Posted in Daily post

Bud and Two leaves

tea

I was pleasantly surprised with the Daily word prompt – TEA.

My glorious childhood was among’st this backdrop.  Sri Lanka’s upcountry was mainly adorned by Tea estates.  But this was no ordinary Tea Estate.  This was my little utopia.

My dad worked as a Scientist at the Tea Research Institute (TRI) in Sri Lanka.  Tea being the major export of the country, this research facility also was one of the largest organisations of the country.  It was also important to establish the research centre where the Tea actually grew rather than in a major city.

Very large laboratories of all disciplines such as Bio Chemistry, Entomology, Pathology etc were established with the latest equipment’s.  All the staff were given Housing. Rather beautiful and luxuries houses were built for the staff.  They were maintained by TRI as well.  The lawns were mowed, regularly painted and furniture’s were upgraded. Most of these things were primarily established by the British.  So you did get a feel of the British presence in the decor and style of the Bungalows.

We had our own transport.  Buses for the staff and their family to go to school, shopping etc.  A large fleet of cars with drivers for staff and family.  Our own little hospital and medical facility, Post Office,  Telecom and even a  Water dam and purification plant. Our own club house, sporting venues the list goes on.

We were all removed from our core extended families.  This became our extended family.  It’s not a cliche’ when I say, we lived together in harmony without any racial or other disputes.

The labs were my playground.  This was the era before Occupational Health and Safety or Work Cover mandates.  But we didn’t have any accidents, this was also an era where people used something called common sense.  We didn’t need a sign that said “Slippery when wet”.  Anyway, coming back to my playground or playgrounds, I had no siblings and no playstation or any other electronic device.  Not even internet, so I had to learn to amuse my self and I lived mostly outdoors.

The soil here was really great.  Everyone had a great garden filled with flowers, fruit treas and vegetables.  Constantly we would exchange our produce.  I spent most of my time up a fruit tree.  When I got bored with that I would walk to the lab. On the way I would frolic through the Tea fields, run up and down the extensive stairs that went from the Tea Factory to the Lab.  Every one knew me.  I was like the common village dog, that was fed by every butcher.

I mainly played in the Bio Chemistry Department as that’s where my dad worked.  But I knew the entire geography of all other labs as well and had at least one friend in each department.  Yeah I know they were grown ups and I was a kid, but they were still my friends and showed me “cool” stuff.  I knew to operate the centrifuge and I played with Magnets.  I knew about Poly Phenol’s long before I went to high school.  When I think about it now, it wasn’t really playing, my dad was teaching me Science and I was doing science experiments.

One bud and two leaves – all that is plucked to produce tea.  Silver tip is the only one uses just the buds and hence the high cost.  I would accompany my dad on many of the guided tours he would take our visitors and I knew all this information long before I started school.

dad stamp

The above is my dad on an old Sri Lankan Postal Stamp. He is injecting radio active isotopes into tea leaves to study the pattern of the nutrients movement.  Nutrients from the root did not evenly go all over the plant.  The mother leaf (the bigger leaf on the bottom) fed the one on top and so forth.  When you removed the big leaf right underneath baby leaf, the leaves further down acted as a surrogate and fed the bud.

That was one amazing child hood, it all came to an end when I lost my dad at 19. Such is life, still grateful that I had this childhood and to all the uncle’s and aunties of TRI who were there for us then and even now.  Children of TRI hold a special bond.  All of us grown up and adults now.  But most of us are still in contact even from different parts of the world.

Disclaimer:  It’s a long time since I left TRI, some information shared here may not be completely accurate.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tea/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/soil/

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=two+leaves+and+a+bud+book&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjV17SrzLDVAhXEF5QKHS14DU0Q1QIIdSgB

 

https://www.google.com.au/search?biw=1280&bih=894&q=tea+plantations+sri+lanka+nuwara+eliya&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjHvd7KzrDVAhWLe7wKHX6UATAQ1QIIuwEoAQ

 

 

Posted in True Story, Inspirational

Childhood Amid The Tea Fields

tri

What feelings does today’s word prompt Childhood invoke in me?? Obviously my amazing childhood in the Tea Fields of Sri lanka.

For most, Sri Lanka would mean, Tropical climate, hot and humid. Well, true for most parts of the country.    The pearl of the Indian Ocean, the island called Sri Lanka has it’s Paradise set in the middle of the country.  As you travel to the middle of the country, the upcountry as they call it, you are in awe of this pure natural beauty.  With it’s typical English weather, light drizzle, Pine trees (instead of Coconut trees) and waterfall.

…..

misty ne

 

waterfall

Lush green tea fields, light mist popping out of the mountains, it is barely morning, all the little ones rugged up in jumpers and beanies, we await for the bus that takes us to our school.

This is no ordinary bus.  This bus journey, the whole experience is not the norm. This bus is owned by TRI (Tea Research Institute).  And this particular journey in the morning is just for the school kids of the TRI staff.  Somapala on the wheels and Peter (late) as conductor our parents put the trust and confidence in the two gentleman to take their precious angels to various schools in NuwaraEliya. The bus drops us in the respective schools and awaits in NE until end of school.

Driving in the hill country is not for the fainthearted, nor for the  Colombo cowboy in the flash car.  The roads are very narrow and set right on the edge of the cliff. Add to that, a thick fog makes it a very challenging drive.  But for all this unlike in Colombo or any other part of Asia, not that many accidents, but almost all prangs have been fatal.  These drivers here are extremely skilled and very professional, hence the infrequency of accidents.  They know that there is no room for error, a small error in judgement,and you are at the bottom of the cliff, looking straight at the doorsteps of judgement day.

 

My play area on the weekend was my dad’s Lab – Bio Chemistry Department.  I swapped beakers and centrifugal machines for dolls.  My Utopia.