Saumitra Sen

March 16 2013

We are delighted to welcome Saumitra Sen as a Correspondent
         This page is dedicated to his memories and writings


March 13 2015

The Banerjees of Hansqua   – Arun and Uttara  

We recently hosted Arun and Uttara Banerjee for lunch on a weekend at our New Delhi home. The Banerjees were transiting through this city on the return leg of their vacation in California .It was our  privilege to have them over and spend some quality time with them .  

 I left Tea, settling for a city job in Delhi sometime  in early 1992 and prior to our journey back , we made it a point to visit Hansqua Tea Garden to personally  bid Arun and Uttara a final good bye.  I met Arun Banerjee for the first time , as an assistant to Juggi Minotra,  Manager , Gungaram  Tea Garden,  I  had just about completed my first two years of my tea assignment.  I distinctly recollect Arun and family moving in to the Moonee out division bungalow, and  when , Juggi  availed his annual leave, Arun was duly appointed to  carry out an Acting Managers’ assignment.   Soon after the acting stint Arun was transferred to the neighbouring Duncan’s Hansqua Tea Garden to deputise for Aman Ghaffar, who was then the Senior Manager of Hansqua  .  

The years 1983and 1984 was a stormy one for Duncan’s Agro Industries.  One rainy morning, our service engineer,  Shankar Mohinta  paid  a routine service visit to the garden , he mentioned to me , that he had returned from our HQ in Calcutta the previous day . Apparently he overheard  whispers in the HQ about Duncan’s  master plan to diversify in to likely profitable  industrial ventures by raising capital  by selling out its tea gardens  , in fact,  plans were already underway for action. Assistants   , such as me regarded  this as one demotivating rumour emancipating from our Calcutta office , which was nothing new in any case .  

A fortnight later, one evening   while on a social call , Arun casually mentioned over a cup of tea that there was an element of truth in the rumour that we had heard  , Hasqua Tea Estate with an annual  production of seven and a half lakh kilos of tea  along with its entre local management had been sold lock stock and barrel overnight  to a Kolkata based trading company  –The new company R.D. Tea Limited were keen to retain him to Manage the Estate .  Aman Ghaffar has declared his retirement from Duncan’s already .

Coming back to the lunch hosted by us for Arun and Uttara , we decided  to walk down memory lane sharing our tea garden experience .  Many questions were answered by Arun and Uttara about their life style in tea and how  the existing life style compared to an urban  city life in Kolkata . We gathered that Arun is from a family of tea planters – his immediate family members are existing plantation owners  of  Makaibari and Happy Valley Tea Gardens of Darjeeling  .  He recalled that his life in the tea industry commenced   when he joined  J. Thomas & Company  as a trainee tea taster and brokered tea for a brief spell of time for the same company . The assignment ,  was rather mundane , so  he decided to switch for  a direct career in the tea plantations. He started out as an apprentice assistant to Ram Singh Taragi, Manager , Duncan Goodricke’s  Chalauni Tea Garden and also  recollects his joining date as  4 January 1970 !   He was later transferred to Killcott reporting to V. Jhaveri ,   Senior Manager  . Uttara joined him in 1973 at Killcott and they happily recall their contrasting yet complimenting   backgrounds of tea and academics together   . Uttara comes from a family of Academicians- Economics being the main subject forte’ by the way .  

Arun recalled that he was handed charge of Hansqua Tea Estate in 1984 by a new company , R.D. Tea Limited ,  which meant  readjustment and refit  to a company culture which had no previous experience in the tea industry  – it was one major challenge  no doubt ! He mentioned that he , successfully convinced the new company stake holders to firstly support him to create a tea industry oriented work culture and secondly he had to  improve the quality of  tea that was being produced .  Once he was able to business sustain this transient period with improvements   , he convinced his stake holders to acquire fresh land at a lower market price in unconventional tea growing areas further south of the Hansqua Tea garden, towards Bidhan Nagar to create a new tea plantation   .

He further repeated the same exercise in unconventional areas of Balason and Sonapur.  In order to take on the additional crop received from the new plantations, a Hansqua tea factory upgrade was introduced by him. An estate that was annually producing 7,50 ,000 kgs of tea  in 1984 and given for good by Duncan’s actually  doubled  in its production capacity in the next two decades  . The news of the success of his overall exercise was such that  Duncan’s  had much to learn ,he mentioned , the company followed by acquiring land and  planting teas in unconventional areas too , under a new company name  Duncan’s Tea Development  !!   

