Two Leaves and a Bud by Buddy MacDougall .


August 2012

Buddy MacDougall has kindly allowed us to show her book,

"Two Leaves and a Bud" 
written in 2010 plus at the end there

are some photos from
Buddy's photograph Album which are

not shown in the
book but are certainly complimentary to the

time spread
of the book.


Two Leaves and a Bud

Life in "Tea" in Bengal


Buddy MacDougall

            Dedicated to my daughters Jean, Lorna, Mhairi

and grand-daughter Tennessee

Stewart and Buddy married in Allynugger Burra bungalow

25th May 1957

Chapter 1 1957 The Wedding and Dauracherra Tea Estate

Chapter 2  Nalua Tea Estate .

Chapter 3  1958 Champarai Tea Estate .

Chapter 4 
1959 Patrakhola Tea Estate  The new Chota bungalow

Chapter 5  1959 Clevedon Tea Estate . Juri Valley

Chapter 6  The Manager's bungalow   Patrakhola

Postscript   A north west frontier holiday .

My thanks go to Jane O'Donovan for her help and  encouragement and to Joyce Wills for her patient proof reading. The cover is from an original painting of Clevedon bungalow by E. L. MacFarlane (Buddy's mother).

                             Buddy MacDougall 2008

Printed by Big Skye, Findhorn, Scotland

Chapter 1

1957 --  The wedding and Dauracherra Tea Estate

I sailed out to Karachi on the Circassia which embarked at Liverpool. It was one of the Anchor Line cargo plus passenger boats - the passengers mainly consisted of Steamer Company personnel, Bankers and Tea planters returning from overseas leave or starting new careers in Pakistan or India. There were also a few missionaries - (for some reason they all looked anaemic).

The boat was held up by a faulty propeller so  arrived late in Karachi. My first impression sailing in towards the docks was of a strange smell - camel perhaps - the mysterious East! Then driving into town I was horrified to see the hovels and shacks of the poor. One never sees really poor people in Britain.

All previous arrangements made by Stewart for my journey to Dacca had been messed up owing to the delay of the ship. How lovely it was to talk to Stewart over the phone in the travel agents. He was waiting in Dacca. In the end it was decided I would have to fly via Calcutta. When the plane landed and I got out and walked towards the terminal I kept wondering when I was going to walk away from the hot exhaust until I realised it was hot, hot wind and that was what I was going to have to get used to. It was May and the monsoon had still not broken.

I was booked into the Grand Hotel in Calcutta and one of the office types from Duncan Brothers (our Tea Company) was there to take me out to dinner. I did so wish it was Stewart. Ironically Stewart and I had talked about having a quiet wedding in Calcutta but plans were changed as the folk in tea wanted to have the chance to enjoy a wedding in "tea". As I walked into the foyer of my hotel I saw a huge rat run along one wall. My room was near the hotel nightclub and I could hear the strains of Elvis Presley's "Love me Tender Love me True," sung in a husky female voice.

Stewart met me next day at the airport in Dacca. He was accompanied by Jean "Webby" Webster and Margaret Murchie - very much our chaperones. We just couldn't seem to get a minute to ourselves. Stewart seemed a stranger and the very next day we were to be married!! Everything and everybody seemed so strange.

The wedding was to be at Jean and Herbert ("Webbie") Webster's bungalow. Jean was to be my Matron of Honour and Mike Taylor was to be the Best Man.

Allynugger "Burra" Bungalow was an old thickly thatched bungalow approached by a sweeping semicircular drive. The wedding was held on the verandah with guests seated on rows of chairs facing into the bungalow. I wore my high-necked long sleeved cotton lace wedding gown which was very tight fitting at the bodice and waist and I wore a short veil held in place by a pearl trimmed headdress. Henry Burnett had picked "storm" lilies and made them into a bouquet for me.  Stewart wore a white drill suit, which made him look slightly like a painter - a house painter!

They said it had been the hottest day for a long time. I felt the whole of the top half of my body soaked in perspiration but my dress being white it didn't show. Padre Morgan who performed the ceremony had drips of sweat running down his nose and dropping onto the bible he held. The guests were mopping their brows with their handkerchiefs and their light grey ties were two toned with the top halves drenched in sweat showing dark grey. "Webby": had held my arm as he led me to the "altar". He gave me away in place of my father.
Stewart had forgotten about a wedding ring (it being an unknown entity in Pakistan) and when I arrived in Dacca we had to make a quick visit to a jewellers in the old crowded part of the town where they quickly made a plain gold ring to fit my finger. It is the ring I wear to this day - a slightly yellower gold than my engagement ring.  The reception was held in Manu Club and I met the guests outside on the tennis courts where they sat on basket chairs. We had a huge crowd of dusky spectators - curious stares from the children mainly of the Allynugger labour force who had come to see the strange spectacle of a "Balati sadi" (English wedding). Speeches were made. Jean Webster and her cook had prepared the wedding feast, which was set out on trestles inside the club. (I was intrigued by the strange sight of the ceiling, which was composed of sagging strips of white washed material probably trying to disguise and insulate the corrugated roof.) Afterward the trestles were cleared and dancing was held to the strains of 78' records played on the club gramophone.

Stewart and I then drove through the darkness to Dauracherra Tea Estate where he was Acting Manager for a six-month term while the Pakistani manager was off on his long leave. (He was always known as "Dauracherra" Ahmed. Ahmed being a common Pakistani name.)
Stewart was hoping to be able to point out yellow shining eyes of a leopard or tiger in the car headlights but I was quite thankful when they didn't materialise that night. As we drove into the estate we passed through wedding arches decked in leaves and flowers by the labourers and I was sorry that we were so late that no-one was to have the pleasure of seeing us arrive after all the trouble they had gone to.
The next day, there being no honeymoon, I was plunged into the life of a tea planters wife. (We went on our "honeymoon" to Shillong five months later when he finished his stint as Acting Manager.)  It was very strange to have servants everywhere. I could not get over the feeling that I was superfluous - a piece of the furniture. Even though I wanted a drink a "meta pani" was poured for me by the bearer. Of course what made it worse was the fact that I couldn't understand or speak a word of Hindi and none of them could speak a word of English. Stewart gradually told me phrases to use and very quickly I began to understand the gist of what the servants were saying when they spoke to Stewart.

Our life consisted of tennis and drinks at Manu club about three times a week and I read any books I could get hold of - Stewart already had quite a collection in the bookcase. Stewart had two dogs who used to accompany me on walks - an Alsatian (very soft and good-natured) called Chika and a little terrier-cum dachshund-cum labrador called Batcha. Chika used to chase sticks thrown for her and Batcha chased Chika.

My gardening consisted of picking dead flowers of brightly coloured cannas. (They were about the only flowers that would grow in the Monsoon.) There were palm trees at the bottom of the garden where every evening a huge flock of parakeets roosted screeching loudly amongst themselves as they fought for the best perches.

As it was extremely hot and sticky Stewart and I sat most evenings on the verandah and ate breakfast and tea out there too. There was a long bamboo cane settee - very comfortable, which accommodated both of us, reclining end to end. To shield the verandah from the sun, "chiks" (bamboo woven blinds) were unrolled from the front over the steps. Plants in terracotta pots stood along the edge of the verandah plinth.
The bungalow had
fairly recently been built but it was very hot as the asbestos roof absorbed the heat. Stewart became ill - he had been losing quite a bit of weight - and was diagnosed as having amoebic dysentery. He had to have daily emetine injections (the only cure at that time) which had quite a debilitating effect on him. We were told the injections were known to sometimes have a harmful effect on the heart.

I found the extreme heat sapped my energy and I got very sleepy in the evenings. I found the habit of having a "lie back" in the afternoons very easy to get to like but at first thought it extremely odd to undress and go to bed in the afternoons - very decadent!! We would sleep or read for about two hours - till three p.m. and Stewart would go off to the office and I would change into a fresh dress and take the dogs for a walk down by the dam or along by the bamboo bari. (I was warned that there were wild boar in the vicinity of the bamboo bari. A previous burra sahib had been gored by one, when he had wounded it with a gunshot wound.)

Someone lent us a white pony, which sometimes I saddled up and rode around the estate in the afternoons. I had terrible mosquito bites on my legs. They festered and grew into ugly purple bumps which took ages to go away. Stewart said it was because my blood was lovely and fresh and sweet and untainted by whisky so all the mosquitoes were attracted to me. I had Caladryl Lotion to put on them so my predominant memories of Dauracherra were the smell of Caladryl and the sound of parakeets screeching.

After about three months I started to get morning sickness and was teased at the club because I couldn't even bear the smell of whisky (the staple drink of bachelors). Each week we had been in the habit of visiting a portly Aberdonian bachelor, Jimmy Wright, at Mertinga Tea Estate where we were served curried fish with chipattis. Eventually, as it dawned on me I was pregnant, even the smell of curry set me off feeling queasy. We didn't want to tell anybody at that stage but I'm sure everyone had guessed by now.

The road to Manu Club from Dauracherra wound its way from the actual road through the tea, tortuous in itself as it threaded through the tea-clad "tillahs" or small hills, into a jungle area composed of virgin bamboo and ancient trees, crossing crude wooden bridges and traversing "khet" area - (rice paddies) on "bund" roads built up on earth banks to escape flood levels. It was usually pitch dark when we returned home after the tennis afternoon and social drinking in the evening. One night the car skidded and one wheel lodged itself firmly in the ditch. We had to make the decision whether to remain in the car until daylight or make for home on foot.  The latter choice prevailed as the former meant being bitten incessantly by mosquitoes and it would have been impossible on a hot humid monsoon night to keep the car windows closed. I tried not to think of leopards and tigers as we made our way through the dark jungle keeping to the barely discernable road.

One afternoon when the cook (Alistair) - called that after a popular comedy actor whom he resembled - his real name was Sukermiah (Friday) was off as usual, I decided I would bake scones so I built up the coal fire in the stove in the cook-house and baked scones. When we tried them at teatime they were rock solid. I found that Batcha the dog was accepting them eagerly but then we noticed she was going down into the garden with each one and burying them in a hole under the hedge!!! Perhaps she was only being polite in not refusing them!! That was my last attempt at baking at that stage of my life. The cooks were so proficient at their trade it was better to leave them to it, which pleased them anyway.

They didn't want the Memsahib to show them up! The cook also pointed out, that the flour we had to use was definitely better to be sieved. His first demonstration to me made me shudder - there in the sieve was a myriad of struggling very much alive little brown weevils! The sugar too was anything but refined and looked as though it had been shovelled off a rather dirty "go-down" (store-house) floor. Our milk had to be boiled as the cows in Bengal had every disease going and were the size of large goats. Water we boiled and then filtered in special porcelain filters containing two "candles". There was a little tap at the bottom and the water was put into bottles and kept cool in the fridge.

The fridge was run on paraffin (kerosene as it was termed in Bengal) and the bearer kept it in perfect working order. Our bearer, Azad Buksh, was a young smart intelligent slim man of medium height. At first he was rather wary of me and made us laugh when he served dinner at night when he thought I was taking more than my half share of the meat he would draw back the serving dish very pointedly. (Stewart found that two didn't live as cheaply as one as I had a healthy appetite!!)

The first week or so of our married life I seemed to suffer from "dropsy" and broke quite a few articles of glassware and crockery. The bearer would wait till Stewart came home from work and then bring through the shattered pieces saying " the Memsahib broke this!" (That really made me feel wanted!!)

A very sad episode not long after I arrived involved Chika the Alsatian. She had been getting very thin in spite of eating normally and one day we noticed she was swaying with weakness - she was very, very ill. Unfortunately there was no such luxury as a vet to consult or provide a cure so Stewart got some chloroform from the tea estate pharmacy and thought it would be a painless simple way of putting her down. It only made her unconscious - it was obviously old stock and had lost its potency so Stewart went and got his gun and shot her in the head. He was very, very upset and sobbed heart brokenly. (Later, when we had dogs, we all brought powerful worm pills out from U.K. to dose them with when they invariably suffered from the really bad intestinal worms prevalent in Bengal. I'm sure that was what was wrong with Chika but we had nothing to cure her with.) She had been such a quiet sweet-natured dog.

Stewart had got her from a young tea planter who had left the country and he said he had had quite a time getting her confidence as she had obviously been badly treated and was very cowed.

At last at the end of Stewart's time as Acting Manager we were able to go for our holiday up to Shillong in Assam. Stewart had told me it was like U.K. - same kind of soft green grass, flowers, trees, climate. I couldn't believe that somewhere so close could be so different from tropical steamy Bengal on the Ganges delta.

As we drove up the escarpment the mist came down and it was only as we descended that I realized that the landscape had completely changed and it was as though we were driving through an English countryside scene as it revealed itself through the dispersing mist.

