. We travelled to Calcutta from Gauhati by plane and then by train to Bombay where we were to board the "Himalaya" on route to the UK. While in Bombay, we stayed at the Ambassador Hotel and saw the film "Lawrence of Arabia" luxurious cinema I've ever been into. The screen seemed to stretch for ever and the sound system was out unreal. I now know why they call Bombay, "Bollywood" !!

The two week trip on the "Himalaya" was also quite eventful. Firstly, because the company were paying my fare only, I was given a cabin on A deck while Glennie and Gladys were down on E Deck. I was also allocated a seat for the second sitting for meals at the Chief Engineers table - one below the Captains table while Glennie and Gladys had first sitting. On the first night out from Bombay, I was asked my a Major Stubbs if I wanted to be in on the nightly wine round. I said "Yes" just to see what happened. We had to dress in our dinner jackets each night after that with the mandatory cocktails being held normally in the Chief Engineers cabin. All very interesting. When it came to my time to order the wine ( the wine steward cam around at lunch time), I ordered two bottles of a French wine. Stubbs on hearing this pulled me aside that afternoon and in a stiff British upper crust accent said, "Jolly good of you old boy to buy the French wine but frankly I much prefer the Australian stuff - and it's cheaper !!!"

We had a very pleasant journey back to the UK arriving in Tilbury Docks middle of winter. We were soon on the train north to met our respective parents and prepare for our wedding day on the 11th June.

Mum and Dad Millar made me most welcome. I think I would have to be the only son-in-law who was given a carton of beer under the bed just in case I became thirsty during the night ! Hendry Gardiner soon had me around all his drinking dens in Dundee as he was very well known to almost the whole of the town.

  My Mum and Dad were now living at Jerusalem, an area west of Haddington in East Lothian, which did actually go back to the crusades in the 11-12th century. We stayed equally between both sets of parents for the next few months until our big day on the 11th June 1966

David Copeland was also on leave at that time and he accepted my offer to be our best man while Gladys was the matron of honour. The day before we were married, I had my "Buck's Night" along with David, Dad Millar and a few others from the Dundee area. We went from one pub to anther and it was not long before it was daylight on Saturday morning. Glennie and the girls had been partying on in the house in Balunie Drive. We ended up there around 4 a.m. with everyone else from our group allowed in except me as I was not allowed to see the blushing bride. I stayed in the car with the grog being sent out of the next hour or so. Dave and I got back to Mr and Mrs Stewart's home opposite the High Kirk around 6 a.m., had about an hour or so's sleep before trying to get ourselves organised for the wedding. We were both very much the worse for wear. How we got through the ceremony goodness knows. Dave nearly fell over a few times.  

Our reception was held in Grays Rooms in Dundee with my dad getting the bar from the Officers mess in Edinburgh Castle for the occasion. (He was still in the army based in the Castle). Being a real Scottish wedding, there was plenty of good Scotch whisky going around to such an extent that the stewards decided it quicker to pour it from a beer jug than the normal dispenser. Glennie's relatives to this day still remind us of this event.  

My dad, had hired a bus to bring the Edinburgh crew to Dundee and it seems that the bus driver was a wee bit over the limit because on trying to deliver the bar staff back into the Castle, he swiped one side of the bus going over the portcullis then did the second side coming out. He also got picked up for speeding over the Forth Road bridge. All in all, very eventful.

We had timed our wedding so that we could travel back to India again on the "Himalaya" days after were married. However, there was a dock strike and the ships sailing date was delayed. Not knowing when we could leave the UK, we travelled around - on our honeymoon - with  a set of golf clubs and other sporting gear - in the boot. It was not until late June that we embarked on the "Himalaya" and to our surprise, a young couple, Tony and Margaret Grimes also recently married, going back to Mangaldai District in Assam. Our joint delayed honeymoon was most enjoyable. Most of the crew were the same we had met earlier and the service we were given unreal.

So, in late June 1966,  we started our married life going back to India for another three year contract.  

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 Sept 2002                

Matt Summors has written his next chapter  and it is here for your enjoyment--thank you Matt for taking the time and trouble to remind us of days past.

Chapter Six

  We arrived in Bombay on the 19th July 1966 and travelled again by train to Calcutta before flying to Assam on the 24th July to meet up with Ron Gilmour on Nonaipara. Glennie had not been fully aware of Ron's idiosyncrasies and when she was asked if she would like a drink of tea, her first reaction was "I don't drink tea, only coffee". To which the reply was "WE DON'T SERVE COFFEE IN THIS HOUSE !".