Arun and Uttara also recalled an unfortunate incident that happened on a weekend in 2002 with them  at home . A major fire erupted from a faulty air conditioner in one of the guest rooms of the double deck Hansqua  Burra Bungalow leading  to its complete  destruction. Luckily there was no loss of lives or injuries.  The incident caused them to loose all their personal belongings  including precious and semiprecious family heir looms,  all lost in a matter of twenty minutes   – A new bungalow on the old foundation was successfully built and executed  by Arun and Uttara . The bungalow is now safe and secured.

After a period of two decades in Hansqua Tea Estate, Arun finally retired as the Group’s   Superintending Manager in 2004.His passion for tea did not diminish, he was soon appointed by Ferguson & Associates consultants as an independent advisory to inspect tea gardens and provide necessary recommendations for improvement  in the next decade of his life .These days Arun is nursing a chronic right wrist injury. The injury is as a result of a hard tumble  , he took while inspecting a tea garden, in one of his more recent tea garden advisory visits . The injury at this stage is a professional dis advantage he agrees   .  To us , personally, Arun and Uttara were the same usual cheerful selves as was the case three decades ago when I first met them in Gungaram Tea Garden. Their two daughters  Ranjini and Ronita   are settled , they lead their own independent lives .

Finally Arun Banerjee has hung his boots  , so goes the story of The Banerjees of Hansqua -  Arun and Uttara .

The Photographs 


  Arun and Uttara separately photographed in Hansqua . 

 At home in Delhi -: As seated left to right is  Arun, Uttara , my wife Anindita and myself

March 21 2013 

Lost Horizon - In search of Kangra Tea  


Those of us who had the opportunity to read William Dalrymple’s recent book “Return of a King - Battle for Afghanistan 1839 - 1842” must be familiar with the strategic historical importance of Dharamshala ,  a town, that exists on the mighty Northern Himalayan spur of the “Dhaola Dhar” roughly 16 odd miles North East of the  town of Kangra in the State of Himachal Pradesh India. A picturesque district town located with the back drop of the mighty Dhoaladhar range (or Dhauladhar ) enshrined in unique flora.  .


The area was once a piece of waste land– on which stood a solitary Hindu religious rest house (or termed Dharamsala in Hindi). The area was annexed by the East India Company in 1840 from the local  Katoch Rajas to raise sturdy native (sturdy hill clansmen – Katoch /Gurkhas) troops for military campaigns to the frontiers of Afghanistan towards the North west passage of Kashmir - the local name DHARAMSHALA  thus  so was adopted for the newly established military recruiting  and training center .The center was no doubt popular for its climatic conditions, the flora and fauna and source of natural mineral water from the melting glaciers attracted traders and civil (expatriate) families to migrate to the surrounding areas of this now mushrooming cantonment to evolve as a healthy relaxed retreat town . In 1855 Dharamshala was finally declared the District Head quarters of Kangra .


The second Lord Elgin and Viceroy of India was fond of this area and he finally died here in 1863 and lies buried in the Cemetery of St. John in the wilderness, a small Anglican church distinguished by its stained glass windows   .



 St. John’s Church  Dharamshala (Rebuilt after the earthquake of 1905)

Around 1860, the 66th Gurkha Light Infantry was moved from Kangra fort  to Dharamshala .The battalion was later renamed the historic 1st Gurkha Rifles , from there on legend of the Gurkhas, spread worldwide ,  Gurkhas the 'Bravest of the Brave'. Consequently, fourteen Gurkha platoon villages grew from this settlement, namely Dari, Ramnagar, Shyamnagar, , Dal, Totarani, Khanyara, Sadher, Chaandmaari, Sallagarhi, Sidhbari , Yol , ( where another cantonment was set up   for Yound officers on leave from the Afghan wars ) Palampur and , Taragarh , . The Gurkhas worshipped at the ancient Shiva temple of Bhagsunag located close by . The local Gurkhas referred  Dharamshala as 'Bhagsu' and called themselves as Bhagsuwalas.

Dharamshala gradually became a popular hill station town for both the natives and the expatriate community located in Delhi and those residing in other erstwhile princely states and cantonment towns of North India, offering them much respite and escape from the  heat and dust from the severity of North Indian summer .The town continues to be a major tourist destination today. The Tibetan Buddhist monastery and surrounding Tibetan settlements came up after India’s independence between 1950 and 1960 ,at first, as a Tibetan refugee resettlement- sanctuary for  the Dalai Lama and his followers who overcame impossible mountain passes to escape in to India from Tibet when that country unfortunately was invaded by the marauding Red Chinese invaders.

