... at least I'll try...
This post is inspired by two recent posts by Cerno - about Planters. I've become nostalgic about what I still see as some of the happiest times of my life and what set me on a career built around tea.
DILMAH has a lovely site dedicated to Ceylon Tea for those who may like to explore the lore themselves
I joined the ranks just a few months past my 21st, posted to this beautiful estate up in Maskeliya. The closest town was Upcot, where the road from Maskeliya town virtually ended, becoming estate roads and foot paths.
That first day I was driven up win my parents in a double cab loaded to spill level with all the things a young man needed to start off in life - seven shirts, five pairs of shorts, socks and undies, rain coat and umbrella, three tea chests full of books, a carton full of cassettes, a small 3 in 1 boom box, a dart board and a 1500 piece jig saw puzzle and off course, the first of my "Appu's' Michael.
My 'Bungalow' was perched upon a hill, over looking a valley - four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a master bed which could sleep four at a pinch, a wooden boarded dining room, a living room with a fire place and a kitchen that was almost 30m away from the dining room.
I met Mr A, the SD I was taking over from, who in turn was going on to another property that very day. A quick hello and we were about to embark on a 100yr old practice, "Handing Over/ Taking Over"
What happened next was to happen in the space of 120 minutes
I was given a copy of the bungalow inventory and showed various pieces of furniture, carpets, curtains, a fridge and oven, all of which I was expected to become responsible from this point onward.
Next I was perched on the back of his (and soon to be mine) motor bike - a 89 Sri Honda CD 200 which I was to ride for the next four years and taken to the first of two of the 'Divisions" that were now my responsibility - tea fields, plant nurseries, building, accommodation for the workers, tools, a school, a dispensary, a coorporative shop - 89ha of tea, 250 workers and 8 staff members.
With the second division included I was now, at the age of 21 responsible for the productivity of 160ha, 480 workers, 14 staff members, responsible for keeping peace, dispensing justice attending to their welfare, paying them, planning and implementing work, checking on worker out turns and productivity, harvesting the crop and what not.
This day was also the day I met 'Brownie' for the first time. We had brought with us a loaf of bread from the Royal Bakery in Wella. While I was 'taking over' and squalling my signature on umpteen numbers of paper, my mom was setting up house for me and in the process left the bread on a windowsill. Suddenly, this medium sized bolt of brown lightning streaked across the kitchen, grabbed the loaf and vanished. A stray, she had apparently just given birth to some pups and was obviously hungry. She was to join my household within a week, pet to me, companion to my 'first' dog a year later, to move with me from Maskeliya to Bandarawella where she eventually died, sadly missed, still remembered...
More to come...