Alan Lane

Alan Lane was born in Bombay while his father John was serving in the Royal Indian Navy . The family returned to Cachar Assam at the end of the war to Dewan T.E.,which was part of the Tarrapore Tea Company, (Macneill & Barry) of the Inchcape Group. Alan was a Crossley Service Engineer from 1964 to end of 1968 and travelled South Bank of the Brahmaputra, Assam and Cachar extensively . He is currently living in Gt Yarmouth , Norfolk, UK.    
 Yesterday's Alan Lane
in 1964 with John Browne's Canadian Ford near the Ledo Road in Assam
  Today's Alan Lane
Below is a recent photo of Alan
with his wife Jackie

The stories below are from AlanPlease click on Headline below to see story

Luxmi Tea Company

Pidgeon Post

The Truth about Indian Food

Meghalaya and the living Bridges

John Lane Last living of Aux Force India

India Deploys Drones in Kazaringa
Polson's Butter
American Ice in Calcutta 1833
Burra Peg--Hangover from the Raj
Living Bridge in India

Cricket Festival Shillong 1890's
Assam in 1917

Wax Models of Siddhagiri
Tales & Songs by Maurice Hanley  1928
Recollections of a Planter by WM Ramsden
Maijan Black Panther
Photograph web sites of India
Assam Railway & Trading Co.Ltd
Editorial Camellia Letter
Camellia Application form
wildlife development
Auxiliary Force, India
Assam tea and terrorism
Aranachal Pradesh

A Fortunate Escape

August 3, 2017

  The following story by Dipankar Chatterjee is taken from the book "Office Chai, Planter's Brew" by S. Muthiah and Ranjitha Ashok and reprinted here with permission from the authors. See more under BOOKS


Luxmi Tea Company

"Bhadralok" in the Tea Gardens

Dipankar Chatterjee of Luxmi Tea comes from a bhadralok family that has been involved in the business of tea and tea gardens from the early 1920s. The involvement began with his grandfather, a well-established lawyer in Comilla, adjacent to Tripura, and now in Bangladesh. The lawyer may have had a busy practice, but he also took an interest in his investments, which were largely in tea companies in Tripura, then a princely state.

While Dipankar Chatterjee’s grandfather’s interests in tea were only through investments which did not require his active participation, his father, Paresh Chandra Chatterjee, wanted to purchase a tea garden in Dibrugarh (Assam), now known as the “Tea City”. However, his interest was discouraged by the British Deputy Commissioner. The message was that the Government preferred that tea gardens remained in British hands. Nevertheless, some Indians had tea gardens in Assam and Bengal at the time. In 1945, P.C. Chatterjee would finally succeed in buying a tea garden in Assam’s Cachar District from Balmer Lawrie, a premier managing agency with headquarters in Calcutta.

There is a story behind that purchase. At the end of World War II, a number of Americans who with the army were helping to put matters in order in the northeast of India. Many of them preferred to fraternise with the Indian bhadralok, one of whom was P C Chatterjee.

The Americans organised a meeting with Balmer Lawrie’s and, with the Americans directing the discussions, P C Chatterjee was able to purchase the tea garden of his choice. The British, however, continued to dominate Tea and Jute until G D Birla and others came forward to break their monopoly a decade or so later.

Luxmi Tea, when it bought the garden from Balmer Lawrie, continued to employ British personnel as planters. Colonel Bedow, who had been with the garden in Cachar, stayed with P C Chaterjee after he had acquired the garden. When Colonel Bedow retired after a year, he recommended a Scotsman, McGee, also from the armed forces. McGee stayed on until 1965 as Manager and was succeeded by his Assistant, Asoke Sen, who had learnt well from him.  The British Manager, and his family, and the Indian Assistant Manager and his, had got on well together. Also working with the Chatterjees was Jimmy Strang who had been born in Calcutta, returned to England as a child and come back from the Air Force to live and work as a tea planter in Assam. He wrote Damn Fool Career, reminiscences of his work in India, in three volumes.

The last British Manager on one of the Chatterjee tea gardens was D W Farnham at Shyamguri in Assam. Many a planter, like him, had been born in India and had stayed on until the 1970s. They had adjusted, marrying into Indian families. Farnham was one such. He was truly ‘Indianised’ when he left in the early 1970s. A B Anderson, a Canadian, who had also come from the Air Force, was another who had an Indian wife.

One of the first Indian tea planters was probably Viren Mullick, who moved from a sub-editorship of the Amrita Bazar Patrika to join the Chatterjee family’s tea gardens in Assam in the late 1940s.

Most expatriate British tea planters left in the 1960s and 1970s and there was a shortage of experienced tea planters on the gardens. The exodus began after the Chinese incursions in 1962 and was accelerated by the devaluation of the rupee. However, from the mid-1950s onwards, Indians had begun to be recruited and were ready to take over when the British left, though many of them had to do extra duty due to the shortage of Indian Assistants.

Even in the 1950s, the Indians recruited as planters were better qualified academically than their British counterparts. Indian graduates and graduate engineers became tea planters and tea tasters. Many were Indian ‘public school’ products and others came from eminent families. The British were largely ex-Army and Air Force officers. A few were diploma engineers, but most had only passed out of high school. India and the tea gardens drew them while they were still quite young.

Salaries were the same for the British and the Indians, though some allowances and special privileges were allowed to the British. For instance, there was the extended holiday to Britain, known as ‘furlough’. That was brought down from three months to one month by the 1960s and discontinued in the 1970s.

The British were known to be not only adventurous, but people who felt they could take on anything. They had this confidence that they could learn to adjust to the land and its people. “And there was very rarely one who didn’t”.

The first British tea planters had crossed the Brahmaputra on rafts and boats to clear the jungle and sow the seeds of tea gardens. Later planters were known to have tried to take the same route, but arrived on the wrong bank of the river. If they could not reach the right tea garden, they would still undertake the work they had come out to do. A garden or two is known to have been exchanged for another in the process. But that was long ago, when intentions were pure and the rules simple.

Dipankar Chatterjee’s father inherited and ran Indian Tea and Provisions (ITP) which owned tea gardens and which amalgamated with Luxmi Tea. At ITP, British managers would be apprenticed under Harold Marshal for two years. Marshal knew all that there was to know about tea planting and nurseries, seed gardens, crop distribution and quality. The Company’s main interest was in quality tea production. All would learn in an environment of good working relationships. Harold Marshal was another example of a British man who chose to go Indian. When he retired he went back to England with his Indian wife. His son joined the Royal Air Force, but his daughter stayed on in India, marrying John Barker, a tea planter.

The British planters were largely Scots and Irish, and many were remembered kindly. Tea estates covered vast areas and were apportioned into sections, some sections were sometimes named after Managers who had left. The Luxmi tea estate in Cachar has a section named after McGee.

The British planters would be extremely helpful to Indian recruits they thought had come from the right background. They would introduce them to ‘club’ life and the social norms associated with club culture. If the recruit was coming from Calcutta, he would be asked to bring sporting gear with him from well-known sports shops, for use in the local planters club. 

 The huge size of each garden and its remote location meant that planters lived rather isolated lives. They learnt to develop a lifestyle to cope with their work and isolation. Planter’s clubs were where they congregated for social exchanges.

But distances meant that the clubs could not be accessed every day by the planters. The transistor radio came into planter’s bungalows around 1969. If he wanted to speak to anyone outside the tea plantation – for instance to Head Office in Calcutta – he would have to go to the nearest town to book a trunk call. Dipankar Chatterjee remembers areas north of the Brahmaputra River, the area known as the North Bank, where on occasion he left the nearest town only at 2 or 3am after the all-important trunk call.

Homes, however, were very comfortable. Tea gardens bungalows were large and very well furnished, even as practical matters were considered in building the bungalows. Assam was prone to earthquakes, so the buildings were minimal. In Assam-type homes, the walls would be of bamboo with cement plater on both sides of the bamboo. The roof would preferably be made of thatch. It was reasonably cool and practical and made from materials obtained locally.

There was just one mode of transport for the planters – a ‘Jeep’. There were no proper roads and no telecommunications as we know it now. But some planters became a “Ham” radio expert, taking to radio as a hobby as well as a necessity.

The Manager, British or Indian, would take all local decisions relating to his garden and would have Power of Attorney to handle all matters concerned with the running of the estate. It was the Manager who was authorised to deal with the Government. Most importantly, the Manager was totally responsible for the welfare and well-being of all those on the tea garden. Tea estate workers were known to refer to Managers as “maibaap”, their guardian and parent.

All the rules to be followed on estates would be set down in black and white in the “Term Book”, so named because that was where the terms of employment had been set down. However, in the Chatterjee tea gardens, the managing family would set the terms of employment, but the Manager would be the one to establish all do’s and don’ts on the estate. For example, no one among the staff could leave the tea garden without informing the Manager.

 The British planters were undeniably formal when they had to deal with their Indian counterparts on official matters. But when it came to sport, they encouraged them to be as keen sportsmen as they were, not only at the club level but also at inter-club level too. Inter-club activities were organised by them from the very start, with each tea planting district, having its own club, many a century old, or even more. Besides sport, inter-club activities extended to flower shows and gardens. The “memsahibs” were greatly interested in good cooking and fine cuisine, and the clubs benefited accordingly.

Dipankar Chatterjee is the Managing Director and CEO of Luxmi  Tea Co., a family owned tea plantation company.


By S. Muthiah (Author), Ranjitha Ashok (Contributor)
Publisher: Westland Ltd (April 13, 2016) Language: EnglishISBN-10: 9385724851ISBN-10: 9386036851 (Available on Amazon)   


October 17, 2016

Pidgeon Post
Click on the link below to read the article


February 16 2016

Alan has sent this interesting piece about the Darjeeling Railway

 A piece about the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and the possibility of major
restoration work:


December 1 2015

Memories from Alan's late father who died last month aged 100

The Managers of the Tarrapore Tea Company in 1947
Alan is the child at the front with the X braces to hold up his pants, his mother is the lady
turning her head and his father is on the back row, second from the right with jacket, cravat and open necked white shirt.

This  one shows my father’s car that he had at Thanai TE in 1939. He doesn’t say what make it was, excepting that there was a silver eagle on the radiator top. I suspect that it may have been of American manufacture.


The second photo shows the tea train at Greenwood TE in 1938. I understand that it was driven by a single cylinder Krupps diesel engine. Dad did say that the rail-line was often buckled by elephants walking on it and sometimes this derailed the loco




January 7 2015

Again we have to thenk Alan for finding this amusing story of yesterday and as it is today

     The Ghosts Of The Raj Were Never Anorexic Wraiths


                                                 Windamere Highlights


                              Ghosts of the Raj are Alive and Well in India

                                                      from Daily Express, Saturday June 16, 2007

Last night saw the start of a new BBC2 documentary series, The Lost World Of The Raj. In a country where change is a constant, STEPHEN McCLARENCE visits Darjeeling and discovers a charming hotel where rituals are still very much alive in India.

They have finally pensioned off the old visitors' book at St Andrew's Church in Darjeeling. It did sterling service – started in 1926, replaced in 2006, full of memories of this breath-catchingly high Indian hill station when it was a little Haslemere in the Himalayas.

Miss Strickland, Miss Sword and Miss Macdonald, lodging at the Villa Everest, were the first entries. Then visitors from Kidderminster and Sevenoaks, staying at Marigold Villa, Eden Chine and The Dingle.

They signed in blue-black ink, long faded to grey, like so many memories of the days when British planters spent their lives on tea estates up here near the borders of Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan.

"Ferdinand Baker-Baker" says a brass plaque in St Andrew's, a grand Victorian church, utterly English on its own little hill. "For 32 years a planter in this district from 1878 to 1909".

The setting sun casts a rich glow through the stained glass windows, the caretaker locks up behind us, and my wife Clare and I stroll back down the Mall.

