Above is a picture of Priti and her husband Devendra Singh Parmar

Priti Parmar


 This page has been specially created for the writings and paintings of Priti Parmar who is dedicated to reminding us of the history involved in the Tea Plantations.  Priti is the wife of Devendra Singh Parmar  who retired from Duncans in 2006 after 30 years service. 
They are now living at Chengmari TE-

Please click on the headings to go to the stories

An Answer to Mr Thomas
Tilted Table
Carron Barabungalow
Gazebo At Bagracote
Retired Munshi
War Memorial at Nagrakata club
Prayer Flags and Chortens
Autobiography of Jali Kamara
Janak Sir and Moonee B'Low
Makrapara Bungalow

 October 25 2011

Below is the letter written in reply to a query by Mr Thomas about his Grandfather William Rupert who was in the Dooars a long time ago--The Editor asked Priti to answer as she was very knowledgable on the area. Also she and her husband Devendra did a lot of work on the old graveyard at Nagrakata Club--below this  letter to Mr Thomas are some photographs created by Priti--and we thank her sincerely

Dear Mr Thomas

Just received a mail from koi-hai editor Mr David . it is such a pleasure to hear about  old planters like your grand father Mr William Rupert.

What a coincidence that  presently my husband is manager Chengmari tea estate. I may be sitting and writing to you this from the same very bungalow that your grand father may have lived in. this house I believe is over hundred year old.

Chengmari records start from 1945 only so it will be difficult to trace it back to your grandfathers  time.   Kumai  tea estate that you mentioned is also close by , it is surrounded by beautiful protected  forest.   . Nadeem  tea estates or Nadeem tea company  was later known as Octavious steel and all the gardens you have mentioned belonged to that group.i presume Mr William Rupert was employed by that company.

I will write about Chengmari more since I know it so well. We moved to chengmari tea garden in 2006. It is the biggest tea garden in Asia.producing 3.3 million kgs of tea.  Chengmari has changed many hands since Mr William Rupert's time. Presently it is owned by mr Raj Khejriwal.

Chengmari t g falls under nagrakata disstt.  It is a beautiful garden on foothills of Himalaya Surrounded by Himalayan mountain ranges. 

There use to be a cemetery near  nagrakata  club. Over the period of time it has just got lost due to new houses coming up.. few graves that I could find had no tomb stones left.and  Few  were completely covered by wild growth. I managed to clean one and will love to reach this to the family someday. Sending you some pictures of the graveyard.

I would have loved to meet your grandmother to exchange notes .... her time at chengmari to mine. I can assure you of one thing that not much has changed , time stands still here. With only difference of  Internet and television.....if you ever plan to visit India you are most welcome to be our guest at chengmari.

 Even if I cant find much about your grandfather  and where he is buried  (like so many tea planters of that time).....they all still live in our hearts... looking forward to hear from you more about your grand parents.

Best wishes

Priti parmar


Chengmari Bungalow

Chengmari During Monsoon

Chengmari Manager's Bungalow

Church at Nagrakata



Nagrakata Graveyard

Tea Garden

Unmarked Grave

Unmarked Grave

Unmarked Grave


September7 2011

Tilted table



Back in the days, most of the carpenters in the tea gardens were of Chinese descent. They were well-known for their craftsmanship and skill. Their mastery was such that the pieces which have remained today are treasured pieces of art. They never used metal nails in their work  instead their nails were crafted out of bamboos. They did the varnishing so painstakingly that it was days before it dried and probably a century before it wore off. Regrettably, most of the furniture from that era has been lost to the Golden Handshake- a practice prevalent in the tea life. In those days, when a manager retired he was allowed to take away from their bungalow as they pleased, a parting gift of sorts. By the time, we retired their was barely anything left of the era not even a Chinese carpenter! Personally, the closest I ever came to one was the carpenter Natai at Chengmari Tea Garden.

