Phil Bayley

 November 2011

This page is dedicated to the writings and memories of Phil Bayley
Below are listed the stories please click on the name to go to the story
Thank You Mr Bayley

1962 and the Evacuation

Catering for a Cricket Match

The Phillobari Acting 1962

Acting in 1960/61

Two Letters hoarded by Phil and Jennifer

Actings in the 60's ( 1 )

An Acting in 1960

Tingri in the 50's

My First Year in Tea -- 1952

An Unusual Assistant

Tea for Two

Tales of Tony Torrance

Request Letter

Typical young Assistant of the Fifties

Benefits at Christmas


Railway Complaints

Unusual Garden Correspondence

Unusual Medical matters

Factory Latrine

Extra Responsibilities--Acting Managers

Labrador & the Dachsund

Bishnauth/Mangaldai Cricket  1983

The Rhino and the Tractor driver

Security Systems

The Assistant and the Tiger

The CMO and the Boxer dog

Planters and their Aunties

Jerry and the Fishing Club

The Dhobi and the Dr Babu

March 21 2013

A great story from Phil Bayley which I asked him if he would allow me to share it on the web site for all of you to enjoy

Phil has several Acting Management stories from his life in Assam but this time he is Acting School teacher !!


Dear David
A few weeks ago our local Village Primary School Class 3  ( 6 Year 
Olds ) were studying India for a week .  The vast subject included 
dressing up in clothes from various areas , Indian dance especially 
Bolliwood numbers also including famous land marks etc and even 
cooking of different dishes .  One of the mothers who knows me 
suggested to a teacher that I go up to the school one morning to talk 
about India and I was duly invited .  I spent a full hour talking to 
them about tea but they were very keen on the wild life and they were 
thrilled to hear about Ticks , Leeches , " Bijli Prasad " the company 
elephant . Snakes and Anti Venom , Rabies and the eight jabs in the 
stomach for it , Leopards and the Mijicajan Maneater .   Since then 
many mothers have come to me and said how much their daughter or son 
had enjoyed the talk . Actually I thought I would be accused of 
causing the children to have nightmares !!!

Recently I got the card shown below from the children with the photo 
which I much appreciated ..

Burra Sallams .


Below is the card Phil received from his listeners


October 10 2012

1962 and the Evacuation

     After completing the Acting at Phillobari we were moved back to the senior assistant's bungalow at Bordubi . In October we decided that arrangements should be made to have our first born son Thomas baptized at the Margherita church and Padre Carpenter kindly agreed to take the service . In the meantime my brother Tom ( a bachelor ) who was to be a Godfather arranged to visit us on leave from Cameroon in West Africa , but unfortunately had no inkling of the China / India problem that was developing . Senior planters in the District arranged to have a meeting to discuss what should be done in the event of a serious conflagration on the India / China disputed border . Our superintendent Coomber came back with some proposals which had been decided on . The first was that each bungalow should keep a jerry can of petrol and packed suitcases in our spare room ready for instant departure but not to tell the servants why as the labour force might panic if informed in advance !!!!!  We were not impressed !!!

 Secondly it was decided that women and children should be evacuated  in late October to Shillong and arrangements had been made for them to be accommodated at the Pinewood Hotel . The idea was that one driver from each estate in the district would take the ladies and children by car to meet up at Joe Lys's bungalow with others before proceeding as far as Misa Club where we would rally with others with the intention of reaching the Jorabad gate to Shillong before it was closed in the late afternoon . Coomber decided that he would provide his American Dodge car for this trip and requested me to drive my wife Jennifer and son together with Marjorie Baxter-Brown and her son Alexander .  Marjorie was 9 months pregnant  and  Jennifer was considered qualified enough to help with delivery if it happened on the way .  I must say we made very good time down to Misa Club but then found that other cars were arriving in dribs and drabs instead of a continuous convoy . Frustrated that the delay might mean that we would miss the last Jorabad Gate to Shillong we carried on and later found we were the only car to reach Shillong that evening .  

The others had to drive through to Gauhati where the Steamer Navigation Co. Ltd put them up until they caught the gate next morning  . Luckily Marjorie did not have the baby on the way . I left Shillong next morning and arrived back at  Bordubi at 7.30 pm to find  a whole gaggle of planters with my brother Tom at my bungalow all of whom were anxious of news about the evacuation which had been badly organized all round but lessons were learnt for the real evacuation later on . While I was away Coomber instructed my brother to use my cycle to ride round the tea areas as though on
" kamjari " !!!!  
We decided to carry on with the arrangements which had already been made and our sons baptism duly took place on 15th November despite the bad news coming through about the India / China fighting . The party afterwards in our bungalow was quite a " thrash " .  

On the 21st November it was decided that all women and children would be evacuated by the Indian Air Force .

The London Agents , George Williamson & Co. requested my wife to write a report after she arrived in the UK and I append below the draft of the actual letter that my wife wrote

Dear Sirs,
             On Tuesday evening , 20th November 1962 at approx 7.00 pm Mr G Simpson of Koomsong T. E. and Mr J. Brown of Phillobari T. E. arrived at our bungalow .  Mr Simpson said that , as Mr R.B. Coomber was away on local leave in Shillong , he had been asked to go to a meeting in Doom Dooma in connection with the local situation regarding the Sino- Indian border fighting. During the meeting the managers from Budlabeta T . E. ,Bokpara T. E. and Tonganagoan T. E. had arrived . At approx. 9.00 pm Mr Simpson returned from the meeting and gave us all the information regarding the evacuation of the area .

This was to be in three phases :-
A .  Women with children .  B .  Women .  C . Men .   We were told that phase A and probably phase B would be evacuated by the Indian Air Force the following day ie., Wed . 21st November .

We were to be ready to leave the bungalow by 8.30 am to drive to Panitola Club , and would be allowed 40 lbs luggage each person , 20 lbs per child and proportionately less for babies . Enough food for 3 days to be carried by each person . At 3.30 am on 21st Nov. one of the assisstants from Doom Dooma Tea Co. Ltd. came with a message that we should leave immediately and go by road to Gauhati . My husband said he would wait for confirmation from Mr Simpson who came at 4.30 am on his way to Doom Dooma to try to find out what was happening .  At 5.30 am Mr Simpson returned and said we should be on our way as everyone else had left already . It had been arranged that Mrs Simpson and I , with our children , should travel in the same car and at approx. 6.45 am they arrived and we left Bordubi at about 7.00 am to go to Raidang T. E. for further instructions . En route we met Mr J. Wilson , manager of Longsoal T. E. and chairman of the Doom Dooma United Kingdom Citizens Associetion , who instructed us to go to Panitola Club and from there we would be sent to Chabua airfield .

At Panitola , Mrs Burton , the wife Of Dr Burton CMO Longsoal Hospital , issued each of us with a pack of medicines etc., containing Aspirin 10 tablets , Nivaquin 4 tablets ,  Enteravioform 25 tablets ,  Thalazole 30 tablets ,  2 Bandaid dressings ,  Gauze ,  Bandage .  A record was made of our arrival .  

Small convoys of approx. 30 people were sent every so often to Chabua airfield , and after a short wait we went there .There were several planes on the airfield waiting for us and the Indian Airforce organization was excellent . It seemed as if a plane took off every 15 minutes or so .  We had a very comfortable , uneventful non-stop flight to Calcutta where we were met by Mr Rikhye of W.M. & Co. Ltd. .  He had 2 cars to transport all wives from Doom Dooma and Tingri Districts into the BOAC offices where Mr Cameron was waiting to tell us where we had been allocated to stay for the night .

 Mrs Simpson and I shared a room at the BMIS Club which Mr Dawes of Mc Kinnon & Mackenzie kindly vacated for us , and he Mr Lumsdaine of WM's who also lived at the club did all they could to make us comfortable .

On Thursday , 22nd November we went into WM's offices where Miss Rose , Miss Lansdowne and Mr Carmen were very busy arranging Tax Clearance forms and booking flights to the UK .  A flight was booked for me by Quantas at 10.05 pm on Monday ,26th November arriving at 9.35 am Tuesday 27th November . I should like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was concerned  for the excellent arrangements which were made for our safety .

Yours faithfully,

Jennifer Bayley

On the 22nd November I got permission for my brother to also leave from Chabua airfield as he was only a tourist and needed to get back to his job in West Africa .  He later told my wife that he was allocated a place in an IAF dakota which was filling up with what looked like panicking  Marwari women and children all of whom were trying to load the plane with numerous heavy metal boxes of what we presume to be their valuables .  The IAF pilot was very strict and they eventually took off but were surprised to find only benches round the fuselage so that the children remained mainly on the floor .  Unfortunately the flight was very bumpy and it was not long before the cabin was awash with vomit .  Luckily my brother was invited into the cockpit and enjoyed the view of the Himalayas before landing at Barrackpore airfield . During this period managerial staff had been evacuated to Calcutta from the North Bank and other areas including Jorhat and  Misa District so I was very surprised to receive an order from John Morice on the 23rd November to go down to Misa  to temporarily take over Koliabar and Seconee Tea Estates until the managers returned from Calcutta .

My wife Jennifer has kept all the Airmail letters I wrote from 23rd November 1962 to 3rd January 1963 so my story for this period is extracted from my airletters to her in the UK . I drove my Fiat accompanied by my cook and dog Brandy together with necessities  for a 2 months stay if necessary . We reached the Seconee burra-bungalow in nearly 7 hours and I must say we were impressed with its size and its enormous front verandah . The acting manager had left during the emergency and taken the keys to the safe and filing cabinet !!!  

My air-letter of 24th then says :- 

Now , I was just settling down last evening for a very quiet letter writing splurge when who should turn up but a vanette containing John Hingston , Peter Baxter and 2 North Bank assistants on their way back to deliver 2 trunks each weighing 60 kilos containing 15 lacs of rupees to the North Bank estates for paying the labour .  They stayed the night here and how our cook managed for food etc., I don't know . Anyhow they told me you and Tom were safe and well in Calcutta .

On the 24th evening the temporary manager returned with the keys and I explained that the Keyah had been persuaded to provide the money for the workers wages in the meantime .   I packed up and left on the 25th afternoon but stopped off at Sangsua T. E. with Tony Mc Evoy and we went to see the Sunday film at Jorhat Club called " Honeymoon Machine "  which was a wasted experience as there were no females around .  On arrival at Bordubt I was informed that the 2nd Phase of the Evacuation would be " All Assistants " but this never took place . We presumed that , if the cease-fire was broken and the hostilities continued , we could make our way to the Lido road and on to Burma . Rightly or wrongly we were told that the Chinese front line was only 12 miles north of our district above the Brahmaputra .