There are plenty of pockets of the old charm that justify the long switchback journey up from the plains. The romantic way to come is on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The narrow gauge "Toy Train", which puffs and wheezes its way up to 7,000ft, was given World Heritage status in 1999.

It is defiantly slow. You set off at 9am and you don't arrive, after much twisting and turning, until 4pm. The plains, with their palm trees and paddy fields, gradually give way to tea plantations and rough forest, with ice-blue mountains stretching across the horizon.

The little blue engine, pistons thrusting, lets out piercing shrieks that echo over the hills, scattering goats from the track.

On arriving in Darjeeling we take a taxi for the steep, half-mile drive to the Windamere Hotel, a spelling mistake cherished for generations.

This is a hotel like no other.

Breakfast (with porridge), coffee, lunch, afternoon tea (those cucumber sandwiches) and a candlelit dinner merge seamlessly into each other.

The luncheon menu cards, with their sketches of Buddhist lamas and Tibetan dancing girls, offer watercress soup and chicken and vegetable pie, and then another whole course of Indian dishes.

In the Forties-style dining room, with its spectacular view of the mountains, the other guests include an elderly Raj enthusiast quietly humming Elgar, the children and grandchildren of tea planters tracing their roots and backpackers taking a break from cheap lodgings and food.

The Raj-era rituals have been studiously maintained. While guests down cocktails in the chintzy music room, with its upright piano, room boys light fires in the bedroom grates and chambermaids slip hot water bottles into the beds. The flames flicker and you doze off into comforting childhood dreams and awake to the distant chiming of Tibetan prayer wheels.

Fitting other activities around the meals at this oasis of charm can be a challenge.

We generally settle for an undemanding routine. Before breakfast, we stride out round the Mall. Cocks crow in the mist, children's songs pipe up from the valley and every so often the clouds part like a theatre curtain to reveal Kanchenjunga, the world's third-highest mountain, dazzling white with snow and unbelievably vast.

After breakfast we stroll down to Chowrasta, the square where Indian holidaymakers promenade, children play Ring 'a' Roses and swarthy hill men offer ponies for riding. We browse at the Oxford Book & Stationery Company (Sherlock Holmes always in stock) and in Habib's antiques and curios shop, with its various buddhas and bangles.
We have coffee at Glenary's tearoom, with its "Fruit Cake (big)" and "Cherry Cake (small)" or at the Planters' Club, where the secretary, Major JS Rama (Ret'd), talks fondly of "British times, nostalgia, memories,

forefathers and all those things". We are then driven down the valley to Glenburn Tea Estate, where a manager's bungalow has been stylishly converted into a luxury guest house. Pansies and snapdragons in the garden, planters' chairs on the verandah, a house party-like atmosphere in the evening.

And peace and quiet.

Returning to the Windamere for afternoon tea, we meet Bob Albert from Redditch. A Darjeeling policeman's son, he left 60 years ago and has come back as a 75th birthday treat.

"The town's nothing like I remember it," he says. "But this hotel is just how it was. It's ideal." He sips his Darjeeling tea and it's as though the sun has never set on the Empire.


The Lost World Of The Raj is on BBC2, Fridays at 9pm.
Western & Oriental Travel (0870 499 0678/westernoriental. com) offers a 15-day tour through the Eastern Himalayas from £2,156pp (two sharing), including two nights at the Windamere Hotel, one night at Glenburn Tea Estate, touring to Calcutta and Sikkim, a ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, most meals and flights from Heathrow.

Jet Airways (0800 026 5626/ flies to a range of destinations in India.
India Tourism: 020 7437 3677/


The ghosts of the Raj were never anorexic wraiths. They were as roly poly as the pudding enshrined in those temples to continued colonialism - Calcutta’s clubs.

The sun may have set on the empire, no problem…Abdul bearer would pad up resplendent in cockscomb turban bearing the sundowner and a plate of finger chips.

Proper thick — cut wedges straight off the iron karhai. To call them `French fries’ would be to stand in danger of being challenged to an encounter on the duel grounds; your choice of cutlery. Nostalgia feeds off food more than any other sustenance of memory.

Brown Sahibs, flotsam of the Raj, knew that they would never feel its absence as long as they could gather in those musty club dining halls, and peruse the smudgily typed menu card on tables covered in damask. Frayed, grey, but as impeccably starched as an upper lip. The `muug’ cook was in the club kitchen; all was well with the world. Calcutta took far longer to lay the ghost of empire, partly because Calcutta took longer with everything. But it was more because colonialism was so deeply entrenched in The Second City of Empire.

The leisurely luncheon continued — with cold cuts ( never `starters’), soup (in plates, never bowls), fish entrée (with proper fish-knives), main course, pudding, petit fours, coffee (in demitasse cups – like the rest of the crockery, bearing the club insignia).

The tradition was reinforced in the chandeliered ballrooms of the Grand, Firpo’s, Spencer’s and Great Eastern Hotels. Indeed, the slightly shop-soiled Burra Sahib culture continued into the late 1960s, when it was finally “gheraoed” and superannuated by the satraps of Chairman Mao. Then everything changed, changed utterly, and a terrible “Dal Makkhani” was born.

The “bhadralok” were cornered in their crumbling mansions, and the city was seized by the Marwaris, the second syllable pronounced `war’, as in battle.

But Mr. Mukerjeah didn’t mind Shri Jalan taking over business so much as he minded Arora-ji “Puunjabifying” his club menu. When the baked beans on toast arrived with chopped raw onions, it was the end of civilization as we had known it.

The clubs have tried to hang on to some of the repast of the past, but they have seen the future, and it reeks of “pav-bhaji”.

Ultimate perfidy, even the Barrister Bongs, those last bastions, are ordering it at the (still) Royal Calcutta Golf club. To its eternal credit, however, the `Bengal’ still retains a passable version of its fabled steak and kidney pie, serving it to the terminally nostalgic every Friday.

The Christmas turkeys, alas, have had the stuffing knocked out of them. And has anyone even heard of guinea fowl in an age when Burra Din has fallen to bara kabab in a bloodless coup?

Clubs have given up the ghost of most Menus past. Where can they find either the makers or takers for their signature dishes? Calcutta Club’s Roast Mutton with mint jelly, Tolly’s goose liver paste ( never pate) on thin buttered toast. You may still get waffles with honey after packing up your irons at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, but it would be foolish to expect hot buttered scones or clotted cream. Sausage rolls have been ousted by the samosa.

The Country Captain Curry which was tucked into during the lunch break of a cricket match has gone the way of flannels and the gentlemen who sported them.

Once staples can’t be had for love or any other tender. Roast ox-tongue, leg of lamb embellished with crisp bacon and crowned with a miniature chef’s toque, the chops and cutlets which sustained the “baba-log” at home as did the stews — Irish, mutton ragout and Lancashire hot-pot. The cognoscenti knew that some of these had to come with dumplings, all flour, or with half potato or semolina.

The ubiquitous hot-and-sour for today’s chili-coarsened palates have replaced the hearty English soups. Oxtail, pea with sausage, consommé and the Anglo-Indian Mulligatawny or `Dol’ soup. And, is anyone left to sing the requiem of the famous puddings, which surface only in a sad avatar in clubs (or some last remaining hill-station guest-house)?

Tipsy, cabinet, plum with brandy sauce, and the steamed fig, date or ginger, each with its designated anointment. Order ye caramel custard while ye may, “gajar halwa” could set in any day!

(Adapted from an article on the India Times News Network)

November 15 2014

We thank Alan Lane for giving us some education on Indian food for us all to learn --  

                                                    thanks Alan

 The Heartbreaking Truth About Indian Foods That Are Not  

           Indian       at All.....

1. Samosa

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That delicious samosa you always munch on as a tea-time snack or when sudden hunger-pangs hit is not Indian at all! The triangular potato/meat-filled savoury dish that is easily found on every street-corner actually has origins in the Middle East. Originally called 'sambosa', the Indian samosa was actually introduced to the country sometime between the 13th and 14th century by traders of the Middle East. But whatever, we're just happy we get to hog these yummy yummy snacks!

2. Gulab Jamuns

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Ooh. We're sure your mouth is already watering. The very thought of these calorie-filled dough balls, deep-fried and then soaked is enough to send anyone to food heaven. And what's more, this dish is so versatile that you can enjoy it hot, cold or simply at room temperature. But the favourite Indian dessert originated in the Mediterranean and Persia. Though the original form of the dessert is called luqmat al qadi and made of dough balls deep fried, soaked in honey syrup and sprinkled with sugar, once it reached India, the recipe was modified. How we wish it was lunch-time already!

3. Vindaloo

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The very sound takes you to the beaches of Goa and a relaxed family lunch. But the very spicy meat curry is not Goan at all! Vindaloo has it's roots in Portuguese cuisine and it has been adapted from the very famous carne de vinha d'alhos which is the Portuguese name for Vindaloo. Originally, Vindaloo was made of wine, pork and garlic and that is how it derived it's name (vin - wine, alhos - garlic) though Indians modified it by using palm vinegar, pork/beef/chicken and multiple spices. Though the original recipe does not use potatoes, Indians modified the recipe further by using potatoes as the word "aloo" in Vindaloo means potato in Hindi. Now you know where that sudden piece of potato popped up from between those meat chunks.

4. Shukto


Mix and Stir

This mouth-watering Bengali delicacy is another surprise which has it's origins in Portuguese cuisine. The Portuguese influence extended all the way from Goa to Eastern Bengal or Bangladesh and the influences are visible in Bengali food even today. Shukto is prepared from Karela or Bitter Gourd which is Indian in origin but was prepared by the Portuguese in olden days. Slowly, Indian influences like multiple other vegetables and a dash of milk/sweet to cut the spice were added to the dish. Just be happy you get to savour this amazing dish today!

5. Chai

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The unassuming comfort drink of almost every Indian is in no way true desi. Famous the world over as chai (Starbucks has a Chai Latte on their menu), tea has it's origins in China. While the Chinese used it as a medicinal drink, the Britains soon discovered it and loved it's versatile nature. Now, the British being British wanted to cut China's monopoly in the tea market. So, they brought the humble 'chai' to India (by teaching cultivation techniques to the tribals in North-East India plus offering incentives to Britons who wanted to cultivate in India). And it has been a part of India ever since! In fact, it was only in the 1950s that tea became so popular. Now, don't suddenly look down into that cup you're sipping from while reading this!

6. Dal Bhaat

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Dal Bhaat or Dal-rice is a comfort food all over India. There are even variations of this food like the Khichdi which are very popular among Indians. Though dal bhaat seems like a very simple, Indian dish, it is not Indian at all. Dal bhaat is actually of Nepali origin and it was through North Indian influences that the dish entered India and spread throughout the region. We're sure you're going to dream of the Himalayas the next time you're eating this simple food!

7. Rajma

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Rajma chawal has quickly spread from being a North Indian staple to being loved by most Indians. The dish which is as popular as the North Indian chole-bhature is a wholesome meal in itself. However, the preparation of Rajma or the kidney bean in Rajma chawal is not Indian. The bean was brought to India through Central Mexico and Guatemala. The initial preparation or soaking and boiling the beans and adding a few spices is adapted from Mexican recipes. Rajma is a staple in Mexican diet even today though it's Indian variants are quite different from the Mexican preparations. The bean and recipes prepared using Rajma are famous in North India and the locals often add Indian spices and vegetables like onions and tomatoes to make it tangy. Cool, isn't it?

8. Bandel Cheese

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This is another staple Bengali dish which has Portuguese influences. While the cheese was developed in India and has it's origins in Eastern India, it was created by the Portuguese using their own techniques for making cheese and breads. The cheese which has developed into a wide variety today was originally available in just one variety. Over time, people experimented and created the smoked flavor of Bandel cheese. It was the fermentation techniques of the Portuguese that helped developed this cheese and in the olden days, it was made by Burmese cooks under Portuguese supervision. 