 When we first moved to Chengmari, I felt my whole world go topsy-turvy. We had previously been in one organization for close to thirty long years, long years of making it our way of life. This move bought with it a lot of adapting right from the change of house. We moved into a bungalow which must have a hundred years behind it, encouraged by its vintage I was hopeful of finding some relics of the bygone Chinese carpenter era. But to my dismay, little remained and what did was repaired by such amateur hands that it took away all its vintage and beauty, worse still, the tables were repaired with their angles skewed to a comical capacity. So, then came along the very  old carpenter Natai. He came from a family which had supplied the tea garden carpenters for generation. Although, he had retired he was summoned back because of his prowess and skill. 

Natai suggested that instead of altogether changing the four legs of the lopsided table, it would be a better idea if few inches of the longer legs were shaved off to make them equal. This being the easiest and quickest option available I gave the green signal. And with a few short hours he was done, and I was asked to inspect it.The table in question, was not only shaved of  a few inches it was shaved up enough to get it tilted at the other angle. Frustrated I called Natai, one look at him explained it all.. and I realized it would be futile to ask him to correct it, before me was frail old man immaculately dressed in khaki shorts and a crisp white shirt which had been washed to sparkle. His body tilted at one side with age and weight of a hard life he had seen. His manner was English. He pushed a bottle of Old Monk rum neatly gift-wrapped in a newspaper, "Good Morning Madam. I'm carpenter Natai, I am the forth generation of carpenter from my family. I joined Chengmari as a young lad in 1940, when Chengmari Tea Garden had a British Bara Sahab and five Chinese carpenters, my father and me assisted them and learnt a lot of carpentry from them." He said glowing with pride."When I was a young boy our country was fighting for its independence from the British. We would chant that the British should get out and give us our freedom. And today as I open the newspaper I read about the corruption in our country, and I am so angry. I want to once again say get out Prime Minister, we want an honest country,  we can not just give up Madam.

 I have given Sahab an application requesting for loan, it has been two years and his reply is still to come. I'm growing old and can't move about fast. So I want the loan to buy myself a scooter, it will save me lots of time."

I looked at my tilted table and my problem looked so frivolous, so minuscule. Natai had bigger problems to deal with, he was concerned with straightening up the political system.

Ironically, in this crooked world there is a man still thinking straight.


P.S. I have overcome the problem of the skewed tables by putting wades of paper under the legs to adjust it.

 October 5,2010


Carron Bunglow the very name seems to be a place out of a romantic
novel. Surroundings  of the bungalow do full justice to this name.
  Carron Bungalow gets its name from river Carron which flows through the Tea Garden.  Carron river originates from Bhutan where it is locally known as Chungpatan.  Carron river serves as natural boundary to the garden on the eastern side  and beyond the river is where I live in a Tea Garden called Chengmari

Carron bara bungalow

One fine September afternoon we decided to pay a friendly visit to Carron. As our vehicle approached Carron, a stark white cloud of Egrets lifted  gracefuly above us ascending the rolling greens of tea and then vanishing in to the horizon.

We passed by quaint labour lines where the only movement apart from our vehicle was the water stream flowing through the labour lines.  The serenity of this place is almost meditative .  On reaching the locked gates of Bara Bungalow I was stunned by the colonial beauty fringed with profusely flowering Bougainvillea. It must be one of the prettiest bungalow in dooars.

One side of the bungalow is surrounded by tall trees and some more
bougainvillea spilling color on its landscape. The garden in front of the bungalow simply ends in to a drop of 50-60fts to  the flowing river Carron.

 Like most Tea Bungalows this too is going through its share of neglect.  Presently no one occupies it but Nature has not abandoned it, still the spring returns punctually.The Earth produces its own glory, the riots of color from the flora and fauna around celebrate its
beauty .  An old mali possessively guards it.  Although aged and weary, his clothes tattered but his hope very much intact as he religiously tends to his garden and plants flower seedlings for  the next season.


June 14, 2010

This is the gazebo at Bagracote bara bungalow. It was designed by my dearest friend the Late Neelam Kumar.

Those were the days when we were consumed by the passions of gardening.  Neelam would spend lots of her time landscaping it and soon the garden took shape of this lovely sight.

Casuarinas' trees fringing the gazebo gave it a lovely grey-green backdrop, The winding path leading to the gazebo was paved with round boulders carefully chosen from the river bed.

The path was lined with rows of croques Lillis which have a whimsical way of suddenly bursting in to pink and white bloom.