Dick and Dolly Simpson were still on Nonaipara before moving down to Orangajuli the next door estate. Other assistant managers on Nonaipara were an Australian, David Marsh, and an Englishman Andy Julnes.

I was soon into the run of things with our soccer side (Nonaipara) winning the Corramore Shield  beating Majuli Tea Estate 3-1 in the final. These little things went a long way to improving staff relations and working practices. I slowly managed to get the locals to realise that they had to up their work rate if the company were to survive. As an example, one wet morning not a single person out of the main picking force turned up for work. I had to get the supervisory staff ( about 20 or so) to physically go round every house in the labourers lines and almost force them to work.

Nonaipara was right next to the border with Bhutan and quite often we went into Bhutan either fishing or shooting. The game up there was the usual kind found at the foot of the Himalayas - deer, wild pigs, elephants, the odd tiger and leopard and plenty of  jungle fowl ( wild chickens). Mostly we used 12 bore shot guns for the smaller game but kept a double barrelled rifle on hand just in case we came across something much bigger which we could claim. Elephants were off the list as were tigers. Leopards were more easily trapped in a cage than shot but we did have a good time with the jungle fowl.  

Fishing in the cold weather was for mahseer - a good fighting fish found in the rivers in that part of the world. These could grow up to 15-20 kgs.

Herds of elephants were a major problem, ripping up trees and generally causing a lot of damage. We could not do anything about it apart from shooting over their heads and driving them back into Bhutan..

On the club scene, we still played lots of soccer and golf  with the Mangaldai Club for once managing to win a few games now that they had a few soccer players in the side. We beat Thakubarri Club on the 21st August 3-2 and later on North Lakhimpur 4-1. Our local estate team again won the Corramore Shield much to the delight of the labour force.

Soon we were into the cold weather and in our first cricket match of the season, Tony Grimes who had once been on the Surrey cricket staff, hit five consecutive fours in the last over to win the game for us.  

Other friends we made in Assam were Robin and Anthea Wrangham, Dick and Jenny Street as well as our old friends Dick and Dolly Simpson. We had some memorable times going out to dinner, entertaining and generally having a wonderful time in the cold weather of 1966-67.

A highlight of the cold weather was a "Flower Show" arranged by Glennie and Dolly in the Mangaldai Club on the 5th February 1967. Perhaps this would have been the happiest memories of our stay in India as there was a general feeling of goodwill among all the people in the area.

With a restricted quantity of good quality alcohol available such a Scotch whisky or liqueurs, some planters started to experiment making their own "hooch". Such was the case with Dick and Jenny Street. Dick decided that he could make "Plum Gin" using an old large glass battery acid jar as the receptacle. In went a mass of plums followed by a copious quantity of sugar followed by a case of Carews Gin. Several months later  Dick and I went to a planters association function in the Mangaldai Club leaving Jenny and Glennie at Dick's bungalow. The two girls decided to "test" the brew before we got back. Needless to say it required a second glass to ensure that the first tasted all right. On our return we concurred with their findings and it was quite late into the night before we had dinner that night !!!

As I mentioned earlier, shooting was very enjoyable in that part of the world in the forest bordering Bhutan and India. We were fortunate to have a very well educated and skilled "shikari" in our are called Wazir Khan. Wazir was a Pathan I think and closely related to royalty from the North West area of India/Pakistan. He had a veritable arsenal of weapons which he gladly shared with those who didn't have a gun. His shooting parties were legendary with everyone getting an opportunity to take part. He was an absolute gentleman of the highest order and a privilege to have met and known. He was an honorary game warden and obeyed all the rules of hunting. His prowess with a gun was extraordinary. On one occasion while shooting partridge or light game, he was carrying a single barrel 16 gauge shotgun. When a partridge took off from under him, he raised the gun and holding with in one hand brought the bird down. Never even thought a thing about it. A natural good shot.

In June 1967, the company decided that I had spent enough time on the North bank and transferred me to Lankapara T.E back in the Dooars. This was the largest property run by Duncan's at that time with an Out Division section of 800 acres being a slight distance form the main garden. Jim and Daphne Nicholls were the manager and his wife. Jim was an Englishman and an ex-member of the Palestine police force. His thought and views on how to run a tea estate was quite interesting and in hindsight quite up to date knowing todays technology.

I was put in charge of the Tulsipara out division and the home we had there was a typical two storey "chung bungalow". Life was still terrific with lots of soccer, golf but no shikar as were too near a densely populated area. The Lankapara soccer team had a lot of Nepalese in the side and they were excellent players. We entered the garden team into the local knockout competition for all gardens in the area and somehow reached the final. This was in August 1967. The betting on the final was quite horrendous in the local bazaar at Dalgaon. Our opposition decided that the local players were not good enough so paid a good number of Calcutta players to represent them in the final. Our team said we should do the same but I refused saying that we were just as good.