9. Naan

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This is one dish that is loved all over the world. A type of leavened bread, Naan is a staple of North India and is available in almost all North Indian restaurants across the country. The Americans and Europeans have recently discovered the joys of this bread and love pairing it with their chicken tikka. However, naan is not Indian but was brought to India during the Mughal era. Naan has it's roots in Persian cuisine though the form of leavened bread is actually Iranian. The soft, melt-in-the-mouth bread is surely a favourite but trying different forms with rose-water, khus or stuffed naan might actually tingle your taste buds!

10. Jalebi


We even have an item number associated with this delicious sweet! How can it not be Indian? But it isn't. Jalebi is actually from the Middle East though different variations of the sweet were found across different Asian regions. Originally called zalabiya (Arabic)or the zalibiya (Persian), the dish was brought to India by Persian invaders. Today, the dessert Jalebi is famous all over the country in different forms. While North India loves their thin and crispy jalebis, the South Indian version consists of thicker and have a slightly different shape. Jaangiri and Imartee are variations of the Jalebi. Wow! So many variations of just one sweet. No wonder you thought it was Indian!

11. Filter Coffee


"What?", you say, "How can Filter coffee not be Indian? Well, filter coffee became popular in India pretty late, in the 1950s, around the same time Chai began to get traction. Coffee was not a part of India till the 16th century when it was smuggled into the country, by Baba Budan, on his pilgrimage to Mecca. On returning, he cultivated coffee and the drink soon became popular. Indians would drink coffee without milk or sugar in place of liqueur. Filter coffee was popularised by Coffee Cess Committee when they set up their first Coffee House in then Bombay in 1936. So much information! Time for a kaapi break?

May 22 2013
  Meghalaya, where the Khasi community come from. 

FASCINATING video.  How man works with nature to solve a problem for decades …
centuries ahead. These living bridges are located in Northern India near Mawlyngnong,
Meghalaya, the cleanest village in Northeast India.

To view please click on line below

May 18 2013

                         John Lane   MBE,  

Alan's father joined the AVLH on 31st August 1939 with a corps number 2703 and his certificate being signed by his Colonel on 5-10-1939. That is 73 and a half years ago. It is believed that John is the last living member of these “Auxiliary Force India” Light Horse groups – he was enrolled in both the AVLH and the SVLH.
We are delighted to report that apart from a touch of arthritis he is doing well and still drives to see old friends at age 98

John sends his best to all Koi-Hais
We wish him all the best and long may he enjoy good health


April 11 2013

 India deploys drones to save rhinos in Assam state

By Subir Bhaumik Calcutta

Officials say the drones will help them keep an eye on the remotest parts of Kaziranga

India has deployed aerial drones over Kaziranga National Park in Assam state in a bid to protect endangered one-horned rhinos from poachers.

Kaziranga chief NK Vasu said the maiden drone flight on Monday was a "milestone in wildlife protection".

The park is home to two-thirds of the world's one-horned rhino population and also has a large number of elephants, tigers and other wildlife.

In recent months, rhinos have been killed in large numbers by poachers.

Drones and other successful anti-poaching measures have also been used by the WWF in nearby Chitwan National Park in Nepal, where the hunting of one-horned rhinos has been drastically reduced.

Assam 'furore'

"The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was up in the sky for 15 minutes. It landed safely," Mr Vasu said. "We hope this technology will go a long way in effective surveillance of the park." Assam Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain said this was the first time that drones had been used for wildlife protection anywhere in India.
"The UAVs will deter poachers who will now have to reckon with surveillance from air as well as on ground," Mr Hussain said.
The minister said it would now be possible to keep an eye on the remotest parts of the 480 sq km (185 sq miles) park.
The drones can fly a pre-programmed route at a maximum elevation of 200m (656ft) for up to 90 minutes, officials say.
They are light enough to be launched by hand and will be able to take images of the ground below with a still or video camera, they add.
Twenty-two one-horned rhinos were killed in Kaziranga by poachers last year. In the first three years of this month, 16 rhinos have been killed, triggering a furore in Assam where the animal is seen as a symbol of regional pride and is also valued for drawing tourists to the state. A rhino census in Kaziranga last month said that were about 2,300 of the animals in Kaziranga.
In September, the government ordered India's top federal investigation agency Central Bureau of Investigation to probe a series of attacks on rhinos by suspected poachers during last year's floods in the state.



January 7 2013

On Polson Butter - anyone remember it ?


October 20 2012

 American Ice in Calcutta - 1833

Thanks to Alan Lane we have this copy from India-British-Raj Paper about Ice and as Alan says, "Aren't we lucky that nowadays our ice is so easily obtainable from our refrigerators!"
                  American Ice in Calcutta - 1833

The following report appeared in the September issue of the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal Vol III, 1834, about the first shipment of Boston Ice to Calcutta.  The ice was shipped on the 6th and 7th of May, 1833, and discharged in Calcutta, on the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th September, making the voyage in four months and seven days.

Importation of Ice from Boston.

The arrival of the Tuscany, with a cargo of ice from America, forms an epoch n the history of Calcutta worthy of commemoration, as a facetious friend remarked, is a medal of frosted silver. In the month of May last, we received a present of some ice from Dr. Wise at Hugli, (whose efforts have so long been directed to the extension of its manufacture by the native process) as a proof that the precious luxury might be preserved by careful husbandry until the season when its coolness was moat grateful :- Little did we then contemplate being able to return the compliment with a solid lump of the clearest crystal ice, at the conclusion of the rains! nor that we should be finally indebted to American enterprise for the realization of a pleasure for which we have so long envied our more fortunate countrymen in the upper provinces; nay even the beggars of Bokhara, who, in a climate at time more sultry than ours, according to Lieut. Burns, "purchase ice for their water even while entreating the bounty of the passenger!" Professor LESLIE with his thousand glass exhausters, and his beautiful steam air-pump., tantalised us with the hopes of a costly treat, and ruined poor TAYLOR the bold adopter of his theory:- but science must in this new instance, as on so many former occasions, confess herself vanquished or forestalled by the simple practical discovery that a body of ice may be easily conveyed from one side of the globe to the other, crossing the line twice, with a very moderate loss from liquefaction.

We are indebted to Mr. J. J. DIXWELL, the agent for the proprietors, for the following Interesting particulars relative to the Tuscany's novel cargo, and the mode of shipping ice from America for foreign consumption.

The supplying of ice to the West Indies and to the Southern States of the Union, New Orleans, &c. has become within these few years, an extensive branch of trade, under the successful exertions of its originator FREDERICK TUDOR, Esq. of Boston, with whom S. AUSTIN, Esq. and Mr.W.C. ROGERS are associated in the present speculation.

The ponds from which the Boston ice is cut are situated within ten miles of the city. It is also procured from the Kennebee and Penobecot rivers in the State of Maine, where it is deposited in ice houses upon the banks, and shipped from thence to the Capital. A peculiar machine is used to cut it from the ponds in blocks of two feet square, and from one foot to eighteen inches thick, varying according to the intensity of the season. If the winter does not prove severe enough to freeze the water to a convenient thickness, the square slabs are laid again over the sheet ice, until consolidated, and so recut. The ice ¡s stored in ware-houses constructed for the purpose at Boston.

In shipping it to the West Indies, a voyage of 10 or 15 days, little precaution is used. The whole hold of the vessel is filled with it, having a lining of tan about four inches thick upon the bottom and sides of the bold, and the top Lifts covered with a layer of hay. The hatches are then closed, and are not allowed to be opened till the ice is ready to be discharged. It is usually measured for shipping, and cord reckoned at three tons: a cubic foot weighs 58 1/2 lbs.

For the voyage to India, a much longer one than had been hitherto attempted, some additional precautions were deemed necessary for the preservation of the ice.

The ice-hold was an insulated house extending from the after part of the forward hatch to the forward part of the after hatch, about 50 feet in length. It was constructed as follows:

A floor of one-Inch deal planks was first laid down upon the dunnage at the bottom of the vessel: over this was strewed a layer one foot thick of tan, that is, the refuse bark from the tanners' pits, thoroughly dried, which is found to be a very good and cheap non-conductor; over this was laid another deal planking, and the four sides of the ice-bold were built ap in exactly the same manner, insulated from the sides of the vessel. The pump, well, and main mast were boxed round in the same manner.

The cubes of ice were then packed or built together so close as to leave no space between them, and to make the whole one solid mass: about 180 tons were thus stowed. On the top was pressed down closely a foot of hay, and the whole was shut up from access of air, with a deal planking one inch thick, nailed upon the lower surface of the lower deck timbers; the space between the planks and the deck being stuffed with tan.

On the surface of the ice, at two places, was introduced a kind of float, having a guage rod passing through a stuffing box in the cover, the object of which was to note the gradual decrease of the ice as it melted and subsided bodily.

The ice was shipped on the 6th and 7th of May, 1833, and discharged in Calcutta, on the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th September, making the voyage in four months and seven days.

The amount of wastage could not be exactly ascertained from the sinking of the guages, because on opening the chamber it was found that the ice had melted between each block, and not from the exterior only in the manner of one solid mass as was anticipated. Calculating from the rods and from the diminished draught of the ship, Mr. DIXWELL estimated the loss on arrival at Diamond Harbour to be fifty-five tons. Six or eight tons more were lost during the passage up the river, and probably twenty in landing. About one hundred tons, say three thousand maunds, were finally deposited in the ice house on shore, a lower room in a house at Brightman's ghaut, rapidly floored and lined with planks for the occasion.

The sale has not, we believe, been so rapid as might have been expected, amounting to no more than ten maunds per diem, although Mr. ROGERS has fixed the price at the low rate of 4 annas per seer, one half the price estimated for the Hugli ice, which was still calculated to be somewhat cheaper in proportion than saltpetre. The public requires to be habituated to it, and to be satisfied of the economy of its substitution for the long established process of cooling. There may also be some doubts of the best mode of preserving so fleeting a commodity, but on this head we cannot but advise an imitation of the methods pursued on a large scale on board of the Tuscany. For the application of the ice to the purposes of cooling ample directions hare been given in the Gleanings of Science, vol. iii. p. 120. A box, or basket, or tin case, with several folds of blankets, or having a double case lined with paddy chaff or any non-conducting substance, will preserve the ice until wanted, and for cooling water or wine the most effectual method of all is to put a lump of the clear crystal into the liquid: the next best is to spread fragments upon the bottles laid horizontally, and leave them wrapped in flannel for a couple of hours.

So effectual was the non-conducting power of the ice-house on board, that a thermometer placed on it did not differ perceptibly from one in the cabin. From the temperature of the water pumped out, and that of the air in the run of the vessel, Mr. DIXWELL ascertained that the tetnperature of the hold was not sensibly affected by the ice. Upon leaving the tropic and running rapidly into the higher latitudes, it retained its heat for some time, but after being several weeks in high latitudes, and becoming cooled to the temperature of the external air and sea, it took more than ten days in the tropics before the bold was heated again to the tropical standard.