It always reminds me of  joy that you get when a dear one drops by unannounced, and full of surprise! .

That's exactly what we would do ever so often by dropping by at each other's place for cup of Tea and Chinwag.

On the left side of gazebo is a bottle brush tree when in bloom, its branches laden with red furry bloom sweep down to ground as if in homage to nature .

On the right side of this gazebo is a Lily pond. A white wrought-iron garden bench sits pretty under a majestic araucaria pine.  Here we spent many a winter afternoons sipping beer playing croquet
and mapping about our retirement plans.

Some afternoons we would sit here over Tea sharing gossips our secrets, hopes, joys and sorrows.

Later when Neelam took ill and lost her speech. We could not talk like we had before but in this garden in a silent way,

We still communicated in a manner that only we could understand. Thus, this site has been a witness to a significant part of my life, Time has taken my friend away, but this place is where I can still hold internal monologues with my friend,

It speaks of her through our remembrances.

Painting this has been like an emotional conversation with my friend.


August 7 2009
Priti has sent us this write up together with her painting of a Tea Garden in the Dooars.

The write up incident took place some thirty years ago and Priti makes the comment that things have changed a lot since then, and she misses the simple life of tea

Retired Munshi Sumra Uraon

Whenever I think of retirement picture of a very old couple floats in my mind. Way back in the 1980's I was new to the tea gardens .It was one of those terrible monsoon days in June when rain had turned the whole world into liquid turmoil. Rain along with the furious wind was lashing so hard that it felt that at any moment the walls around me would collapse. Adding to this was thundering noise of rain falling on the tin roof- it felt that at any moment the roof would let go. Much in contrast to the tender concept of pitter-patter rain drops ... Confused and scared I couldn't decide whether it was safe to remain indoors or out ...hailing from deserts of Rajsthan...

Rain was something I was used to reading about but never experiencing.

 Dark Monsoon clouds had blocked the sun completely. With no electricity the house had seemed dark and gloomy. I decided to go out on the verandah where still there was some light. As I stepped out I noticed two figures Completely drenched and shivering huddled up under a tattered umbrella that hardly sheltered them from rain. I called for the Bearer. Practicing my new found authority as Chai Bagan Memsab, to enquire who they were and how dare they enter the bungalow without permission...but before bearer could respond to my call I saw them walking towards me now completely exposed to rain as they removed umbrella as per the Chai Bagan decorum. A thin tall old man in a  white shirt and khaki shorts and a frail old woman in a worn out white sari with her head bowed clutching to a bundle tightly as they reached verandah man took off his chappal while the bare foot woman stood there shivering with her head bowed. The Man folded his hand and in English introduced himself,  "Good Afternoon, Memsahib! I am Munshi Sumra Uraon and this is my Buriya (wife) I have recently retired from this garden and now am moving back to my village. But before I leave my wife wanted to see a memsaab she has never seen one and will never have a chance to see one once I shift back to my village.. With this he nudged his wife who walked up to me putting her bundle down. With both her hands she held mine and smiled at me before lowering her eyes again. Herhand wrinkled and rough with years of plucking tea leaf, I didn't know at that time I was clasping in my hand an era of tea garden workers which is fast vanishing. Last reminisces of Britishpala. Old woman then slowly like a ceremony opened that bundle and offered it to me it had some rice a bottle of hariya( local rice beer) and a chicken, A parting gift for us . She looked at her husband and in Adivasi language said something with a shy smile. Which was an compliment that old man translated to me, she said our saab must have paid lots of money for her but he has chosen a right strong woman for a wife.


 Once again they both held my hand in theirs with lots of respect and said their goodbye. Without looking back they walked away slowly huddled under one umbrella with dignity that is so typical of an adivasi from that era.

 I often wonder if I came up to their image of a memsaab or not

It is time for us to retire now and how I wish I could hold Munshi Sumra Uraon and his buriya's hand and tell them that one last time I want to see that era of workers with such simple dignity and generosity, because I know once I go back to my city I will never have a chance to meet such people


This is the painting by Priti and we thank her for sharing her talents with us


July 23 2009

A big thank you to Priti and Devendra Singh Parmar for all their hard efforts to bring us this very interesting piece of history to light. 

at Nagrakata Club

 We are indebted to Priti and Devandra Parmar who has found this old monument close to the Nagrakata club in the Dooars

Priti says it was covered by over growth, lost and forgotten as it stands at Nagrakata club for almost 9 decades. Priti also tells us that she has spent 30 years in Dooars and never noticed it. Nor has anybody ever mentioned it. 