We stayed in the Pinewood Hotel - a mock Elizabethan style building with annexes with rooms. We sailed on Ward Lake on a hired rowing boat. We drove up into the hills and saw a huge assembly where unmarried Khasi girls shuffled around in a circle in a solemn dance. This was where marriage arrangements were made. The Khasi people look very Chinese with slanting eyes and fair skins and they (the women) wear Mother Hubbard type (or "Little Red Riding Hood" rather) cloaks with hoods over their heads in a Vyella type material in subdued colours, over calf length frocks and bare legs with sandaled feet. It was lovely to explore the shops built in a ramshackle way up and down the hilly terrain.

We drove out to Mahflong where there was an English style pub run and owned by Mike Hunt who had married a Khasi girl and stayed on after he was demobbed after the war. We bought some egg-nog to take back with us and some of his tinned sausages (another enterprise.) Mahflong itself with its little ‘but and ben' style cottages looked a little like Scotland. We had a picnic beside a stream and walked to a standing stone circle and further into an ancient piece of forest known as the "petrified" forest for some reason.

Chapter 2

Nalua Tea Estate

When Stewart had finished his stint as Acting Manager at Dauracherra we had to up our baggage and move on.  A lorry was provided and our possessions transported to Nalua Tea Estate in Luskerpore Valley.  All beds, tables, chairs etc. were always provided in any of the bungalows belonging to Duncan Brothers Tea Company so our stuff mainly consisted of curtains, crockery, pots and pans, pictures and books.
            The bungalow needed a good clean out as it had been used as a "go-down" (store).  We soon transformed it into our own house.  We had huge framed railway posters - e.g. "Robin Hood's Bay" country scenes etc. and one of a cathedral interior which elevated the lounge to a certain dignified stature especially as it was hung over our bookcase with Stewart's quite considerable collection of books.  The bathroom opening from our bedroom had an ant eaten panel but we soon disguised that by covering it with a strategically placed curtain.  Like all "chota bungalows" (assistants' bungalows) there was a verandah at the front running the length of the house with a lounge flanked by a bedroom either side backed by a bathroom.  The dining room backed onto the lounge and it opened onto a back verandah and beyond that was the kitchen. (Sometimes the kitchen was a completely separate building at the back served by a "bottle khana" (butler's pantry) at the back verandah where the bearer and chow kidar kept their trays, glasses, plates, and crockery etc.  There was always a small lockable larder or "go down" where dry and canned foods were kept where I measured out the sugar, flour etc. to be used for cooking that day.
            There was usually a concrete tank where live fish were kept till needed for a meal and a hen house where cockerels were penned till they were killed for meals.  The cooks on each tea estate were transported in a Company lorry to the biggest local bazaar where they bought chickens, eggs, fish and potatoes, fruit and vegetables once weekly usually.  The chickens were transported in tea baskets covered in chicken wire and the fish kept live in (well cleaned out) kerosene tins.
            While we were there  - the first evening, our boss and his wife, Malcolm and Margaret Kay had asked us to have dinner with them, as they knew we were still in the throes of unpacking.
            The "burra bungalow" was not far away so we decided to walk, as it was a beautiful still moonlight night.  Stewart had on a pair of white slacks and a white shirt with a bow tie and I had on a white dress.  As we walked silently along the dirt road through the tea we saw a tea estate labourer approaching us.  At the time we wondered why he suddenly stopped short and froze in his tracks and then watched us in a state of alarm as we (still silently) walked by.  (We realized later that he must have thought we were sahibs' ghosts appearing in front of him like that as sahibs seldom if ever walked around at night and he would not recognise us as we had only arrived that day.)  The locals were absolutely terrified of sahibs' ghosts - much more frightening than their own ghosts.
            The club we attended was Luskerpore and unfortunately we found that we were in the midst of bridge "friends" so we had to content ourselves with sitting at the bar conversing with the only other non bridge player - old "Nick".
            We became friends with Duncan and Lyn Storrier who were on Teliapara Tea Estate.  Their bungalow was two  storeys with a verandah round the three sides of the upper and lower storeys looking rather like an old Mississipi plantation house.
            Lynn and I (both in a pregnant state) decided to travel overnight by train down to Dacca for a check-up in the Holy Family Hospital where we were to have our babies delivered in due course.  The journey down was uneventful but the journey back was frightening.  Some political "big wig" must have been travelling on the train and the Bengalis, being fervent followers of politics, were gathered at almost every station hysterically chanting "Pakistan Zinderbad" banging with their fists on the carriage walls and in one case rocking the carriage as it stood on the rails.  Lyn and I battened down the shutters of the windows and hoped we were secure.  We felt very vulnerable travelling unaccompanied by males in a very male orientated society.
            The Nalua chota bungalow garden was our next project and we planned out the flowerbeds enthusiastically and sent for flower seeds.  The seedlings came up but unfortunately a nanny goat with two kids got in and devoured the lot so we never did see any flowers and we christened the kids "Petunia" and "Dahlia".  We acquired two hens and a cockerel so that we could have our own freshly laid eggs.  The cockerel was "Jock" and his two wives "Henrietta" and "Ermintrude".  They became so tame they wandered onto the verandah and had to be discouraged from adopting the bungalow as their home.
            From the bungalow we could hear the Muzzein called from the tea estate mosque at dawn - a lovely sound which always makes me nostalgic for those days - happy days in Pakistan.
            One night we were awakened by a snorting, sawing kind of noise just outside our bedroom window and at first thought it was a tiger but when we looked out it was the local big huge Brahman bull pawing at the ground and snorting wildly through its nose.
            The bungalow drive was lined by frangipani trees, (temple trees) with overpoweringly strongly perfumed flowers.  At the side of the front verandah was a yellow flowering oleander bush.  Stewart and I had it all planned in that bungalow where the baby would have its cot and where it would sleep on the verandah (under the oleander bush!!).  But the servants were the first to tell us (by "the jungle drums") as we jokingly called it that we were to be transferred to Champarai Tea Estate in Doloi Valley.  Sure enough, official word came from Chittagong office that Stewart was to move there while I was down in Dacca.  We were dismayed and disappointed at having to make such a huge upheaval at that particular time.
            Stewart travelled down with me to Dacca and for the first two weeks I stayed with a couple in their fifties from the States - Paul and Mattie Lee Luce who had very kindly offered me hospitality rather than have me waiting around in the hospital.  They had stayed with us at Nalua and found it so green and clean and refreshing "upcountry" in "tea" compared to dirty humid sticky Dacca.  The baby still showed no signs of arriving so when Stewart came down to see me at the end of two weeks he saw me settled into my hospital room as I was over stretching my hospitality with the Luces.
            It was a very painful goodbye as he left me there very far away from family and friends and I remember having a good sob.  It didn't help to open the bathroom door next to my room to find huge cockroaches swarming all over the floor. They had climbed up through a small drain in the floor.  However, I solved that problem by placing something over it to block their passage.
            The American community was very kind and took me out and visited me diligently.  I remember particularly a girl called Carol Haight who had lost her baby who came to see me a lot.  Jean Baker, of the U.K. High Commission had me round to her house a lot, which was within walking distance in a huge walled compound.
            The bazaar was nearby and during the day and well into the night you could hear Indian film music filtering into the hospital.
            The hospital was run by American Roman Catholic nuns who had their work cut out, training the little Bengali nurses.  There was a big general ward of Bengali women who had been admitted to have their babies and the early morning sounds apart from the "You're Ill" bird were hearty clearing of throats and hefty spits into the outside drain. Yugh!!
            I started having contractions in the evening and all through the night and was comforted by the frequent visits of one of the nuns who had a very "Bronx" New York accent.  I was eventually taken to the delivery room and given a general anaesthetic, as they wanted to do a forceps delivery because I was getting tired and nothing much was happening.  I came to, to a loud crying of a baby - Jean - my first glimpse of her was of a wide-open mouth and red indignant face.  I remember thinking how tiny she was.  I was fully expecting to see a six-month old type of baby.  Sister Christine (Doctor Joss) was the nun who delivered Jean and I had to have stitches, which made sitting very uncomfortable.
            Stewart came down for us when I was ready to leave hospital and he had brought a bunch of flowers.  He held Jean and she promptly spent a penny down his shorts and I was amused at him holding the bunch of flowers to hide the wet patch as we left the hospital.
            What an inexperienced mother I was - no knowledge at all of babies, but off we set on the train back to the tea estates winding our way through the huge throng of humanity at Dacca station.  Jean was in the tartan-lined carrycot carried gingerly by Stewart.  When the diesel train drew in with a loud noise her eyes widened and her little hands flailed out in distress.
             I had only prepared the absolute minimum of a layette for her, as I had been rather superstitious - influenced by the fact that two tea planters' wives had lost their babies at birth.  Betty Coutts had prepared everything to the last minute detail - even to purpose-built babies' bedroom furniture decked out in teddy bear transfers.
Jean Lorraine.            Born in the Holy Family Hospital, Dacca. 20th March 1958

Chapter 3


Champarai Tea Estate

We drove along the mainly "bund" (built up) road with khet (paddy fields) on either side.  Stewart said that a trolley line serving all the tea estates in Doloi Valley used to run along this bund until lorries and private cars made the trolleys redundant.  The trolleys took the tea to the station at Banugatch to be dispatched to Chittagong.
            Champarai Tea Estate was right at the end of Doloi Valley.  We were given a fairly new small bungalow about a mile from the "burra bungalow", office and factory.  It was all by itself surrounded by tea and shade trees.  It was hot as it had an asbestos roof, which absorbed the heat.  We soon made it into our own bungalow with all our belongings installed.  It had its own lighting system run from an engine which went off as we went to bed so outside the bedroom door was left a "hat buttie" (storm lantern run on kerosene) so that we had some light to resort to.
            We were very lucky to have Dorothy as an ayah.  She was Khasi (from Shillong originally) and spoke very good English.  She was marvelous with the baby and reassured me on lots of occasions when I was worried about Jean.  She used to tell me all about her life - her first very unhappy marriage to a drunk of a Khasi and her subsequent marriage to the dhak-wallah (postman) on a Sylhet tea estate which was very happy.
            She told me that I was the only memsahib she had ever worked for who had breastfed her baby.  All the others had put theirs straight onto the bottle and left it to the ayah to do the feeding while they were free to play tennis and socialize at the club.  We still socialized and went to Doloi Club but our lives revolved round Jean most of the time.  We couldn't venture far in the car at this stage of our lives as it was not very reliable and Jean consequently cried when she saw a strange white face and chuckled and smiled when she saw brown ones (even the strange bearded face of an old chowhidar (watchman) who leaned over her pram.)
            Dorothy once remarked that it was so nice to see Stewart and I so much in love with each other.  She hadn't noticed it in any other couple she had worked for.
            Once I had stopped breastfeeding, when Jean was about five months old, we took advantage of having such a good reliable ayah and went off to Calcutta for a few days, just the two of us.  Dorothy stayed in the bungalow with Jean and the other servants and Barbara Baillie (the burra memsahib) very kindly looked in to see if everything was all right each day.
            To get to Calcutta we had to cross the border into India by a ferryboat and then we were pedalled, each in individual rickshaws, to the airstrip along a very bumpy road in very hot sun.  We were given very strong sweet tea to drink by the airstrip official (customs) which promptly came back up in a "sickie bag" after we'd taken off.  (I was sick anyway, because of the rather bumpy flight in the old Dakota aircraft.)
            We stayed in the Great Eastern Hotel and wined, dined and danced.  We enjoyed looking round the shops and I remember getting such a fright in one when I backed into a stuffed snow leopard.  Stewart was very amused at my face.
            We got into a horse drawn carriage one night in the moonlight and drove in leisurely romantic fashion along the Maidan.  We went to a café and were entertained by one of the numerous Anglo-Indian bands that sang and played the latest pop songs very competently.
            It was a very welcome break from our tea estate routine but it was lovely to get back to Jean and learn she had been all right in our absence.
            Every day I used to go long walks with Barbara Baillie through the "tea" taking Batcha with me.  It was not surprising that I lost weight rapidly with the walking in the monsoon heat and having breast fed for five months.  I went down to seven stones seven pounds from nine stones six pounds.  I didn't feel ill but people starting remarking that I was very thin, was I well?  A good doctor would have done something about it but I was fortunate in that I remained well and fit.
            Stewart had always walked to the office and round the tillah (the tea area) and the bearer always knew to bring his "nimbo pani" (lemon drink) whenever Batcha ran to the front steps of the verandah at lunch time.  She had a sixth sense and knew when he was coming long before anyone else did.
            Sometimes Stewart used to frighten her by lowering his big golf umbrella (which he took in the "rains") and all she and I could see approaching was the round umbrella with legs, advancing on us.  She always  fled through the house to the back verandah!!
Perhaps she only humoured us!!!!
            One evening Stewart thought he would go and check on the tea manufacture and as it was a moonlight night he decided to walk to the factory.  The path took him high above the river and after he had been walking some way something very large pounced on Batcha who was a little way ahead.  It rolled with her and the impetus sent it sideways crashing and splashing into the river below.  It was a large leopard!!  Stewart had impulsively thrown his walking stick at it, which he realized was a foolish thing to do as it left him completely defenseless.  He walked on, calling Batcha, but she was nowhere to be seen.  He thought the worst had happened to her but, when he arrived at the factory, there she was hiding under a table with not a scratch on her.  (We had been in the habit of playing with her by fighting with her and she had learnt to do a quick sideways roll to get out of reach and that had certainly served her well!!)  The leopard must have got quite a fright when it found itself in the river.
            Bill Baillie was Stewart's burra sahib.  Jim Clark was the other assistant and then a very fierce looking character called Afridi (a Pathan) from the mountains of West Pakistan came as a new assistant.  He was fascinated by the similarity of their feuding tribes in the mountains to our Highland clans and had enjoyed reading all about the clans in a book he had.
            Our nearest neighbours were Frank and Barbara Lyle-Taylor - a couple nearing retirement age - on Doloi Tea Estate belonging to a different company from ours.  Barbara gave me a leather covered book on gardening in India, which I treasure to this day. It was handed down to her as well.
            We were moved on yet again but this time not too far away, just back down the "bund" road this time to the new chota bungalow at Patrakhola.