Mr. DIXWELL has favoured us with a sight of the daily register kept by himself on board, which we regret we have not space to insert at length :- The following extract however will serve to impart some of the useful information gleaned in this first experimental passage from Boston: we sincerely hope and believe that it will afford ample encouragement for a repetition of the speculation, and eventually for a regular consignment of this new staple produce of the northern continents!  A scheme is now in circulation for supplying ice all the year round at 2 annas per seer.>>

November 24 2011

We are grateful to Alan for finding this very interesting story

by Age Correspondent  Indranil Banerjie


Burra Peg : Raj hangover on

Indian Drinking Habits


Every day as dusk settles over the subcontinent, an estimated 70 million Indians reach for the bottle to partake of their regular quota of a few burra pegs.
Many of them gather for the relaxing evening ritual in bars, clubs and restaurants dotted across virtually every small town and metropolis in the country.
One survey has suggested that as many as 30 to 35 per cent of adult men and five per cent of women in India are regular drinkers. Not surprisingly, India has emerged as one of the largest producers of liquor in the world.
This would have been unthinkable even a couple of centuries ago. Indians did not frequent bars or clubs, leave alone bring liquor home; alcohol was taboo for most middle-class Muslims and Hindus. The peasants and the aristocracy, however, had a long history of alcohol consumption and most historians today agree that the first form of alcohol (toddy) was an Indian invention.
An English seafarer, Captain W. Symson, travelling to India in the early 18th century, was intrigued by the variety of liquor produced and drunk in India. He observed that arrack could be distilled from palm toddy, from fermented rice or from fermented jaggery mixed with water in which the bark of the babool tree had been soaked.
The last kind, he claimed was known as "Jagre Arrack" and was as "hot as brandy and drunk in drams by Europeans." Toddy, he explained, was "the liquor that runs from the coconut tree without any other mixture" and "affects the head as much as English beer. In the morning it is laxative and in the evening astringent."
While some Indians clearly consumed liquor throughout the ages, there can be no denying that the drinking habit as Indians practice it today is a singular gift of the British Raj. The story of how the British introduced the European liquor to India can be gleaned from two not so well-known books published in the UK: Hops and Glory: One Man's Search for the Beer that Built the British Empire (2009) by Pete Brown and The Raj at Table (1994) by David Burton.
While their books are not focused on the history of liquor in India per se, many passages from their books are devoted to the subject.
Liquor for the European has traditionally not just been integral to their lifestyles but also to their diet.
In India, the need to drink was augmented by the intense loneliness of the Europeans, who first came as traders holed up in dreary, isolated posts with little hope of seeing their home country in the near future.
The East India Company not just encouraged drinking but also provided prodigious quantities of liquor for its employees stationed in India. This led to much intemperate behaviour.
"Thus in turbulent Bombay, we find John Lock being suspended from the Council in 1701 for striking Sir Nicholas Waite and refusing to apologise, and the absence of another member, Benjamin Morse, from the Council, was explained on the ground that his intellect was disordered by liquor and that he was ‘unfit for virtuous conversation.' Later this same reverend senior caused further scandal by getting drunk in another senior's room and finally breaking his head with a bottle."
Captain Symson remarked on the heavy drinking by a lot of Europeans, who "lose their lives by the immoderate use of these tempting liquors with which when once inflamed, they become so restless that no place is cool enough and therefore they lie down on the ground all night which occasions their being snatched away in a very short time. The best remedy after hard drinking is to keep a close and convenient covering."
William Hickey, a rake who penned his astounding memoirs, has left behind many an account of binge drinking in 18th century Calcutta.
"The dinners and balls were endless," writes Pete Brown. "People would drink in groups in each other's houses first, arriving late in loud, dishevelled groups, battered and bruised by their short journey, blaming potholes and bad lighting. Hickey once turned up at a ball with the skin scraped away from one side of his face, but still proceeded to be the life and soul of the party...When dessert had been served and a few loyal healths drunk, the ladies withdrew and the gentlemen sat down to the serious business of disposing of three bottles of claret each. It would have seemed oddly unsocial for a gentleman to drink less when, as a Mrs Fay wrote, ‘every lady (even your humble servant) drinks at least a bottle'. The men would demonstrate their drinking prowess by piling up empty bottles in front of them."
"Not even the clergy could be relied upon to set an example," writes Burton.
"The diarist William Hickey tells of the Army chaplain Blunt: This incomprehensible young man got abominably drunk and in that disgraceful condition exposed himself to both soldiers and sailors, talking all sorts of bawdy and ribaldry, and singing scraps of the most blackguard and indecent songs, so as to render himself a common laughing stock."
The Raj sobered as the 18th century wore on and the need to dilute liquor was increasingly appreciated. The world's first soda or carbonated water plant was opened in 1783 in Geneva by German-born naturalised Swiss watchmaker Johann Jacob Schweppe, who subsequently moved his business to London where soda quickly became hugely popular.
English merchants were shipping soda water in porcelain jars to Calcutta as early as in 1812 according to an account in Good Old Days of John Company. Soda water's popularity in the initial days was due to the belief that it was more salubrious than local water, which tended to be horribly contaminated. It was probably mixed with arrack to produce a more palatable, safer and perhaps cooler drink more suited to the Indian climate.
At around the same time, French brandy started gaining in popularity, especially among the Raj upper class. According to Burton, the "age of brandy succeeded that of beer, accounting for the introduction of soda water to India. First manufactured in Futtygurh about 1835, by the mid-1840s soda water was to be found in every British household. Servants knew it as billayati-pani or English water. Brandy and soda ruled supreme until the 1870s, when the devastation of France's vineyards by phylloxera resulted in a scarcity of brandy. This coincided with the mass-marketing of blended Scotch whiskies, and so whisky supplanted brandy as the favourite drink of the Raj. Contrary to the English practice of just adding a dash of soda to whisky, in India the whisky was well diluted."
Soda water's popularity has greatly declined in the UK but not in India where it is still the preferred additive to whisky and other drinks. Almost every grocery outlet in the country sells soda water along with other aerated drinks. Millions of bottles of all kinds of whiskies, ranging from those made from industrial alcohol to imported single malts, are annually bought by eager Indian imbibers.
Few of them would, however, know that all this would never have been possible but for the British determination to replicate their drinking habits to the furthest corners of the Raj.

Age Correspondent  Indranil Banerjie·                      

·                         Copyright © 2011 The Asian Age



September 21 2011

Thanks to Alan Lane for this first class film--he says:

Fantastic - and I recognize that great English actor John Hurt's wonderful voice doing the narration.
Living Bridge in India 

July 16 2011


   Cricket Festival Shillong 1890's

Click here to view an Adobe Acrobat version of the picture. 
You can zoom in there.

I have split the picture into 2 bits so you can see the people.



"Sir William Ward was in those days Chief Commissioner of Assam, and the Residencey was proverbial for its entertainments of every kind; no one, indeed could visit the place without receiving at the handsof Lady Ward (top right of stairs seated) some kindness in its best forms, and few ever left it without regret" (from Kabul to Kumassi - Sir James Willcoks). Captain J B Chatterton is famous for an ankle injury that required surgery in 1882. he was retired on half-pay and suffered some ignominity which resulted in questions asked in parliament. It is not clear that this is the man labelled in a note on the back of the photo, as seated on the left balustrade (to the right of Lady Ward) with the chaplainto our left (his right) in this photo.

The Cricket Pavillian in front of which this photo was taken was made of wood and survived the 1897 earthquake.

"I started off alone to try and find my father and mother, who were out driving.

As I went along everywhere it was the sameâ€"not a house standing and people rushing about, wives looking for their husbands, parents looking for their children, every one stricken with terror, no one knowingwhether those belonging to them were dead or alive. I then rushed on to the cricket ground, where I found a crowd of people collected. They had all been told to go there, because every one
expected another shock, and that was considered the safest place. There were some who had been ill in bed and had rushed out in their night gowns with bare feet, and some half-dressed, some crying and some in hysterics, "everything in the wildest state of confusion. And then the rain came and it poured. This seemed extraordinary, because before the earthquake there was not a cloud to be seen,
and five minutes afterwards we were surrounded with cloud and mist . Then everyone started looking for shelter, and half of us went to the cricket pavilion which was built of wood and had stood, and half went to a row of thatched sheds which were usually used as a bazaar; they were also wood." an eyewitness account of the 1897 earthquake.


April 29 2010
Click Here to be able to see a British Pathe Film of tea plantations in Assam in 1917
when it appears click arrow and then click the box at bottom right to fill your screen

 January 26 2009
Wax Models of Siddhagiri
as shown in the Siddhagiri museum

Alan received these from Barry and Jean Piggot who in turn received them from 






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January 1 2009


We are once again indebted to Alan who has found an amusing old paperback book by Maurice Hanley with some interesting tales and poems in it

The Preface of the book states:  

" In submitting these Tales and Songs from an Assam Tea Garden to the public, I do not lay any claim to their being literature of a high class. It is a subject as yet untouched on - little tales and episodes connected with Tea Planting life, the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows of us Planter folk - and as such may make interesting reading to Planters, for whom they were mainly written. If they should prove interesting reading to others as well, and help them to pass a pleasant hour or two in the company of this little book, it will be a great gratification to me. Being like our friend Mark Antony "a plain blunt man" the tales are simply and bluntly told, and with this information, I leave my reader, especially if he be a Tea Planter from the Assam Valley, to get on with the job and do the reading - Maurice P Hanley, Laojan Tea Estate, Assam 1928".

Below are several amusing poems and stories from the book -- 
please click on name to go there



The Teahouse Assistant
The Ladies in Tea
To my Planter Friends


I'm going on kamjari
It is long past half past eight
And I've lots of blooming work to do
And as it is I'm late.
There's the hoeing and the plucking
Which are never properly done.
So I'm going on kamjari
Just to have a bit of fun.

It's Maytime here in Assam
The Home folk say, "how sweet"!
They think it's like the English Spring
That cheers you quite a treat;
They forget about the Indian sun
That burns your face right off,
And the heat and the mosquitoes
At which we're supposed to scoff.

Then there's the Indian Cuckoo,
He's a topping little bloke,
He shouts "You're ill" the whole day long
And makes you want to choke.
And the dear old "Make-more pekoe"
The harbinger of rain,
You're very pleased to hear him,
Yet, you wish him lots of pain!

No, it's not so beastly dusty
When you're walking around at noon
To have your body roasted
Or to feel you'd like to swoon;
Or to stay for hours soaking,
While the ague makes you shiver,
And you feel at peace with all the world,
With a lovely Assam liver.

Or to work inside the teahouse
When your head is spinning round,
And your temperature is a hundred
And you want to hit the ground;
While the machines go clatter clatter
And makes an awful din,
Oh, you quite enjoy the row they make
‘Neath the teahouse tin!

So cheerio, you fellows,
And come along with me,
I'll show you how to prune and hoe
And manufacture tea.
It's really not so dusty,
Though we've got our troubles here,
And it ain't exactly skittles
And mopping up of beer;
But if you stick it, it may mean
A thousand pounds a year!


The Teahouse Assistant

  The Factory starts at 4 am, I'm as fed up as can be,
Oh Lord! Why ever did I come to this wretched job in tea.
I've got to see it started and stay there all the day
And all I get's two hundred rotten chips as monthly pay.

The garden man is lucky, his work is done by four,
And the plucking and the hoeing they worry him no more.
But I've just got to carry on and work right up to ten,
And start the morning after, at 3 am again.

Last week we had a thousand maunds, I had some work to do
To wither and to roll it and to make tea of it too,
Then the damned old engine broke, and the Manager went mad,
And I got the biggest telling off that I have ever had.

Still, I don't mind Jink's tellings off, he's not too bad a chap,
One is apt to get excited when the Agents start to rap.
And, he always says sorry, when he finds he's gone too far,
And makes it up in many ways when he buys a man a jar.

So, things are not so bad you know, in their own peculiar way,
We've got our job, and do it, though we don't get too much pay.
But some day I'll be a Manager and get commission too,
And have my car and horses on a very decent screw.

So, cheerio you teahouse blokes, and make your engines run,
Though factory life is boring, still there's always lots of fun
To be had with your machinery, and if late the hours be,
There's always Kudos to be had in the making of good tea.
Yes, you'll get a putty medal if you go and make good tea.
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Assam Valley Light Horse

I've joined the army once again, I've joined up in the forces,
I'm getting very muddled up with spurs and bits and horses;
I'm used to gravel crushing, and dishing out the soup,
But I'm blessed if I know what to do when I'm mixed up with the troop.
Oh, it's Head Left, and Head Right and threes about and trot,
Form half-sections left or right; or some such other rot.
But it's nice to be a sodger man in a very famous force,
So I'm now a full blown trooper in the Assam Valley Horse.