September 26 2012

Phil has sent us a copy found by Jennifer of the catering for a cricket match of 50 years ago

Thanks Phil

Dear All

Yesterday Jennifer was looking for some information that I wanted for
the next story of the 1962 evacuation and found the original catering
list she made on the 27th November 1960 for a Tingri Club cricket
match which she was landed with as a junior " memsahib " . At that
time we were only married 6 months and it covered Lunch and Tea .
The column on the far right is for ten Puddings !!!!

August 25 2012


In the period we were on local leave in Gopalpur we missed the Retirement Party for three senior planters of Doom Dooma district . They were Ducat who was superintendent of the Doom Dooma Company , Harry Andrews of Koomsong and Hambleton of Phillobari . According to seniority each in turn was presented with a piece of silver and then asked to give a speech . Ducat's speech was the usual thank you . However Harry was not pleased to be leaving as he felt that WM's was forcing him to retire with bad health while he had current and future " boodhies " ( ideas ) for the factory still to be done . Nevertheless Harry was followed by Hambleton who said he was so looking forward to his retirement and the atmosphere was depressing for the rest of the evening . On arrival at Phillobari for the Acting we were soon to realize that Hambleton was a bit eccentric . For instance he started work in the morning at 6.00am GT (garden time) in a large armchair in the sitting room drinking his tea and must not in any way be disturbed . Further he made it clear that , if he received an invitation for dinner , the host had to have the dinner on the table by 7.00pm or he would get up and leave as he had strict bedtimes . The bungalow was of chung construction and the verandah mosquitoe netting was painted a dark green which restricted the light intensity as Mrs Hambleton hated strong light and spent most of her time back in the UK . It was said that she was of a large size and years before had got into the bath upstairs when the flooring , which was in poor condition , collapsed and she landed downstairs without injury grabbing a towel on the way to protect her modesty . It was said she insisted that a solid concrete bath covered with tiles should be made downstairs for her . A new bath was fitted upstairs and the tile bath used to wash their dogs when she wasn't there . During the take-over period I was instructed on how to maintain the bungalow garden and what should or should not be done on the estate . During our visit to the factory we entered the fermenting room which consisted of the old fashioned system of a series of rectangular beds on the floor which were all tiled . He pointed out a chart on a pillar in the centre of the room which showed that staff had checked for any abnormal smells other than the fermenting leaf . This he claimed he introduced as he had found on one occasion a strong perfume smell and , on investigation , it turned out that one of the workers had been using a hair-oil which he called " Eau De Tinsukia " . When the time came for Hambleton to leave he told me that he had advised all his staff including sirdars and chowkidars that his actual departure was the day after the day he was actually leaving as he did not want any fuss . I do not think he realized that bungalow servants are not good at keeping secrets and when we came to the office for the last time there was a large collection of sirdars and chowkidars awaiting his attention . Having no money on him he rushed into what was my office by then and grabbed all the pens and pencils which had accumulated over the years and doled them out as buckshees !!!!! As the new permanent manager had not as yet been agreed , it was decided that Coomber at Bordubi six miles down the road should supervise . An old Ex-army battery operated telephone system had been installed between the estates consisting of one telephone cable between Bordubi bungalow , Office , Factory and the Phillobari burra bungalow . These telephones had handles which you turned when you wanted to contact anyone and our bungalow was three rings . On many occasions we could listen to Coombers wife Paula ringing the Bordubi office at 6.00pm and later at 8.00pm with the words " Reggie , when are you coming for tea " . After our baby Tom was born we would sometimes remove the batteries in our phone so that the baby wasn't disturbed . The excuse was always that we didn't realize that the batteries were flat !!! It was shortly after the take-over that we found our eggs and chicken had a particularly bad taste and the food generally was like this and I needed to investigate . I suggested to our cook that he buy a chicken from the market , slaughter it and serve it that evening and it was delicious . It was then obvious that the hen house and surrounds were at fault and we were informed that the hen house inside & outside and surrounding land had been sprayed regularly with DDT . How we were not poisoned I don't know . During this Acting I noticed that the Green leaf to Tea made ratios were high despite the fact the weather had not been too wet . I was suspicious that some of the garden mohurirs ( clerks ) were either inflating the weight of leaf that some workers were picking or giving weights to workers who were actually not there . I decided to sit in when the leaf weighment took place and count the numbers of workers . It was amazing how quickly the ratios improved but it was then that I realized that the Jemadur Babu ( Head Garden Staff ) was in on the fraud as he arranged for workers to come out and complain that they were being cheated by green leaf being under weighed . Coomber came out and I explained what had been going on . He took the JB to one side and , as this man was shortly to retire , his pension could be affected by this trouble and it was amazing how quickly everything suddenly settled down . One of the usual problems in the factory was tea theft at night but this was unusual at Phillobari as the sweepings of fibre etc from the driers which landed on the roof at the rear of the factory were collected by thieves in gunny sacks with the help of elephants using their trunks to scale the fencing and place them on the roof and the elephants then carried the lot for sale in the local village bazaars . The factory roof and fencing were very close together adjacent to the Reserve jungle . One would think that getting rid of fibre etc would be useful but the government excise department expected every estate to have a certain % of Tea Waste which had to be destroyed under their supervision . The assistant & I tried hiding in nearby drains but we never managed to catch them . We suspected there were lookouts stationed near the bungalows , On completing the Acting we returned to Bordubi where we occupied the Senior Assistants bungalow and the Chinese invasion started . Now that is another story



 May 31 2012

Acting in 1961/62

I was just completing the handing over of Itakhooli to the permanent manager when the Visiting Agent John Morice arrived out of the blue to inform Jennifer and I that Harry Andrews at Koomsong Tea Estate had suffered a heart attack and we were to move there immediately for an Acting . Luckily we were semi packed but were a little apprehensive of the fact that the manager would remain in the burra-bungalow for the time being and we would occupy the assistanta bungalow in the tea area known as No. 2 side . Unfortunately our Australian sheep dog Kouss had been ill for a short time in Itakhooli and the Tinsukia vets had no idea what the illness was as they were trained only to deal with cows . As it turned out she developed St Vitas Dance and had to be put down . Unfortunately Colonel Thorne the Doom Dooms PMO was on home leave as we were advised that he knew more about animals than the local vets . On his return from leave he told us that Kouss had developed distemper and the advice by the Tinsukia vets to feed the bitch on mainly meat was completely the wrong thing to do . It was well known that Harry Andrews was an inventor which included the Andrews Tea Breaker and a horizontal leaf rolling machine which never worked satisfactorily . Over and above this I found that he had made his Sorting room completely automatic by the use of conveyor belts . The idea was that all stages of sifting , breaking and discharges from even the Arnott sorter could be carried to its destination by conveyor . The factory at that time was line shafting and drive belts to machines and conveyors so the complete sorting process came to a halt when just one belt or conveyor came off its pulley . When Harry was feeling much better I received a note to say he was going up the river for a holiday and that I should proceed to the burra bungalow for instructions . It was then that he showed me his very ancient dachshund and requested me as a favor if I could consult with the Doctor Babu to have the poor creature put down . He then departed up the river with a tractor loaded with his equipment and a large metal bath which had been unplumbed from the main bathroom and brought down from upstairs . The doctor babu duly arrived and suggested that the poor animal be placed in a large box and sealed shut after pouring a large quantity of chloroform over the contents . This did not work and I was forced to shoot the poor creature in the end . Unfortunately there was a lot of tea theft from the factory at night and it was always suspected that the Nepalese chowkidars were behind it and that they were in league with thieves from the area outside the estate called Kakopathar . Harry's solution to this problem was to arrange at least six to ten Munda workers , who he rated very highly , to be stationed on the top chungs of an old unused leafhouse situated outside the factory fencing across the road from the main gate who were to spy on the gate chowkidars . I don't recall them being very effective as I suspect they were all asleep and the tea disappeared over the fencing at the back of the factory . During my acting Harry was told by head office that his health was such that he should retire and on the day he left , as he passed the office on his way to the airport , stopped the car and enquired of me why I had never been to see him for any management advice since my arrival . I was forced to tell him the truth which was that the VA did not want him disturbed . During this acting Jennifer , who was pregnant with our first child , developed an inflamed appendix but had to wait till her 16th week of pregnancy when the operation could be more safely undertaken . Bill Burton at Longsoal Hospital did a brilliant job and our son Tom was born at the same hospital with no problems . However we were recommended to take our local leave of two weeks and we travelled down to stay at the Oberoi Hotel in Gopalpur where we met a group of German engineers building a steel mill and their leader was a very pleasant ex U-Boat captain but we were surprised to see the odd nazi salute in the evenings . On our return we moved to Bordubi estate for a short time before moving to Phillobari to do an Acting as the manager Hambleton was retiring . but that is another true story ,=




May 16 2012
Another letter from Phil and Jennifers hoardings

May 16 2012
Phil and Jennifer were going through some old papers they had hoarded away and  found the contents of an address to the James Warren bosses in 1961  as seen below

