We are ecstatic to publicly announce our collaboration with Indian Chai Stories as part of the Chai for Cancer Season 8 Campaign!
Indian Chai Stories is a blog by Gowri Mohanakrishnan with almost 200 original stories from 58 contributors from the tea gardens of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Sri Lanka!
This year our campaign tagline is “Ek Chai Zindagi ke Naam”, and what better way to take the campaign forward than to showcase the real life stories of tea planters? As Gowri herself puts it, “Back in the tea gardens, our motto has always been “Ek Zindagi Chai ke Naam””.
When Gowri was married to a tea planter in 1986, she had to leave her city life behind and experience first hand, life in the “Dooars”. Amazed by the incredible stories people shared at the tea clubs, she decided to start a blog and share their stories with the world! “Life here is a celebration of the human spirit. Indian Chai Stories is all about the people who live here!”
Tune in to Chai for Cancer every Wednesday for stories of elephants and leopards, of people and of ghosts; some stories so vivid and amazing, they beggar belief!
Says Aloke: My appointment as an Assistant Manager of Nagrakata Tea Estate of the Dooars Tea Company was tied to a ‘signed and sealed’ covenant of three years including an initial six months period of probation.
Dum Dum Aerodrome, Calcutta, May 7, 1963, 3:30 a.m. : I entered grandly with air ticket in pocket – the only document in possession. Security checks were non-existent; hijacks and human bombs unheard of.
Venk Shenoi, who says, ” It was a hell of a life in 1962: I would have been poorer without those experiences and my memories of those days,” writes about his first days as a Chhotta Saab in the breathtakingly beautiful Nagrakata area of the Dooars. He recalls a myriad of little things with such clarity, you’d think he was talking about yesterday!
Simran Sandhu writes about her early days in the tea gardens of Assam when she was a young bride. This brand new world was filled with several wonders, some terrors and some hilarious misadventures.
Alan Lane takes us to the Barak Valley in southern Assam. Don’t lose any time if you want to meet the charming occupants of the various bungalows. You’ll realise why we say life in a tea garden is a life like no other!
Hold tight, off we go – one story takes us to Assam and the other to the Dooars!
Read the story – Freshly Brewed and Packaged Beautifully
Sarita Dasgupta’s ‘The Gracious Hostess’ gives you a little peek into what goes on behind the scenes:
just what it takes to give the visitor that ‘perfect’ experience of staying in a tea bungalow.
Read the story – The Gracious Hostess
Enjoy the stories – be sure you have your cup of chai in hand! Cheers to life!
Shipra Castledine writes from in Australia. She grew up in the tea gardens of the Dooars. Her stories will make you wish you too had spent your childhood in the wonderful world she brings to life.
Read the story – Back in the day part 2
Rajesh Thomas, a planter like his father, writes from the beautiful tea estates of the Upper Nilgiris. He serves up a feast in this story from his days as a young ‘Sinna Durai’.
Read the story – The Dinner
When we started sharing stories here, one of the first things I mentioned was ghosts! You’ve waited long enough: here it is, the ghost story I have heard many times from the writer, S. Mohanakrishnan, who happens to be the man who brought me to the tea gardens many years ago.
Read the story – The Haunted Bungalow of Dumchipara Tea
P.S. Do not read this story after dark!
Today I’m sharing one of my favourites from Indian Chai Stories – the story of a monsoon wedding by Mrinalini Rautela Pahwa. She writes: “… in the midst of friends, family, love and laughter, set against the backdrop of a political agitation that would change the face of the state I knew as home and draw the curtains on a way of life…I got married.”
Read the story – The Tale of a Wedding Less Ordinary
P.S. Do not read this story after dark!
Joyshri was among the first six contributors to Indian Chai Stories. Many years ago – in the 1980s – she gave us our very own tea garden magazine in the Dooars ( North Bengal ), “Reach Out”. My friends and I were so grateful to have a chance to write and publish right there in the tea gardens!! That’s a story for another day.
For now, I leave you with this – A Predator- Lost & Lovelorn
The people who serve us in tea bungalows become family, but it takes time. Just as a bride or groom is inspected and ‘passed’ by prospective in-laws, a new memsaab has to pass a tough examination by the ex-bachelor’s devoted retinue.
I lived in terror – not of leopards, elephants or of the dacoits who struck everywhere those days, but of Ghenwa, whose word was law in the domain I had dared to enter! Hope you’ll have a good laugh at the plight of the hapless 24year old city girl set adrift in a wild world – her new husband’s natural habitat, the tea gardens!
Here it is, this week’s offering: Ghenwa the Jewel: A Birpara Tale
All of this to be followed by the drinks trolley with rounds of snacks and eventually dinner, of course.
But I’m rushing you…no, let’s go back to the tea trolley of Mandira Moitra Sarkar’s childhood; she’s going to share lots of goodies with you here
And then she takes us all to the river Bhareli to a picnic, here:Teatime in a Tea Bungalow