I went to camp at Dibrugarh, the Adjutant said, "Hi!
You've got to be a Sergeant and drill your men thereby."
I called the troop a company and made them all form fours,
While mounted on their horses amidst a great applause.
Oh, it's wheel left, and wheel about, and change direction right,
My horse, he galloped off with me, I had to hold on tight.
He took me to a water tank and gently bucked me off,
And the Sergeant-Major laughed and said I was a blinking toff.

But I'm grad-u-ally learning the whys and wherefores now,
And I'll soon be quite efficient in my drilling anyhow.
Then I'll take an - er - commission if they offer it to me,
And I'll mix up drills and horses in the making of the tea.
Twill be head left, and head right, and roll the leaf quite hard,
That horse has got a snip and blaze, oh well! the blighter's starred.
You've got to keep the temperature at eighty-two at least,
Now look here Trooper Brown you'll have to take care of the beast.

But I'm only joking with you, and I think that every man
Should join the fine AVLH, and drill too, if he can;
Remember what their motto is and try to do your best,
And old "Semper Paratus" will surely do the rest;
So come along you youngsters and do your little bit,
You've a duty to your country; you've a target there to hit.
There's nothing like good soldiering so do all that you can,
A keen efficient soldier is a keen efficient man.

Sitting astride my pony,
Riding my old brown mare,
Chasing the white ball up and down
Hitting here and there;
Riding like hell with excitement,
Doing my utmost and best,
Give me a chukka of polo,
And I'll leave you take all the rest.

Tennis, at times, is quite thrilling,
Soccer and rugger quite good,
Cricket is slow in the uptake,
Golf I would play if I could.
But what is there to beat Polo,
What sport with it can compare?
Whacking the ball and riding your all,
Astride of your old brown mare.

There's Mac our jolly old captain,
He shouts like the devil to the wind,
And he rides an old grey pony
That has left its youth far behind;
Bur every time we've a match on,
He pulls up its girth by two holes,
He plays like the deuce, he knows every ruse
In the way of scoring us goals.

Yes, get you a horse to ride on
And a polo stick in your hand,
And a little white ball that rises to fall
And a keenness you'll soon understand.
Leave your cricket - and tennis
And any old game beside,
But have your chukka of polo
As long as you're able to ride.

Sitting astride of my pony,
Riding my old brown mare,
Chasing the white ball up and down
Hitting here and there
Riding like hell with excitement
Doing my utmost and best,
Give me my polo always,
And I'll leave you to take all the rest.
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 The Ladies in Tea The Ladies in tea they are charming, They make our dull lives full of cheer; Even though their chief
topic is scandal, And they squabble and fight half the year. That, they tell us, is woman's first
privilege, They pull every fellow to bits, And they're jealous of each other's dresses, Till their
husbands are out of their wits.
Just watch them at club in the evening, They sit in a circle and chat, They're discussing some
fellow in private As to why he does this and does that; They know all about his shortcomings,
They have Ayahs to tell them you see, But with all their big faults, I must tell you,
We love the dear Ladies in tea!
o My Planter FriendsI write of the days in our lives When all was not rosy or fair, We were youngsters -
mere boys - don't forget, And the country was oft hard to bear. There was loneliness
gripping our hearts, And often it led us astray, And we went the whole pace - more's
the pity And few ever showed us the way.
But we stuck it, as most of us do, We have grit quite enough of our own, And we laughed
in the eyes of our Fate, And were happy as best we had known. We are rough, if you will,
yes and why not? As rough as the country we're in, And the Good God above will bear
witness How hard 'tis to keep from all sin.
Some of us went to the dogs, And supped all the pleasures of hell, Others, who went the
straight course, Lived all their lives good and well. I don't blame them the lads who were
wild, They were honest and straight, always kind, They were mostly fools to themselves,
So, poor chaps, they were soon left behind.
I write of the days in our lives When all was not rosy or kind, And I think of the planters
I have met, Good fellows, as ever you'd find. They laughed in the eyes of their Fate, And
fought it from day unto day, And they each did the best, as they thought, And then silently
went on their way!
Maurice had words for a great number of subjects; His comments as to the slowness of the
installation of telephones could be construed as probable -but the service was a long time
coming-strange to read about it today when the world is about to sink to it's waist due to
so many mobile phone users-Editor

"Telephones" - The engineering difficulties in establishing telephonic communications in a
country like Assam have been considerable. The long leads between gardens, through jungle,
must make somewhat precarious the maintenance of overhead lines, but the high water table
and other geographical difficulties, to say nothing of the cost, have made underground leads

Proposals for telephones between gardens in certain small circles within the Province, and
one in the Jorhat district, connecting that town and gardens in the immediate neighbourhood,
were made by the Government Telephone Department in 1932.

On the grounds of costs for the service which such group communications would provide,
the sceme was not sanctioned.

There were two distinct lines of thought (no pun intended) as to the nature of the service
telephones would provide in a district like Assam. On the one hand it was thought that
telephones within the confines of a group of gardens would be utilised merely, whilst
Master was doing his kamjari round the garden, by his better half for the dissemination
of local scandal and the checking up of their delinquents' hours and condition of return
from the club. On the other, planters themselves had visions of being called off their
kamjari, or during the hour of their well earned 'lie-back', to answer searching questions
from the agents in Calcutta! This was a prospect which they did not relish, and one which
they thought perhaps outweighed the advantages of essential business calls and facilities
which they would reap from prompt news from the railway terminus or steamer ghats
about the arrival of stores and despatch of their teas.

Of course, these first thoughts on the subject have been disproved in practice, but it was
quite probable that they were responsible for the delay in the telephone lines being installed.
It was not until 1935 that a workable scheme through-out the the tea districts was approved,
and two years or so afterwards that this means of communication was a matter of daily use."

January 3 2009


It was mating time. Old Seyal got up, shook his shaggy coat and turning his head up to the sky
gave a call to the pack.

Something moved in the undergrowth near him. An angry hiss and a dart, and a huge gliding
monster shot straight at him. Old Seyal bared his fangs snarling, and sprang aside. It was a
narrow shave, for Wookho the Python was hungry, and had visions of a nice tit-bit in the way
of supper. As soon as he could, the gliding monster turned around to the attack again, but old
Seyal was gone. Quick as lightning he sped, giving vent to the call of fear - "Fi-aou".

From the distance he was answered by one of the pack, and soon forty throats were sending
their gruesome shrieking call on the still afternoon air.

Sanderson, as he was going around kamjari, heard it and wondered, for it was the first time
he had heard a Jackal call in this particular manner. The Sirdar who was standing near,
turned to him. "The Huzoor listens to the cry of the Jackal," he enquired. "Yes, Booda," Sanderson replied, "I have heard many jackals cry butnot in that peculiar manner. What was the cause of it?"

"There are several stories told about it Huzoor, and one does not know which to believe.
Some say it is their mating call, others that it is the call of the outcast Jackal which has
been driven out of the pack for madness. Another story is that the Jackal only calls in this
manner when he has been frightened by a tiger or leopard or some other wild beast. And
then I have even heard people say that it is not a Jackal at all, but a golden cat which cries
like this. We, in this kooti, believe Huzoor, that it is a Jackal which makes that noise, and
that when he does so in the daytime it is a precursor of evil. Before the graet sickness
came, for many days the same sort of cry was heard in the daytime all over the place. Then
this kooti got it and many people died." "In my country," he continued, "there is a legend
told about the Jackal, which if the Huzoor would like to hear, I will tell him."

"Yes," Sanderson said, getting interested, "I would like to hear it Booda, so go on."

"They say, Huzoor," Booda said, "that when the Gods first created the animals of the
Earth, they made the Jackal one of the fleetest. In those days the Jackal lived on the
flesh of deer and other animals, which he hunted in packs like the wild dog does now.
Soon the swiftest animals of the forest stood no chance against him, and would easily
fall a prey to him as a timid hare to to a fleet dog. Then the Devil, always looking for
mischief to do, got hold of the Jackal, turned his head, and so filled his heart with vanity
that he went around the jungle taunting and annoying all the other creatures in it. Meeting
an elephant he would say, "O hathijee, thou cumbersome son of a mountain, the flies do
not fear you for all of your size, for you are too slow to drive them away; and they laugh
at you, and tickle your great big nose, until you blow, and blow for pure helplessness, and
waste good air and breath. Now if you were like me, sleek and supple and agile, you could
run away from them and leave them many miles behind. Wake up you lazy ponderous creature"
- and darting in where the elephant would least expect it, he would give him a bite on the leg
and run away. Thus he would treat all his other companions in the forest until at last he
became the hated foe of all the jungle folk.

Booda continued, "Several times they set traps to catch him, but he was too cunning and always
ran away from any danger. At last it got so bad that all the animals of the earth appealed to the
Goddess Saraswati against him, and the Goddess ordered a council to be held in the jungle at
which she would judge between the Jackal and his accusers. For this purpose she summoned
him to answer the charges laid against him. Now the Devil once more got hold of the Seyal and
flattered him. 'Oh most beautiful of all living creatures,' he said, 'why do you fear Saraswati?
You are greater and nobler than she is, and being so fleet of foot you can defy her for she will
not be able to catch you.' The Jackal's heart was filled with more vanity than ever now, and he
decided to insult the Goddess at the Council meeting.

"The night appointed for the Council at last came, Huzoor. All the animals and birds of the jungle
came to the appointed place at the appointed hour, but the Jackal was nowhere to be seen.
Saraswati grew impatient and the other animals lost their tempers. At last, after they had been
waiting for about half-an-hour, the Jackal turned up. Saraswati rebuked him, and demanded an
explanation of his lateness. 'Oh,' he replied, 'I saw a rat on the road along here, and waited to kill
it, and anyway, it did not please me to come before'. The Goddess became very angry, 'You dare
to insult me, vermin, by not obeying my commands? I could turn you into dust this minute, but
in order that you should be fairly treated, I will hear the charges against you first, and then deal
with you.'

"The first witness was the deer. 'Even when he is not hungry he pursues us for fun, and tears our
flanks leaving us to die, O Goddess, simply to satisfy his vanity. I claim protection from you, O Mother'.
Then all the other animals one by one laid their charges against him, and told the Godess of the
wrongs the Jackal had done them. The Goddess, after hearing them all, turned to the Jackal, 'What have you to say, thing of evil, in your defence?' The Jackal put his tail between his legs and gradually sneaked nearer and nearer to the exit. 'All your powers you have received from me, and you have abused them by annoying your fellow creatures. I gave you fleetness.' 'You did not, for if you did, Saraswati, catch me now' and away he sped from the meeting like a flash of lightning before anyone could hold him.

Then Saraswati, flashing forth fire from her eyes, pursued him, and before he had gone very far, caught him, and brought him back to the Council. 'Now, creature of evil, who is the greater, you or I?' 'Mercy, O Goddess,' the Jackal cried, 'you are the Mother of all creation,' and he gave vent to his call of fear, 'Fi-aou,' for the first time.

'You beg mercy, you cur, but you will have non at my hands now. For your devilish deeds I curse you.  You will lose your fleetness so that the least of the fleet animals of the forest will be able to beat you in pursuit. Vermin and offal shall be your food instead of the princely food which you have enjoyed until now. You will haunt the dwelling places of human creatures as a scavenger, and be despised by all creation of man, bird and beast.' The Jackal groveled on the ground, 'Pardon, O Saraswati,' he pleaded, but the Goddess was adamant. Turning to the tiger, she said, 'Take your leper and cast him out of the assembly.' This the tiger did immediately, and bestowed many a buffeting on him on doing so.