Chapter 4


Patrakhola Tea Estate

The new Chota bungalow

This bungalow had the two bedrooms next to each other but not interconnected.  (There was a belief that bungalows were usually designed by bachelor tea planters, with the plan hastily scribbled on the back of a cigarette pack.  Certainly all the rooms seemed to be with few exceptions, built with doors opening onto the verandah!!)

            We ate breakfast every morning on the verandah with Jean beside us in her little high chair.  Stewart always, on every tea estate went out about 6 a.m. for "gunti" at the office where all the orders for the day's work were given and then he came back for breakfast at around 8.30 a.m. and went out afterwards to oversee the work on the "tillah" returning for lunch around 12.30 p.m.  Then there would be "lie-back' time - a sleep for an hour or so and he would go back out to the tullah again or on pay day to the office when the whole labour force was paid.  He would return around 5 p.m. for a cup of tea on the verandah and sometimes we would both go far a walk.

            Club day was Thursday during the week and Saturday at the weekend.  At this time we mostly played tennis and had tennis teas, which we memsahibs had to provide.  Doloi Club was on Patrakhola Tea Estate, only about a mile away from the bungalow near the river (the Doloi river) and the golf course (nine holes), which doubled as the tea estate grazing ground for the labourers' cattle.  The club verandah looked onto the burial ground, adjoining the golf course and we would quite often see a body being carried there on a bamboo stretcher wrapped in its white shroud.

            There was a Club "go-down" in every club and a club babu (clerk) and it was there we purchased canned produce like "Dalda" cooking fat in a large tin and Mitchell's orange squash in bottles.  Jean's Haliborange and Ostermilk we purchased from a pharmacy in a village near the tea estate.  The Ostermilk (Dutch) came in powder form in tins with the expiry date clearly marked on the bottom of the tins so you could be sure the milk was fresh.

            I had the "lakri mistri", the carpenter on the tea estate, make me a sieve so that I could sieve and mash Jean's vegetables.  She had pawpaw, papaya, mashed with banana - an excellent baby food.

            The cook used to steam fish in an earthenware jar sealed with an earthenware lid with flour and water paste to keep it tightly shut and that was sieved for her and he also used to cook a small piece of breast of chicken the same way in its own gravy which was also sieved.  At the time I couldn't get baby cereal so Mum used to send me out packets of Farex.  By the time Lorna and Mhairi were born, Farex in tins was being imported.

            In the "rains" the only vegetables available were "brinjal" (egg-plant,) pumpkin, squashes, courgettes and a form of spinach which was a climbing plant called by the attractive name of "sag".  I mainly gave Jean "sag" and pumpkin.

            In the cold weather we could grow every type of U.K. vegetable so we revelled in our own beautifully fresh peas, beans, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and tasty huge tomatoes.

            Because of the risk of contamination from dirty water the salad vegetables were always washed in "pinky pani" (permanganate of potash dissolved in water creating "pink water".) Every time I went through the "bottle khana" (pantry) and saw prepared salad (lettuce etc.) I would automatically ask the bearer if it had been washed in "pinky pani". I must have asked once too often forcing the ayah (Dorothy) to come to me saying "the bearer says that if you ask once more if he has washed the lettuce in "pinky pani" he's going to leave.  He asks you to trust him! I told her to tell him I would trust him and I didn't ever ask him that again and we didn't ever have upset tummies.

            It was while we were here that I asked if the "lakri mistri" could make Jean a playpen - somewhere she could learn to pull herself up and learn to walk safely and play safely on her own.  Stewart said - "My mum didn't have a play pen for me" and I replied - "Your Dad didn't have a tape recorder and record player!"  Cheeky of me I know but I got the playpen made!

            Each morning Jean's cot was carried out to a spot below a fruit tree where she was left to have her morning nap with fresh air and a breeze blowing around her.  I had a mosquito net put over it to protect her from biting insects.

            One morning after a Club "do" we went out to have morning tea on the verandah and as the view from there was over the stream in a valley and bridge traversing it we noticed with alarm a car on the bridge with its bonnet projecting through the bridge's side fence and a figure slumped over the steering wheel.   We hastened to the scene dreading what we were going to find but were relieved to find Jock Smith sound asleep.  He had fallen asleep while driving slowly in a drunken state and the car had fortunately because of the very slight impact only projected through the fence a very short way.  He came back and ate a hearty breakfast with us.

            Stewart always came out with the saying "There's a little god that always protects drunken tea-planters!"

            The view described previously of the stream valley seen from our verandah, was unfortunately the outdoor latrine for tea estate workers who could be seen squatting in numbers along the sides of the stream, exposing their bottoms in blissful oblivion in the early mornings just when we were enjoying our morning "char" on the verandah.  Stewart gave the order that they would henceforth have to move downstream well out of our view.  The sylvan scene from then was devoid of human interest!!

            One afternoon just as Stewart walked back to the bungalow after work I noticed he was followed closely by a very thin, shabbily dressed dirty looking bearded and turbaned gentleman carrying a black attaché case.  I called to Stewart to ask what he wanted.  Stewart replied - "You know that tooth that's been bothering me for some time - well, this chap's got all the necessary instruments in his case and he's going to pull it out for me!"  This horrified me and I rushed onto the verandah where the aforesaid gentleman had laid out his tools on the verandah table and I laughed when Stewart appeared from the bedroom with our tennis racquets, which were set down on the table for the tennis racquet repairer to start work on.

            At some stage we were given a goose as "baksheesh". (A gift usually in recognition of a work contract having been granted). This goose took a liking to me and used to follow me round the garden and even give me a playful nip with its beak now and again.  Whenever one of the bazaar hens was selected from the chicken run and "given the chop" and the goose happened to witness this, it used to run round to the front in a panic to find me and then stand beside me eyeing me with very human looking eyes until it's panic subsided.  Every so often the cook used to ask me when we were going to eat the goose and I kept putting off the evil day.  The goose in the meantime was getting rather obstreperous and gave visitors more than a gentle peck being the good "watchdog" that it was.  We went off for a weekend to stay with some friends in one of the other tea districts and on our return there was the goose plucked and trussed up in the fridge ready for roasting.  The cook and Stewart had decided that was the best occasion for it to happen.  I still think of that goose and the oh so human look in its eye with more than a twinge of sadness and guilt!

            One day Stewart and I decided to go for a walk through the bamboo jungle on the estate.  As we made our way alongside a little stream we had to push our way through the bamboo fronds.  That was the last time we ever walked in the jungle area as we found ourselves absolutely covered with small ticks.  Unfortunately we didn't notice until after we arrived back in the bungalow and in the meantime I had picked up Jean to give her a cuddle.  We immediately stripped off our clothes and dunked them all into a pail of Dettol water and had showers but it was amazing how many had attached themselves to various parts of our bodies in that short time.  I even found one attached to Jean's tummy.  Luckily they were easy to remove, as they hadn't had time to get a good grip.

            Leeches were another fairly common form of insect life.  Stewart often came back from his walks round the "tillah" with one or two attached to his legs where he had brushed through vegetation.  He used to pull them off and then let Batcha the little terrier lick the bleeding wound till it rapidly stopped.  Dog's saliva seemed to do the trick better than anything.  I needless to say, worried that it wasn't the ideal thing to do if she had rabies.

            Another nuisance of an insect was the "geranium poka".  It looked like a miniature earwig.  It was prevalent during the monsoon season and was attracted by bright lights.  It was so small that it could make its way through the mosquito screens we had up at the windows.  If you felt it crawling on your skin and you squashed it the acid in its squashed body caused a bad weal and had a geranium smell.  We immediately put out the light if we were reading in bed.

            The rooms all had swinging screen doors of mosquito wire to prevent mosquitoes entering so it wasn't necessary to have mosquito nets over the beds.  The houses all over the "lines" and our bungalows were sprayed periodically with D.D.T. and Gamoxene. (Pretty deadly chemicals which at the time we didn't realize were so harmful.)

Chapter 5


Clevedon Tea Estate - Juri Valley

We moved yet again but this time it was promotion for Stewart as he had been made manager of a small tea estate, Clevedon, in Juri Valley.  He had no assistants and had the opportunity to be the "new broom" on an estate that had been neglected quite badly by its previous managers.  Tea prices on the Chittagong market were at the bottom of the "leveller" for Clevedon which was a huge challenge to Stewart.

            The whole layout of the factory and office buildings were a shambles so Stewart got a new office built and neat roads were laid out and grass established.  The water which had been used for washing the tea factory and for the dhobi (washer man) came from a filthy contaminated "tank" (square pond) so Stewart found a clean source - a spring nearby and piped the water from there - a good start to improving the hygiene of the tea factory.

            Under his supervision in the plucking round, careful pruning in the cold weather months and strict supervision in tea manufacture the Clevedon tea prices rose from the very bottom of the "leveller" to the top!!  He said it was a very fulfilling and satisfying time.

            The weather in Sylhet was very humid and hot in the monsoon (May to October) with heavy rains.  We were very thankful to have "punkahs" (ceiling fans) which kept a breeze circulating.  In the "cold weather" it got cold enough to wear a cardigan in the evening but it was a sunny dry time.  There was a pervading smell of freshly cut tea bushes as the main pruning programmes were carried out then  - a lovely aromatic clean smell.

            The Clevedon bungalow was old, thick-walled and had a very thick thatched roof.  Because the roof was of thick thatch the bungalow was the coolest we ever lived in in the heat and warmest in the cold weather.  Sparrows were forever noisily nesting in the thatch and we got a lot of geckoes - large lizards that made a succession of "gecko" noises - about eight calls at a time.  They usually lived unseen in the roof but on the walls there were usually small " tik tiks", tiny lizards sitting patiently waiting for a fly or mosquito to come their way.  The verandah at Clevedon was completely wired in with mosquito wire.

The window of the dining room opening onto the verandah was huge and reminded me of a window in a Spanish galleon.  We draped it with white curtains.  Our bedroom opened off the dining room and we made a small dressing room into Jean's bedroom.  Our bathroom opened off our room at the back and steps led down to it. Whenever I wanted to go back to the bedroom there was always a huge spider, with hairy legs above the bathroom door and I rushed through in case it decided to drop.

            As the only way to get into the lounge was from the verandah Stewart opened up the wall between the dining room and the lounge and the "lakri mistri" made a room divider and a door in the space which gave a lot more interest to the two rooms and made the two rooms inter-connecting.  On the back wall of the lounge a window flanked either side of the fireplace.  (We burned a log fire in the ‘cold weather').

            On the other side of the lounge was the spare bedroom with steps leading down to its bathroom.  It opened onto the wired in verandah. (Mum slept there when she came out to stay with us.)

            From the dining room a flight of dark steps led down to first on the right, the ‘go down' and down some more steps to the ‘bottle-khana' and then into the kitchen.

            Clevedon bungalow had a lovely atmosphere.  One felt it had always been a happy home for whoever had lived there.  I remember going through into the lounge to Stewart one evening after I had put Jean to bed and telling him how happy I felt.  (There isn't often an exact time when one is conscious of happiness.  It's more often seen in retrospect. )  But even walking around the tea estate, Stewart and I, we felt the whole place to be a good place to live.

            Jean's second Christmas was at Clevedon.  Stewart and I so enjoyed the look on her face when she opened one parcel only to find there were more to open.  Her little hands shook with excitement and her eyes were huge as she opened up the parcels.

            Once, we had people staying, and we were in the lounge when Jean came through from the bedroom with not a stitch on and seeing strangers hastily covered her tummy button.  For some reason that was the area she didn't want seen.

            Our neighbours were Geoff and Barbara Dare on Kapnapahar Tea Estate only a few miles away.  They had a baby girl, Sandra, and as we had a lot in common we used to call on them a lot.  They too lived in an old thatched bungalow with a wired in verandah and they had a badminton court on the lawn where the four of us used to play, mostly on Thursday afternoons.