On the day of the final we shut down the garden for the afternoon and ferried a mass of supporters to the ground on trucks and buses. There would have to have been about 5 -10,000 at the game...difficult to judge crowd numbers. The atmosphere was quite exhilarating. We kicked off and, being center forward, was soon leading an onslaught on the opposition gaol mouth. After five minutes, I got my first chance and hammered in a shot into the net from outside the area. Our supporters went wild but not as much when the referee disallowed the gaol. A riot broke out with yours truly right in the middle of it ! Our supporters would have killed the referee given a chance. Glennie, Dick and Dolly Simpson who were in the VIP area could only see my head and shoulders above the mass of people on the pitch and were ushered away not knowing what was happening to me. Anyway, calm was restored, the game restarted and sadly to say we went down 3-2. There is no doubt in my mind that the referee was "bought" by the big bettors in the bazaar.

Another incident which comes to mind was the sudden appearance of a large herd of elephants in the area. The Tulsipara water supply came from the main garden by metal pipe line which passed through a bamboo bari before reaching Tulsipara. In that bamboo bari were the elephants. Being clever creatures they soon figured out that by digging up the water line, bending it upwards they could have a shower bath. Fixing this was going to be a problem, so armed with pipes, wrenches and a .500 dbbl shotgun I led a party of staff to repair the pipe. Being at the head of the line and with the gun bearer behind me we entered the bari. Not far in I looked to my left and saw this huge elephant staring at me. "Banduk de do!" ( "Give me the gun") I shouted. Looking behind me all I could see fast disappearing into the distance were the gun bearer and the rest of the staff. I overtook them VERY soon !! Eventually we did get the line fixed but elephants were a continual hazard. Even at night time they would come into our compound and we could feel and hear them scratching themselves on the posts of the bungalow.

In December 1967, Sandy Pearson was the manager of Garganda T.E. next door to Tulsipara with his wife Barbara. They left and I was asked to be Assistant-in-charge  before George Hall took over. George ( now deceased)  was to have taken over from Sandy but had a bad car accident preventing him from doing this. This was my first full time "managers" position with the company. The cold weather was the time for major repairs and upgrades and i was left to convert the factory to AC power from DC power which created quite a few traumas.

Most power supplies were 110v DC current. Converting to 240v AC and installing electric motors throughout the factor was a challenge. We very nearly had one fatality in the engine room soon after commissioning the main generator. One of the "bijli mistri's" ( electricians) seemed to think that DC and AC current were one and the same. The old trick of touching a 110v DC wire to see if there was power very nearly cost him his life. Luckily he was thrown backwards quite heavily with more shock to pride than actual injury. The message soon spread wide and far.....don't touch the new wires.

Xmas in 1967 was also quite hilarious.  

The cook who I had had since my bachelor days was a devoted reader of Mrs Beeton's Cook Book and he was in charge of the kitchen for the Xmas dinner. The highlight was to have been the flaming Xmas pudding being brought into a darkened room. Every so often he would appear and whisper into Glennie's ear about there being not enough brandy to flame the pudding.......kept going out, he said. After nearly a bottle of the stuff was used, it transpired it was going down his throat and NOT on the Xmas pud !

Such was life; the work was fascinating and very enjoyable. By February 1968, George Hall was still unable to resume duties so I was given the position of Acting Manager for another six months from March until August.

During this period Glennie found out she was pregnant and we were expecting the birth sometime in July/August. Visits to an obstetrician were infrequent and Alipur Dooars was the only one that was locally available 

It was in March that we also found ourselves being invited to play golf against the British Ghurka depot in Dharan. After taking ages to get our visas to enter Nepal from Calcutta we left in my old battered Hindustan Ambassador for Biratnagar - the border town leading to Dharan.

It was the Holi Puja week and VERY VERY hot. No airconditioning in the car and windows up because we were being drenched by youths with bicycle pumps filled with red dye. And Glennie was six months pregnant which did not help her one littl bit.