"From that day, Huzoor, the Jackal became a despised creature, detested by both man and beast
alike, and lost all his power of fleetness, so that he has to rely on the cast-off food of others to fill
his stomach, and is ever a scavenger in the track of dead and decaying substances. Such is the
legend they tell about the Jackal in my country, Huzoor."

Old Seyal shook himself once more and pricked up his ears. From afar he could hear the sounds
of a ponderous creature crashing through the jungle. There was a thud and a cry, the dying cry
of a Sambhar buck as it lay in the death grip of a tiger. He turned up his nose to the sky once more, and gave the call to the pack. From all around he was answered, and one by one they came to him, their leader. Putting himself at their head, he trotted off, followed by the others, licking their lips in anticipation of the great feast before them.

"There they go, Huzoor," the old Sirdar said to Sanderson. "A tiger or leopard has killed
something at the jungle edge, and the scavengers are off to get their share of it. If the Huzoor
listens, in a little while he will hear the cry of fear and ill omen.

From across the distance it came - the call of a solitary Jackal, warning his mates of danger.

"Fi-aou! Fi-aou! Fi-aou!"
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August 19 2008Once again we are grateful to Alan who has managed to obtain a copy of
" The Recollections of a Tea Planter    by W. M. Fraser

 from his supplier of books about India,  Verandah Books

Alan tells me that :

Not only is the book in fine condition, but the author had written a short message to Hyslop, a friend
of his who had also retired from being a tea planter. Also pinned to the first page is a five page letter
from Fraser to Hyslop remembering their days in tea.

It seems that Fraser was quite ill with heart trouble at the time that he had written to Hyslop in May
1937, so I surmise that he must have passed away not long after this letter. Possibly buried in a
cemetery in Kent somewhere.

I am attaching a scan of the book cover, plus the first page of Fraser's letter to Hyslop - apparently
Hyslop lived in Norfolk somewhere. I have typed the full letter out and this is attached for you to
read. Fraser sounded so sad as he neared the end of his life - it certainly brings it home when you
read it and think of the current koi-hais, not only in tea, but from any walk of life who had been in India.


Below is the first page of Fraser's letter to A. B. Hyslop  dated 26th May 1937 


and below is the typewritten copy in full kindly typed by Alan

26th May 1937

 My dear Hyslop,

Twenty years - or was it a hundred years ago - you and I and MissMuffet, were sitting in the
drawing room of 236 Lower Circular Road and I boasted, to the amusement of you both, that
I would one day write a book about my experiences in tea and further that I would donate the
proceeds to the Planter's Benevolent Fund - I remember the sly look you gave Miss Muffett
when you turned to me and said, "You will of course put a small chapter on pruning in it!"

Well, I've managed the book and I was able to send £50.00 to the P.B.F and I hope there
will be something more for it. The book first appeared as a serial in the Home & Colonial Mail,
now the Tea & Rubber Mail, and has only recently been published as rather a shabby book -
but for the dust cover, which Miss Muffett and I chose, and which we think is more than
attractive enough to sell the blooming volume.

And so, you doubting Thomas, I have a great deal of pleasure in sending you a copy by
separate post. It will not be of much interest to you as it deals only with the Luskerpore
Valley and the Dooars - but you can dip into it when you are hard up for something to read.
Though the book only covers 1894 - 1907, I managed to squeeze two later periods into it
via your old self and Arthur Brown, and I could only do that by using Hunt Ross - poor
broken little man - I was sorry to hear from Parrott the other day - as a link.

Although my writings are limited to two small areas of the Tea Districts, I have received the
most amazing letters from literally all over the world - Tasmania to Aberdeen! - from old
planters or their connections - among them from an old friend of yours who used to be in
Steel's office, then the Surma Valley and later in Assam, where I remember you used to
visit him - he is now retired and living in Stirling.

So much for the book.

I was glad to hear about you from Byatt a little time ago and I sometimes get first hand
news of you from Bushell who is always hoping, as we are, that you will turn up here for a
visit. If only I was fit we would venture into Norfolk to get a glimpse of you - but three
years ago I developed angina and I have been since a very unstable quantity. After quite
a bad time, I got much better for 18 months and I guess I took risks then. Anyhow the old
ticker began to play up rather badly last August and since then I have been in the specialist's
hands all the time. I am now trying a new treatment he has evolved and I am hoping -
there is no harm in hoping!!


Meantime I can't write letters very well - this is a special one because of the book! - or do
anything else, but fortunately I am an omnivorous old reader and get on very well in spite
of my handicap.

I sold Raspit Hill last year and Miss Muffett has designed us a fetching little house in the orchard
below - you may remember it - where we still have ample room for visitors.

Miss Muffett has had a deuce of a time looking after me and though worked to a shadow keeps
her spirits up well both at tennis and gardening. Also, we have one room as a cocktail bar and
she officiates there to the pleasure of everybody who visits us. Fortunately we have been able
to remain in the same district and have not lost our friends.

Both Garbett and Byatt are very generous in their visits to me and keep me informed of what
is going on - as also do the ITA of Sylhet, when I used to see Trevor and Arthur Brown - but now
not for sometime, as just as they are coming, I am usually being shoved into a nursing home, or
being given treatment that forbids visitors! But we had Parrott for a night last week and Dring
(who used to be in Surma and then was at McLeods office) is coming down for the night on the
28th instant.

I have however - I may say we have - one wonderful standby, L.Drysdale, a contemporary
of mine in the Dooars, who lives only a few miles off. He not only drops in at least once a week,
but when he has Dooars friends staying with him, he makes it a point to bring them over to
see us -he goes up to London pretty often, meets old friends at board meetings, lunches at
the Oriental, where he meets more - and then comes and regales it all to me. Such an answer
to prayer!
      Now old chap - goodbye and my wife says she will never be content until you bring your
wife on a visit to us.
     Much love from us bot
     Yours sincerely -
     W M Fraser 

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 July 4 2008

Thanks to Alan Below is a very interesting web site giving  Recollections of Calcutta for
over Half a Century / Massey, Montague to read please click


January 20 2008

This shows the Maijan Black Panther and was sent in by Alan Lane whom we thank
The photos were taken from the Maijan Bungalow

The Maijan 'heritage' bungalow is the former Superintendent of Upper Assam Company abode
that has been renovated by Assam Company (and Shalini Mehra!) to be classed as a 'heritage
bungalow' This so called bungalow is a double storey house (not a 'chung bungalow') and was
affectionately known in the area as the White House - because it resembled, after a fashion,
the US Presidents one in Washington!! 


These  photographs taken from the Maijan Heritage Bungalow showing the Black panther


February 4 2007

Alan has been working hard as usual and has found some superb photographs of India on the Internet---
to look at these collections please click the coloured lines below to go to the sites

Site 1  India- 19th Century photos

 Site 2 --Bangalore old Paintings

 Site 3 --James Hunter's Bangalore

Site 4 --Remains of British India


1881 to 1951

Alan tells me  that quite by chance he managed to locate a book in a local second hand bookshop
that is about the the story of the AR&T Co Ltd. He has now completed reading the book and enjoyed it

  Jim Beven told Alan that every new joiner in management in the AR&T, and Makum/Namdang tea
companies were presented with one of these books. Alan kindly scanned the two maps that are in
the back cover and attach it as a 'joined' piece as the original one covers both pages in the book.


Also attached are copies of pages 52 and 53 which mentions the help extended by AR&T and the ITA in
assisting the refugees that trekked from Burma to Assam via the Hukawng Valley.

Return to Top

The following letter is from the Editorial staff of the Camellia lead by Shalini Mehra

May 2 2006                          The Camellia

                      Tea Planters' In-House Club Magazine
Shalini Mehra              16th April 2006                       Nudwa Tea Estate      

On behalf of our edit desk I thank all of you who have extended their support to The Camellia.

The first ever Tea Planters' Interclub magazine ‘The Camellia', started with its Edit Desk at
Dibrugarh & District Planters Club in December 2001. After five years, the readership has
extended to most of the Tea Clubs in Assam and West Bengal, to retired planters settled in
various parts of the country, and overseas to expatriate tea planters.

 Our readers and writers are mostly Tea Planters, retired as well as working and also their
families. We are proud that ‘The Camellia' is a part of the history in the making, as it will
store in print for years to come in personal, as well as   tea club's libraries, the indomitable
spirit of Tea Planters.

Life on a tea plantation was unique and there are so many fascinating stories that will make
interesting reading. Yet there is very little, almost negligible, record of personal and social
lives of tea planters, considering the long history of tea plantation life. ‘The Camellia' is an
effort to keep alive the past and bridge it to the present.

 Also it is not bound to any particular company, club, class or age - hence it offers a very big
readership to one and all.

We now have a membership of almost seven hundred tea people altogether, but this is nothing
when one relates to the number of people that have been associated with Tea in the past, and
the present.  

 On behalf of The Camellia, I thank all those who have been sharing their tea experiences
with us and subscribing to the magazine. I am sure that more from this esteemed gathering
today would like to join in.

I hope you all will have a wonderful time at the Reunion. We also extend invitations to you to
visit Assam - we at The Camellia would do our best to extend any help required.

With our best wishe

Shalini Mehra  

Editor ‘The Camellia'      Nudwa Tea Estate
P.O.Dikom, Dibrugarh District, ASSAM 786101   India
The following is the application form to request copies of the CAMELLIA


The tea planter's in house club magazine

"The Camellia Magazine" is a publication produced in Assam for current and retired tea planters
that live, and had previously lived in the tea estates of Assam, Darjeeling and Dooars.

The magazine, very ably put together by the Editor and her team in Dibrugarh & District Planter's
Club is a quarterly production, carrying news and articles submitted by planters, their wives and
families about the social functions taking place at the various clubs in tea.

Other articles published in the magazine are ones that have been submitted by retired
"koi-hais" to enlighten the readers of memories of their time in North East India.

If you would like to purchase a year's subscription to this excellent magazine, then kindly
complete the section below, and post it to:  

Alan Lane, 76 Hamilton Road, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk NR30 4LZ, along with your cheque
for £10.00 - payable to Sanjay Guha - and we will make the necessary arrangements for you.



Postal Address.................................




Telephone Number............................

February 28 2006

Alan received this from his friend Kashmira in regard to conservation of the Wildlife in
Assam. Please read and learn of the efforts of this group and  there is a note at the end
encouraging you to voluntarily contribute if you wish.

Kashmira writes: I recently met the Chairman of the Assam Wildlife Areas Development
and Welfare Trust (WWT), Mr Hiranya Choudhury who retired as the Principal Chief Conservator
of Forests, Assam. The Chief Wildlife Warden is Secretary of the Trust and they have done
some good work in recent years. Christy says it has the lowest overhead costs of all N.G.Os
here and most of the money received is channeled to the field. Work that Christy has funded,
along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has been executed by the WWT very efficiently
and they now have some solidly built anti-poaching camps etc. in different protected areas in
Assam. They also gave me a copy of an informative book published by the trust last year called
"Jungles, Reserves,
Wildlife - A history of forests in Assam" by Arupjyoti Saikia.

I thought this is an organisation the Koi-Hais might like to know about and contribute to if
they wish. I had asked Jayanta Das (who also incidentally studied gibbons at Borajan and
Namdapha for his PhD), who works at the trust to send me the information, so I could pass it
on to you.


A brief profile of the

            Assam, most aptly known as the land of "Blue Hills and Red Rivers" lies in one of the
Biodiversity Hotspots namely the 'Eastern Himalayas'. In this wild land, the home of the One
Horned Rhinoceros, there are 25 Protected Areas where Nature has bestowed the best of her

            Assam, once known for its impregnable lush green virgin forests and teeming wildlife
has slowly, like rest of the country, fallen prey to the increasing demand and insatiable
hunger for land, timber and firewood.