My current passion is working on one such project to establish a Secondary School and a residential Teachers training center to be located in the Dhauladhar range in collaboration with a renowned charitable trust in India called Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan (BVB) The trust established in 1933 have many education centers in India. The idea is to promote Indian culture and philosophy through education  . BVB Trust education centers are represented nearly in all States in India–however an education centre by the BVB Trust is yet to be established in the State of Himachal Pradesh .


On much persuasion I have managed to convince The Guptas ,  owners of the private corporate telecommunication group (where I work in New Delhi )- Cain Technologies , to gift roughly three acres of  land duly owned by them in Palampur  to the BVB charitable trust.  All this is a conscious effort not only to improve the quality of life of  those hill folks residing in nearby towns and villages in the Dhauladhar range but also with a wider vision to attract people to visit picturesque Palampur ,surrounded by numerous tea gardens  . A major resource challenge remains for the Trust led project which we hope to overcome with passage of time   .

My work entails me to travel extensively to the towns of Dharamshala , Kangra and Palampur mostly by motor car  . A narrow gauge hill rail line starting from Pathankot junction connects Palampur by  a six hour train journey , and  the rail road terminates finally at Jogendra Nagar . The railway line was specifically built in 1927 by the orders of the Raja of Jogindra Nagar –Raja Jogesh Sen with technical assistance from Scottish engineers to ferry turbine wheels and odd machinery of Aberdeen make for a hydel irrigation and power project, subsequently the rail wagon cars were utilized on the return leg to ferry tea and timber, today people   !



 The narrow gauge rail


It is fascinating to note that Tea plantations existed in the Dharamshala district   !! The art of planting and manufacturing teas are considered auspicious by the local Kangra folks   .

With my eleven year tea career behind me in Darjeeling and Dooars, I feet very much at home in these parts on my visits . Surely this area is bound to attract the picturesque imagination of fellow planters from Assam and Dooars because the snow capped Himalayan Dhauladhar range is barely 35 kms north as a crow flies and thus the Himalayan spur appear gigantic , rocky , heavenly and sublime when compared to other Himalayan ranges as eyes could see from a similar tea garden located either in Darjeeling , Dooars or Assam   .

Palampur is a busy center for tea trading of local North Indian teas . This tea trade center has been existing for over one over hundred and sixty years – a special orthodox blend termed  “ Kangra tea that locals refer as kamgra cha “ has gained much popularity and can be identified by its light golden liquor with unions que light fragrance and a distinctive catchy aroma  Moreover green Kangra tea –cha or “sheer chai” continues to be popular in the hills of Kashmir and Afghanistan . Kangra folk are proud of their heritage and Kangra tea or Kangra Cha is one such part of their heritage embraced in their local folk songs and tales.



 Tea gardens in Kangra valley

I am in touch with Dr D.K. Sharma of the Himachal Tea Board and also students of the Agricultural University in Palampur and learnt that Tea in these parts was first introduced and planted in the early 19 the century on around 1842  by early Scottish settlers .The tea was traded through Northern traditional silk routes and also tea supplies carried with the military across the Northern Himalayan passes and to the cross roads of the mighty Hindu Kush mountains into Afghanistan . The same Kangra Teas also found its way into present day CIS countries of Uzbekistan , Kazakhstan , Turkmenistan and also Russia .


Much of the credit of Tea plantations to grow in this area was because of a botanist one Dr William Jameson of Edinburgh who arrived in these parts in 1840s after his posting as Superintendant at the botanic garden in Suharanpore(Saharanpur).Though he never researched Botany but his major contribution has been was planting teas in the Dhauladhar range from China variety - tea stocks apparently growing wild in the hills of neighboring  Almora  A botanical park in central Palampur - Jameson Park duly named after him.


Many are bound to be confused like me, whether tea was first introduced in India in the Dhauladhar range around Dharamshala by Dr Jameson or was it the work of the brothers Robert and Charles Bruce who discovered tea in Assam in 1844 ? History is always written for the Masters …….so we are to follow what has been officially recorded  and recognized 



 Sadly much of this area’s rich tea garden history was destroyed at dawn of 04 April 1905 when a devastating earthquake ( measuring 8.00 on the seismic scale )  with its epicenter in Kangra flattened the towns and villages in this very Dhauladhar range at a cost of around 20,000 human lives and another unaccounted number who went  missing . A large number of Tea gardens and factories were inundated either by avalanche and or flash floods, Scottish expatriate tea planters and civil settlers in this area either perished or hopelessly went missing . After this sad natural catastrophe the expatriate tea planting community presumably in utter dismay and panic either withdrew completely from the area or decided to abandon their tea interests forever , leaving odd patches of the remnants tea gardens in the care of local hands .