 January 31 2012

Another of Phil's amusing memories--thanks Phil


After completing my Acting at Romai Tea Estate I returned to Hoogrijan in Tingri district for the 1960/61 cold weather and occupied the old factory bungalow . Early in 1961 I was informed that  my next Acting would be at Itakhooli Tea Estate  for 6 months during the rains . My memories of Itakhooli were in the early 50's when the manager AP Walker was in charge . He was a very controversial man partly because he was a stiff taskmaster and his estate made the biggest profits when others were making losses and he rarely agreed to do what other managers wished to do at district managers meetings . It is well known that he was later  murdered by the garden labour . However while he was there I became very friendly with his factory assistant Derek Seston who came from Lincoln in the UK and had worked there in the Ruston & Hornsby workshops before coming out to Assam .  As a garden assistant I was free on Sundays to go out to the club and on many occasions I would pop over to Itakhooli to see him as he was in charge of the factory .  On those occasions I always had to stop my car at the factory as Derek knew it was very likely that the burra-mem would visit between eleven and one o'clock to see if he was at work .  On meeting us there she would always have an excuse for being there such as " Oh Derek I am one short of a pillowcase from the Dhobi this week -- You haven't got an extra one by mistake , have you ? "  or  " I was just taking a little walk and saw your car "     Actually the Walkers were a nice couple who invited  Derek & I for tea now and then . My wife and I duly spent the usual 6 days handing and taking over the estate and bungalow . We were told that major alterations were being done to the sitting room so we spent our 6 months in the " Jhelli-kamra ".  Over and above this it was clear to us that their head bearer was very much in charge and HE would have the godown keys etc .   Well ! Having seen the couple off we arrived back in the evening to find no head bearer . I then sent for him and he duly arrived very drunk after , no doubt , receiving hefty bukshees .  He  became threatening and belligerent so I sent him home and arranged that the line chowkidar ensured his presence at the office next morning .   At Itakhooli it was unusual in as much as the godown babu always dealt with all matters to do with the labour force so I placed before him my problem with the head bearer who was by this time sober and in a different frame of mind  .  We decided that a little cheel-hoeing would suit him better than the khushi life in the burra-bungalow and he was welcome to return to the burra-bungalow when the manager returned from leave . One of the new things I learnt at Itakhooli was that it had a tea seed-bari out side Makum Junction on the road to Doom Dooma and this seed was sold all round Assam .  I was not therefore surprised to find that a previously up-rooted section had been planted seed-at-stake .  Planting seed at stake in those days was always done on a triangle system before cuttings and hedge planting had started and each stake had three rooted tea seeds round it .   I am afraid this was not satisfactory and there were eventually many vacancies . We were pleased to receive a visit from the Italian RC priest Father Francis who always stayed at the bungalow and cycled to Itakhooli all the way from the Digboi area  . He had a beautiful tenor voice and claimed that his uncle had sung in opera at La Scala , Milan . Unfortunately one of his flock was in trouble who turned out to be the Khasi carpenter . He was rather fond of the local liquor and had turned his wife out of the house and she had nowhere else to go . I thought this was a problem that he could solve which he duly did and on his return to the bungalow told me the following " I threatened him that next time he is drunk I will come and beat him " . There were no further incidents that rains and it was at the end of the acting that the VA John Morice told me that I was urgently needed that cold weather to do an emergency acting at Koomsong Tea Estate .  Now that was another story which will be told later .=
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An Acting in 1960

After my Acting at Hoogrijan I was sent  home  to the UK for a 6 months Winter leave . As a bachelor I looked forward to the sea journey and also the Howrah to Bombay train journey with the stops at stations where one heard the seller of " PAAN TUMUL CIGARETTES " so  often . The boat home was the Anchor Lines " Circassia " which operated from Liverpool with Scottish officers . We had an unscheduled stop at Gibraltar  and  , on querying this with the Chief Purser , was told that the usual storms at that time of the year in the Med had not occurred and the passengers were eating too much !!  He was running out of provisions .
It was during a skying holiday in Austria that I met Jennifer and within two days had proposed . As my leave was nearly over , I requested the company for a two week extension which was sanctioned . This meant I met my wife for the first time and then married her in 5 and half weeks . Most of the honeymoon was on the P&O Chusan sailing back to Bombay .
In April 1960 I was sent  to do a 6 months acting at Romai T.E.  This estate is situated near Dibrugarh but very much in the bustee with only one road in and out and a large wooden bridge over the paddy lands which surrounded the tea area . The usual 6 days was taken for handing over and taking over the estate but the night before the bachelor manager was due to leave for UK there was a violent storm which had removed the fermenting room roof as well as roofs on some labour quarters . The Superintendent Mr Hannay was also traveling on leave in the same plane as the manager so I reported the problem only to be told      " I'm off on leave you deal with it young man " .  This problem was the precursor of quite a few other incidents that happened later  .
My young wife could not speak a word of the local language and found several problems in the chung bungalow . This started with the fridge which was kerosene burner operated and had not been cleaned for three years - especially the frozen compartment ! This necessitated the machine to be emptied and turned up side down for a period of time followed by refitting the burner which was a devil to get right .
Then a snakeskin was found under the bath but no snake was found and I wonder whether it had been deliberately placed there to scare the new memsahib . 
 On opening a tap in the bathroom she found bits of skin & bone lying in the basin . It transpired that the water tank had no cover so dead birds were falling in , and cleaning and a new cover was ordered .
A little later the septic tank overflowed into the mallibari and had to be cleaned out and repaired . I leave it to your imagination as to what caused the blockage .
One very hot evening my wife noticed little black spots on my legs and on investigation we found that all the rooms had fleas on the carpets and between the floor planks . We waited for a sunny day and had every curtain , carpet & piece of furniture put out on the lawn and washed . The poor jharroowallah brushed gammexane DDT between every floorboard . What a tamasha  !!! He deserved his buckshees !1
My assistant the late Hugh Chaliha had two Scottish terriers named Whisky and Soda and my wife and I were surprised one evening near the verandah stairs what appeared to be two Hihuahua's with large furry heads .Unfortunately the chot-bungalow was full of fleas also and he had arranged the nappit to shave the poor creatures with the object of tackling the problem but without success .
Bungalow electricity came from the factory and a large battery system which was of 120 volts capacity only . These batteries were in poor condition and when the factory was not running produced only 80 volts . When one went to bed you found the punkah going round sluggishly with no cooling benefit followed at 1 am with the whooshing of the punkah at full tilt when the factory started . A good way of waking me up for a visit to the factory . It was most frustrating to try out one of our wedding presents an electric coffee percolator only to find it was 240 volts .
One night we were woken up by a strong unpleasant smell coming through the floorboards in the bedroom . This bedroom was above a jhallikamra which had been made for keen tennis players to sit in as there was a tennis court on that side of the bungalow compound . This room had a ceiling and there was a gap between it and the floorboards above but the netting on one side was broken and bats had been using the gap for some time and a few had died decomposed there .
In mid-rains tension between the Assamese bustees and the Bengali bustees was building up and eventually the minority Bengalies were attacked and some men , women & children fled on to the estate and approached the burra bungalow where my poor wife ( with little knowledge of the language ) stood on the verandah in a panic wondering what was going on .  Eventually we had about 100 refugees camped out on or around a spare leaf chung . During this period  nothing could get in or out of the estate as the phone lines had been cut and the bridge damaged . Our ABITA secretary Bill Barkley tried to visit without success but eventually the army took over and everything quietened down . During the disturbances the labour force was adamant that nothing was going to allow plucking or manufacture to be affected and all workers came to work with dhows , bows & arrows kept beside their plucking baskets . An agreement was made that every worker would gather with their weapons if a signal of continuous sounding of the factory hooter took place .  I can assure you that we were very pleased to welcome the manager back that autumn and how my wife put up with her first six months in tea I do not know but it would have been even worse without her .=



 December 4 2011


In early 1953 I was transferred from Borbheel ( now part of Bargang ) in the North Bank to Hoogrijan ( now called Dirial ) in the Tingri district of South Bank .
This required me to pack up my few belongings into my trusty Ford Prefect and drive there ,  My route required me to catch a car ferry across the Bhorelli river  ( no bridge at that time ) to the ferry ghat at Tezpur .  This larger boat took passengers and cars to Silghat and from there I had to drive through Jorhat , Dibrugarh , Dikom , the Tinsukhia Railway gates to Hoogrijan .  On arrival I was told by the manager Bill L. that I would be working as factory assistant and occupy the small bungalow next to what is now the airfield .
The mallhi at the bungalow considered himself an expert with snakes and was always catching various types and showing them to me as I had told him I had kept snakes at Borbheel . One day he came to me and said he had found a cobra nest in the mallhibari in which there were 6 babies . As I had a chicken shed next to the cookhouse we put all six in it and fed them with various small suitable food .   When my mallhi was shortly after bitten by a large cobra and was saved by the anti-venom kept in the manager's fridge , I decided to get rid of them .
Shortly after I occupied the bungalow I was woken up one night by a loud noise which seemed to be coming from the spare room . On investigating this noise I found a man in rags covered in sores sitting on the stool next to the dressing table sprinkling talcum powder from a tin all over his body . My night chowkidar was , as usual , asleep on the back porch and had left the front verandah door unlocked . The poor sick man had been resident in the estate hospital and suffered from some type of leprosy which they were treating . 
My manager Bill L. enjoyed a drink and , being very popular on the estate , was quite often invited to the wedding of a sirdars daughter in the labour lines . It was considered expedient for me to accompany him as support and we were feted with rice wine  . He sat in his chair drinking while I danced with the girls which necessitated me putting my arms round their waists and doing a hokey-kokey type step . One only stopped dancing to have a large sip of rice-wine -  the rhythims  became hypnotic. Eventually it was necessary to get Bill L. home to bed while he was in a jolly mood .
Factory work required me in the rains to be at the factory by midnight and there were odd occasions when I received a message that Bill L. was stuck in a nullah on his way back from the club . At Tingri Club you drove on the road to the right past the tennis courts to go to Keyhung and on the road to the left of the football field to go to Hoogrijan . In Bill's case he drove centre and ended up in the nullah on one side of the main road . Luckily the more he was under the influence the slower he drove.  This was an opportunity for me to drive the tractor while the proper driver held the rope and  the car was towed back to the burra-bungalow with the boss asleep beside me . The Tingri Club was especially popular on Sundays when members came for a few beers followed by the inevitable Pink Gin supped from champagne type glasses . Then the golfers had the opportunity to complain of the narrowness of the fairways and excessive number of pathars and jungle where their balls always landed.  As the club was situated on part of Hoogrijan land , I used to take my Australian sheepdog " Kouss " round the course during non club days as he had been trained to fetch balls of any size . This was not pleasing to the argiwallah chokras who were expert at not finding your ball and then going back later to where they had hidden them . I suppose I was doing them out of an extra source of income . At one stage in the Club we had a very good jazz pianist member and  , with the addition of a tea box bass ,  we had some excellent jazz sessions . The pianist could also play South American rhythms so it was common for a line of conga dancers to start in the hall and climb over the bar , round the billiard room and back to the hall continuously .  There was the odd occasion when an older senior planter joined the queue to climb over the bar , collapsed on the other side and thought it time to go home .
As factory assistant I was required to attend the BIshwarkarma Pujah . The ceremony was held at the back of the factory where I sat and watched the sacrifices of goats , chickens etc.. and then the blessing of the machinery .  After all this I was easily persuaded to have some meetai and a drink . My small glass of a white liquid turned out to be " photica " made from molasses and after two small ones I decided I needed to go home quickly .
The main road from old Dirial (near Oil India Duliajan ) came through the bustees and  the factory compound between the tea-tasting office and the main office past the burra-bungalow to the main road .  On Thursday afternoons while I was tasting the current manufactured teas I noticed a lot of workers use to gather near the road as though waiting for something to pass .  Investigation produced the news that the burra-memsahib of Dirial rode her bicycle through the compound on her way to play tennis at Tingri Club .  It was actually the Acting manager's wife . He called her Pussy and she called him Puddy .  He was a bit fat and owned a large american car which she was not allowed to drive . Unfortunately Pussy rode her bike clad in tennis kit which included the shortest pair of shorts anyone had ever seen . No wonder the poor workers enjoyed the show . 
One of the things at Hoogrijan was that the workers and their families enjoyed the Durga Pujah very much as it was custom for there to be dancing by the Munda girls each night . There was no such thing as Bioscope in those days .   The manager Bill L. instructed me to keep an eye on things and the pujah pandal was close to my bungalow .  Munda dancers came from all over the place to dance and you could have 200 or so dancing arms round waste for hours at a time . The most important ingredient for good dancing was the rice-wine and the drummers were at their best with an extra ration .  Eventually it was decided that the company would provide the rice and " kulcies " for the brew .  Reliable workers provided  the other ingredients and the filled kulcies were stored in my spare room to foment in readiness for the pujah night . Regular inspection was done and the results were perfect .  As you can imagine I was persuaded to dance and I was always amazed that one could dance continuously for hours as though in a hypnotic trance .
In 1959 Bill l. recommended me for my first  6 months Acting which was at Hoogrijan thank goodness and on his return I went on leave to UK for six months . That meant the end of my bachelor days as it was in Austria skiing that I met and married my wife in 5 & half weeks and we are still together nearly 52years later .  Now that is another story .