            Both, the protector and the protected suffer heavily as the Forest Department
continues to reel under acute financial crisis.

            This is how the 12000 strong Forest Department of Assam came together on the 17th
September, 1996 by contributing a part of their salaries to constitute the 'WILDLIFE AREAS
DEVELOPMENT AND WELFARE TRUST' heralding a new era in the history of Forestry in Assam.
Since then the trust is engaged in the crusade for survival of Flora and Fauna in the State.

Objectives :

à     To protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the Forests and Wildlife

à     To assist and strengthen the Assam Forest Department with special emphasis to the
Protected Areas

à     To establish, promote or support institutions, organizations, training centers, schools
devoted to wildlife

à     To advice the State / Central Govt. / National / State level Boards on matters of wildlife
areas development, wildlife personnel management and to participate in policy decision

à     To give assistance in cash or in kind to the personnel who have rendered service for
wildlife preservation

à     To care, look after, supervise the fulfilment of human needs like cloths, ration,
drinking water, etc for the wildlife staffs

à     In need of extreme emergency, the trust will aid in constructing, establishing,
setting, maintaining specific works related to rehabilitation of distressed animals,
both in Assam State Zoo and in the wild

à     To monitor, evaluate ongoing projects of Assam Forest Department and in course
if need be recommended, aid, assist financialy in cash or kind or suggest measures

à     To aid, maintain, run, camps, watch tower, speed boat, museums, etc. and help in
other infrastructure development in the wildlife areas.

à     To act as a platform to co-ordinate wildlife and other wings of Assam Forest
Department, towards harmonious development

à     To initiate, move, draw attention of the concerned authority regarding the activities
detrimental to wildlife and its habitat

à        To act as pressure group without fear or favour in the interest of the development
of wildlife areas and to carry out awareness, campaigns, training camps, workshops,
publish newsletter, etc.

à     To assist or aid in providing token money, scholarship, to the person or persons
who showed sincerity, risk their life to protect wildlife/ habitat.

à     In furtherance of the objectives of the trust, to undertake and implement requisite
actions, steps, decisions, policies within the framework of the statutes as by law established
and in force from time to time.

Programmes :

ç     Distribution of uniform to the wildlife forest staff.

ç     Scholarship to the children of the wildlife forest staff.

ç     Medical aid to the staff injured on duty.

ç     Arrangement of feed for the domestic elephants.

ç     Medical treatment of ailing domestic elephants and other animals.

ç     Generation of database on wildlife and forestry.

ç     Publication of 'News-Letter' exclusively for wildlife and forestry.

ç     Organizing awareness camps in and around the wildlife areas.

ç     Involving NGOs and students in decision making.

ç     To start state wise campaign for protection of Wildlife and Forests.

ç     To initiate and implement specific projects in the core and fringe areas of the Protected
Areas for better  man-animal relationship.

ç     To initiate research in wildlife.


Since inception, the Trust has carried out the following activities:-

1.   Establishment of better intelligence network - Kaziranga NP, Manas NP, Nameri NP.

2.   Mechanized petrol boat- Kaziranga NP.

3.   Emergency assistance after flood - Kaziranga NP.

4.   Uniform, raincoat, belts, shoulder badges, Name plates, khukries to the staff -
Kaziranga NP, Manas NP, Nameri NP.

5.   Financial assistance to forest personnel.

6.   Training of forest staffs - Manas NP, Orang NP.

7.   Construction of watch tower- Kaziranga NP.

8.   Construction of Anti Poaching / Anti Depredation Camps in Protected Areas.

9.   Supply of tiger tracers.

10.  Construction of roads -Kaziranga NP.

11.  Construction  of Highlands- Kaziranga NP.

12.  Purchase of hand held radios for the forest staffs- Kaziranga NP.

13.  Purchase of solar panel- Kaziranga NP.

14.  Development of Local Community Schools - Kaziranga NP.

15.  Erection of Power fence - Digboi, Dibrugarh Division.

16.  Water Supply scheme - Assam Forest School, Jalukbari.

17.  Water filters supplied to the camps - Kaziranga NP.

18.  Wildlife Sticker, Posters.

19.  Forest History of Assam.

20.  Rewards given to the personnel who have rendered meritorious service for the
cause of wildlife and forestry during Wildlife Week from 1998 onwards.

21.  Medicines to field staff.

22.  Health care camps.

23.  Veterinary Camps.

24.  Awareness programmes.

25.  Rescue and release of endangered amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

26.   Financial assistance for treatment of the persons on duty in Protected Areas.

27.   The publication of a book on the History of Forestry in Assam    

Further, the Trust has already started to act on a plan to diversify into other areas,
which has been made possible by the vision and constant guidance of Sri Pradyut
Bordoloi, Hon'ble Minister of Environment & Forests, Government of Assam :-

v       Core projects on wildlife such as Translocation of Rhinos,

        Habitat Mapping and Wildlife Baseline Survey

v       Seminar on Wildlife


            The Trust has emerged as a vibrant organization with capacity to channel
external resources directly to the field executives such as the Conservator of Forests,
DFO and Range Officers for implementation of the schemes, for which, otherwise,
the Department personnel have to wait for long for necessary clearance and release
of funds through the treasury. The field officers submit the accounts directly to the Trust,
which is audited by a qualified Chartered Accountant, and thereafter utilization certificate
and final report is submitted to the funding agency. In this manner the Trust has been
able to ensure flow of funds to the wildlife sector in the state. Several other state
departments have asked us to provide the model for replication.

An Appeal....

The Trust cordially invites one and all who share its Objectives  and wish to be a partner
in the new movement in wildlife, to come forward and support its endeavors and efforts in
preserving wildlife.

(Contributions to the Trust are exempted under sec. 80 (G), Income tax Act, 1961.) 
Your valuable contributions may be sent by crossed cheque or draft to :-


M.G. Road, Guwahati - 781 001, Assam (India)

Beneficiary Bank Account

Beneficiary's Name: Wildlife Areas Development and Welfare Trust

Beneficiary's Address: M.G. Road, Guwahati, Assam, 781 001, INDIA

Beneficiary's Account Number: 11062

Beneficiary Bank: Indian Overseas Bank

                        Panbazar, Guwahati - 1, Assam,INDIA

Beneficiary Bank Swift Code: IOBAINBBA001


August 21 2005


Alan has sent this copy of his father's enrolment certificate on joining the AVLH on
August 31 1939.The joining date is only 10 days short of 66 years ago.

 Alan's father John is still hale and hearty at 90 plus
                                 Congratulations John


Again we have to thank Alan Lane for keeping us informed--thanks Alan

August 7 2005
Assam: Tea and Terrorism Taken from website (TItravelintelligence)

By Justine Hardy

The smell of rain on the bright tea was sharp and clean, hinting of the aroma that comes from
a cup; the backs of the tea-pickers were burnt in the white, midday heat, even in the shade of
their umbrellas.
Behind the rolling green sea of tea plants the mountains of the Bhutanese border scratched the
underbellies of the pre-monsoon clouds. Winds that smelt of rain filled the saris of the tea pickers.
The sweat ran off their faces and down their arms. They flicked their wrists, shaking it off, before
dropping the leaves into the conical baskets on their backs. They chattered and laughed, their
fingers cropping through the bright flush on the tops of the bushes, milking the buds from the plants.

It is just after midday and the pickers moved out from the bushes to have their loads weighed
before lunch. Young girls of perhaps ten or eleven stood at the edge of the picking section.
They had babies tied across their backs and chests with bright strips of cotton; little hot-chocolate
faces waiting patiently for the maternal milk bar that would arrive when their mothers had
weighed in their loads.

In the factory below the garden, the stillness of the picking was replaced by the roar of the
tea-making process. The giant airy building was in constant motion. Metal tubs of fermented
leaves crashed in and out of drying bins, trolleys rattled up and down the passages, piled with
tea en route for firing. Thin, brown legs darted around the continuous movement of the hungry
machines; lines of CTC (high grade teabag tea) moved along belts, pouring in a continuous
line like an unending trail of gunpowder, the dust constantly swept into piles by stooping women
with bamboo frond brushes.

In one day the same leaves had been plucked, withered, fermented, fired and sorted from
bush to teapot.

The manager's garden sits peacefully above the thundering factory. Pineapples stood beside
the vegetable garden on stubby stalks. The lychee tree hung heavy with pink fruit. Lemons,
oranges, peaches, tamarinds, bananas and a cinnamon grow around the dak bungalow.
Lunch had just finished; rich Assamese fish curry with sticky rice, fried aubergines and raita
(curd with chopped onion and cucumber), all eaten with the fingers to get the real taste.
The conversation centred on Michael Caine films, Indian politics, the plans for a grand
coconut and chicken curry for dinner; all forms of escapism from the omnipresent topics
of tea and terrorism in Assam.

Billy, the manager, had been talking about the primary school on the tea garden and his
plans to start a Girl Guide and Scout group for the children of the pickers. He believes it will
give them a sense of moral values and some pride in themselves. He speaks like a 19th
century philanthropist.

There are nearly 1,000 people working in the garden with Billy as one of the new breed of
Burra Sahib (big man - the senior manager). There is an entire community within the estate
boundary. Every worker has a good house with solar lighting and pumps. There is a permanent
staff of teachers in the primary school and a hospital with midwives and a doctor. 1995 was a
record malaria death-free year for the garden but, as long as the mosquitoes fly, the risk of
malaria is there. Billy has been researching organic repellent using the oil of the neem trees
he has planted around the gardens. He is a popular manager.

At the end of Billy's bungalow garden the frangipani tree was in full bloom. Below it, the
roadway down from the garden filled with people as the picking day ended. The women had
taken off the thick aprons that protect their saris from the tea bushes. It was a stream of
bright colours, each woman carrying her conical basket on her head, many of them with the
ubiquitous black cotton Sunlight umbrella stuck into the wickerwork. The babies were back
with their mothers, their older sisters relieved of child-minding duties. The volume of chatter
had increased since the midday heat among the bushes. They were heading home, even
though home is still within the boundary of the tea garden.

There is a bitter edge to the tea garden in Assam. In the benign shade of the frangipani
tree was a sandbag bunker. Inside the barricade stood a guard, his gun always pointed at
the gate of the bungalow. He had the letters ATPSF on the sleeve of his uniform, Assam Tea
Plantations Security Force. Wherever the management went in the tea garden at least two of
these guards went too. Even a walk among the tea-pickers meant an entourage of two, one
facing each way, their guns ready in their hands. Whenever Billy jumped out of his jeep to
inspect some bushes, or to speak to one of the workers, a guard was by his side. A plan to
leave the estate one afternoon to meet some local village weavers was abandoned as too much
of a security risk. A local panchayat (village council) representative had just been murdered.
Troops were pouring into the area to try and suppress the agitation boiling amongst the tribal
separatists. The local tea plantation community was on a security alert.

The end of the working day in the tea garden is marked by the wail of an air-raid siren.
It is an ominous sound, moaning over the hushed acres. The guarded boundaries are not
impregnable. Two years ago a garden manager was shot by extremist Assamese separatists
just outside his bungalow in Upper Assam. The garden managers, their families and assistants
are soft targets for the separatists who rage against the foreigners from other Indian states.
The core of the separatist movement comprises the Bodos, the earliest ethnic settlers of
Assam. Their fight is against the great influx of Bangladeshis into Assam but, to the separatists,
the tea planters are bigger fish, representing foreign tea companies in a system set up during
the British Empire in India. This came to a head in 1979 when the violence really began in earnest.

In the aftermath of the general election in April 1996 the violence again escalated. During the
ten days after the final vote count 101 villages in the region were burnt down and over 70 people
murdered, including a leading Assamese journalist known to have been sympathetic to the
separatist cause. Then an assistant manager was shot at point blank range by an Assam
Tea Plantations Security Force officer over a misunderstanding about a television; suddenly
every head was looking over every shoulder. Safety is not a state of mind that the tea
planters are familiar with.