One more case of forgotten war heroes 
Heroes who acted above 
the call of duty and in doing so gave definition 
to patriotism and elevated all of us.

 Priti went to the trouble and using her already proven painting skills  hand traced  the words etched on copper plate barely readable on all four sides, and I quote Priti;

 I am awestruck as I read on. It says...

In affectionate memory of Dooars planters
Who fell in the Great War
Their name liveth for evermore
This memorial is erected by their brother planters




Those of the Great War



O.R.Ilberry-asst: Octavius Steel garden Nya Sylee T E, 1912.  

Chas Erisch- asst Ranicherra TE 1912 

W.F.Jackson –Mgr of Baintguri T E 1909

J.Tyson-Tyson.-asst with Chalsa Tea Co 1895-was Mgr of Phaskowa T E 1909

A.P.Selwyn – is listed in the 1915 Directory as being a 2ndLieut, 11thHussars. 

E.W.Keen-Asst:Bagracote T E 1917.

I.J.Ashforth-Asst:Nowera Nuddy T E 1912



J.G.S. Mitchell- Mgr Dhullapadaung T E .Empire of India Tea Co Gillanders 1934. 

D.L.Sheldon-asst Dalmore Divn-Nedeem Tea C0-Birpara-Dooars-1939. 

H.T.Stores-asst on Tasati TE 1936

A.Stourton- asst on Zurrantee TE 1932 – Chalso Tea Co: Yong Tong TE 1939

A.M.Thomson-asst on Ghatia TE 1936-asst on Nagrakata TE 1939.

K.A.Young- (R)A. Young asst Good Hope Divn-Empire of India Tea Co 1939 


D.E.M. Cook-asst: Bharnobari T.E. : Hasimara Tea Co: Hasimara 1940

R.M.Crichton:  no details found.

G.B.Featherstone- asst: Hingrijan: Moran P.O. 1939.

J.G.Gilmour- asst: Meenglas Tea Co., 1940/41.

P.Percy-Lancaster*-asst Gairkhata T.E. 1939/40.

J.Littlejohn- Northern Dooars Tea Co-Binnaguri T.E. 1936 

J.S.MacKenzie-asst: Nowera Naddy 1939/40.


*The Percy-Lancaster family had a long association with India and were heavily involved with the the ‘Agricultural & Horticultural Society’ which was started by the Baptist Missionary William Carey in 1820.

Sydney Percy-Lancaster was born at Meerut and his life’s work was at the Agri Horticultural Society. He had a great interest in Cannas and was the leading authority on the selection and hybridization of them, many of which bear the Percy-Lancaster name.


Above is Priti's husband Devendra Singh Parmar 
who helped Priti so much with this project and we thank them both 

Priti would like to dedicate this poem to the fallen

Carole Mathys



       He slumps head down

in a doorway

forlorn, weary and ill

His moment of glory forgotten

in a foreign battle upon a hill

The shadows of memories linger on

in the ghosts of buddies

who lay slaughtered and dead

   He is filled with regrets

for things he left unsaid

On that day valiantly he fired

trying to save his stricken friends

until only he survived

Now the nightmares never end

and the country he defended

soon forgot him

just another vagrant, they all say

and nobody even remembers

that they called him

a hero that day
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Being in the Dooars has its own esoteric charm, one being the stunning view of snow capped kunchanjunga mountain ranges. On a clear crisp winter morning, you view it from almost every corner, bluish-purple hills melting into the parent Himalayas. It is for such a picturesque sight that people flock to Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Darjeeling.

But in the indolent district of the Dooars, this scenery is so merged with the daily humdrum of existence, that at times we forget, we forget to appreciate it. But ever so often, in the bliss of solitude a passing glance through my windows leaves me awe-struck, such beauty cannot go unnoticed for long. Our Tea Garden, Chengmari, lies at the lap of the Bhutan hills.