 November 10 2011 

My first year in Tea -- 1952

After arriving in India as described in my story about Tony Torrance and attending the WM's office , I duly left for Assam in a Dakota bound for Tezpur airport . There to meet me was the senior assistant of Borbheel Tea Estate in the manager's car which was one of those Citroens with the gear change on the dash-board . Tony G. was a great guy and an excellent shikari . During our long drive to the estate he told me a little about the manager Henry S.  who he thought was a bit old fashioned and had a chip on his shoulder because his wife , after two children . was supposed to produce a third and instead produced triplets which he could not afford .

On arrival at Borbheel I was accommodated in the spare room at the burra bungalow until the only assistant's bungalow was vacated later by Tony G. on transfer . Henry S. told me he hoped that I would be better than two new assistants he had suffered a few years before  . one of whom had to be shipped home quickly as he insisted on wearing a heavy English overcoat during the monsoon season and the other was found by him hiding in a very deep nullah playing cards with the chokra challan .

The burra bungalow was of plinth construction and , just after my arrival , there was a great "howla" of Samp , Samp by the mahlis in the vicinity of the verandah but nothing was found until Henry S. and I walked into the sitting room . I remarked to him how much I admired the snake ornament on the shelf above the fireplace .  I have never seen anyone pick up his walking stick and despatch the cobra so fast .

That evening , before he went out to a friend for dinner , I was given a copy of MEMSAHIB's HINDUSTHANI and told to study it well as , after six months , I would be tested on my ability before he sanctioned a language bonus of 500 rupees . Later that evening I thought I would try out the book when ordering my dinner and said to the bearer " KHANNA TIYAR HAIN " . Unfortunately the bearer looked blank for awhile until suddenly saying " KHANNA TIRREE HAI ". 

After the first class meals on the boat coming out , I found the burra bungalow food tasty but mean in quantity as HS was living a frugal existence while his wife remained in the UK looking after the children . One day I mentioned this to Tony G. so he suggested I pop out the back window of my bedroom  at lie-back time and pop over to his bungalow for a second lunch . When he opened his Serval fridge it was stuffed with duck he had shot on the bheel lakes near the Brahmaputra . What a feast !!!! 

Tony G. was the kingpin in arranging the usual duck shoot for Mr OJ Roy when he visited from head office . Being the junior nignog my job was to collect the fallen duck which I did successfully but , during a lull in the firing , I decided to try to shoot some geese on the river bank with a borrowed .22 rifle . When the shoot ending whistle sounded I rushed back to collect the swag but I could not remember where I had hidden them . Consternation , thoughts of the sack came to mind but I eventually did find them . My lateness was overlooked in view of the numbers collected .

One day Henry S. asked me the awkward question regarding my feelings towards garden girls . I told him I had a girlfriend in the UK who I was engaged to so I was leading a celibate life . Unfortunately I received a " SORRY " letter a few years later but in the letter she asked if she could return the engagement ring so i arranged for my brother to collect it !!!   . Henry S was pleased but reminded me of the maxim " If you are going to have a fling with the girls , never S--T on your own doorstep " . A little later I was at the Behali Club ( now a roman catholic hospital ) talking to another young assistant who came out on the same boat as me . He was at Kettla Tea Estate under Pat Balfour . He said to me " Have you got your BEDSIDE DICTIONARY yet ? " . Under Pat B he was expected to select a suitable girl from the "chookri challan" who would stay at night to teach him the local language . What a life for some !!!!

When Tony G left on transfer I moved into his bungalow and was surprised to find the bedroom had no mosquito netting on the windows , but the actual beds were surrounded by mosquito netting with a door . A little latter I was glad of this as I found that an area between the cement floor and the wall had holes in it which were caused by a particular type of white ant . One morning I woke up to find six baby krait snakes slithering around the room and decided to keep them in one of those large battery jars which was spare . This worked as an experiment until one day I counted them and found only five there as the lid was not secure . Friends of mine were visiting and , after I told them about it , they were sitting nervously in the sitting room until they found an excuse to go . With the bearer I decided to do a thorough search by lifting off the loose covers on the arm chairs and there was the lost snake just underneath the cover my friend had been sitting on .

My salary at that time was Rs.400/- a month plus Rs.200/- a month dearness allowance so I was very keen to pass my language test after 6 months which I duly did . Luckily my parents instilled a frugal side in me , so I saved part of my salary every month rather than spending it at the club bar and in debt to the keyah .

After 6 months service I was entitled to a car with a company loan and I purchased a Ford Prefect . This meant I needed to drive to Tezpur for a driving test and I was surprised to find I had passed after driving only 100 yards outside the Law Courts . No reversing even !!!

In those days all workers received a variety of food rations when rice was the main diet and the government was encouraging them to eat chapattis . Dal , mustard oil , and kerosene were supplied once a week also and a variety of cloths . saris etc were  available . All this required supervision by an assistant but it was impossible to be at each selling point at the same time and I found this work boring in the extreme . No wonder my managers report to the manager of Hoogrijan on the South Bank was not glowing when I was transferred in early 1953 . Now that is another story .
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March 30th 2005

An Unusual Assistant

In 1971 I was transferred to Mijicajan T. E. where I was introduced to the garden assistant Mr Tojo Imlong and his wife Watila both of whom
came from Nagaland .It appears that Tojo had previously been an Instructor at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute at Darjeeling with Tenzing Norgay but had to resign with back trouble . It did not take me long to realize that this young man was ideal in field work even though he was of short stature . Especially after he offered my wife a 20ft long python as a pet for the bungalow .

After the cold weather visit of Mr Richard Magor it was decided that a very large drain needed to be dug to discourage Nepali villagers from encroaching into the northern boundary of the jungle area reserved for future tea extensions . Digging of this drain 10ft wide by 7ft deep was given on contract to " Nunias " who did an excellent job . It then became  standard practice for Tojo and me to visit the jungle area where we realized that considerable felling of trees had been going on for firewood purposes and this had to be stopped . Tojo never went on
kamjari with a walking stick - he preferred to have a large Naga knife ( 18inch blade with 12inch handle } resting on his shoulder . We would walk silently down the footpaths Tojo behind me and many a thief vanished never to come again when they saw Tojo's knife .
   The drain was completed before the monsoon rains and when the main Mijicajan river was flooding it was  decided to borrow John Oliver's rubber dingy to test out the new drain . We moved sedately down the drain which emptied into the main river up stream , but the current was so fierce  it took some effort to get into the bank one mile down stream . It was at this point that Tojo told me that he could not swim !!!!

When it was time for Tojo's local leave he requested that he be allowed to bring back a present for my two children . It was then that he informed me that his father  years ago had been a Headhunter with five scalps to his name . Could he bring back two shrunken heads for the boys which we refused but we have wondered since whether that was a mistake .

In the early 70's the Assamese student agitation was in full swing and we were regularly asked to close the estate for a day 
( called a Bund when nothing was supposed to move or anyone work } which we always ignored . For his garden duties
Tojo drove an old Triumph Herald which is low slung and not suitable for rough roads . Tojo kept his Naga knife under his seat and , as he was proceeding on kamjari to Kolapani he was stopped at the main bridge by three students who demanded to know why he was traveling on a "Bund " day . Thinking he might be
assaulted Tojo got out of the car and leaned down to remove his knife which was jammed under the seat . By the time he stood up again no-one was to be seen . Two students were hiding in the nulla and the third could be seen cycling madly down the Kolapani road . Presuming the problem was solved Tojo carried on down the Kolapani road but the student ,thinking that death was imminent , abandoned his bicycle and fled into the labour lines never to be seen again .

During his time at Mijicajan Tojo was accused of not giving a party for other assistants so he organized a Sunday curry lunch . After plenty of beer and curry the youngsters were out in the compound and one lad asked Tojo whether he was proficient with his knife and challenged Tojo to cut a tree of six inch diameter with one blow . The young lad foolishly bet Tojo that he could cut his own head off if he succeeded . After Tojo achieved this , Tojo informed the young lad that it was Naga tradition that the bet must be paid and the young lad turned white with fright . Honour was satisfied when Tojo agreed that blood from a cutfinger would do instead , and satisfy his blade .
After his transfer to other Agency estates he left tea and became a minister in the Nagaland government .
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May 1 2005

Since writing the story about Tojo Imlong , Ali Zaman has reminded me of the incident that took place at Majulighur Tea Estate whilst Tojo was returning from local leave in Nagaland .
Mihir Chowdury , the manager
, was being kept late in his office with interminable queries by two  auditors from Calcutta . When Tojo happened to pop in , Mihir tipped him the wink and asked him if he had enjoyed his leave where it was customary to enjoy the tribal custom of head-hunting as sport similar to shikar . When Tojo recounted his recent successes , Mihir got up to leave the office and suggested that the two auditors remain and take a lift with Tojo later . It was amazing how quickly the auditors followed Mihir and scrambled into the jeep .
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April 2004

An unexpurgated application for a position in a Tea Garden in Ceylon


Month of February 1973


Most honoured and respected Sir,

HAVING COME TO UNDERSTAND THAT YOU REQUIRE the services of a trustworthy and sober Tea-maker Clerk, I humbly beg to apply myself for the vacancy in fervent hopes that your honour will favourably consider same and .bestow upon me this blessing for my ability and every prayer.