            On the verandah was a huge cage in which lived a minah bird.  It had quite a repertoire of vocabulary and sounds.  It made a squeak like the children's swing and copied the squeaky ayah's voice shouting "Sandra - Christopen".  (Her version of Christopher their second-born.)  It copied the cough of the old "mali" (gardener) who sounded as though he was in the last stages of consumption.  It also copied Geoff calling "Goodnight" as guests left.  I often used to think how eerie it would be to hear the bird repeating all these distinctly Dare  family noises in a deserted and empty bungalow.  Barbara and I used to send each other "chits" (letters) by a runner, if we wanted to communicate.  (We had no telephone system in Bengal)  The envelopes always had "BY HAND" printed on them if they went by runner.  Our mail was always posted at RANGARKUL Post Office.  (The only house in Bengal I ever saw a rose growing!  Why did I not take a cutting and try growing it myself?)

            The garden at Clevedon was sloping and seemed to be only lawn with no flowerbeds and little in the way of a vegetable garden.  The "malis" told us that the reason there were no flowerbeds was because it was terrible soil and nothing would grow.  That, of course was a challenge to us so beds were dug and cow manure brought in and eventually we had the best dahlias we'd ever seen growing. In the beds along the top of walls beside the drive grew verbena and portuluaca.  Of course, we also found that the whole herd of cows, belonging to the labourers, were driven daily through our drive to the grazing grounds.  That "bundibus" (custom) was changed and gates were put on and the cows were stopped.  On a fence near the wall of the garage grew a huge mass of creeper called "Golden Shower" - an absolute mass of gold when it was in bloom.  Behind the garage was a huge lichi tree that bore a huge crop each year.  The children picked them and peeled them and ate them and the juice when it ran onto white clothes made brown indelible stains.

            When the new extension (a children's bedroom and bathroom) was added onto our bedroom we had a loggia built where we grew bougainvillea (my favourite tropical flower) and I planted a bush which grew myriads of red flowers shaped just like mandarin's hats which is why it was aptly named "Mandarin's hat".  (I didn't ever learn its Latin name).

            On one side of the drive grew a huge hedge of all colours of bougainvillea.  (All one had to do to plant bougainvillea was to cut sticks of it and stick them into the ground and away they went.)  Further down was an Indian laburnam tree - festooned with yellow chains when if flowered.  There was also a bauhinia tree with pale mauve orchid like blooms with a pervasive sweet scent.  Down near the gate, which led to the factory compound, there was a huge banyan tree - a "puja" (holy) tree where often you would see little lights burning and offerings of temple flowers (frangipani).

            In 1960, in the spring, we set off on our "home" leave.  Helen and Neil Bruce (from Aberdeen) would be living in our bungalow for the six months we would be away as Neil had got the acting manager's job.  They looked after "Batcha" while we were away.  Batcha was a little terrier type dog and black and hairy.  Her lineage was dachshund and Labrador but the two lines had mixed well to produce a very terrier type dog almost like a border terrier.  She was almost human - she understood a fantastic amount of vocabulary.  She loved her walks with me in the afternoon.

            We sailed home on the Silicia (another Anchor line boat) and thoroughly enjoyed our cruise (paid for by Duncan Brothers Tea Company). 

            Stewart and I reckoned our biggest regret in life was that we didn't go on leave when we were due to go in October 1959.  We decided we didn't want a winter leave so went in the following spring instead.  If we had gone in October Stewart would have seen his mother (she died at the end of October) and I would have seen my father (he died at the end of January).  Both had been longing to see Jean.

            We took a furnished house for our leave in Lundin Links right next to the Ladies Golf Course at the end of the cul-de-sac.  Oh how we wished we could go mad with a pot of white paint, as the house was so gloomy - all brown varnish!  It was a good summer though and we got out and about a lot.  We managed to see a lot of relatives and especially Mum as she was feeling the loss of my father quite badly.  She was still in the Schoolhouse at Chapel and Bob my youngest brother was still at home at that time.

            One day we ran an elderly neighbour up to Inverness where she was going to stay with relatives in Tomnahurich Street.  We drove back along the north side of Loch Ness little dreaming that on the other side was a little white hotel where we would be living in another fifteen or so years.  We stopped for tea at the Inchnacardoch Hotel and thought then it was a nice size of a hotel to run.   It was on this leave that Stewart and I left Mum to look after Jean (aged 2½) and had a camping holiday in Luxembourg, Italy, Switzerland and France.  We bought our tent in Brussels.  Driving was such a leisurely pursuit in 1960!!

            We sailed back to Karachi and then flew to Dacca and then up by train to Sylhet Tea District once again.  By this time I was pregnant with Lorna.

 This time when I was waiting down in Dacca for the baby to be born I had Sue Smith (Jeep Smith's wife) for company and we had plenty of time for talking and getting to know one another.  Jeep had met Sue when he had been in the Merchant Navy when his ship had called at Sydney, and things had progressed from there.

Once, we had taken a cycle rickshaw to go to the shops and the rickshaw wallah turned his face to speak to us and we were horrified to see all his jaw and teeth exposed with what looked like the leprosy effect of the flesh eaten away.  Sue shrieked "Quick!  I want to see a black cat!"  certain that, in her superstitious frame of mind, the sight would cause some dreadful effect on her unborn child.  I told her not to believe in Old Wife's Tales!

We were adopted by the Americans in Dacca and were at ball games and social occasions.  A Chinese girl, married to a British diplomat, visited us and told Sue she would have a boy and I would have a girl.

I was so fed up waiting for the baby to come that at one person's house I had a game of badminton, deliberately jumping around.  That did the trick and Lorna was born the next day.  I was conscious the whole time and when she did arrive and I didn't hear her crying, only a little whimper, I thought there was something wrong.  But, she was perfect.  Not a hair on her head though - completely bald - unlike the little Bengali babies who had black straight hair and looked like little bottlebrushes.  When she was put beside me on the trolley when I was wheeled out of the delivery room I felt her little feet and they were cold as ice.

The very next day Sue went into labour and Bruce her first born arrived.  She told me afterwards that she was determined not to make a sound, as she hadn't heard me make any noise

One day the nurses brought Lorna to me and she was screaming and red in the face and not interested in having her feed.  I asked the nurse what she thought was wrong and she pulled up her little top and bound round tightly round Lorna's chest was a bandage.  They told me Sister Tekla (a rather old-fashioned Dutch sister) had bound her because her little breasts had swollen up.  I had my baby book and read that this was only due to excess female hormones at birth and that this would regulate itself in a day or two but that it had been the practice in the past to bind the chest tightly!!  Needless to say I unwound the bandage and Lorna's crying immediately subsided.

I liked the early dawns in the hospital.  There was a "You're Ill" bird in the grounds (I didn't ever learn its true name) that used to call "You're Ill, You're Ill" and other tropical birds making their sounds (you couldn't call it singing!!)  You could also hear the sound of Indian film music coming faintly from the bazaars area nearby.  We had mosquito nets over the beds and they were wound back at daylight.

One day I passed by the nursery and heard desperate cries from one of the babies.  On looking in I saw one of the cots festooned in a mosquito net with little fists and feet pushing desperately at it.  I hammered on the window of the next room to get the attention of a nurse and pointed to the cot.  It was Bruce!  He had been really frightened by the experience of being almost suffocated by the net.  Sue said he couldn't bear anything over his face for years after that.

While in Dacca before the baby was born Sue and I were guests of the American community in Dacca.  We attended ball games, church services held in an American home with hymns played on a small organ and generally asked out for meals to American houses.  It was like being in a little part of the States in the middle of Dacca.

I was also at a reception at the British High Commissioners for the Queen and Prince Philip as they were visiting Pakistan.  A red carpet was laid out on the lawn and we lined up on either side to be ‘received'.  I hid behind Jim Storrier  which took some doing with my stomach the size it was.  The Queen was very awe inspiring and formal but Prince Philip broke the ice by chatting informally and joking.

When the nurses heard that the "Rani" (Queen) was going to be passing the road end near the hospital they were so excited and asked if they could go and see her.  It was strange to hear such enthusiasm from a people who had been independent of Britain.  But, she was still their Queen!

Back at Clevedon with Lorna I became so absorbed with the baby that I was horrified to hear Jean say one day as she sat beside me as I fed the baby "You're not my mummy any more, you're the baby's mummy!"  I expect by the age of 3 as she was she had become used to being the centre of attention.  I felt so awful at the thought that I must have been neglecting her.

Soon though she and Lorna became very close especially when Lorna got past the uninteresting ‘tiny' stage of lying sleeping all the time.  Lorna was christened in Clevedon bungalow on the verandah.  The Bishop of Dacca came up from Dacca  (Bishop Blair).  He was the most Christian man in every way I have ever met.  Very well spoken, with a calm soft voice and obviously devoted to the life as a missionary.  We once visited him in his house in the old part of Dacca and it was extremely basic with a monk-like atmosphere.  The bathroom was a bare white washed room with a concrete floor with a "thunder box" type of toilet and the washing facilities consisted of an enamel bowl on a stand with an enamel pitcher beside it full of cold water and a towel on a towel rack.

Auntie Annie was named as Lorna's godmother by proxy and Jim Storrier was godfather.  She was very good and slept through the service and the lunch party afterwards.  Jim and Sheila Storrier had come up from Luskerpore for it and we had the Juri planters and their wives as well.

Mum came out when Lorna was about nine months old and it was a good change for her as she was still missing my father badly.  She slept in the spare bedroom and on her first night was alarmed to see a small snake in her bathroom.

She was lucky with wildlife sightings and saw a tiger in the headlights of the car when we were going to Pop Nailer's for dinner one night.  It had been wanting to cross the road and sat and waited till we drove on but we stopped and held it in the beam of the headlights so it licked its paw while it waited.  A thrill for Mum.

Another night we were driving on the old Shamshernagar airstrip (a relic from the war)  when a huge porcupine with all its quills held aloft scurried along in front of us.  It was the one and only time Stewart and I ever saw one and Mum luckily happened to be with us.

Mum never could get the name of the barber and the Hindi name of "nappit" she changed to "nippit" or "snippet" much to our hilarity!  She enjoyed going with us to the Juri Club tennis afternoons and usually thought up some games to play with all the children there.  Tennis teas were a very social affair.

We also took her to Shillong for a holiday and she enjoyed seeing an Indian Hill station.  The Khasi bazaar was her favourite with its mounds of every type of fruit and vegetable.  We stayed in the Shillong Club but found it extremely cold at nights. The rooms were only wooden structures and the cold seeped in.  Jean's bronchitis took a turn for the worse and by the time we got back to Clevedon she was worryingly ill and finding difficulty breathing.  I took her down to Dacca by plane from Shamshernagar and she got appropriate treatment there.  (She was told when she was adult that she must have been asthmatic at that point, but that diagnosis was never made at the time.  She certainly had a lot of wheezy colds.)

Occasionally our neighbour from a small native owned tea estate would call on us.  This used to delight the children as he came on his elephant.  Stewart would instruct the mali (gardener) to cut a banana tree to feed the elephant and we watched while we had tea with the gentleman (I can't remember his name)  It was fascinating to watch the "hati" methodically strip the tree of its leaves and then stuff them into its mouth all done so efficiently and delicately with its trunk.  Then the trunk of the banana tree would be sliced off into strips and eagerly eaten as well until not a vestige of it was left and it was time for our neighbour to depart.

The same gentleman once asked Barbara and Geoff Dare and Stewart and I to visit him for afternoon tea and off we drove.  It was an extremely hot day as we sat on his verandah and after his bearer had served tea to the men and then to us a fan was called for.  A large hand fan was brought by another servant who proceeded to fan Stewart, Geoff and our neighbour while Barbara and I sat and profusely perspired completely out of range of the refreshing breeze.  Luckily we saw the funny side of things.  Definitely women were put strictly in their place in these circles!

Once we were bothered on Clevedon Tea Estate by a visiting tiger who would help itself to labourers cows - easy pickings - probably it was rather an elderly tiger which found hunting for food in the jungle increasingly difficult.  The babus (head clerks) decided that the "shikari" (hunter) should be called to help and he eventually arrived.  Stewart and I were amazed when we met him.  He looked like picture book pictures of Jesus. He had a thin long aesthetic face and waving shoulder length hair and a delicate physique.  The exact opposite of how we pictured a "shikari" should look.  His manner too was dreamy and off-hand.  However, we had been assured he was the best "shikari" in the district.

Meanwhile Stewart and I had been to Juri Club one night and were coming home in the Land Rover.  I was driving because Stewart had been imbibing more than usual.  As we reached the gate into Clevedon Tea Estate I found the steering would not respond and the Land Rover veered off the road and rammed into the gate post.  The mudguard bent with the impact and jammed against the tyre preventing the vehicle from being moved from that position.  There was nothing for it but to walk home.  Stewart was none too pleased and couldn't think what had made me go off the road.  (It had actually been a deep tyre mark that caught my wheel in its grip and forced me to go its way).

Stewart said as we walked along in the dark "This is just the sort of night the tiger could be out and about!"  That made both of us feel really good?!!!  As we approached the labourers'  "lines" the road forked; one way led to the left through a cutting with high ground on either side flanked by tea bushes - a shortish way to our bungalow but very shaded by bushes and trees, whereas the road to the right led round a bend to a gate opening directly to the "lines" of labourer's houses and a round about but very built up road to the bungalow.