 Bhutan is an enchanting kingdom that seems like a land time has forgotten, known to the natives as Druk Yul (Land of the Thunder Dragon), it is regarded as the last paradise on earth. Its isolation, spectacular mountains, varied flora and fauna, ancient Buddhist monasteries, vibrant culture and mystic aura have made it so.


 As u enter Bhutan u are greeted with fluttering prayer flags. These prayer flags are woodblock printed with mantras, prayers and images onto colorful cotton squares. The central image is of the Wind Horse bearing the flaming jewel of Buddhist enlightenment. At the corners are images of the Garuda, Dragon, Snow Lion and Tiger representing wisdom, gentle power, fearless joy and confidence.

The five traditional colours of the flags represent the five elements and the five Buddha families. Blue is for space, white for wind and air, red for fire, green for water and yellow for earth.

It is believed that when you Hang these flags where the breeze can blow through them, Wind Horse will carry the prayers and blessings for peace, compassion and wisdom to all beings.

 -Prayer flags

 Another most visible sites on Bhutanese landscape are Chortens or stupas. You can find these religious structures on mountains, hillocks, passes, cross-roads and river banks. Often known as burial mounds, chortens are built in memories of eminent lamas, kings or to pin down evil spirits. They are also built to protect a place or a region against evil spirits which are potentially dangerous; such as crossroads and high passes as well as landslide and accident prone areas.


I have endeavored to capture its beauty. I endeavored to pen it but failed to summon the apt words, I was awe-inspired but too struck!

 I clicked pictures but no one frame could capture the essence of all its dimensions.

I endeavored to paint, tried and tried to get the precise shade of the blue hues of the mountains, but even though I painted its heart, I realized that the soul could never be caught, it's a life force which has to be encountered first hand, and this is the mantra of travel, you have to see it with your own eyes, feel its lilting winds on your own face,  but as you want to touch it, its just a mirage, it quivers into a million fragments, it can just be a piece of the very essence.

Here I am with few of my paintings inspired by Bhutan landscape    

Terraced rice field


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December 24 2008


I am Jali kamara Although I am just a part of veranda which is covered with mosquito mash to keep all kind of insects out.

 I am such an integral part of a tea bungalow that no other room can compare to me. Officially I belong to Saab but emotionally its Memsaab that I bond with.  I have shared all ups and downs. joys and sorrows of  her life in tea. I am like an unsung hero. Not grand enough like a drawing room to be flaunted nor shabby like a store room to be locked up, I'm somewhere in between .That's why this need to talk about myself.

Years back when Saab joined tea as a chokra Saab. He never noticed me.

No one ever cleaned me I almost didn't exist. It took Saab almost 6 months to notice me. Soon I had few dumbles and weight lifting equipments adorning me .Saab visited me every now and then to exercise. Some evenings or Sunday mornings, as  time went by he started to have his friends coming over and I started to acquire empty beer and rum bottles and also stacks of old news papers and tea journals. While interesting colorful foreign magazines were kept under saabs mattress for some reason..

Soon Saab got married and Memsaab joined him. That didn't change my life much as they preferred indoors.

Time went by till one hot sultry morning my doors were flung open so violently and urgently it almost came off the  hinges. Memsaab for the first time walked into my world changing it for ever.

She deeply inhaled the fresh air and ordered a chair. She sat slumped in it and dozed off . I was ashamed of my clogged wire mesh which didn't allow much needed fresh air to her. Next very day I was cleaned and few comfortable lounge chairs were put .Memsaab now spent more and more time moodily slumped in one of those chairs. Days and months went by and there came a time when Memsaab just vanished from my life till one fine day I heard cries of a new born baby and Memsaab's cooing. Then one rainy night few baby nappies were put on a stand to dry. I tried hard to block the rain water and allowed air to let the nappies dry quickly .


It was not long that I was visited by Memsaab once again. This  time with her bundle of joy in a pram. She would catch up with her sleep after singing lullabies to the baby which strangely made her sleep faster than the baby. Now the time was flying, as the baby started to grow I started to acquire more and more. There were toys, a little tricycle, a doll house.