We reached the depot on dusk and had a very enjoyable weekend. The golf course superb and I had the honour of playing against Lt Col Bill Shakespeare the O-I-C of the unit. There was also a highly qualified British doctor on the base who gave Glennie a thorough check up as well as various medicines she could take. My car was also given a good going over by the depot's mechanics so that our return trip would be guaranteed 

By July, it was decided that Glennie would have to go to Darjeeling and await the arrival of the baby as it was too uncomfortable on the plains with the heat and humidity. Calcutta was considered but accommodation difficult for an indeterminate length of time. I took Glennie up to Darjeeling and left her in the Planters Club which was connected to the Dooars & Darjeeeling Nursing Home by a communal door. Very handy. While in Darjeeling during late June July she got to know Eric Avari quite well as well as the wife of the local National and Grindlays bank manager, a nurse. I took off each weekend in the company jeep to make sure she was all right.

Towards the middle of July a ‘phone message revealed that all was not well with the pregnancy. Glennie went into labour towards the end of the month and nothing seemed to be happening. There was no gynaecologist in Darjeeling and the only doctor was the same one I had travelled to India with in 1962 and he was a bone specialist. The bank managers wife, an Irish lady whose name we have forgotten, could see the problem but the doctor did not want to perform a caesarean section without written approval from me. She bluntly told him that she would sign the document as it was an emergency. I should add that in the monsoon it could take up to 6-8 hours to reach Darjeeling from Garganda in the Dooars.  

When I was told what was happening I took off in the Jeep with a driver as soon as possible getting to Darjeeling in record time by all accounts. I raced up the steps into the hospital to see a blood splattered bone surgeon coming out of the room Glennie was in - the same person I came out to India with on the SS Caledonia in 1962 ! ! He said that Glennie was all right and that our son was well in the nursery. Glennie was still unconscious in her bed from the anaesthetics and labour after having a caesarean operation. A quick check on our son to see what he looked like then it was through the door into the Planters Club where a celebratory drink was had with those there. I immediately rang David Copland and David Billingham and they said they would be up to Darjeeling as soon as possible to help in the celebrations.

Martin Holl and the Darjeeling Planters soccer team had a match against one of the school sides that Saturday afternoon and I was asked if I could play for them. 

Rather than stay at the Club I agreed. The end result was a huge win for the planters side...I think about 8-0 with yours truly in the thick of things. Back to the club for more celebrations before the two David's arrived. On seeing Glennie in bed David Billingham's remark will go down as a classic - " If that's what a woman has to go through I will never get one pregnant !!"

That night we had a real wetting of the baby's head in the bar of the Planters Club with quite an assembly of identities there including three maharajas who happened to be in Darjeeling that weekend - they joined in the fun and games with gusto and we all had a ball until the hangovers hit next morning.

After a rest and recovery, Glennie and Gordon eventually came back to Garganda in late August early September. As I was due leave in the UK, we made arrangements to fly to the UK just before Xmas of 1968 from Calcutta. David Copland was also going back to the UK so we were all on the same flight - a VC10 owned by BOAC as it was then. On the plane we had the bulkhead seats with the space there for Gordon's cot in front of the three of us. Also on the plane were two planters from Malaya and Indonesia. Between Calcutta and Tehran, the four of us were at the back of the plane and managed to drink all the beer on board. After a refuelling stop in Teheran we then set off for London. Over this phase, David and I had more than our fair share of miniature scotch whiskies ( free of course then) with the empties being deposited in Gordon's carry-cot.

At Heathrow we met Susie, David's eventual wife-to-be as they were to be best man and bridesmaid at the wedding of Dougie and Jenny Armstrong in Dundee.

Glennie, Gordon and I got on a plane to Turnhouse, Edinburgh where we were met by my parents. On picking up their grandchild for the first time there was an embarrassing clatter of empty liquor bottles on the floor from our exploits on the flight from Calcutta. I am not sure yet what their reaction was - horrified I would imagine.

We had an enjoyable Xmas in 1968 with my parents in Aberlady before going to Dundee for Hogmanay with Glennie's family 

The four months we had leave were quite eventful. Gladys - Glennies sister - was married in Dundee to Dave Thompson. Doug Armstrong married Jenny in Newport just across the water from Dundee. A group of our tea planter friends met at my parents place in January 1969 two days before the Scotland vs France rugby match in Paris. We demolished bottles of my fathers best scotch at a cocktail party he invited them too before we headed off in two cars south to London/Kent where Susie's parents lived. It was a horrendous trip with David Billingham wrecking his car shortly after leaving Aberlady on a very icy stretch of road on the A 1 outside Haddington. We managed to all get into another car and set off leaving David to sort out his problem. Eight hours later we hit Susie's parents place in Kent to find Mr Billingham had beaten us to it !! Saturday morning we hopped on the ferry over to Paris, saw Scotland win their first rugby match in two years, and, with the help of Ian Nicholson (Alchy Nic to one and all) whose father was the President of the Scottish Rugby Union at the time, celebrated in true Scottish fashion all night long.