I understand after hearing from local inhabitants that most of the tea gardens were  proprietorships unlike large tea agency held gardens in Darjeeling , Dooars or Assam   There were a few exceptions as well in bigger gardens . A few important ones today of standard are namely the Wah Tea Estate and Manjhi Valley Tea Garden .

To me, Kangra Cha industry could never grow out of the set back that it received as a result of the earthquake . At some point , I also learnt that Kangra cha was able to receive the highest price in London auctions way back from 1896 -1903   !


Large areas under tea today ties abandoned and unattended - neglected ,  tea plants appear as forests of rubber trees , enveloped in weeds and many .  Tea leaves are plucked today by disorganized and unskilled workers and sold at prices to a handful of Government owned tea cooperative factories. The skill of tea growing appears to be fast disappearing. Manual workers are difficult and expensive to find in this area these days   .


The wars in Afghanistan over the last twenty years and more and the continued political unrest in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir have added to the woes of this once lucrative traditional Kangra tea industry across borders .


I am thankful to all descendant family members of those Tea planters who toiled extremely hard to plant teas in the Dhauladhar range through my story and also grateful for preserving the natural landscape , and having the foresight to be environment friendly . 

Something hard to find these days in the Himalayas which continues to be littered with growing population .Alas all that remains are   … shadows of yester years  !  …..   .. 



 March 16 2013

A “Trainee Assistant” at GUNGARAM Tea Garden   -  
                            33 Years ago 

                                                        by Saumitro Sen

I recently received a sum of money from the proceeds of my Life Insurance policy (LIC) that finally matured  after  thirty years – the issuing date of the policy read as 18 July 1981.  I vaguely recollect that the policy was sold to me by the then Garden Head Clerk one Khirode Gopal Sinha of Gungaram Tea Garden “ You are young and fresh but a day will  come when you will be old and weak , so start planning  to save for the future ” he said and put his smashing signature in green ink , endorsing my life policy document underlining the location address as Gungaram Tea Garden, P.O Bagdogra, Dist  Darjeeling.

Thirty three years later those beginner days in Gungaram Tea Garden are a hazy memory

 My tea career started with Gungaram Tea Garden as a “Trainee Assistant” on 18 May 1981    It was my first major career break.  I also happened to be that “someone first in my family “ to venture for an adventurous , out door  prospective tea career that obviously lay ahead  of me  , a beginning of which was at Gungaram Tea Garden of Duncans Agro  .

My parents (who have since passed away) were happy ,when I broke them the news of my selection .My father took upon himself to educate me what was to be expected  . He was in the services of an airline those days and his technical profession reasonably exposed him to better air worthiness of aircrafts for flying from Calcutta to remote  distant tea garden air strips of Telepara , Newlands, and Grassmore  at some point . According to him Bagdogra was a village of ramshackle huts , the airport had a concrete airstrip that  had elephant grass growing on either side with infestation of wild life  , their wild company much felt at dusk with their distant audible snarls and grunts . A meter gauge rail station was located adjacent to the airfield and the air force mess he thought was best for much wanted social life–Numerous  life saving air sorties were made during the Chinese aggression of 1962 from this airport and my mother added that she had no time for the Chinese but surely my new assignment called for celebrations for a Chinese meal  that evening .

I was accommodated for a few initial months as a “Trainee Assistant ” at Gungaram Tea Garden with a factory engineer Prabhakar Jadhav  the  “Kal sahib in his Kal kothi” as he was called . Prabhakar and his wife Shailja were from Bombay. Prabhakar was a private person who was fond of reading books. I learnt about local “dastoors “of Tea from them – the most notable one was scribbling messages for intra bungalow and office communication on a piece of paper and make the errand boys run across with them  ! The other regular “dastoor” was pushing his red and silver colored Java motor cycle to start. “The start lever has operational kick failure” – was a sentence he often repeated.  Kumar Thapa the vehicle fitter hated to repair this Motor cycle as it invariably added to his daily chronic garden motor vehicles ‘ ailment list – the problem was not the quality of repairs but the ailment as a resultant kick by the state of mood swings of the ‘Kal sahib and the way he kicked his motorcycle to start,’ Kumar fitter would aim to suggest .