 I made sure to keep all  the creepies and crawlies at bay. I turned myself in to a safe playpen...rugs were spread out, crayon's were scattered, a small blackboard was bought in ..I had a full life now ... another baby arrived and soon I was divided in to two distinct parts one that had toys and pram for little baby other that had a little writing table chair and colorful books for Burra Baba Memsaab being the LOC between the two territories . It seemed that I was divided in to two time zones NOW AND THEN. Often brawls would break down whenever baba log tried to cross the line. Both parties found the other side of  the fence greener. Memsaab stood between them like a UN peace keeping force .Memsaab sat with a basket full of colorful wool, knitting little booties, humming songs and keeping an eye on Maali's and Baba log. While one played  the other learned to write alphabets. Preparing for boarding school. From my side I tried to provide them an unobstructed view of the garden bloom. Before I could even get use to this domestic bliss one by one both the babies had turned in to baba log and were packed off to a boarding school...cutting short my perfect existence .

I can never forget the day when a heavy black tin box with Baba's name and address painted on it was placed here with a list stuck on to it -

 7 pairs of uniform

5 pairs of night suits

12 sets of under pants and vests,

 3 sets of bed sheets

1 kit bag

1 pair of slippers etc ..

I still carry the weight of that black tin box in my heart.

Once again it was Memsaab and me. Memsaab again started to slump in that chair puffy eyed looking around vacantly. Breaking into sobs. I tried  helplessly to comfort her by  bringing in a fresh breeze laced with the heady fragrance of Petunias. Trying to offer to her the perfect view of  the garden .I could empathize with her pain as deeply...

Baba log came for holidays but there was nothing I could do to keep them in with me ..They played outside the whole day long, Trying to learn cycling or playing outdoor games....I was proud and sad at the same time to see that they were no longer scared of insects. Infect, now catching insects had become a game they loved a lot. They no longer needed me to protect them from the creepies and crawlies...

 Just when I had reconciled to my fate, I had a surprise visit by team of people who walked in and my old decaying wire mesh was changed with a new one ,a new coat of rust proof paint was applied,  the Floor was polished. How I hated it when they wiped it clean removing all traces of crayon marks and baba's scribbles of alphabets on  the walls .As if that was not bad enough they painted the walls, I will never forgive the painters for painting the wall where Memsaab had marked a record of baba log ka height marking it with a pencil, writing their names and date next to it.

  A nice fluffy carpet was rolled out, new wrought iron furniture was ordered from Calcutta, a well equipped and small bar was put in the corner where saab use to collect empty rum and beer bottles. Life had changed for memsaab and me.

People had started addressing Memsaab as Burra Memsaab and me as  wire room! .She had changed. She talked differently and walked with authority.. Still whenever we were alone she was my old sweet vulnerable Memsaab. I loved it the most  when Baba log's letters arrived .she read out baba's letters to saab over their evening cup of tea, while Saab listened to it I looked at Memsaab's face and the many emotions fleeting across it, a suppressed sob here, a chuckle there.The Worried look in her eyes and the way she cocked her head with pride.  But I hated it when Saab read out letters from the Calcutta head office to Memsaab. They invariably spoiled a perfect evening, making saab use so much of swear language that the flowers almost wilted in shock!

Years went by, to me Maalis planting Zenia and Portulaca meant summer and  planting Cinerarias and Ladies Lace indicated winter. Life was a routine but not all that simple. I had alot of visitors, fancy breakfasts being served to  the Company Saabs. Coffee Mornings for a Memsaab's friends,
Chilled Bloody Mary and Screwdriver Cocktails being sipped over intellectual discussions. But at the Middle of all this I felt hollow and empty. Till one day my doors were flung open.(Well they don't creek any more)

I was taken aback and had a sense of deja vu as Baby walked in looking just like Memsaab when she was younger and had walked into my world. she looked around me approvingly and lazily plonked herself on a chair opening a romantic Mills & Boons. My heart went in to an over drive bringing in all the breeze that I could, borrowing the fragrance of a single bloom of a faraway Magnolia tree. I wanted to make that moment as romantic to her as her book could. That bought a strange dreamy look in Baby's eyes and a sweet smile on her face. I wanted to freeze this moment forever. At that very point Baba barged in shattering it rudely   with his dirty muddy shoes he snatched the book and with that  the dreamy look from Baby's eyes. What followed it was a total chaos with Baby bursting into tears. Memsaab was annoyed with this squabble and horrified to see mud all over her carpet. Baba was confused not knowing what wrong he had done. But I was not complaining. I was just too happy to have them all there...just like before.