Stewart said "Which way will we go?" and we opted for the longer route through the "lines".  As we approached the gate we both heard a menacing deep growl behind us.  I was over the gate well before Stewart!  How I got over so fast I don't know as I was wearing a (fashionable at that time) tight straight skirt and high heeled shoes.  We felt so relieved to be in safety as we walked along past the houses. The next morning we heard that a cow had been taken very near the gate.

The "shikar" set up watch and before long (after a few days) shot the tiger which was brought to us for us to see.  He wondered if we wanted to buy the skin but we had nowhere nearby where we could have had the skin "cured".

My mother amused us when she was staying at Clevedon.  She kept telling us that she was alarmed at night to hear the "restless natives" and that she lay worrying and couldn't sleep.  She said she heard shouts and drums and packs of dogs roaming around and was sure the bungalow was going to be attacked.  One night we took her walking through the "lines" which were quite close to the bungalow.  We were only separated by a deep, steep sided valley so sounds carried quite strongly.  None of  these sounds bothered us as a family - in fact were reassuring to the children.  We walked past the bamboo thatched houses with their earthen floors with a dog in each one's yard which immediately started yapping when we passed, then subsided into silence but the effect as we passed was certainly like a pack of dogs barking in turn!  Some houses had groups of figures sitting in lamplight quietly playing their drums and singing; there were others carrying on conversations at the tops of their voices as was their wont.  Mum gradually came to see that the sounds she had been listening to in the "lines" were just the ordinary sounds of Indian tea labourers' lives.  There was absolutely nothing menacing or threatening about these people at all.

(It was at the Clevedon bungalow that there always seemed to be a huge black hairy spider positioned above the door between our bedroom and bathroom.  I had a horror of those and always imagined it would drop on me as I went through so I got Stewart to remove it.)

When a "tufan" (hurricane) was heard approaching we could hear the roar of the wind in the trees and usually there was time to close the windows and remove lightweight objects that could be blown away from the verandah.  However, in our bedroom the windows could only be closed from outside as there were fixed mosquito wire screens over the windows and at night often the night "chowkidar" was roused from sleep with difficulty so that by the time he was attempting to close the windows he did so with great difficulty as the wind was already upon us with full force along with sheets of rain.  The curtains use to blow horizontally into the room and rain poured in - very exciting! The room we had built onto ours for the children had a mosquito wire box built out from the windows so that we could close them ourselves - a much more satisfactory arrangement.

We went to the Lungla Club Christmas party, from Clevedon, with the children.  It was always a big party that was always eagerly attended by the Moslem children of the Pakistani tea planters as well as ourselves.  Tables were set up outside the club decorated with hibiscus flowers and the children sat in rows eating the cakes and sandwiches and biscuits, and parents stood around chatting and helping themselves to tea and cakes.  The games were held inside the Club and then presents handed out by Santa Claus (a volunteer bachelor planter) from under the Christmas tree.  The final excitement was a deluge of balloons coming down from the ceiling released from a net.

One weekend Stewart and I were asked to a dinner party in a fairly distant part of the district and we decided to stay the night and leave early in the morning leaving Jean at home with Dorothy the ayah.  The host, Alex Elrick, retired to bed, the worse for wear and as the party didn't seem to be ceasing and we were tired we retired to bed too.  A big mistake, as the noise of drunken carousing was not sleep indusive so we dressed and got into the car and drove home through torrential rain.  We were so pleased to have done so as the rain proved to be so heavy that several bridges were washed away in flash floods on the route we had travelled.  We would not have managed home the next morning and might have been held up for several days.

Another night when we were at Juri Club in the dry season we were travelling home and saw a huge column of flame looking exactly like a thatched bungalow on fire.  It looked as though it was in the direction of Clevedon but the nearer we got to home we realized with relief that it was in the opposite direction.  Jean was always left at home with the ayah when we went out at night.  The night chowkidar had a fondness for "ganja" (marijuana) and some nights when we returned greeted us with a zombie expression on his face and walked like an automaton.  Not the best type of person to react sensibly should there have been a fire.

As Jean grew and Lorna became increasingly active Dorothy our ayah who was crippled with arthritis decided she should retire and go to live with her husband who was the "dak-wallah" on Sonarupa Tea Estate still in the Juri District.

A beautiful girl came to us - Antonia Rosario - from a village near Dacca.  She was Christian - probably her family had been converted to Christianity from the sweeper class of untouchables and a Portuguese name bestowed on them so that the sweeper class name would be eradicated with all its handicaps for progress through life.

I found her to be sullen and difficult to get to know but it was probably because she was finding it anything but easy away from her family for the first time.  Also, not long after she arrived word came from her village that her little girl was very ill and she asked if she could fetch her along with her own little sister.  We hadn't even known she was married far less that she was the mother of a small child.

We had a very good assistant medical officer in the Clevedon Tea Estate Pharmacy, Abdul Rahman.  We called him to attend the ayah's baby who was a pathetic bundle of bones.  He told us the little two-year old was suffering from severe dysentery and acute malnutrition.  He immediately put her onto the relevant antibiotics and told the ayah to get a nanny goat and feed up the little girl with goat's milk.  Within weeks the change was miraculous - she was transformed into a fat healthy happy little girl.  The ayah's young sister looked after her when Antonia was working and in the evening we would see the ayah swinging the baby to sleep in its hammock in her hut at the bottom of the garden.  She herself was a lot happier with her baby and the company of her sister.

At the beginning though I found it hard to get Antonia to understand about germs and the importance of cleanliness.  One day Jean was playing in the small concrete paddling pool we had had built near the garage and I noticed from the verandah that she was doing the actions of drinking out of her little plastic play cups very realistically.  I went down to enquire of the ayah why she was allowing Jean to do so when I was always so particular that her drinking water was always to be boiled and filtered.  She replied that they all drank the water straight from the water tank and they were never ill.  By coincidence that was the day the water tank near the garage was cleaned and in it were the remains of a drowned, "tree rat" (squirrel)!!  I think that hammered the message home!

Another day Lorna was carefully sucking each "paisa" (local coins) she had found to play with  - again ignored by the ayah till I had to emphasise that they were covered in germs. 

While we were at Clevedon Jean turned five and I began lessons.  I also taught Diana Tompkins and Sandra Dare.  I made most of the apparatus I needed - counting material - beans painted red on one side and cards with domino type dots on them.  Also picture and matching word cards - all the kind of apparatus we were taught to make when I was teaching in an infant class in Kirkcaldy.  Mum sent me reading books - (Janet and John series) which I found to be excellent for starting off reading.  I also made letter and number flash cards and word flash cards of action words and familiar nouns for the "Look and Say" method we had been encouraged to use combined with formal reading and phonetic word sounding.

About once a month or even longer periods in between we had a visit from a church minister who came up from Dacca to give a communion service.  Once or twice we had Bishop Blair of Dacca of the Anglican High Church.  These services were held in the Club on a Sunday, after tennis was finished and everyone had gone home for a meal and to change for the evening Club drinks and conversation.  We met at about 6 pm and the hours' service was over before people began driving in.

One Sunday we Europeans went in to find that quite a few of our Muslim fellow tea planters were ensconced at the bar.  Jelal Khan being very much the ringleader.  They all laughed and talked and drank all the way through the service.  At the end the other Europeans all agreed that we should have the services in the future in one of the bungalows.  They were against saying anything but Stewart walked up to Jelal Khan and the others and remarked that they had been extremely rude.  How would they have felt if we had interrupted one of their Muslim religious meetings in the same way.  All they had to do was mention to us that they didn't agree with our Christian services being conducted in the Club premises and we would readily have had them elsewhere.

Our other friends thought that Stewart had gone over the score by facing up to them and that it would alienate the relationship between Moslem and Christian.  On the contrary instinctively he had known that to face them openly was to make them "lose face".  After that incident he was thought very highly by all the Moslem tea planters.  He had shown the old style "British Raj" strength of character so lacking in the British these days, which is much admired by the Moslems. They despise weakness.

Cold Weather Outings to the Bheel

Cold weather evenings drew in and cooler pleasant weather resulted.  The monsoon season ended and the rains ceased.  As a result the huge expanse of flooded flat land in the Juri district began to dry out and the drying areas sprouted fresh green grass.  The deeper areas stayed as lakes and all kinds of duck and geese began to make their flights in from Siberia after they had bred there and this fertile green area with stretches of water was ideal as their wintering ground.  Local Bengalis drove in their cattle and water buffalo for the rich grazing.

This was the time for the excellent shooting for the Juri tea planters.  We drove down on local holidays and took our cooks who roasted duck over fires.  We sat and ate at long trestle tables and of course took our beer and whisky along.  The children all enjoyed themselves thoroughly and a favourite occupation was collecting dry cowpats and making them into fires.   (Once Lorna cut herself and being afraid of tetanus I sucked the wound and spat out any dirt.  What a mother will do?!!!!!)

Once Stewart fired both barrels of his gun in quick succession and downed two geese.  Quite a feat, and not one to be performed again.  More duck and geese got away than were ever shot usually.

Some Bengalis came once trying to sell us live duck they had tied together at the feet.  They had caught them by swimming under water and catching them from below.  Barbara Dare had some money on her and bought them and promptly let them go to have their freedom once again.  We all felt good about that as we felt it wasn't such "fair game" as shooting.

Once we took lorries out with beds in them and placed them in a circle, round the huge campfire.  It was lovely to sit out under that huge expanse of starry sky - the men and women, while the children slept in the lorries.  Washing facilities were very limited so night outings didn't happen very often.

When we left Juri Valley our visits to the Bheel on public holidays were sadly missed.


Mahjong afternoons were very much enjoyed by memsahibs, children and ayahs.  They were quite an important social occasion.  Recipes were exchanged and plant and flower roots and seeds given out and gossip generally indulged in.  Children played and babies were dandled on ayahs' hips while they too gossiped.  The game of mahjong was not played seriously to the point of scoring as the Chinese do but we each tried to make it interesting by trying to win the game in one or other of the interesting sequences we learnt from the instruction book.

Tea was drunk and biscuits eaten while the children drank their orange juice, which had been brought for the occasion.

Cold Weathers

Cold weathers were the very pleasant time of year.  Tea plucking stopped as growth slowed down as the humidity and rainfall fell.  The labourers went round sections of the tea due to be pruned that year and the branches were lopped with sharp knives to flat topped bushes about eighteen inches in height.  The aromatic smell of the pruned bushes filled the air.  Cold weather mornings were clear and fresh and the sun (not nearly so fiercely hot) shone down day after day.  By the evenings a dust haze had enveloped the sky.  It got so cool after dark that cardigans and light jumpers had to be worn and blankets and quilts put on beds.  Some nights we had log fires in the lounge fireplaces.  One felt so invigorated by the coolness after the energy sapping humid heat of the monsoon.

As the cold weather progressed the skies became ever more hazy due to the burning of the "sunkola" - pampas type grass which benefited from an annual burn.

Our livestock at Clevedon became more experimental.  I remembered a type of mobile hen house cum run my mother had had for her hens and the "lakri mistri" (carpenter) built one for me.  We got day old chicks (Rhode Island) from a breeder and at first they were kept in the closed in part of the hen house and kept warm by two "hat butties" (storm lanterns) at nights.  Eventually they developed into fullgrown pullets and started laying eggs.  Each day the run was moved around to a fresh part of the grassy tennis court area.

We also had a pet rabbit which had babies, one of which fell out and was outside on the dewy grass all night.  I put it in a box of cotton wool beside the wood stove where it lay half-dead and I gave it a squirt of warm Ostermilk laced with a dash of Dimple Haig whisky from an ear dropper.  By the next morning it was sitting up, all fluffy, looking for more.  It never looked back and grew into a sturdy rabbit.

It was at Clevedon that Batcha the dog became ill - she must have been about 10 years old.  Her stomach swelled and she lay in some distress panting.  (Alistair) the cook tried to get her to drink a little water and one evening she died.  Stewart and I were devastated and I cried and cried.  She had been almost human in her knowledge of vocabulary.  Mum was living with us at the time and she thought I was overdoing it I was so upset.

A swimming pool was dug in the garden down from the new children's room and on Sundays we had lunch parties inviting other tea planter families.  What a difference it made to our lives.  There was no swimming pool pump so we added chlorine and changed the water completely whenever it went greenish.

Home Leave 1963

This time we flew, and stopped off in Beirut for a couple of nights (little did we know that it would become a battle ground and be practically razed to the ground with bombings in a few years time.)  We stayed in a hotel where the waiters were very intrigued to hear Lorna (aged 2) calling for "sureba"  (soup) and "anda" (eggs).  Evidently the Arabic language resembles some words of the Hindi language.

We were befriended by an Arab Christian family who had a souvenir shop and the next day were taken by the owner for a run in his car up the mountain road which wound up from Beirut and through the Beka Valley.  There we explored the ancient Roman ruins of gigantic temples at Baalbeck.  At the end of the day we were taken to our new friend's apartment for a cup of coffee and the girls met his little girl who intrigued us by clopping around in little heel-less slip-on shoes.  I remember also seeing carpets as wall hangings for the first time ever.