Juggi (Jagdish) Minotra was the Manager  – He had a  tiger like countenance . He mostly came attired in navy blue or  khaki pair of shorts with shirts that invariably had torn collars and had always a long cigar dangling from his mouth . He was tough yet encouraging to aspiring trainees like me to all ‘labor under his correct knowledge” - the “LUCK “  to fall prey to his numerous agro technical questions in English . Failing to answer the Manager would mean listening to choice verbatim that had no place in any dictionary. To him the Audel’s hand book of Engines was critical to understand the mechanics of factory, engines,  irrigation batteries and all technical fundamentals   .  His favorite question was how to stop “Mota maal “being manufactured and he always called for better innovation to improve “liquor standards” much to my amusement as a beginner.

I later moved in to the “Twin bungalow” sharing the bachelor’s accommodation with another Trainee Assistant few months my senior Sunil Munshi . I had by then  reasonably adjusted to the daily work routine and with Sunil as my  buddy - life was easy and better. I was moved out to the garden shortly from the tea factory after Juggi found me starting the main captive generating set the Ruston 6VCBX all by myself – I think he thought that the young boy has learnt enough of the factory and entrusted responsibility of the ‘Toonah Division ‘some ninety hectares under tea   sprawled on either side of the main Siliguri - Calcutta highway.

A careful addition to my assets by then was an Avon cycle for my in garden transportation and I was happy pedaling nearly 50 kms a day . Another addition was the multi band radio cum cassette recorder which I purchased from the Dulabari bazaar , a stone’s throw away from the then Kankarbita Indo Nepal border.

Gungaram Tea Garden had an adjacent Sal forest that was home to the Indian Army’s Corp of Engineers, we befriended a handful of young officers shortly. A few occasional crates of rum were exchanged by them in return of sumptuous meals cooked by the Bawarchi  Augustus. A shower in a clean washroom was luxury to those in the military on hard field posting – so our bungalow washrooms were key attraction to them  . It was fun to organize hockey and football matches with 66 Tactical Engineers unit which No 66 prided by winning the hockey matches (May be they had better  equipment) and we ensured drubbing them in foot ball   One of the officers one   Lt. E.Z.D. Rosario , was  very friendly - Rosy as he was fondly remembered was hospitable for buying us occasional drinks at their field officers mess and could also strum the guitar well . I bumped in to Rosy a couple of years ago in the United Officers Institute in Delhi – now a serving Major General and it was fun to exchange memories of our garden adventures and numerous sports meet .He fondly remembered Nicholas the Tea garden hospital medical hand – To him Nicholas was a better dazzler with the hockey stick than the clinical thermometer.

The Naxal peasant revolution uprising in West Bengal had subsided by 1975 – yet Bengal remained a State in the shroud of communism until as late as 2012.  This armed revolution took shape from the village of Naxalbari neighboring Gungaram Tea Garden. The uprising was the brainchild of two well read and educated communist revolutionaries Kanu Sanyal and Charu Mazumdar   Kanu was a  native of Naxalbari and after his release from prison he settled down in the humble surroundings of his village across the Chenga River on the western boundary of the Ganguram main Division which had a 15 hectare patch of tea which we referred to as Tarabari . Kanu  Sanyal appeared an intellectual - Occasionally we would exchange greetings while crossing each other on our cycles .It was soon that Kanu Sanyal called on me one morning  during morning hazree time i.e breakfast in the bungalow and requested if he could join?.  I was half way on my breakfast plate and I promptly offered him to share the table. He joined to warmly thank me for the “comrade” like gesture though his argument was those other means to feed few more thousands in North Bengal presumably dying in hunger and mal nourishment “ Can you provide me and my people with food grains-  ?” Understanding the reputation of this man and not to antagonize Naxals movement per se,  I finally settled charity with him for two ration bags full of rice and wheat each from the garden ration godown after duly having it approved by my senior K.K Mehra who was Acting those days - all he muttered was  “Let those sleeping ……continue to sleep “

Kanu never disturbed me ever since I made that visibly charitable gesture to him until I heard of him in  the National TV newscast last year sitting on front of the TV set in my New Delhi home last year “Kanu Sanyal the legendary Naxal armed revolutionary finally passed away at his native village near Naxalbari  yesterday “ announced the news reader . How could this meek , docile, dhoti clad and bespectacled middle aged man then , on a cycle whom I had the opportunity to meet and interact closely at some point in my life , could mobilize an armed peasant revolution “ “The Naxal Revolution” remains to be a mystery to me to this day .