I am unmarried Hambantotian aged 36 yrs, of respectable parents (now deceased R.I.P,) of same province. Now I am poor orphan with no any support and in emancipated condition, tossed hither and thither like compost upon the billows of high seas in Monsoon time, daily with empty stomach, but under the wing of your honours care and in security of your honour's family bosom, I am having fall hopes like bride on night of honeymoon, to throw away poverty out of the window and bring prosperity through the door.


I have received good education at Anunda Suriyadala College in Hambantota, and passed Matric with full honours by my fertile brain, and can give all information by diligent study

of encyclopedia when required' owing to untimely surmise of my deceased Father and no money I was unable to take up my B.A. degree, which I can pass simply.

see thWhen I dismiss the College I learn Tea-making under my paternal uncle at Galle, by the latest methods in reversible wither and mist chambers according to T.R.4 Ialso come to know at that time some secret tricks to extract that subtle flavours from tea leaves lurking in the bowels of the rollers like honey in the honeycomb, and can take liquors with 20 good colour and sparkle like diamonds in Queen's tiara. When Colombo brokers at they will elevate prices to heights despite  the bombastic competition of miserable fellow superindentswho are like Boot on Adders head in the Garden of Allah

In machineries and oil engines I have some knowledge which I experienced in Cocoanut Mill. Also in electricity I know to take the current in night times from phiphony of commutator by means of H.T. wire, Factory I will keep so clean like dining-rooms in Queen's Hotel and your honour can come and

Field works I know top to bottom, and can milk the rubber trees in many ways to show profit on care and maintenance. I learned all about compost from Venerable Mr. M.F. the Holy Father of Compost.

I can take full work from Tamils (high and low caste) and crafty Sinhalese at reduced cost. They does not know to humbug me my milk in mouth and venon in belly like honourable State Councillors playing Harry and Dick with Taxpayers money.
For clerical work I am expert,     Estate accounts can be made by double and single entry and cover up mistake so that even no
greedy eye of Colombo Agents can find out and make trouble,

If your honour will give charge of rice store in this business I also know some tricks which I learn from my late cousin in Govt. Service (P.W.D.) who retired on completion of duties with good circumstances and also pension. By some methods I can supply your honour and family with requirements and cover up. For this I do not require any salary and can manage somehow by hook and crook,

When your honour go to leavethe Estate I like to come

also, some  presents here and there or your honour's early retirement in Mother Country,

Like humble flea on belly of Noble visiting Agent I hope to receive your honour's favourable reply and oblige,

In duty bound I will ever pray in loud voice night and day on my family's bended knees and prostituting myself at your honour's great feet.

                             I beg to remain,

                            Your Obedient servant,

                            Signed ,...,...

P.S. If you wish I can come suddenly,

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  Tales of Tony Torrance 

by Phil Bayley with some extra comments by Bob Stammers

It was February 1952 and I was driven to Liverpool docks to catch the MV Cilicia belonging to Anchor Line en route to Bombay with a surprising number of WM's recruits on board . Among them was Tony T. who was to be the new company pilot . He distinguished himself initially by the fact that his main baggage had gone astray in UK and he had no change of clothes throughout the voyage and, on special evenings, he wore a borrowed RAF officer's uniform of a rank he was not entitled to . It was when we got to Aden that I received a note under my cabin door suggesting a meeting of our group in the lounge after dinner. All of us had been given the sum of £50/- to cover our expenses but most recruits had already spent it at the bar so it was suggested that a telegram be sent to Calcutta requesting the transfer of more funds to await us at Bombay . Some new recruits had already drafted their resignation letter after hearing lurid tales of snakes and leeches from old planters returning from leave .
Tony T. was based at Pertabghur but had a bungalow at Majulighur and his eccentric nature was enhanced when he was found at weekends sunbathing on the verandah tin roof and then purchasing a T model Ford, the roof of which was constructed of thatch with bamboo supports . But Tony T. will be remembered most for his problem with Pearson the Superintendent who called him to his office one day and complained of him never being on time for flying duty . Tony regretted this but complained he was not in possession of a watch so he was instructed to do something about it. The following morning there was a knock on the Superintendent's door and Tony walked in with a requisition slip . On it was written 

- one bag cement, sand and some bricks . On enquiry by Pearson as to what these were actually for, Tony replied " To make a sundial in my compound, sir, so that I am not late for work ".
Everyone always agreed that Tony was safer up in the air than on the ground and it was reported from the outgarden Ghilladari that he had flown the Auster under a large bridge spanning the local river .
When Pennel got fed up with Tony he was transferred to Attareekhat . Tony, before leaving , requested that he would like to take the Auster on a test flight and Peter Swer was given the privilege of accompanying him .

 They flew off into the Arunachal foothills and kept on flying until the fuel gauge showed low and decided late in the day to return . During the trip Tony had arranged beer which they drank . However, as it was cold in the cabin up in those ranges , it was decided to empty their bladder into the empty bottles . On their return Pennel was found pacing up and down in a furious mood and Tony remarked to Peter " Why did'nt we empty the bottles over his head as we landed to cool him down " .

Whilst in Attareekhat Tony kept a beehive in the thatch roof of his car and always left early for the club so as not to disturb them too much as he valued the honey he collected . Tony was also the Bookie at the club taking bets on the Derby and paying out after hearing the race on his shortwave radio . The last straw was when he arranged for the workers to catch Guai ( lizards ) and insisted his Moug cook roast them to save on his bazaar bill instead of mutton .
It was the loss of a great character when Tony left tea - he was greatly missed . It was always agreed that Tony was normal when he was up in the air but not necessarily so when he was on the ground .

Additional comments from Bob Stammers  (February 2004)

Enjoyed reading Phill's tales on the Internet and have some further stories regarding Tony T, absolutely mad on the ground but a first rate pilot in the air.

The sequel to the tale about Pennel and the bag of cement was that one morning he suddenly appeared at the Behali Burra Bungalow and parked his car under the car porch, shouted " good morning " to Madge Brown, the Managers wife who was sitting on the verandah and walked over to, and took a sketch of, the home made sundial that the Brown's had on their front lawn. When he had finished taking his drawing he just said " thank you " and drove off !!! Hence the request for a bag of cement !!

On another occasion, he flew into Sangsua to drop off a message for John Morice, the VA.

As was usual, he buzzed the strip twice to get rid of the cattle that were grazing on it and then landed. Unfortunately, a cyclist decided that he could make it across before Tony landed - this he did not manage and was knocked off his cycle. When Tony pulled up he was met by an assistant from the estate and Tony instructed him to drive to the leaf houses. Once there Tony cut a strip of hessian from the ' chungs ' and then went to the Head Clerks office and borrowed his bottle of glue. The assistant took him back to the airstrip and was horrified to see Tony glue the hessian as a patch over a hole in one wing !!! The Head Clerk got his glue back, the cyclist had a very sore head and the assistant vowed that he would never fly with Tony !!

I was in the plane with Tony and Rex Worster from Shakomato on one occassion when he attempted a landing at Jorhat club. His 'banji's' ( or strops - the rubber ones) snapped and he was left with the plane landing with only one wire strop holding the plane up. Needless to say he had a devil of a job trying to hold the plane level and eventually we went of the runway and finished off with our front wheels in the paddy fields which surrounded the racecourse !! Thanks to all the youngsters who had suddenly turned up we managed to pull the plane back onto the airstrip and Tony did a few taxis up and down with the plane looking like a wounded duck. Eventually satisfied Tony told Rex Worster to get in and they would get new ' banjies ' in Dibrugarh - his next stop. As I was visiting my wife in the Mission hospital, Tony told me that he would pick me up at Rowriah, the main Bharat airstrip in those days.Tony duly flew over the next day and dropped a note which said "Banjies again broken, will pick you up at Tezpur tomorrow " He then flew on to Pertabghur and buzzed the airstrip but, being a Wednesday everyone was at Bishnaught playing tennis, so Tony flew to the club and dropped a message saying he was in trouble and would someone please get to the Majulighur airstrip to assist in case he crashed. Don Duncan answered the SOS and later stated that the plane landed on one wheel until the speed dropped so much that he had to gently put the other wheel on the deck - a near perfect landing, much to Rex Worster's relief ! I was doubly lucky, survived the crash and my son, Alistair had been born at 3 am on the morning of the landing ( ? )!!!

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Request letter Jan 2004

  Hoogrijan Tea Estate
                                                                    Hoogrijan P.O.

                                                                         13th September  1959

Acting Manager
Hoogrijan T.E.

Esteemed Sir ,

Subject  - Pucca  Housing

That , sir , I am working as a clerical assistant on your Out-garden under your kind leadership .
At present I am living in a Staff Quarter made of bamboo and thatches . 
  Last month I have brought home a new wife and shortly we wish to start a family .
Under the above circumstances I should be most grateful if you could  arrange for me to have a permanent erection.

Yours Obediently ,

Bijoi Deka

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August 2003 


Typical young Assistant of the Fifties          

This true story is of a young man whom we shall call DK and he was a typical bachelor living alone rather jungly - especially where his eating habits were concerned . In those days it was possible to order Lengra Mangoes to be delivered by train in huge baskets and DK decided one Sunday  to eat half-a-dozen mangoes followed by beer and a very hot curry . Whilst having a lie-back he coughed and burst a major blood vessel in his stomach resulting in some of the blood reaching the wall  opposite the bed . The CMO was called and it was some considerable time before he could be moved into an ambulance which travelled at 5mph to Dikom hospital . Two of us gave a pint of blood each and three days later we found that , not only had he recovered , but the Khasi nurses were being harrassed by his advances .


A little later DK decided to entertain his bachelor friends to dinner - possibly as a thankyou . It appears that the Mugh cook had not been given sufficient funds for his bazaar and the bearer served all the guests with their mutton main course which was empty by the time it reached the host . When DK was informed "Arru ne hai"  , he suffered the embarrassment of each guest returning a little meat to the serving dish . When he found that the pudding was Caramel Custard , we understand the cook was sacked next day .

After years of jungly living it was suggested that his future in tea would be enhanced if he gave a Tea - Party for the mem-sahibs especially the Superintendent's . This was duly arranged for a Sunday afternoon  and everyone was duly impressed by the cucumber sandwiches and a large cream cake . It was only when theSuperintendant's wife remarked that she was so pleased that DK had similar crockery , cutlery , etc. to her own that DK had to admit that he had borrowed the lot from her bungalow and that her cook had been paid to provide the food .