As Time goes by I don't get to hear much about Baba and Baby. Memsaab neither writes to them sitting in the jaliroom nor she does reads out letters to Saab any more. I believe she does this in her room on her computer. Baba log have started working and don't get to come home often. Memsaab still sits here ....Maalis are well trained she doesn't need to keep an eye on them from here any more..

Very few people come over now a days and when they come they just keep complaining about it being either too cold or too hot for them. They prefer to sit indoors with air-conditioning on. The well- stacked Bar in my corner stands neglected most visitors have stopped drinking. I often wonder whether these the very same men who had once created a little mountain in this very corner with a pile of empty beer cans and Old monk rum..

End of the day once again its Memsaab and me with the feeling of fulfillment.

Lonely  yet happy. Our journey has been so similar that's why I trusted her to pen my story
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 December 22 2008

Janak Sir and Moonee Bungalow

Janak Sir was the man who lit up my world, literally... since he was the only one who could start the ancient engine, which supplied my bungalow - Moonee Bungalow -- with electricity. This earned him the awe of people around him and thus the name Janak Sir...Otherwise, his name on the tea garden register said Janak Sahay.

I wont be able to describe how he looked as I never saw him clearly .He  was always covered with mobile and grease making him look like a moving, talking shadow. He was of average height and frail body. He mostly made his presence felt around dusk time, as my house slowly would start vanishing in darkness. I, a new bride would wait for Janak Sir as anxiously as I would wait for my husband. He walked in with an air of importance and urgency .There would be hushed silence as he would start his work in engine room which to me felt like some mystic cult practice After lots of clanking and thumping noises from the dark engine room, the engine used to start with a roar of a sick and old lion provoked, grudgingly allowing my house with limpid yellow light precisely for an hour and a half and then crash back to deep slumber till next dusk. In that hour and a half cook finished cooking, and if luck was on our side and my husband managed to get home in time we would be treated with visuals of our dinner. Thanks to that light I discovered that our cook not only managed to make every thing taste the same but even look the same.

After starting the engine Janak Sir never forgot to come and do his salaam to me. Sometimes if in good mood he even shared his most cherished dream with us, and that was to collect enough money to get married some day. Though he had a wife and five kids he wasn't legally married to her. Every time he managed to collect money, he would instead get tempted to go in to his drinking binge blowing all his savings, leaving his woman, children and my house in gloom.
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Bungalow at Makrapara

  One of the most special features of tea gardens is their beautiful bungalows. Most bungalows even have names of their own.  Names, which have interesting stories behind them ...most of which are lost today. When I look back at our time in tea, it is never by date or years but by the bungalow that we occupied at that time...it is always like .. 'We got married when we were in Moonee bungalow'... 'We had our daughter when we were in Sarani bungalow..'

Each bungalow brings back loads of memories.

I often wonder only if they could what  stories these bungalows can tell ...how they got their names...

What all went on behind those polished teak wood doors..

Recently I came across one such bungalow  at Makrapara Tea Garden, abandoned and being used as a godown..

 Years of neglect and decay have made this bungalow slightly tilted on one side, giving it a haunted look. Mesmerized I stood in front of it..Waiting for ghosts of yore to come out ...a little girl in pink frilly frock shrieking with delight. Running after her ayah didi.. Or a little boy learning to ride a bicycle with help of Mali daju..

...Memsab admiring riots of color in her winter garden...Saab's jeep parked in porch ...but none of my imaginary ghosts appeared to me...my heart cried as it always does whenever I see a neglected tea bungalow. It feels as if someone is cruelly trying to erase a well written story.

This bungalow is testimony of current hard times faced by  the Dooars tea industry...

Knowing that I can do very little to save these master pieces of time gone by I have started saving them in the only way that I know and that is on my canvas. I know I can never do justice to their beauty ...but I try...
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