From there we flew to Rome where we stayed another night.  We took the children to the Fountain of Trevi where they threw in coins.  We hired a taxi and asked the driver to take us round the relevant sites.  He took us to the Coliseum and the Holy City and the Appian Way with its ancient lines of Roman Statues and showed us the wolves in their cages supposed to be descendants of the wolves which had reared Romulus and Remus the founders of the city.  Then he said he would like to show us something else.  He stopped the taxi outside the gate opening into a quarry.  We all got out and began entering, when Jean (aged 5) suddenly stopped dead and said  "I don't like this place I want to go back to the car!"  That was a really strange reaction to a place unknown to her where Roman citizens had been lined up and shot by the Nazis during the war as a reprisal for Germans killed by a randomly thrown grenade in a café.  I can't remember the exact number - lets say 14 Germans were killed so 140 citizens were lifted from the streets men, women, young boys - anybody.  To the side of the spot were lines of graves (with photographs) under a flat concrete roof.  

The next stop was Amsterdam where we had a few hours in the city before flying on.  We remember walking along frozen canals and snow-covered streets.  (It was a very severe winter)  Accidentally we found ourselves walking along a street with a pretty girl in every window and realized it was the "Red Light" area.  They all looked surprised to see a family walking through!!

We were met by a young chap with a car whom we had arranged to meet us at Prestwick airport.  He got lost heading across Scotland and went south and we saw a signpost for Peebles.  We drove through roads with huge snowdrifts on either side.  At one point we asked the way of an anorak clad road worker who was covered in snowflakes and Jean asked if he was a snowman!!  In the early hours of the morning we at last, to my mother's enormous relief, arrived at her flat in Kirkcaldy.

We had a house for that leave at 88 Dunnikier Road - not far from Balsusney Road so we saw a lot of Stewart's dad and his auntie Annie and Uncle Bill and of course my mother.

Jean went for a short while to Dunnikier School to give her a taste of what real school was like.

That leave was not the most enjoyable as the weather was so cold.  I remember Lorna being miserable with the cold.  (Ironically, we had been booked that year for a holiday to the Seychelles which we had to cancel as our home leave was brought forward a year.) 

We solved Lorna's aversion to the cold.  It transpired that she had perpetually cold feet so we bought her fluffy lined boots that solved the problem.

We saw quite a lot of "Grandad" (Stewart's Dad) who lived a couple of streets away and called in on his way back from his work in Nairns' factory where he made the templates for the linoleum designs.

Mum too we included in a lot of our excursions as she lived in the Forthview seven storey flats at the end of Kirkcaldy Promenade at the Seafield end.  Her flat had a small verandah overlooking the sea, which meant she could enjoy the fresh air and listen to the sound of the waves.

Chapter 6

The Manager's Bungalow - Patrakhola

When we got back Stewart got promotion and was transferred as Manager of Patrakola Tea Estate in the Doloi Valley.

            When we first arrived I remember that we lived in the Chota bungalow for a short time until George and Mary Morrison left to retire to live in Malta.

            I was "up to high doh" as the children were both very ill with high temperatures and the C.M.O. scared me even more by saying it might be typhoid.  However, it proved to be a less severe childhood illness.

            Soon we were ensconced in the "burra bungalow".  It was a very sturdily built bungalow,  roofed with asbestos covered for coolness with a "turza" roof (split bamboo tiles).  Our bedroom was huge.  It opened onto a wired in verandah which strangely enough we didn't use much.  There was a bathroom leading off the back and a dressing room that contained a toilet and wash-hand basin.  Here we put Lorna and Jean's white painted beds beside a screen door leading onto the back verandah that kept the little room cool in the hot weather.  It was closed with a wooden door in the cold weather, as there was a window to admit light over the wash-hand basin.

            A corridor that was the main access between the back and front verandahs, separated our bedroom. There was a huge front verandah with an ornamental balustrade.  The section outside our bedroom was the children's play area with their toys.  There was a glass topped wood framed coffee table in the centre part of the verandah and huge cane ornamental armchairs with tartan cushions.

            The centre of the bungalow was the lounge which we furnished in 60's style with a red carpet, black couch and red, black and white Karachi prison made curtains of thick woven cotton with a motif of the Mohenjendaro "dancing girl".  Stewart opened up the dividing wall between the dining room and the lounge and a shelved room divider was installed with books and our latest ornaments adorning it.  It took light into the two rooms especially the lounge.

            The dining room contained a beautiful rosewood dining room table.  Leading off the dining room was the "bottle khana" or butler's pantry and a verandah cut off the kitchen at the back. The kitchen or "babache khana" was the cook's domain where I seldom ventured.

            There was a centre bedroom backed by a bathroom and at the other end a spare bedroom and bathroom.  Stewart got a door put through from the dining room to the centre bathroom for easy access and another door opening from the centre bedroom to the spare bedroom..  Otherwise as usual, everything opened only onto the verandah.

            The bearer used to pick limes from our own lime trees and sweeten the juice with hot water and sugar and then cool it in the fridge as a cool drink for Stewart when he came in hot and thirsty for lunch.

            Stewart saw a lot of his children.  He got up about 6 to go to the office for "gunti" when he saw all the "sirdars" (headmen) to give them the work to be done for the day and he also did all his correspondence then.  He said it was best to do any writing in the coolness of the morning.  Any later in the day and his arms stuck to the paper with perspiration and if fans had to be used the papers all blew around.

            He then came back for breakfast around 8.30 when we all sat and ate on the verandah at the glass-topped table.  Breakfast usually consisted of pawpaw liberally sprinkled with lemon juice with sliced bananas or pomelo from our own tree (pink separate little tiny segments in its own wonderfully tasting juice) or sliced pineapple.  (The best pineapples grow in Bengal)  (I used to sprinkle salt on mine, which to my taste made it sweeter then sugar did)  Quaker Oats were always available to buy in tins in Bengal (imported from Holland) and we always had porridge.  Our own cow's milk was boiled every day to make it safe.  The bearer kept the top cream and made it into butter for our toast.  Breakfast finished with a boiled egg or scramble eggs, (rumble tumble as it was called, toast and tea.

            Stewart went off out again this time to supervise work going on around the "tillah" (the cultivated area). Around 1 p.m. he came in for lunch that consisted of soup and then a meat course - usually some form of chicken.  He had a lie-back till 3p.m. - in fact we all did, as that was the hottest time of the day.  If the children didn't want to sleep they could read but they had to keep quiet.

            Then Stewart went out again either to check the tea manufacture at the factory or to see the weighing up of the leaf.  He came in again for a cup of tea around five.  The children had their supper after that and baths and a story.  Usually I went off for a walk with Bruce the dog - a black setter we had acquired from Jean and "Webby" Webster when they had retired.

            So the children saw a great deal of Stewart and he was able to enjoy their childhood a great deal more than his equivalent  - going to the office at 7 to have time to commute and back after the children have gone to bed - in cities in U.K.

            The main road ran through the factory compound of Patrakhola Tea Estate and the buildings seemed isolated as a result - the factory and office were bisected by the road.  Stewart found that tea and other commodities were going missing.  There was nothing to stop a lorry from loading up and driving off in the night hours.  So, the first thing he did when we got there was to build a fence round the whole complex. Bougainvillea twigs were cut from the bungalow bushes and stuck in round the whole fence and the road was completely rerouted round the back of it.  The gate was locked at night and a chowkidar (watchman) put in charge.  Theft dropped immediately!

            Since we had got used to the luxury of a swimming pool at Clevedon we quickly organised the building of one in the Patrakhola garden and soon in the Monsoon season we were having a swim before lunch.  We got a patio area laid where we could set up chairs and tables and Sunday lunches became quite a social event.  There was a pretty hibiscus tree just beside the pool where we decided to put a concrete bench and create a bower.  It was rather overgrown with long grass and weeds so I instructed the "mali" (gardener) to "Gass cut do!" meaning "Cut the grass" - unfortunately "gatch" is the word for tree and when I went down that day later on - there was the pretty hibiscus tree- gone - the whole reason for the bower gone.  I didn't comment though as it was an easy mistake to make.

            We had brought out blow up armbands for the children and soon they were swimming unaided.  Somehow, because we could cool down in the heat of the very humid monsoon weather by our daily lunchtime dips we felt a lot healthier.  Also, instead of being a "peely wally" white we all got golden tans.  The exercise of swimming also stood us in good stead.

            The bungalow had an area that used to be used as a tennis court but the club was right beside Patrakhola with tennis and golf available so tennis was never played latterly in private bungalow gardens.

            Golf became our main sport at Doloi Club and we used to play on Thursday and Sunday afternoons with social evenings at nights.  Stewart and I had bought second hand golf clubs on our home leave and we became quite keen on the game.  There were very seldom mixed rounds and the men always played in fours or twos.  I played with Anna Birch and when Cyril Tebbutt got married I played with his wife Anne.  There was actually more gossiping than serious golf.

            Anna Birch was an Austrian Jew whose family had settled in Calcutta to escape the persecution in Europe.  She met and fell in love with Tom Birch (a Scot) who was handsome and dashing in his naval uniform.  After the war Tom became a tea planter, married Anna and while we were in Doloi Valley they were in Champarai  burra bungalow.  She still had her rather strong guttural Austrian accent and was quite a character.

            Whenever anyone appeared in a smart new dress obviously purchased on home leave she would ask "That's a nice dress!  Did the dhurzi (local tailor) make it?"  Once she remarked to Tom at some social affair at the Club which she wasn't enjoying "Come on Tom - lets' go home - we can have a better time in bed!"  When she left to go "home" on her own to see the two daughters who were at boarding school she instructed Tom  "You can sleep with anyone you like as long as she's not black."  She liked to flirt and be flirted with and upset some of the young brides. (The whole eleven years I was in Bengal there was absolutely no sleeping around in our tea planting community - light hearted flirting yes and we enjoyed dancing with bachelors and other peoples' husbands but there was no hanky panky.  This meant that we were all very close friends and there was very little strife.)

            Anna Birch had a little dachshund called "Mitzi" which had its own little bed with sheets and pillowcases that were changed weekly.  Mitzi used to sit up beside Anna in the front passenger seat of her car while Anna was driving - a very funny sight!!

            Education was a big thing as Jean was over five so I endeavoured to create a proper "school" atmosphere.  A previous managers overlarge "peg tables" were discovered in the tea estate "go down" which were exactly the size of small desks and square in shape.  Small cane chairs were purchased in the bazaar and old-fashioned slates and chalk were also found there.  These little tables and chairs were set up on the huge front verandah away from the distractions of the servants at the back.  Other friends were keen to have their children attend my school.  These were - Bill and Pearl Murdoch's three girls; Ellen, Catriona and Morag (6ys, 5yrs, 4yrs) and Sheila, the five year old daughter of Jimmy and Catriona McNee. Also Susan, the five year old daughter of Ian and Liz Barclay.  The three families met at Sheila's home and then turn about drove in one vehicle to Patrakhola where the children were left (with Amboi the Murdoch's ayah) on the Monday morning.  We had a middle bedroom in which we had five beds that acted as the dormitory and Amboi slept there to supervise.  (Antonia, who had moved with us from Clevedon Tea Estate was delighted to have another ayah for company.)  As before I continued to make apparatus as teaching aids and mornings were devoted to the three R's while afternoons (after lie-back time) were art, singing, games, poetry, songs, handwork time and then a walk, children's supper, bath, a game with Lego pieces in the lounge and then bed with a bed- time story.

            Some of the older memsahibs had a strange reaction to my school perhaps jealous because they had had no alternative but to send their children off to U.K. boarding schools at the age of five.  They were heard to remark that I couldn't possibly run my bungalow properly if I was running a school.  As it was, I think it gave the servants more of a feeling of purpose with all this extra life in the place.  The cook had to bring more provisions back from the bazaar and cooked larger quantities and the servants had more beds to make and the dhobi (washerman) had more washing to do.  (The ayahs did the children's clothes washing and ironing.)

            Stewart's advice on the running of the school was to make the actual teaching side free and voluntary.  This left me free to give up taking other peoples children if I felt it was too onerous and also I could declare a holiday when I felt it was all too much.  (Stewart said once "I could hear your voice before I'd even entered our drive up to the house - I think its time you had a break!!")

            The first week we had trouble getting the children to stay quiet in the middle bedroom at the lie-back time until Stewart had the brain-wave of placing a camp-bed at the foot of our beds and pointing at it sternly saying "The next one to make a noise will come through here and lie here!"  There was not a sound after that and the children lay on their beds and read books during siesta time until Stewart got up to go to work.

            I taught school for four mornings and three afternoons as the transport vehicle arrived with the accompanying mother on Thursdays after lunch and drove to Balisera Club to meet up with the other parents and have a club afternoon there with its tennis activities before driving on to their different neighbouring tea estates.  It was in the days before child seats and seat belts so quite a number of children could be fitted into one vehicle - usually a jeep or land-rover.  Nowadays we would have needed a mini-bus!  I had prepared notes for each child so that the parents could do Friday morning studies with their own children at home.  A good way to see how the children were progressing.