Billy looked out over a new section to be planted. "It would be a little like hundreds of
thousands of North Africans pouring into France every year and just expecting to grab a
piece of land and settle down." He bent down over the young plants to check their condition.

He was out in this area of the garden to see a puja (prayer offering ceremony) for the new
tea plants, the first to be put in since 1992. There were 3,000 plants but Billy was there to
see the first lucky seven. A young plant was standing next to the plot where it was to be dug
in. Beside it were five dark green betel leaves, each one with an incense stick burning beside it.
The leaves had little mounds of chickpeas and glistening sweets piled onto them. A string of
bright plastic flowers hung above the leaves.

Billy asked for the first hole to be dug. The women, who had been carrying the plants to
the section in round baskets, gathered around. The hole was dug in the rich earth and the
first plant went in. Everyone clapped. The puja chickpeas and syrupy sweets were passed
around for a ceremonial tasting. Billy's wife Alka stood under a tree, sheltering from the
hot sun, lending her support. She clapped enthusiastically when the first plant was bedded in.

Billy is young to be managing an estate. Both he and Alka are passionate about what they
are doing.

Later, on the netted verandah of their bungalow, Alka described the tea life of Assam.
Sometimes her fingers strayed nervously through her pretty long hair as she talked about
the security problems that they face every day.

"Each time Billy is not back by the time he said I start to worry and picture the awful things
that might have happened to him."

The tea garden is very isolated, cut off from the main roads by rutted, dust tracks. This makes
them an even softer target for the hit squads. The separatists often move around the area on
bicycles just looking like any other villagers making their way home along the dust roads.

After three years in this garden Billy and Alka have finally got a telephone. It arrived on the 26
January 1996. Alka remembered the exact date and clapped her hands in triumph. Prior to this
she had driven two or three hours to the nearest towns to make a call. Their daughter is at
school over a thousand miles away in Rajasthan and Alka's friends are mainly in Delhi. Now
she has a link with the outside world. Even when it takes 20 or 30 attempts to get a line she
is grateful that she can do it.

It is like living on an island, a tiny kingdom under the constant threat of siege. Alka poured
tea into fine cups, tea fresh from the garden. She talked warmly about the work she does
with local women, selling their tribal linen weaves for them. She has plans to export and to
find a really secure market for these women and their bright, check fabrics. She gains nothing
from it. It means she can apply her mind to something beyond the boundaries of the tea
garden. She answered positively when queried about the loneliness and isolation of a
Burra Memsahib's life.

"This is my role. I run Billy's house and look after the staff here. I am here to support Billy
so that he can do his job."

Her staff is loyal and devoted. Sukkuji, the cook, has moved with them from garden to garden
bringing his sticky pudding recipes and sartorial snappiness from kitchen to kitchen. Young Rita,
Alka's ayah (maid), has been with them since she was sixteen. Alka and Billy have become
like her family and now they want to find her a good husband so that she can have her own family.

The tea company that Billy works for gives the female workers twelve weeks of maternity
leave on full pay and they have to stop work four weeks before the due date. This is almost
unique in manual Indian industry. Billy has gently tried to introduce the idea of family planning,
offering Alka and himself as examples with their one daughter. This seems to be the one
message that really takes root; though it grows slowly in the consciousness of a people
whose culture dictates breeding as many children as there is floor space for them to sleep
on. If, in their eyes, the rich and powerful tea garden manager only has one child, there
must be some logic behind it. But, it is not an easy lesson for them to learn and the garden
creche, run by a canny, one-armed, cross-eyed, matriarchal figure, is always full.

Billy stopped the jeep as he passed by the creche mother. She was standing in the
shade of an acacia tree, each eye roaming in a different direction over her temporary
brood. He asked her whether the children were getting enough milk and biscuit supplies.
The matriarch shrugged her shoulders and said that supplies were short. Billy made a
note to deal with it. The supplies arrived at the creche the next day. The attention to
detail never falters.

There was a football match coming up at The Club, the hub of the tea planters' social life.
It was the most prestigious cup of the year and Billy's team is not bad; even to the point
of inspiring the flutter of a few rupees on the day. There was a long discussion on the topic
of this day out; to go by jeep or minibus, minibus or jeep, early departure or mid-morning
take-off. Everyone would have to leave the big event before sunset to get back to their
gardens before dark. Even though they all travel with security guards, driving even in twilight
is to be avoided. The terrorists love to be shrouded by shadow and the night.

In the tea garden all emotions and senses seemed a little heightened by this strange,
isolated world. The smell of rain on the bright tea was sharp and clean, with just the first
hint of the aroma that comes from a cup; the backs of the tea pickers were burnt by the
sun in the white, midday heat, even in the shade of their umbrellas; Billy and Alka greet
visitors from the outside world with greater warmth and generosity than most hosts; the
frangipani smelt sweet and heavy above the sandbag bunker with its guard, his weapon
always loaded, his eye on the road.

Billy's team won the football match but the terrorism remains.


We have to thank Alan Alan Lane for sending these pictures of Arunachal Pradesh

Photos taken on route to Deki TE, . Arunachal Pradesh
Ashley Larkins has returned to tea as Manager of Donyi Polo TE, of the Siang Tea Company
(owned by Alan Woods' son-in-law), near Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh.

The Four Musketeers in Aranchal Pradesh

Ashley Larkins, Ali Zaman, William Wood, & Alan Wood (crouching)

William Wood, Audrey (Alan Wood's daughter in background), Ali Zaman and Ashley Larkins

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April 10 2005


Whilst I was in Assam, I always used to take my annual local leave of two weeks in Cachar,
during the 'cold weather' staying with my father at Kalline Tea Estate. This was a good
arrangement as I could also cover the four gardens in North Western Cachar (Jellalpore,
Kallinecherra, Craigpark and Kalline Tea Estates) into a programme of Crossley engine
inspection / overhauls.

In 1964, I  accompanied my father, and the manager at Jellalpore (Cliff Hart - latterly at
Hazelbank TE), and Dick (VA for Macneill & Barry) & Phoebe Turpin on a fishing trip into
the Mikir Hills on the Dehungi River.

We set off in two Land-Rovers, a 110" wheel base from Jellalpore T.E, driven by Cliff Hart,
and an 88" wheel base from Kalline, driven by my father, towing a trailer that turned into a
tent when opened up. The Jellalpore Land Rover was loaded with two extra tents, a couple
of the Kalline burra bungalow bearers, cum-cooks, and any live provisions, such as ducks
and chickens. The Kalline Land Rover, driven by my father, carried the balance provisions,
fishing gear etc.

I was "elected" to travel with Cliff , as Dick & Phoebe were with my father. I soon realised
what my function was to be in Cliff's Land Rover. Cliff normally drove around the estate,
and anywhere else for that matter, with both doors removed. It was easier that way,
said Cliff! I noticed that there was a large rock kept on the spare seat space, and on
enquiring what it was there for, was told that it was the "emergency brake".  When
travelling around it was to be put under one of the wheels as the hand-brake didn't work
that well. That filled me with a little apprehension!

Anyway, we set off from Kalline TE and started the climb upwards on the road between
Kalain and the Lubha River ghat crossing point (I understand that there is a bridge
there now). On our way, up and down hills on the single track road, Cliff's Land Rover
had times when it was gasping for power and many I time I had to jump out with the
boulder and walk beside the vehicle until it reached the apex of the hill. After that it
was jump in and lets get speed up for the next climb (Cliff's idea of vehicle maintenance
was negligible to say the least). We eventually reached the Lubha ghat and had to wait
as the road ahead was controlled by the "gate" system. Vehicles at either end of the
road (Lubha ghat to Khliehriat village in Jaintia Hills) were only allowed to proceed
up or down when the last vehicle in the convoy had passed the gate. Sometimes this
was advised by telephone, but if the wire was down, the last vehicle was given a chit
to give to the gate at the other end. Eventually, it came our turn to climb up the road
from the Lubha River towards Jowai.

We had gone about ten miles up the road, which no doubt many people may appreciate
was very precipitous on one side, and steep banks on the other side, when we met a
convoy of Indian Army trucks coming down - against the gate arrangements!! Of course
this caused Cliff and I, as in the leading Land Rover of the two, a lot of consternation.
Being confronted by a large Shaktiman truck appearing around the bend in front of you
on a very narrow road gives one the feeling of inferiority, and tightens ones senses
(that's putting it decently!) remarkably.

Well now, Cliff tried to apply the brakes - no good. He applied the hand brake - no good.
I was going to jump out with the "spare brake" but couldn't as the bank was close to my
side. Cliff tried to put the gear into ‘low range', but to achieve this one has to go to neutral
and depress the clutch, which of course now meant all loss of forward movement, so we
started to roll backwards. Trying to see out of the back of a 110" Land Rover (hardtop)
is not easy, and the road swung around to the left behind us. So eventually, after it was
becoming really awkward (the thought of going over the side of the road down to the
valley far below), Cliff managed to swing the vehicle into the steep bank on my left side.
Unfortunately, the momentum that had gathered caused the Land Rover to turn over
broadside onto the road. How Cliff managed to keep his arm from being trapped I will never
know, but he cursed the day that he chose a rock as a spare brake as it bounced around his
head. I was left laying on top of Cliff, and naturally had to step on him to climb out.
The expletives cannot be repeated here, but I am sure you can imagine what they were like
- Cliff was a Scot, and it wasn't in Gaelic either.

When I had got out, I found that we were surrounded by many "jawans" from the Army
truck, and the from the ones that were behind it. I went round to the back and opened
the metal doors of the Land Rover and out came two of the bearers, shocked and covered
in a bit of a mess. The ducks and chickens hadn't liked the shaking about and "vented"
their displeasure!

Eventually Cliff got out, and by this time my father, and Dick & Phoebe Turpin, arrived
on the scene, and with the help of the jawans the Land Rover was righted, and the springs
turned the correct way round. There were many apologetic gestures from the officer in
charge (as after all they had broken the rules of the road) and we managed to get past
the small convoy and proceed onwards and upwards until we reached the gate.

By this time Cliff's nerves were very frayed, so we stopped and had some chai from the
dhaba, which as usual was exceedingly sweet, and it did the trick for Cliff. We then proceeded
onwards turning right just before Jowai to join the road that went to Haflong, via Garampani.

The rest of the week's fishing holiday went off peacefully and we returned without mishap -
oh, and I chose a not so heavy boulder for the return trip, only having to use it once at the
Lubah ghat to hold the Land Rover in place just before getting onto the ferry.

A nice holiday, but I could have done without the fortunate escape.  
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March27 2005

Alan has kindly sent some more pictures of yesteryear-
-thank you Alan

Taken on the road from Haflong to Jowai 
(Christina Lane and Bob Docking) .

Dak bungalow beside the road from Haflong to Jowai.

View of Assam valley from the road between Haflong and Jowai.

Generators at Kalline - Running one in foreground is a Tangye,
static one in background is a Blackstone.
Prime mover for factory was a Crossley 2HH11, with a Crossley HD10 as standby.

Construction of Kalline machineshop

Machineshop at Kalline - remanufacturing CTC cutters

Shikar party at Kalline TE

Shikar party at Kalline TE - John Lane and Jim Dunlop (Koomber TE)

Photo of Kalline burra bungalow with Christina Lane, and Sandy the spaniel.
Dad had a female dachshund named Mattie. The single progeny of Sandy/Mattie
mating was a miniture black spaniel on short legs called Nobby!

Alan's father with the staff at Kalline T.E. in Cachar

at Kalline Burra Bungalow - John Lane with pipe on right, James(?) Hardiman 
facing camera, Percival Griffiths to the rear left and Geoffrey Allen to Dad's left.

Picture above and below show
preparation of clone beds at Kalline TE

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