Years later DK was Acting on the estate and he decided to give a dinner party especially to
impress the same Superintendent and his wife and everyone there was surprised to see the dinner table  decked out  so beautifully . No one expected wine glasses with the serviette beautiful folded inside the wine glass . The chief guest lifted her serviette and flicked it  to open the same when to her
consternation she found it had been folded so that the hole made by the dhobi did not show . A replacement was found and food was served . It was at this time that DK decided to serve the wine . It is not clear from where he had obtained this wine but it was very old . The cork was a little perished and only half came out with the corkscrew , so DK in his haste pushed the remainder into the bottle and gave it to the bearer to serve . Unfortunately the chief guest was the first to be served and her glass was full of bits of cork . I have no recollection of what the taste was like but I am told that .in tea , you can always make mistakes as long as they are constructive .

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April 7 2003

The Benefits of Managers at Christmas

The normal practice in Tea was for contractors and other miscellaneous
people to come to the Burra Bungalow with what we termed as " Kissmiss
" which normally consisted of large amounts of raisins , currants ,
nuts etc., placed on a serving tray which they borrowed from the bearer
in the bottle-khanna . It was amazing how no two people presented their
gifts at the same time . I recall one contractor presenting us with a
tea box full of cauliflowers which were later found to be mostly bad .
A basket of oranges was always useful .
It was a considerable surprise when our banker Bhuramall Keshardeo of
Ghahigaon arrived at the bungalow in his Fiat car , which was on its
last legs , with a bag full of money which he later explained was the
garden workers wages for the week . It appears that the munim , who
normally brought the money stuffed under his seat in the local bus ,
thought that a dacoity was planned that day . I thought politeness
required me to offer the Keyah a cup of tea . With the tea the bearer
had brought a box of Cadburys biscuits which my two children had
brought out with them from UK . Both children were fascinated to watch
the Keyah take one of those with silver paper round it and proceed to
chew it - thinking it was a type of Indian sweet-meat . After he
extracted the silver paper from between his teeth with great difficulty
, I explained where he had gone wrong .
Another pleasure at Christmas was the annual visit of the garden Munda
christians . We were required to sit on cane chairs in the bungalow
compound and , after a long speech by their leader , we received
presents of garlands , bowl of rice , eggs and , last but not least , a
chicken which was placed on my lap. The girls then danced to the beat
of drums .
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April 03

Phil Bayley writes 
Herewith the actual letter I received from a Staff member shortly
before I retired in 1984 which I much appreciated at the time .

To . Reverent Mr. PA Bayley
Supdt. Majuli Tea Co. Ltd

I am much regretted to bid you farewell which will make me deprive of
your courtesy and appreciation . Your ambition , high thought and
talent is actually admirable , as a guidance of my life . As I have
been acquiring some fair knowledge from your appropriate instructions
for which I am ever grateful to you .
I myself conceiving your nice administration which past for ever and I
expecting your mercy and favour in my life so that I shall be able to
praise you among us ,
It is really impassive matter to explain all your noble and repleted
life as I am too poor to express in language .
Now I am in great sorry with grief to bid you a farewell but I could
not help saying so , that is a auspicious moment as well as a
heart-rending matter . In your glorious life , God may enlighten you in
every respect of your life .
" Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime ;
And departing leave behind us foot-prints on the sands of time "
I hope you will kindly excuse me if any offence I did you
unintentionally , in your time by your lenient and magnanimous heart .
Thanking you .
Yours faithfully
T. Ch. Sarma
2nd Tea House
Behali Factory
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January 2003
Railway Complaints 

  This is a true copy of a complaint made many years ago .

From :  Sri Akhoy Sen , Clerk ,
              Munsiff's Court ,
              Berhampur  ( BENGAL )

To :  Traffic Superintendent ,
          Shambagheep Line ,
          B & A Railway

Beloved Sir ,
                        I am arrived by passenger train at Ahmedpur
Station and belly is too much swollen with jack-fruit .
I therfore went to privy , but , as I was doing the nuisance , the
Guard he the whistle blew for the train to go off ,             and I
am running with lotah in one hand and dhoti in the next . Then I fall
over and expose my shockings to many    female women on the platform ,
and gets left behind on Ahmedpur Station . This is too much bad if
have to go to dung then that damn guard not to wait for five minutes .
I am therefore pray your honour to make big fine on Guard for public
sake , otherwise I give big report to papers .
From your faithful servant ,
Sd/- Akhoy Sen
Clerk , Munsiff's Court

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December 2002

Unusual Garden Correspondence

 The following letter was received by me from what I presumed to be the Calcutta office in 1976 and caused some consternation until I had read half way through it .
Ref : JNC/MYR 25/10/76
To : ALL EMPLOYEES ( Over 40 )

 Re : Early Retirement Programme

 AS a result of automation, as well as declining workload, Management must, of neccessity, take steps to reduce the current workforce . A ‘ Reduction of Employees ‘ programme has been devised which seems the most equitable under the present circumstances .
Under this plan, older employees will be placed in early retirement
 thus permitting the retention of employees who represent the future of
 the company .

 Therefore, a programme to phase out the older personnel ( over 40 ) by the end of the current financial year will be put into effect
 immediately . This programme will be known as " RAPE " (Retirement Aged Personnel, Early) . Employees who are "RAPED" will be given the opportunity to seek other jobs within the company, provided that, while they are "RAPED" they request a review of their employment status before actual retirement takes place .
 This phase of the programme be known as " SCREW " ( Survey of
 Capabilities of Retired Early Workers ) . All employees who have been  " RAPED " and " SCREWED " may apply for a final review .
 This phase be known as " STUFFED " . ( Study of Termination of Use for  Further Education and Development ) .
 Programme policy dictates that employees be " RAPED " once ,
" SCREWED " twice , but can be " STUFFED " as many times as the
 management deem fit .

 By order of :


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November 2002

Unusual Medical Matters in Assam

In the 70's and 80's we had some unusual medical problems in our District . One was the Family Planning program with the workers on the estates which involved money incentives to workers who agreed to Vasectomies and Tubectomies Government sent a Miss Kalchi , who lectured on Family Planning to workers on the use of the plastic loop and the use of Foam Tablets but her ability to explain was put to the test when the male challan were querying how they would perform with the loop fitted like a clip to themselves and their enjoyment of sex was spoilt with a mouthful of foam .
It was amazing how rumours developed and , although family planning operations were working well , a story developed that a white van full of government doctors was going round at night catching male workers who were forced to have their testicles removed . Eventually irate males manned the local bridges and a manager with a white car returning from the club was thankfull to be recognized by someone when he was stopped on the Kolapani bridge . After that Family Planning lost its momentum .

The second problem was the Kuroo malady which involved the male workers believing that they had caught a disease which shrank their private parts and this became quite serious in the district . Personally I think it was the exceptionally cold weather that Autumn but the Manager of Baghmari Tito Jamwall instructed his chokra challan ( who sought his advice ) to remove the head rope that keeps the plucking topa on their back and tie it to their private part with the other end betwen their teeth and , ifshrinkage started , then pull with your teeth but there were no reports of success . Then a rumour went round that chounna lime placed on the earlobe was very effective . In early December Mijicajan leaf was sent to Majulighur for manufacture and my trailer jugallies reported that everyone at Majulighur factory had lime on their earlobes including the Manager .
It was only when the wife of a worker came to the bungalow that I understood a possible reason for the malady . She requested my help as her husband had developed the Kuroo malady and could I arrange for the Doctor to cure the problem .I then asked where her husband was , to which she replied - " He has gone to the hospital with my younger sister "

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September 30th  2002










December 2002

Unusual Garden Correspondence

 The following letter was received by me from what I presumed to be the Calcutta office in 1976 and caused some consternation until I had read half way through it .
Ref : JNC/MYR 25/10/76
To : ALL EMPLOYEES ( Over 40 )

 Re : Early Retirement Programme

 AS a result of automation, as well as declining workload, Management must, of neccessity, take steps to reduce the current workforce . A ‘ Reduction of Employees ‘ programme has been devised which seems the most equitable under the present circumstances .
Under this plan, older employees will be placed in early retirement
 thus permitting the retention of employees who represent the future of
 the company .

 Therefore, a programme to phase out the older personnel ( over 40 ) by the end of the current financial year will be put into effect
 immediately . This programme will be known as " RAPE " (Retirement Aged Personnel, Early) . Employees who are "RAPED" will be given the opportunity to seek other jobs within the company, provided that, while they are "RAPED" they request a review of their employment status before actual retirement takes place .
 This phase of the programme be known as " SCREW " ( Survey of
 Capabilities of Retired Early Workers ) . All employees who have been  " RAPED " and " SCREWED " may apply for a final review .
 This phase be known as " STUFFED " . ( Study of Termination of Use for  Further Education and Development ) .
 Programme policy dictates that employees be " RAPED " once ,
" SCREWED " twice , but can be " STUFFED " as many times as the
 management deem fit .

 By order of :


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December 2002

Unusual Garden Correspondence

 The following letter was received by me from what I presumed to be the Calcutta office in 1976 and caused some consternation until I had read half way through it .
Ref : JNC/MYR 25/10/76
To : ALL EMPLOYEES ( Over 40 )

 Re : Early Retirement Programme

 AS a result of automation, as well as declining workload, Management must, of neccessity, take steps to reduce the current workforce . A ‘ Reduction of Employees ‘ programme has been devised which seems the most equitable under the present circumstances .
Under this plan, older employees will be placed in early retirement
 thus permitting the retention of employees who represent the future of
 the company .

 Therefore, a programme to phase out the older personnel ( over 40 ) by the end of the current financial year will be put into effect
 immediately . This programme will be known as " RAPE " (Retirement Aged Personnel, Early) . Employees who are "RAPED" will be given the opportunity to seek other jobs within the company, provided that, while they are "RAPED" they request a review of their employment status before actual retirement takes place .
 This phase of the programme be known as " SCREW " ( Survey of
 Capabilities of Retired Early Workers ) . All employees who have been  " RAPED " and " SCREWED " may apply for a final review .
 This phase be known as " STUFFED " . ( Study of Termination of Use for  Further Education and Development ) .
 Programme policy dictates that employees be " RAPED " once ,
" SCREWED " twice , but can be " STUFFED " as many times as the
 management deem fit .

 By order of :


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November 2002

Unusual Medical Matters in Assam

In the 70's and 80's we had some unusual medical problems in our District . One was the Family Planning program with the workers on the estates which involved money incentives to workers who agreed to Vasectomies and Tubectomies Government sent a Miss Kalchi , who lectured on Family Planning to workers on the use of the plastic loop and the use of Foam Tablets but her ability to explain was put to the test when the male challan were querying how they would perform with the loop fitted like a clip to themselves and their enjoyment of sex was spoilt with a mouthful of foam .
It was amazing how rumours developed and , although family planning operations were working well , a story developed that a white van full of government doctors was going round at night catching male workers who were forced to have their testicles removed . Eventually irate males manned the local bridges and a manager with a white car returning from the club was thankfull to be recognized by someone when he was stopped on the Kolapani bridge . After that Family Planning lost its momentum .

