Gratitude comes with every single sip of Tea that I take. And with every single sip, my thoughts go to the founder, the creator, the one who said many many many years ago, “you will have to listen to me and get up every single day at 4:30 am to go the Tea factory and observe. Then when you return home, you can ask me as many questions as you want but not a word out there.”And me being an extremely quiet, shy person then and not having too many opinions but wanting to do something completely out of the box, I said ‘yes’ excitedly. Here was something I would be involved with which during that time, around 1990 had only 2 more women working in the Tea industry in India. That was a high for me 🙂 So with just that tad bit of fear coz I was letting go of all the fun that my friends would be having in college with festivals and dates and holidays and girlie talks, while I knew I was going to live at least the next 5 years of my life with machines and tea processing, tea tastings and more tea tastings, I stepped into a Tea factory, the estate and the rest is history. The 5 went on for many many years. That ‘yes’ I don’t regret a single minute coz thus began my journey with Tea with the one who has held my hand in his own special way and taught me how to gather the leaves, with hands clean and look out for all that shouldn’t be there, keeping the palate clean, understanding the importance of knowledge and to believe in what I want and to stick to it no matter what comes my way. My father, my mentor in my Tea world, Shri Abhai Singh. 48 years in the Indian Tea Industry, a pioneer, a leader and a true craftsman, the best Tea taster and Tea producer I know. The top leaders in the industry will vouch for that and so will the thousands of workers, tea pluckers, munshis, babus, managers, assistant managers, who have worked with him in the estates in Darjeeling, Dooars, Terai and now in Dharamsala will say the same. I have not seen anyone as dedicated to this profession as him. And I try to imbibe it all.
I am privileged, lucky, honored and humbled to be his student. If my father hadn’t walked into the industry in the summer of ’69, I know one thing for sure, I wouldn’t be writing to you right now about something that is in every cell of my being. Everything happens for a reason and I am so glad this reason walked into my father’s life coz now I follow his step. And I am learning every single day.