John Irving was another legendary name that I would often hear from garden staff and workers  He was the Garden’s first Manager and served in that capacity for over two decades and also that Gungaram was the name of the first Chaprasi of this very garden that he named after . This story was duly seconded by the then Stores /Mal babu Jeevan often who was the senior most in age amongst those in service in 1981. It was in the month of October 1982 that I chanced to meet John Irving Jr the son of the legend John Irving Senior – who courtesy called on the garden – John recounted his happy days at the garden and his education in Terai and Darjeeling . His numerous fishing and hunting escapades with fond Geja Sardar ( who was apparently still alive then ) near Chenga river and Tarabari Sal forest . I took him as pillion on my white motor cycle ( I had a quicker means of transportation on a Rajdoot motor cycle and had dispensed my previous Avon cycle by then ) and heard from him numerous tales of the Gungaram Tea Garden of the yester years 1930s – 1960s .

The grand finale of John’s memorable visit was a few photographs that he took from his camera of me and Jeevan ( Jeevan as I learnt has also since passed way – he was already well past sixty years of age in 1981 ) in front of the Gungaram Tea factory and another that he took of me at Toonah division with my white Rajdoot  motor cycle , both photos were promptly mailed to me on his return to UK  .

I will be 54 this March 2013 .It has been over two decades since I quit the tea plantations and moved  on with a fresh corporate career in New Delhi. A chance meeting with notable writer Mark Tully in one of the book launches at British Council Delhi a few years ago brought happy memories of theTea Gardens in Darjeeling , Terai  and Doars , this was when Mark mentioned that his father was attached with Gillanders and that one of his brothers had been  Manager Grassmore with Gillanders Arbuthnot .

Many moons went by, I was twenty three years of age when life’s happy chapter at Gungaram Tea Garden duly closed forever with a transfer to Garganda Tea Estate in the Dooars in early 1983. 

The memories of the numerous social events that I participated in Terai and Darjeeling club – Many picnics and fishing trips at the Teesta and Chenga rivers . The most notable of these was an evening picnic held close to the Kalijhora bungalow on the banks of the Teesta courtesy the assistance of the Army engineers led by Rosy and his team and us - armed with tents and goose flares was attended by the tea fraternities of Gungaram , Hansqua and Taipoo Tea Gardens and so also a few erstwhile planters and their families residing in Bagdogra and Siliguri 

I thank my friends of 1981 who were dwelling in the neighboring tea Gardens way back in 1981   The Ghaffars _ Aman and Dipy  and their daughter Shahnaz ( (Amini) and son Tahir , The Banerjees , Arun and Uttara , all from Hansqua Tea Estate  . In Tirihhanna Tea Garden   R.P Gupta and Mrs Gupta  – daughters Ritu and Ruchika , Rekha and husband Abhir .   My fellow colleagues in Gungaram  , The Parmars  , K.K Mehra and his family .  All LUCK Juggi Minotra and his family and Chander Kapoor who replaced Juggi as the Manager in 1982 . Senior Manager Taipoo,  Shanti Singh Roy – a wonderful pianist and  Kajal Bhadury  and Ranjit Bordoloi  from the same estate. The Roys K.K and Bunty from Bagdogra and so many others who just made a difference to the quality of life of a Trainee .

To Mohanakrishna at far away Dumchipra whom I visited on my motorcycle on weekends and together we toured neighbouring gardens in the Dalgaon area in his sliver colored Ambassador car . Mohan and his wife Gowri remain to my wife Anindita and I the finest friends ever since . I chose to part ways from Tea in 1992 but have been in touch with them ever since . Mohan was  happy go lucky and is currently Senior Manager with Buxa Doaars. Gowri is an avid reader of books and a distinguished writer  .

Sunil Munshi and his wife Anju whose news I occasionally receive through an odd phone call He leads Andrew Yule as its Chief   !   A long way from the days we shared that “Twin Bungalow” in Gungaram as fellow Trainees .    .

                                                                   Saumitra supervising the plucking

                                    Saumitro and Jeevan in front of Gungaram Factory



                                                                    Saumitra with his Ambassador car

                                                    (Photos by John Irving Jr)