            I only had one or two occasions when there were tears and strangely that was from Ellen the oldest but as she settled in she fitted in happily like the rest.

            The problem was to keep Lorna away from morning school as we had tried to include her but being only two she had disrupted work and needed one to one attention.  The ayah had to think of ways to keep her occupied well away from school.

            Later on Michael Scott, son of Harry and Margaret, joined us and then when the Murdoch girls were kept at home in Scotland and Sheila went to boarding school, Colin, Susan Barclay's brother joined us and then Alison McNee joined Lorna in the infant class when Lorna at last was allowed at school.

            When Jean went to boarding school a very small school of Michael Storrier, and Lorna kept school going.  A driver brought Michael every day from Allynugger Tea Estate.

            On cold weather days we took the tables and chairs out under the bottlebrush tree for shade.

            The parents all expressed their gratitude that I had started up a school and were happy that they didn't have to send their children off to U.K. boarding schools at the age of five.  I was very happy to be able to create a proper school atmosphere with other people's children to give competition and company for mine so I think everyone was happy.

            Since the children were being fed by us, from Monday to Thursday, we charged each parent a certain sum to cover costs.

            Luckily for us, in retrospect, not one child took ill while in our care.  (Looking back, I think we were very fortunate because it was a tropical country, with all the diseases going!)

            When Tobias Iveland and his wife Else came to the Baptist mission at Sylhet he held church services regularly in the little church at Balisera built for the tea planters. (The only church in the whole of the tea district of Sylhet.)

            Jean had been christened in this church when she was about six months.  She had on a very pretty little white nylon dress but it was the monsoon with very high temperatures and high humidity so she howled her way all through the service!!

            While the services were conducted for the adults, Else took the children for Sunday school in the nearby Balisera Manager's bungalow.  They enjoyed singing songs, with actions, like "Deep and wide deep and wide - there's a fountain a-flowing deep and wide" and "The foolish Man built his house upon the sand........ etc."

            Stewart had assistants at Patrakhola.  Ken Will was an engineering assistant from Aberdeen who lived with his wife Pat in the bungalow we had lived in previously.  Pat and Ken were married in Balisera church and as Pat's Mum and Dad had come out - her father gave her away.  The reception was in Doloi Club and a large number of planters and their wives came to it.  Our cook helped to provide the wedding feast at the Club.  Jean was a flower girl, Sheila Storrier was Matron of Honour and Jim Storrier was the best man.

            The Pakistanis often spoke of someone they thought of as inferior as having no "jat". Usually of someone who aspired to be equal to them but who displayed a complete lack of knowledge of how to behave. Once I was sitting with a group of Pakistani wives and we were discussing people we thought beautiful.  I remarked that Meera Thomas was a beautiful girl.  "What!" they all chorused "She's dark!"  Meera was one of the few Christian wives and came from the south of India where they are all much darker skinned.  "Fair" skin was beautiful to them and even though Meera had perfect features she was dismissed.  There must have been consternation in one of the Pakistani families.  The husband was dark-skinned and his wife very fair-skinned.  They had a son who was fair like his mother and then a daughter who was really dark-skinned like her father.  It probably had serious consequences when it came to arranging a marriage for the daughter.

            "Omar" Sharif married a German girl (Irmi) but they found they couldn't have any children.  They went to the furthest north hill region of West Pakistan and adopted a little girl.  (She had fair skin and brown hair, as many of the hill people do. Perhaps of ancient Greek blood from the time of Alexander the Great.)  Someone met them on the train and remarked how much the little girl resembled Irmi!! She was brought up in the Moslem faith but the local American Catholic priest tried to object and attempted to persuade them to bring her up in the Catholic faith.  They adamantly declined - it would have meant that in a mainly Moslem society she would have been classed almost as an outcast and also her marriage chances would have been few.

            A really nice Catholic priest used to come and stay with us at our bungalow - Father Lehaine - American, from Rhode Island.  He enjoyed a good chat and the chance of European company as he lived a solitary life in Sylhet the main town of the area.  He did his rounds visiting and ministering to the few Catholic labourers and their families on the tea estates.  I knew that there were very few conversions to the Christian faith amongst the Hindu and Moslem labourers and asked him if he wasn't discouraged by this.  He replied that even though there was no conversion by name, he taught the ways of life of a Christian, based on the teachings of Jesus.

            A not very popular American priest (Father Delavy) was the previous incumbent.  He annoyed the planters by installing himself in their bungalows on his visits without a "by your leave" and sometimes instructed the cook which type of food he wanted for dinner.  Our bearer hated him you could see by the look on his face because he was over familiar to the point of rudeness, slapping him on the back saying "Hi Joe!" Once I found that the bearer had put the most disreputable and holey sheets on Father Delavy's bed.  Stewart and I laughed together saying "How appropriate!" - "Holey sheets for the holy man!"

            The Welsh Mission padre - Padre Morgan (who had married us and christened Jean), while he was living in Sylhet in the Mission bungalow - had taken a part-time job teaching English in the local college.  When it came to exam time fathers would start appearing proffering "baksheesh" (money) to help their sons pass their exams.  Padre Morgan had the greatest difficulty explaining that the boys would have to pass on their own merit - that he didn't take bribes.  The fathers would just come back the next day with even bigger bribes until eventually they realised that Padre Morgan meant it - he would not take bribes.

            Bribery was an established part of the system.  Stewart said that if the station master didn't get his regulation amount of money he reckoned he was due, the consignment of tea (neatly packed in tea boxes) would be put in a carriage which leaked in a heavy rainstorm and the tea would be ruined by the time it got to Chittagong.  One just had to learn the measure of bribing to do - neither over-bribing nor under-bribing.

            If the bearer came to me in the bungalow saying someone had brought "baksheesh" for me - either a goat or a goose or whatever - Stewart told me I had to ask him whether it was from someone who wanted a job or someone who already had a job.  If it was from the one who already had a job I could accept it as it was given as a thank you "present" but I had to refuse the present from the one wanting a job as it was seen as too much of a bribe.

Violent Incidents.

            Two extreme acts of violence occurred on the tea estates in Sylhet while we were there.

            The first one was at Deanston Tea Estate "Burra" bungalow where Bill and Margaret Murchie lived.

            Margaret was in the habit of having a glass of lemon juice brought to her in the bedroom by the bearer after Bill had gone off to the office to do early morning "gunti" (arrangements and work tasks for the day).

            This particular morning she was awakened by terrible blows to her head - at first she thought it was the overhead "punka" or ceiling fan which had collapsed on top of her.  However, it was the bearer who had gone "pugla" (mad) and was attacking her with a big knife or "panga".  She screamed in terror and put up her hands to protect her head that was slashed viciously by the knife.  Bill, who was still on his way to the office, heard her cries and returned to find the bearer had fled and Margaret lying there covered in blood with terrible injuries to her head and hands. A helicopter was summoned and she was airlifted to hospital in Dacca.  Her injuries took a long time to heal and some cosmetic surgery was needed to repair the wounds some of which were on her face.

            The second incident happened to one of our best friends - Jim Storrier.  He had driven to the local railway station to collect the "hundi" (wages) that was sent up weekly from Chittagong.  It was in a large bag that he put next to him on the seat of his vehicle.  He had to drive through a jungle on a "fari" road winding its way through the dense trees.  Driving round a bend he noticed with annoyance that a tree had fallen across his path.  Too late, he realised that he was about to be attacked by "dacoits" (robbers) who had deliberately chopped down the tree to halt his vehicle.  He was too late to do a quick reverse and escape and his attackers leaned into the car wielding their "pangas" and he received a deep blow on his upper arm.  On grabbing the "hundi" bag they left him and fled and he, in great pain continued his journey to his estate.  There a helicopter was alerted which took him to Dacca where his severe injury was treated.


            When I was a little girl I marvelled at a story I read about a princess who had a servant for every finger of her two hands.  It was strange too, because I always played that I was an Indian princess and used to hang my mothers jewellery down over my forehead.

            At Patrakhola there were permanent bungalow servants who were there when you moved in.  These comprised - one sweeper or "jara wallah" who did all floor cleaning and the cleaning of toilets - two chowkidars who did day duties.  They did house work such as making beds, polishing, laying tables. To make them work for their money we used to have a room a day completely cleaned with everything taken outside to air.

            In the kitchen there was a "pani-wallah" who assisted the cook by cleaning pots and kitchen utensils and helped to supply the fuel for the coal stove.

            The cook was our own personal servant.  He, daily, was given all the ingredients he needed to cook the meals that I dished out from the "go-down" (dry goods store). Chickens and fish, fruit, vegetables and eggs were all purchased by him from the bazaar in the nearest town to which he was transported along with other cooks from the other bungalows on the estate in an estate lorry once a week.  The chickens were live and were placed in a tea basket covered with wire netting.  The fish were placed in a thoroughly scoured kerosene tin suspended by wires.  (The fish we ate were a type of dog fish (fresh water) which when filleted made quite tasty white fillets not unlike haddock (but more bland) (They were very suitable for babies steamed in a sealed earthenware jar).

            Bengal had lovely fruit.  I have never tasted pineapples quite so juicy as those I used to shake salt on the slices that made them sweet just as salt on cooking apple does.  There were also sweet bananas and starfruit (which were nice stewed).  In our garden we grew our own limes and lemons and paw-paws and mangoes and there was a tree covered in pumelos that lasted us all year.  They were full of delicious juice with the pumelo segments floating in it.  I haven't tasted one like it since unfortunately.

            Potatoes were purchased at the bazaar by the cook and aubergines, courgettes, pumpkins, ladies fingers - all of which we were forced to eat in the monsoon season as our own British style cold weather vegetables such as tomatoes, beans, peas, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots etc were grown in our "subji-bari" vegetable garden in the cold weather or winter months.

            We were given delicious locally grown "basmati" rice which was rice grown where bamboos had been cleared "bas" - (bamboo)  "mati" - (earth).

            Very occasionally a young bullock would be killed and we had beef and sometimes we could get wild pig and ate pork - but that was not often and chicken remained our staple diet.  The cooks were adept at making chicken like other meats - "pork" chops, mince, etc. and every day they made a small container of ice cream made from boiled milk cream and white of egg and sugar.  The milk came from our own cows and the milk was boiled in a pan to kill harmful organisms.  The bearer made small quantities of butter from the cream collected off the milk.

            Water, which came from a borehole, was boiled and then cooled and then put into a ceramic filter which contained two porous "candles" which filtered the water of any impurities.  Bottles were filled from it and kept in the fridge that the bearer cleverly kept functioning.  (It was run on kerosene!)  A large black thermos jug was always standing in the dining -room full of the cool water to use in soft drinks (Mitchells Orange Squash).

            The bearer was the highest rank of the servants - (like a butler) - he served our meals from the pantry (bottle-khana) to the dining-table.  I rang a small bell to summon the next course.  He was in charge of the activities of the rest of the servants (except the cook who was a law unto himself).  The bearer was in charge of the household money - to pay the dhobi-wallah and the bazaar goods and was trusted implicitly.  His name was Azad Buksh and he came from Adampur a small village near Patrakhola Tea Estate.  His wife and family lived in the village and he saw them on his day off - the rest of the time he lived in a house beside the house of the cook and the house of the ayah.

            The ayah was also our personal servant.  Her tasks were everything to do with the children.  She washed and ironed their clothes but mainly was assigned to keep watch over them.  Dorothy was our first ayah.  She was Khasi from the Shillong hills in Assam.  She was Chinese looking with fair skin, very trustworthy and as she spoke English we had very interesting conversations.  As I knew nothing about babies and she had been an ayah for a long time she was always full of advice.

            Antonia Rosario was our second ayah.

            At Patrakhola we had our own cows - about four, and a bull.  Grass-cutters were employed to bring grass to feed them and there was a man in charge of them.  In retrospect; being a farmers daughter I don't know why I didn't take more interest in them.

            So, in all (counting a night-chowkidar who kept guard at night at the bungalow) and four gardeners there were 1 cook, 2 pani-wallahs, 2 chowkidars, 1 night-chowkidar, 1 bearer, 1 ayah, 4 garden boys ("malis"), 1 cowman, 2 grass-cutters; 15 servants altogether.  There was also a dhobi-wallah - a washer man who did the bungalow washing (mainly sheets, table cloths etc.) whom we paid once a week.

1965 Home Leave

            While out in East Pakistan, (now Bangla Desh- meaning homeland of Bengalis), Stewart and I had made the decision to buy a property in the U.K.  My mother sent us details of ‘new-built' homes in Raith Estate, Kirkcaldy one of which we chose and we pored over the plans - even to the extent of drawing out the measurements of the rooms on our verandah floor. (Yes! The verandah was that big!!!)  We studied the latest editions of Ideal Homes magazine so that we were knowledgeable about the types of furniture available.