The second problem was the Kuroo malady which involved the male workers believing that they had caught a disease which shrank their private parts and this became quite serious in the district . Personally I think it was the exceptionally cold weather that Autumn but the Manager of Baghmari Tito Jamwall instructed his chokra challan ( who sought his advice ) to remove the head rope that keeps the plucking topa on their back and tie it to their private part with the other end betwen their teeth and , ifshrinkage started , then pull with your teeth but there were no reports of success . Then a rumour went round that chounna lime placed on the earlobe was very effective . In early December Mijicajan leaf was sent to Majulighur for manufacture and my trailer jugallies reported that everyone at Majulighur factory had lime on their earlobes including the Manager .
It was only when the wife of a worker came to the bungalow that I understood a possible reason for the malady . She requested my help as her husband had developed the Kuroo malady and could I arrange for the Doctor to cure the problem .I then asked where her husband was , to which she replied - " He has gone to the hospital with my younger sister "

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September 20 2002

In the 1950ies it was considered that more adequate Security fencing was necessary to prevent theft of tea and , as it was normal for workers to sleep in the chungs prior to the factory starting , two problems arose . The first was the sorting girls who were tempted by others including the Head Tea House to misbehave in the chungs and I was told that an earlier manager would at times complain of a severe headache on Club nights and send his wife off to the club with a driver whereupon  the Head Tea House arranged a suitable assignation in the
chungs when he went for a Factory visit . Those were the good old days!!!

The second problem was the disgusting mess that the chung chokras made on the top chungs so it was decided that a new modern latrine should be built . It is not clear who designed it , but it was solid brick and cement construction situated with the doors facing the security fencing at the back of the factory , It consisted of six cubicles in a row ( two reserved for females ) and were the squatter variety . Underneath the cubicle pans was a sloping drain which ran from one end to the other . On one side of the six cubicles was the sluice system which had
a tap that was permanently left on and filled a cleverly shaped bucket hinged in such a way that , when it was full , it tipped over regularly every 10 minutes spilling 20 gallons of water down the drain and into a septic tank the other end .
Our Acting manager at that time was Jack Carr a wonderful fellow who retired as an acting manager and was well known for doing his kamjari on a motorbike wearing tennis shoes with no laces . When our companychairman Mr O.J. Roy visited that November ,Jack took him to see the new latrines and Mr Roy insisted on looking inside , where to his horror the workers had defecated any where but in the pan . After Mr Roy's departure a 'bichar  was held and I suggested that possibly the 20 gallons of water rushing down the pipe acted like a bidet and frightened  the poor workers aim . All I got in reply was the suggestion that , as factory assistant , I should stand outside and admonish those who transgressed . I can assure you that I had no intention of doing so .

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June 16- 2002

The Extra Responsibilities of an Acting Manager

In the 1960's it was normal for a Manager to enjoy 6 months UK leave , and it was customary for the Acting Manager to occupy the Manager's bungalow during this period . After completing the handing over in the first two days , the Manager showed me round his compound and I was given instructions on what was required to be done with his birds and animals as follows :-
1 . Hens There were about 20 hens and one large cockerel in a large fenced enclosure with a covered nest-box structure on one side with a facility to collect the eggs without going into the compound . Next to this compound was a separate small wired-in area with a single large cockerel in it . My instructions were to change over the cockerels every month so that they each got a rest from their labours every second month . I couldn't understand this as the eggs were collected every day . I was also requested to obtain best quality feed from the Govt. Agri. Dept. and enjoy a continuous supply of eggs. Well , after a month with no eggs , this was stopped and , when my wife and two year old son went with the malli to collect eggs,the malli noticed the tip of a tail protruding above the straw and a small cobra was killed . The hens were off-lay for the rest of the Acting .
2 . Rabbits At the back of the bungalow were a row of box-like cages with a rabbit in each and I was given specific instructions on what should be done . Most of the young ones had been eaten before the Manager's departure , and I was given dates and cage numbers when the pairing of male and female was to be done . I was warned not to allow a male to remain in a female cage longer than two minutes as "two minutes is enough" . It wasn't until later that I worked out that the timings were cleverly worked out for succulent young rabbits to be ready for the Manager's return .
3 . Dairy Herd The Manager was quite famous for his dairy herd and he supplied milk everywhere but he was justly very proud of his Friesian Bull which was very valuable . Luckily my wife and I were told that the Nepali bearer would look after everything which pleased us immensely but , when the bull became ill , we knew our troubles were not over . We sent for the local vet who diagnosed pneumonia. A strapping was erected to support the bull and help with its breathing , and the vet came every two days to check and give an injection and reported excellent progress . Nevertheless 10 days later I was called from the garden by my wife , in an agitated state of mind , who related this interview with the vet .
Vet to Memsahib - " Madam I came to see bull and , as I pushed injection , bull expired "
Memsahib to Vet - " What do you mean "bull expired " ?!!!!!!
Vet to Memsahib - " I push injection - Bull expire . What to do . " He then left quite put out that something quite normal in his experience should be questioned .
Luckily the Manager was very understanding of our dilemma on his return .

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April 2002

   Labrador and the Daschund 

It was in the 1950's when I was in Hoogrijan that Vic Pearson asked me to look after his two dogs
while he was on Home Leave for 6 months and , as he was a great bachelor friend of mine , I was only too glad to help out , although in retrospect 6 months is a long time to be responsible  for other people's animals .
I can't remember the name of the beautiful black Labrador bitch but the brown long-bodied Dachshund was called " Boodha " . Anyway time went on and it was when Vic was due back from leave that I noticed the Labrador had put on weight and , on Vic's return , I explained that the poor thing must have come on heat and it was well known that the Sahib's dogs always preferred line Pie-dogs when romance was in the air .
A little later six pups were born and Vic was quite pleased with them but , as time went on , he noticed that each pup developed a long body and long legs with black and brown markings .
As this was a serious matter , it was decided that a " Burra Bichar " of all my bungalow servants was required and this was done between the  bottle-khana  and the kitchen . Each servant gave the usual reply  " mallum nai " but eventually the night chowkidar spilt the beans as follows :-
" Hazoor . Your bitch was on heat and she was only interested in " Boodha " and he was having considerable difficulty , so I brought my stool from the back verandah and lifted him on to it .
Otherwise I was worried for " Boodha's " health . "
So if today you see long legged and bodied dogs in Tingri district , you will know where they came from .

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March 24th 2002  

 The Bishnauth/Mangaldai Cricket Match - 1983

One of the main sporting events of the Cold Weather on the North Bank was the cricket match for the Chatterjee Cup which , in 1983 , necessitated the Bishnauth team travelling to Mangaldai for a one day match . As the distance was 150 miles one way , some of us thought it mad to even contemplate such a thing but our Captain , the late Teetu Jamwall , insisted that we must go and win the cup .
We were most impressed to be told that he had hired a bus and that we should all meet at Pertabghur early that Sunday morning for the journey . To our dismay we found the " bus " was one of those with wooden seats that plied between local villages , so cushions were borrowed from adjacent bungalows and we set off , hoping the ladies would not suffer too much . North Bank roads are not known for their quality and , as we neared the Mangaldai area , most of us thought it more comfortable to stand for the last hour of a 4 hour journey .
Although the cricket was not particularly brilliant and the lunch as usual in tea clubs excellent , our team succeeded in winning the Cup but we were not looking forward to the return journey . In true Planters' fashion we decided to celebrate at the bar which would help to alleviate the rigours of the return journey . At the last minute some bottles of brandy and orange squash were purchased together with one bottle of vodka for the return journey . I was told later that vodka was mixed with the orange squash and this was given to the metapaniwallahs on the return journey , including the ladies , who became very bright and cheerful despite the uncomfortable seating . By the time we reached the Tezpur area  most people were well away , so it was decided that we should stop for refreshments at the Balipara Dhabba whose owner was delighted to cater to such illustrious visitors, and considerable quantities of chicken tandoori and a very hot spicy channa-dhal were consumed .
This was all paid for out of club funds as a celebration of the Chatterjee Cup victory , and there was considerable difficulty in getting everone back in the bus again , especially those who thought it a good club night and had gone to sleep on the rope charpoi beds outside the dhabba .
No-one can remember when we got back to Bishnauth 
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March 8 2002

The Rhino and the Tractor Driver

It was in the late 1960's and the cold weather had arrived when we had a spate of unusual happenings near the Behali burra bungalow . First of all we had the thrill of hearing the sawing sound of a lepoard calling to its mate one night just outside our bedroom window and next morning we could see scratch marks on the trunk of a Flame of the Forest tree and pug-marks down near the small lake adjacent to the bungalow .

Not many days later I was awakened at about 5.30 am GT by considerable " howla " from behind the bungalow and , on investigation , a Rhino was found to be trapped in the adjacent tea section which luckily had very deep drains . I was informed that some of the Kaziranga rhinos would swim the Brahmaputra river each year and pass through the estate at night on their way to the forests to the north which are now part of Arunachal Pradesh . Nobody knew the reason for this annual trek . It appeared that this Rhino was in a dilemma as hundreds of labourers thought this was a good opportunity for a little rhino horn and the poor thing's route was blocked at each end of the drains . It was amazing to see so many " shikaris " fleeing for safety up to the branches of the shade trees whilst the rhino charged up and down the main drains after them . Eventually garden chowkidars were placed all round the section with instructions to keep everyone away and it was assumed that all would be quiet until nightfall when the rhino could finish his journey .

At about mid-day a tractor and trailer carrying thatch for staff-quarter repairs decided to return to the factory from Borajuli out garden via the road on the eastern edge of the tea section . Between the road and the tea was a drain 6ft deep and the Massey Ferguson driver and his four jugalis had no idea of what had happened earlier but , on reaching this spot , the four jugalis , from their vantage position on top of the trailer , were the first to see a large rhino in the drain alongside and jumped off with loud yells . Unfortunately their shouts were not heard by the driver who carried on sedately with the rhino charging just below him . Something made him look down and you can imagine the initial shock causing him to panic and jump off the tractor which eventually carried on into the drain just ahead of the rhino . The damaged tractor and trailer were not recovered until the next day by which time our rhino had gone on his way , never to be seen again and I don't blame him either .
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The Doom Dooma Factory

In the 1960's there was considerable stealing of tea from factory sorting rooms throughout the District . When the subject was discussed at the Managers' Meeting ,

 it was agreed that the main organizers of the thefts were based in Kakopathar and were of Nepali origin . It was decided to introduce a District Security system under the command of the Bordubi Manager . Every Nepali factory chowkidar was photographed , and his credentials thoroughly checked , as it was well knownthat most Nepalis looked alike and they used army discharge certificates of relatives or friends to fool managers as to their reliability . No new chowkidar was to be taken on unless vetted by the Bordubi manager who checked the records for all dismissed chowkidars , which were filed away
With this strategy in hand you would have thought that the problem was solved but the following incidents occurred .