A quick trip around Paris very early on Sunday morning then we headed back up the Autoroute to Calais for the trip back to Edinburgh. Tottaly exhausting but fun.

Later on in March 1969 I think it was we again headed south for the wedding of Dave and Susie before we were packing for a return trip to India.

On our return to Calcutta in June 1969 I was told that we were being sent to Kumargram T.E. - known to one and all in the Dooars as the "Corner" - and to be the acting manager when the incumbent manager known as "Fighting Andy" went of leave. There were three company estates there - Newlands, Kumargram and Sankos.

Nick Lowden was manager on Newlands and Dick Simpson on Sankos. We all knew each other from previous places and life was not all that bad until a major incident occurred during my tenure as acting manager.

A general strike had been called by the unions on all tea estates and the labour force did not turn up for two weeks in September - the main tea leaf plucking time. The leaf grew too large and coarse for processing so we had to "skiff" off the rough growth and lose a fair bit of our crop. With the skiffing done there was a slow regrowth of the tea leaf. The staff were not getting much quantity and we had to employ them irrespective of what they picked. With a heavy monsoon downpour one day, I told the Head Foreman to stop work about one hour early for the day and weigh what leaf had been picked. One group of women farthest from the factory never heard the hooter and kept working. After every one had been weighed in at the factory I realised that this one section was not in and sent out a messenger to tell them. they arrived about 30 mins after the rest had gone home...about the normal time for the to stop work.

Immediately the union leaders demanded I pay them overtime as they worked longer that the others. I pointed out that the others had stopped work at least an hour early and would be prepared to give those who worked 30 mins longer time off the next day to balance it off. Also the weather conditions were quite cold. This they refused to accept.

Next day a very militant group of workers armed with sticks paraded outside the factory compound chanting demands and the like. I made sure that there was always one assistant manager outside the compound just in case any incidents blew up  and this looked the case now. He took off to the local police station in the Jeep and informed the officer in charge that a riot was brewing.

By the time the officer and twelve armed constables arrived, the mob of around 100 or more had broken down the factory security gates, tried to smash my head in with a  thick bamboo pole, hit John Azaria the assistant manger instead before we both took to our heels to the safety of the main office building.

They started throwing rocks at us and if was not for the low overhang of the roof on the office we would both have surely been injured. John and I dived into the assistant mangers office at the end of the building and we threw a table against the door also covering our heads with a chair in case any more rocks were thrown.  

I thought that this was my final hours. Glennie and Gordon were in the bungalow about 500m away. All the servants had fled in fear of getting involved so they were on their own and they could hear the noise of the riot not far away 

Had it not been for a Mr Bestawictch, the local communist Union leader we would surely have been killed or severely injured. He stood in the door way, faced the mob and said very loudly " Kill me before you kill them !"

He then turned to me and said "Now will you pay overtime ?".

At this point the local police superintendent armed with a sub-machine gun and twelve armed constables appeared on the scene - they had been outside watching all this and doing nothing. I immediately asked he arrest the union leaders and charge them with assault. His reply  was that it was an "industrial" dispute and he could not take any action. Anarchy at its best. I then told the mob that if that was the way the thought their country was to be run then it would be better if I or any manager were not around. 

They dispersed eventually without any further incidents and I know for a fact that 95% of the staff appreciated what we were doing but a small vocal bunch of thugs who ran the union movement terrorised them into doing what they wanted.

Another incident blew up soon after this when the local District Commissioner decided to "allocate" some of the land grant had been legally given to the company many years to a group of refugees from Bangladesh or East Pakistan as it was then. The land had been set aside for future planting's. Our local workers took up arms over this and drove them out. The manager now was "Fighting Andy" ...I can not remember his correct name. He very meekly allowed the refugees to get back in again. This was the last straw for me and I resigned on the 23rd December 1969 from Duncan Brothers. I could see no future living and working under such conditions of stress.

  The cold weather from then on until March 1970 we tried to enjoy as much as possible with fishing and shooting .

  I should add that prior to all this I had written to the Australian High Commission in Calcutta for details of how I could migrate to that country so I was prepared a bit. If we were to leave, it was a toss up between West Australia or Queensland.

  We left for Calcutta on the 20th  March 1970 with all our luggage. Glennie and Gordon were booked to fly back to the UK. The luggage was being sent by sea to Dundee and I had a one way ticket to Perth in West Australia.

  I left Calcutta on a QANTAS flight on the 7th April while Glennie and Gordon headed the other way to London and Dundee a day later.

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