            The house was finished and ready to move into when we got home.  It was a three-bedroom two-storey house with attached garage and front and back garden bordered by stone walls of the old Raith House Kitchen garden.  It contained a fitted kitchen (very new concept!) It cost just under £5,000!!!

            How we enjoyed ordering furniture and curtains!  But, to begin with we slept on the bed settee and Jean and Lorna had bunk beds.  Newspaper carpeted the rooms until carpets were acquired.  A Mackintosh table (from the Kirkcaldy workshops) was installed in the tiny dining room and we bought six very modern Hille chairs.  Stewart panelled a wall in the sitting room and made fitted wardrobes and laid a parquet floor in the hallway.

            We just loved our very first new home!  My mother and Stewart's father enjoyed visiting us there.

            We sailed back on the "Devonia" to Karachi.  It had been the "Devonshire" in its days as a school cruise ship and the crew took badly to having to deal with paying passengers.  However, it was an enjoyable trip and a good sociable time was had by all.

            As soon as we were back at Patrakhola I realised I was pregnant and was delighted, as I had got very broody on board ship playing with friends' toddler daughter.

            Mhairi was born in the Holy Family Hospital, on 29th August 1966, as had her sisters.  The Catholic sisters put me in a labour room along with two other Bengali women in the last stages of labour.  It was interesting to see how they coped with labour pains, calling out "Eh Ma Go" at each contraction on a long drawn out expiring of breath - exactly the type of relaxing breathing I had been advised to do.

            Stewart and the girls travelled down to see the new addition to the family and Lorna was upset that I couldn't go back with them, with her new sister.  The Holy Family Hospital insisted that mothers and babies stayed for ten days to make sure everything was fine before going back so far away from medical assistance.

            When I got back (Stewart had travelled down again to accompany me and we had a whole nights journey on the train from Dacca up to Shaistaganj in the tea district of Sylhet) - the burra mali (head gardener) avoided me and I was given strange looks by the rest of the bungalow staff.  It dawned on me that I had brought back another girl for which deed Stewart was given every sympathy.  (A neighbouring Bengali tea planters wife had to keep producing until after six girls she gave birth to a longed for son.)

            We called the new baby MHAIRI ELIZABETH. (Poor soul - she suffered at school as no-one knew how to pronounce this strange Gaelic name (English "Marie") and thought she was Valerie not understanding that Mh is pronounced V and VARI was the correct pronunciation.)

            Our ayah Antonia was not too happy at first with the work involved with a new baby and she was in sole charge when I had to carry on with school lessons with Jean and Lorna.  Jean and Lorna loved their new baby sister and were a great help.

                               Round India Sailing Trip'

            In December 1966 we flew to Karachi from Dacca to start a holiday cruise.

            In Karachi, as it was approaching Christmas, I left Mhairi with Stewart in the Intercontinental Hotel and took Jean and Lorna in a taxi to the shops.  At a toyshop I asked the taxi driver to keep an eye on Jean and Lorna while I did some secret shopping.  To my horror when I emerged the taxi was nowhere to be seen.  With dreadful thoughts of kidnapping for white slavery for harems in my mind I was about to descend into hysterics when the taxi driver waved to me to tell me that he had had to park in a side street.  Absolute relief to see Jean and Lorna's little faces peering from the taxi!!

            The hotel laid on a lovely Christmas buffet and by this time the rest of our party had joined us - Henry Burnett, Jim and Jess Clark and Cyril and Anne Tebbutt (children - Susan and Michael Clark and Nichola and baby Kim Tebbutt)

            That was a disastrous voyage.  It was a small cargo ship with a small number of passenger cabins.  It had been on the Atlantic run shipping beef from Argentina to the U.K.  The first few days after we sailed we had perfect weather and sat on deck - swam in the ship's pool and played deck games.  However, as we neared Columbo to round the southern part of the Indian continent an anti-cyclone developed and the ship began to rock so much that the pool had to be emptied and it was so wet and miserable on deck that we spent the rest of the voyage confined to the ships lounge where we developed "cabin fever" and quarrelled and snapped at each other.

            The German captain said that weather patterns had changed.  At one time in December - January you could guarantee that the Bay of Bengal would be like a millpond.

            The sea was so choppy when we docked at Columbo (Sri Lanka) that we had difficulty getting off and back onto the ship from the small landing craft.  We visited botanical gardens and a temple there.

            The voyage culminated at Chittagong (Bangladesh) and we all caught the train back up to the tea districts of Sylhet.  It was so strange the "cabin fever" had gone and we were all friends again.

            Mhairi was a very contented baby with a funny little deep voice. Jean and Lorna loved her and were a great help.

            We had a combined christening on Patrakhola Burra Bungalow verandah with the Tebbutts (from Carlisle).  Cyril and Anne Tebbutt had a baby daughter Kim roughly the same age as Mhairi.  Tobias Iveland (a pastor (missionary) from Norway who lived with his wife Elsa in the mission bungalow in Sylhet) came to conduct the ceremony.  It was the occasion for a party so our friends from neighbouring tea estates came along.

            When Mhairi was ten months old I flew with the children to U.K. as the time had come for Jean to go to boarding school.  I went in June so that Jean could have sometime before going into school, it was a good chance to see a lot of my mother as we lived in 18 Raith Gardens, Kirkcaldy and she lived down near the sea in her seventh - story apartment.

            Jean was enrolled in St. George's School for Girls in Ravelston in Edinburgh.  Fortunately she settled in very happily and made lots of friends.  But, I remember feeling a very physical pain with the separation.  I recall washing the kitchen floor back in Kirkcaldy with tears streaming down my face.  It really felt as though my grief was like something from out of my womb. (Perhaps this is the feeling cows get when their calves are weaned from them!)

            She was home for the October holiday and we had a Halloween party and also for the Christmas holidays when she spent a lot of time hugging her beloved baby sister.  In January I flew back with Lorna and Mhairi (who was a toddler by then) and Stewart met us in Karachi where we stayed in the Beach Luxury Hotel for a night before flying over to Dacca in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Stewart said he felt very strange at being stared at like a stranger (which of course he was to Mhairi after six months separation).  Lorna was delighted to see her Dad again as she had missed him very badly.  (Her uncle Dan who had seen us off at Edinburgh airport said she marched through the Departure gate with not a backward look, so keen was she to go and be with her Dad again!)

            Lorna must have missed Jean badly but she did have Mhairi.  School resumed but this time only Michael Storrier came (brought over from Allynugger each day by a driver) but at least it helped to create a classroom ambience.  Jim Storrier was the manager of Allynugger at this time and he and Sheila came over a lot to the Club at Doloi that bordered Patrakhola Tea Estate.

            Patrakhola was a large estate and Stewart had three Pakistani assistants - Hasan (senior assistant).  He and his wife Raihana (whom I became very friendly with) came from Karachi.  Humayun Zarif and his wife Sadaf came from Rawalpindi.  Inam Alla Dad came from the North West frontier of Pakistan.  (He was extremely quiet and shy.)  Most of the assistants on the tea estates at this time were recruited from West Pakistan.  They and the Bengali assistants didn't really get on at all.  They had a saying "If you meet a Bengali and a snake on your path, kill the Bengali first!"

            At that time two sports were played at the Club.  The favourite sort of the Pakistani tea planters was tennis at which they mostly excelled.  I know I stopped playing tennis as it had ceased being a social friendly game and we who were not good players were feeling very much " a bit of a rabbit".

            We played golf instead on the golf course beside the river bordering the Club.  The grass didn't need mowing as the tea estate labourers' cows grazed it regularly - only the greens needed tending.  Occasionally a fox would appear and run and pick up a golf ball - did it think it was an edible mouse?!!!  Also as the burial ground bordered the golf course we would see a funeral cortege bearing the white shrouded corpse on a stretcher from time to time.

            Our Ayah Antonia Rosario began being cheeky and disrespectful and after a warning we were obliged to sack her.  (She was employed by a friend soon after!)  We were saddened to have to lose her as the children were fond of her and she had become used to our routine.  Our bearer Azad Buksh must have been very sad, as he and she were very close.  His wife was with her family in a near by village and the ayah's bamboo and thatch house and his were side by side at the back of the vegetable garden behind our bungalow next to the cook's (his brother).

            Ayahs were difficult to find.  However, we employed a Garo girl to look after Mhairi while school was on.  A group of Garos (from the Garo hills) had recently come to Patrakhola seeking employment as labourers and Stewart had a group of houses built for them.  They wanted to live separately as they were Christian - not Hindu and Muslim like the majority of the labourers.  They looked more like Burmese in features.

            In 1968 our tea estates which had formerly been owned and run by Duncan Brothers were being sold off to local concerns and more and more of us had realised our days as "Balati" (British) tea planters were coming to an end.  Also Bengal wished to become a separate country and our friends the West Pakistanis were no longer welcome in fact some had rather "hairy" tales to tell of lucky escapes.

            Stewart applied for work with the Findlays Group that had a tea estate in Rhodesia and was offered a job as a manager on Eastern Highland Tea Estate.

            We began packing up to go home. Our dog Bruce a cross black setter/labrador) we gave to the Storriers who had decided to stay on for a while - always a huge wrench to give away your dog.  He was such a softie that kids could use him as a slide.  He didn't know how to bark.  He was terrified of lightning, gunfire, the bangs of Christmas crackers.  But, he was quite a Romeo and was off whenever there was a bitch on heat nearby - once trailing a large verandah chair he was tied to, down the drive.

            When it was time to leave, neighbours came to say goodbye - the most poignant was saying farewell to our bearer who had been with Stewart since 1954.  He was such a good trustworthy soul that we used to entrust him to look after the bungalow finances - bazaar money for the cook - money to pay the dhobi-wallah (laundryman)- everything.

            The heavens opened the day before we were due to leave and very heavy monsoon rains fell - washing away bridges - some were repairable by laying stout logs and corrugated iron sheets over the gaps but in the end a huge flood had to be crossed, over a temporary bridge of huge"busti" bamboos, by foot.  Our jeep stayed one side and all our luggage was portered over along with Lorna and Mhairi, followed by Stewart and me gingerly stepping over the torrent.  A vehicle waited for us on the other side and took us to the station where we took the train to Dacca and flew to Malta to meet up with Jean and Grandma for a holiday.

            I remember with nostalgia those happy years!


A North West Frontier Holiday

I have just read recently (2008) that the Taliban use Swat Valley in the north west of Pakistan as their training ground.

            In 1964 Stewart, Jean, Lorna and I set off for a holiday in Pakistan.  This entailed a fair amount of travelling.  First the train overnight to Dacca and then a flight to Lahore where we stayed one night.  Then another flight to Rawalpindi and on to Peshawar. We hired a car with a driver to take us to the Swat Hotel in the Kingdom of Swat.  The scenery there is very similar to Afghanistan; towering mountains intercepted by wide flat fertile valleys.  One day we drove to a rest house on a promontory at a place called Shang-La where we could see range after range of snow-capped mountains.  Another day we saw a group of colourfully dressed gypsies camped by a river.  We also saw the marble palace of the ruler, the Wali of Swat.

            The rest of our holiday was spent at Murree, a former summer residence of the British colonials with elements of an English town with its church, cottages and shops.  The whole town was perched on steep hilly slopes with tantalising glimpses of the mountains of Kashmir.  Some of the time there we rode horses on the old polo field with Lorna (aged 3), ensconced in a ring saddle, riding a little donkey.  One memorable day our driver took us right up the Khyber Pass to the Afghan border where incongruously we could buy Coca Cola from a roadside stall.  All along the bare arid hillsides were plaques to British regiments, long gone.  We passed villages like forts encased in high walls.  There was also a fascinating bazaar at Landi Kotal where I bought a length of Chinese silk brocade and saw wares of all kinds from China and beyond.

            That was certainly a holiday barred from the majority in the present violent times in north west Pakistan.

Shangla (Swat) in North West Pakistan



Below are a number of Photos from Buddy's album

Mawphlang, Shillong, Assam. Buddy with Khasi girls

The TeaPlanters' Rugby Team.
Front: Jim Storrier, Stewart, Bill Murdoch, Gordon Miller.
Middle Back: Ian Barclay, Andy Walker, Hector McGregor

Stewart and Buddy with baby Jean at the Champarai Chota .
(Assistant's) Bungalow 1958  Jean's first home


Our servants at Champarai Chota Bungalow

Jean with Dorothy, the Khasi ayah, on a tennis day at the Club

Tiger shot on the tea estate

Hindu stick dance

Jean and Lorna with Grandma, Buddy's Mum

Jean with Nepali girls Foothills of the Himalayas in the background

At the duck and goose shoot at the Bheel, Juri Valley

Lorna at Patrakhola Burra Bungalow

Manu Club: Stewart 3rd left. Buddy far right

School in the garden under the bottlebrush tree at Patrakhola.
Pupils: Ellen, Catriona and Morag Murdoch, Sheila McNee and
Susan Barclay and Jean

Elephant ride for American friends at Patrakhola

Antonia our ayah with Mhairi