One evening my Assistant the late Mickey Dhindsa told me he had a reliable tip-off that theft of tea was to take place that night so we quietly took up positions in a drain in thefront of the factory where we could keep an eye on the gate chowkidars . After a considerable and uncomfortable wait we returned to our bungalows , but I was called out a little later to be told that elephants were seen on the main government road passing through the estate . It transpired that the thieves came to the back of the factory where the chain-link fencing formed the boundary with the Reserve forest . The elephants lifted men and gunny bags over the fence and fluff from the dryers lying on the roof was collected and 

sold well in the local bazaar . Unfortunately our problem \could not be brought to the attention of the police as Central Excise was inquiring why our percentage of tea waste for destruction was the lowest in the District .


The system at this estate was unique in as much as it was taken for granted that all Nepali factory chowkidars were thieves , so the late Harry Andrews had a better idea . Outside thefront of the factory , across the main road , was a very old wooden chung . The wiring andhessian cloth of the top tier was kept in good condition . Every evening approx. six workers belonging to the Munda tribe reported to the Manager's bungalow with bows and arrows before proceeding to the top of the chung where they spent the night supposedly keeping an  eye on the factory gate , and most of all on the factory chowkidars . Nevertheless it was reported that one night a pick-up truck was pushed quietly up to the main gate , filled up with bags of tea , and pushed on towards the office before being started and disappearing into Doom Dooma town . 
We presume the Mundas slept well that night and were therefore dispensed with .


Early one morning during the manufacturing season it was reported to the Manager that  a theft had taken place the previous night from the sorting room and , when the manager entered  the sorting room he noticed that there were footmarks left by the thieves in the powder fluff from  the previous day's sorting . It was then as Security Officer that he had his brilliant idea . The night chowkidars were sent for and lined up outside the sorting room then , each in turn , was instructed  to walk adjacent to the footprints left by the thieves . The two sets of footprints were compared and  each person eliminated . By the time all chowkidars had been checked and eliminated , it was a  question of checking all factory workers but this became impossible as it was not clear from the number of footprints which were the thieves and which were others .

It is doubtful if the tea theft problem was ever solved .

Jan 30 02

The Assistant and the Tiger

In the 1950 's shikar was quite common in Assam and workers on estates lost many a cow which were encouraged to graze in the tea areas at night . Normally the Assistant was told about a kill during the following day but , by the time he went to view the kill , most of the meat had gone despite the owner being a strict Hindu .The Factory assistant at Keyhung received so many complaints that he decided to take action . Firstly he  selected a site where a tiger had killed recently and then bought a young bull in the bazaar for Rs. 100/- which was a lot in those  days . He then had a brilliant idea . At the back of the factory he found an old Venetian Dryer chimney and , at one end he bolted on a wooden plate with slits cut at eye-hole level , and on the other  end he fitted a lockable door .    That afternoon he arranged the tractor to take the chimney down to the site , lined it up and tied the bull  securely about 50yds away in perfect alignment .

When evening was just about to come he crawled into the chimney pulling a large rifle of about 500 caliber with flashlight behind him - more than enough for the job . His servants locked him in and they were told not to come at the first shot but , if he was satisfied that the tiger was dead , he would fire a second shot whereupon they could come .

The evening wore on and the bull was making a lot of noise when suddenly he heard the growl of a tiger and the death throws of the bull .

 Allowing time for the tiger to start eating the kill , he decided the time was right for a shot . Pulling the large gun up to the slit-hole he suddenly  realized that the gun was butt first . Unfortunately the length of the gun was more than the diameter of the chimney so he was unable to turn it round and spent the night watching the tiger eating his bull .
The servants had instructions to wait until 2.00 am if no shot was fired , by which time the assistant had been badly bitten by mosquitoes and  the tiger had gone with a full belly

January 19th  2002
The CMO and the Boxer dog

My manager at Hoogrijan occasionally brought a daft young boxer dog to the factory compound which was surrounded by a chain - link fence supposedly to keep out thieves ,but was useless against goats . One day a poor young goat managed to get in and the dog was instructed to do the necessary . After a few minutes the poor goat looked as though it had been through a washing machine - covered from head to toe with saliva . Eventually the dog became bored with what we supposed to be a mangled goat and trotted off . However the goat surprised everyone by getting up and carrying on eating , much to the disgust of the manager . Believing the dog to be a softie , the subsequent events were not anticipated .

The Tingri CMO in the 50's was Miss Kathleen McDermott , a spinster lady in her fifties who had been Principal of Lady Hardinge College in Delhi . Her chung bungalow was situated just across the main road to the Tingri Club and the pride of her life were two Pekinese dogs which she treated as her children although it was noticed that a lot of the time they chased round and round after their own tails . It was her practice every Christmas to invite young bachelors to her bungalow for drinks and a sing song whilst she played the piano 

which she was very proud of - much to the dread of the bachelors .
One Christmas my manager's daughter , who was out for the school holidays, was also invited  and , when it became known that she also played the piano , Kathleen invited her to come any day to practice whilst she was out visiting the hospitals .
One day the young lady was driven over to have a practice and decided to take the dear Boxer dog with her . Sensibly she tied the dog to a large tree in the compound with a piece of rope where it sat contentedly . Unfortunately a bearer let one of the Pekinese out the verandah door who scampered down the steps and rushed up yapping to the poor boxer who found this too tempting a prospect and the Pekinese was picked up , shaken , and promptly 

expired on the spot . You can imagine the manager's embarrassment and the drama that then took place .
It is said that Kathleen stayed in bed for two weeks but the bachelors were pleased with the thought there would be no more singsongs .

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January 12th 2002  

Planters and their Aunties

It was company policy for assistants to be sent every now and again to a course at Toclai Experimental Station, now Tea Research Centre, where it was presumed their knowledge of all aspects in the cultivation of tea would be advanced . This assumption was doubtful but it can be said that their education in other things were greatly advanced . For instance their evenings were spent at either of three places .
One would be at the Toclai Guest House where they would study their notes from the days lectures ,presumably with the intention of eventually rising to be a Superintendent . The second would be an evening at the Jorhat Gymkhana Club
and the last but not least AUNTIES where many a planter was introduced to the facts of life. .

Stories tell us that Aunty was a middle aged tribal lady whose business was originally in the sale of thatch for cold weather repairs to labourers houses on tea gardens in the Jorhat area . It was when she found that she could sell more thatch when accompanied by young ladies from her tribe that she expanded her compound with many more thatch huts and business boomed .

Aunties was situated between Toclai and Borbhetta where they had experimental tea plots but , in order to enter the compound , it was necessary to drive up an embankment , cross the railway line,marked 42, and down the other side . Unfortunately one planter spent Saturday night at Aunties but on Sunday morning his car became stuck on the railway line just when the burra mems were on their way to church and were shocked to see the ladies of ill repute trying to push him out of trouble .
Then there was the assistant from Soraipani who always took the train from Mariani toJorhat because the roads were so bad . After a good binge at Jorhat club he proceeded to Aunties but Aunty wasn't too pleased to have to buy his return ticket and the girls to lift him into the carriage .
It was also reported that some members of one Toclai course were apprehended during a police raid on Aunties but they had the presence of mind to give the names of Toclai lecturers during interrogation much to the annoyance of these gentlemen who were later summoned .

The Aunties thrived till the late 80's and was closed down by the authorities when an assistant was murdered and the body was found 

on the railway line.
Planters will remember the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh in 1961 and it appears that Aunty erected a huge banner in the front of her compound with the sign

                       " WELCOME HOME  


January 2002

            Jerry and the Fishing Club

One of the characters of planting in Assam was the late Jerry Eastmure . He was well known for his bushy moustache, great laugh ,& also ability to put the batsman off when wicket-keeping , ability to eat the small green chillies raw with only a little sweating but most of all as a shikari which included his favourite sport fishing .

Having returned from home leave he was transferred to Thowra in the Doom Dooma district and it came to the attention of the burra burra sahibs such as Ducat, Cavers, Andrews etc, who always occupied one side of the bar at the Club, that he was a good fisherman . So, in due course , as the cold weather arrived, Jerry was asked if he wouldlike to join them the following Sunday up the Lohit river where they had a fishing club .
Jerry proceeded to the river via the abandoned railway station at Dhola where to this day one can see the tops of a rusty engine and wagons covered by river sand after the 1950 earthquake and subsequent flooding . By the river bank was a thatch basha where the chowkidar lived who looked after the boats belonging to both the Boating and Fishing Club members . Jerry joined the others and they set off up river to an island where fishing was to take place . The senior members were placed evenly apart at the known best fishing spots and Jerry a bit downstream out of the way .
At the end of the day everyone gathered to discuss how each had got on and it was clear that they had not even got a bite until to their astonishment Jerry arrived with a catch of some good size fish of different varieties . You can imagine the conversation like this :-
" I say, old boy , well done . We have had no luck using a spoon - what do you use ? "
" Well , sir , I am just back from UK leave and I have been using a plug . "
" Have you now, we used to try with plugs but were never successful . What's the secret, old boy ? "  " Well , sir , I dip my plug into a bottle of Fish Oil which I brought back with me also "Sad to say Jerry was never invited up the river again  

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December 18th 2001

The Dhobi and the Doctor Babu

It was while I was Acting at Phillobari in 1962 that I met our garden Doctor Babu on the road between the burra bungalow and the office one morning . 

He was obviously in an agitated state of mind .
" What can I do for you Doctor ? "
" Well,sir, I have a problem . It is about the Dhobi ,sir .   " What can I do to help "
" Well, sir, Dhobi has just got newly married and he has come to me because he is unable to perform his marital duties . "
" What is the problem ? "
" Well, sir, he is suffering from Elephantiasis of his private parts which are heavily swollen . It is a very serious matter . "" As you know, Doctor, I am a married man of two years now but , in the old days, I would have been only too glad to help the poor girl !!!! "
" No no , sir, the problem is not that he can not manage his wife , it is washing your clothes he can not manage "

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