Sunday, October 14, 2007

Makaibari, 1970

My intention to return to the family plantation was for a short holiday. Touch base with my folk, soak up the tranquility of the mystical Himalayas, and return with renewed vigour to pursue my frenetic life. Man proposes and God disposes.

My father (the patriarch with the hat and britches with a Sam Browne belt), adroitly gifted me a thoroughbred and a gun, saying "Son, you look weary, ride, shoot and relax now. Have a long holiday."

I accepted the horse with delight, and careened around the precipitous bridle paths, without a care in the world. It was unbridled pleasure to race around the non-existent mountain slopes, the wind sweeping the hat away, guiding the magnificent charger, over terrain that none would dare to ride on. I paid the price a few days later, when I was flung off. That fall altered my life irrevocably.

The split second between the saddle and crash to the ground was a spellbinding one. I was in a timeless, spaceless zone. A tunnel of light with an incredible intensity and clarity. The woods orchestrated a melancholic yet powerful symphony that bewitched me with a soulful "save us, save us," chant. It was eternal. I felt the impact of hitting the ground, and watched the nearby pluckers rushing to me, picking me up, asking soliticiously of my well being. I was in a stupor--completely disconnected--with the intensity of the visage I had experienced. It was real, yet it was not. I smiled wanly at the concerned ladies, assured them that my bones were intact, remounted my stallion, and trotted him back in a state of contemplative confusion. I just couldn't fathom my experience.

The extraordinary revelation pursued me constantly, and towards dusk I realized that I had to remain at Makaibari to crack the riddle.

My parents were delighted when I announced my intentions to extend my sojourn that night over dinner. Doubly delighted that I would try my hand at planting tea. Of course they had not the faintest clue why. Thus began the greatest voyage of my life-- a life that led me to unravel the three critical questions that assail all of us. Three questions that all of us quietly sweep under the table and hope it would remain dormant. Where do we come from? What are we Doing Here? Where do we go?

Next week my run in with a Pied Hornbill-- the King of Birds.


ankitlochan said...

an amazing pic.. uncle - you resemble your father exactly... a really unique story with such a family touch that is rare and makes the whole estate so divine.

we really are proud of your good work!


Ashish said...

I remember you sir - you played cricket against us (St Pauls)several times. You had a genuine English Willow cricket bat! Got a century against us in 1974.

My family and I are planning a holiday to your tea garden and are awaiting confirmation.

warm regards

Ashish J Sanyal

newsguy said...
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DarjHills said...

sir, Benoy here! Hope you are doing fine! its great to hear your tea entry story and know the historic implementation of "Man Proposes and God Disposes". You looked so young and full of energy! Good to read your writings. Its an honor to have you here in this blogosphere. Welcome to the world of blogging - your open diary to the world.

Swagato said...

Dear Mr. Banerjee,

I hope you would not mind me saying this, the font color as a thumb rule should always be in contrast with the background..... it greatly increases in the readability. The point is, a great story should be read... and it is our responsibility that it is read, so anything standing in the way of easy readability is a crime.

Swagato Dev Barman
Information Developer

Benoy Thapa said...

Hello Sir,
Great to get across one of your post. I always cherish the memory when we first met at Makaibari. And thanks for all your tea teachings to me. I always keep that in mind and has helped me a lot during all these years in tea. If you haven't then I have even written a narration of our 2006 meet up at Makaibari Tea Estate. Here's one of your student and a fan wishing you all more of good tea years to you and Makaibari family.