Taylers Tea Garden – By Ajit MutuCumsrawamy – Chapter 15 – James boarded a ship……

Taylors Tea Garden – by Ajit MuttuCumaraswamy



James boarded a ship bound for Calcutta. The steamship was comfortable and journey pleasant. There were many people working in plantations who were returning to India.

              His first port of call was Madras. He found the climate was very similar to Colombo, hot and moist. He was used to the cooler climate of the hill country. He was also surprised that almost all the eating places were vegetarian. 

              He took a trip along the road to Pondicherry where the French had established a trading post and a French territory. He was surprised to see that the roads were called “rue” as in France.            There were offers to take him to the Nilgiri Hills where tea was growing. He turned the offers down as he was not sure the transport would be reliable and fast enough to return to the ship in time.

              When he arrived in Darjeeling, he was happy that the climate was very similar to the hill country of Ceylon but a little cooler. He had to wear a sweater. From Darjeeling he could see the Himalayas. He knew he could not find the time to go to the Himalayas. He was met by some of the planters who took him to see the plantations. It was an impressive scene,the array of plantations along the hillsides. 

              The next few days were spent visiting various tea factories and meeting with local planters. He got very friendly one of them. Neil was from England, near the Midlands.

They met for dinner. Neil was learning to cook local curries and needed to entertain visitors to taste and comment on his cooking. 

“ What do you think of the food.” asked Neil.

“ Excellent. As good as any Ceylon style curry, but a little bit different.” replied James.

“ I’ve been learning to cook local curries. They use yogurt in their curries.” said Neil.

“ Alright. So that’s where the taste comes from. It does add a distinctive and rich taste to the curry” said James.

“ They use a lot of coriander in their cooking. Coriander leaves and coriander seeds.” said Neil.

“ Yes. I did notice a different flavour. It makes a nice change, a welcome change. Less chilli is used and more coriander.”

“ Yes. The curries have much less chilli up here in the Assam hill country.”

“ The curries  are definitely more hot in Ceylon.” said James.

“ Maybe the ladies who cook the curries like their curries hot. Maybe they are hot in other ways too.” said Neil laughing.

“ Yes. They are hot in other ways too. I have no complaints.” said James.

“ We can visit some nauch dancing girls. They dance well. Sometimes they are available after the dance is over.” said Neil.

“ Is that right. Sounds very appetising. You are excited by the dancing and then you can ask for a private performance.

“ Yes. But it comes at a price. That is to say, you have to whisper your offer into the ears of the owner of the premises. They are open to other offers. So the man with the best offer wins the dancer.” said Neil.

“ It’s a kind of auction. Except that the first bid is also the final bid. No second chance” said James.

“ Yes. Counter offers are not accepted. Of course if you are very rich and well known, that counts for something. The girl and her family need the money, the most  they can get. Agreeing to spend the night with a big man brings other rewards too.” said Neil

“ What kind of rewards?.” asked James.

“ The family will benefit from being given work in the rich man’s farms.” said Neil.

“ Ah. Yes. I see what you mean. It sounds interesting. We don’t have such things happening in Ceylon. Maybe it’s not that sophisticated. Dancing takes place occasionally. When they have ceremonial days. Mainly men dancing anyway. We do not have such places of entertainment. The woman are conservative but it’s not that difficult to find a young woman willing to stay with you. Marriage is a different thing. I was too young to get married when I arrived in Ceylon.” said James.

“ In India, lots of young women are training to be dancers. Lots even train to be singers. They give performances.  Dancing and singing is a career in India. Many are highly regarded in the community. They are a national treasure. They are much appreciated In their own communities.” said Neil. 

“ I think there are families in Ceylon that make a living providing entertainment, dancing and even singing. I’ve heard of it.” said James.

“ You must go and watch a dancer. They are a very good. They wear very attractive colourful clothing. And the dancing is exciting. We can go to a place close by. They know me. The closest place is a small town with shops, places for repairing carriages, temple and at the far end of the town there is a large building. I took it be the residence of a rich man. It must be that a rich man owns the place but allows it to be used as a place of discreet entertainment. Maybe the landlord  is a regular there.” said Neil.     

“ I’m looking forward to that Neil. I’m in India and I want to see what India has to offer. It’s not easy to get away from my work. I suppose we all face the same problem.” said James.

“ Yes. Planters are needed to keep an eye on things. Things can go badly wrong. Tea growing is a big investment. We are protecting that investment.” said Neil.

              They were called to dinner by the head of the household staff. He was a very fair skinned man with grey hair and a bushy grey moustache. He was in charge of the household and managed the household staff. He did not wait in the dining room. He took his leave after checking that all the dishes were served. There was a bell which could be rung if anything was required.

              “The tea estate bungalow here seems to be on a grand scale compared to my estates like Loolecondere.” said  James.

“Ah, yes. The standards here are much higher. We have been working in the tea industry for much longer than in Ceylon.” replied Neil.

“ I suppose the accommodation for workers is of a higher standard too?” said James.

“ Yes. We even have schools set up for workers children. It’s a stable ongoing operation.” said Neil.

“ I would appreciate it if you could take me to see the school. I can assess the costs by having a look at the school” said James.

“ Certainly. We will make a trip down tot the school sometime in the morning.”

“ Thanks. Your cook is very good. The food is delicious.” said James tucking in.

“ The cooking is essentially a local style which uses yogurt and spices like coriander. Onions, garlic and ginger of course are essential. Without onions and garlic, no cooking can happen. ” 

“ Yes. It is such an essential part of the cooking styles in this part of the world.” said James.

              After the meal they had a short walk in the brazing climate of hilly Darjeeling and retired for the night.    

              James and Neill visited some of the plantations and the tea factories before arriving at the school. They were taken to see the Headmaster. He took them to see the classrooms and they walked along the school classrooms. The classrooms were open style with short walls on two sides.  The arrangement was simple and James could see that he could get an estimate done for building a school in a similar design. They were taken into the last classroom to take a look at the desks. The desks were slightly slanted with desktops  that could be lifted. The children were dressed simply, the girls wore white dresses and the boys wore white shirts and blue shorts. James could not concentrate on looking around as the teacher in the classroom was looking at him with a smile. Her cheeks were pink and cheekbones raised in an attractive manner, a blend of Assam and South China. Her smile was disarming but inviting. He walked towards the the teacher, while thinking of a good excuse to talk to her. 

He pointed to the chalk board and asked “ What is this writing board made of. I’m thinking of getting some made for our local school in Ceylon.” he said.

Her eyes were bluish and her smile charming, shy and playful at the same time.

“ It’s made of wood. The carpenter here can make this. He painted it black.” she said.

He wanted to say: “ Can I kiss your cheeks please. They are so inviting.” 

Instead he said “Thanks. I  must ask our carpenter in our estate in Ceylon to make something like this.”

Her cheeks were turning a deeper pink. Her lips were parted and her teeth gleamed as she said: “ Are you from Ceylon?”

He wanted to say ; “ Please can I hug you just once.”

But he said: “I’m working in Ceylon. I’m from Scotland.”

Her eyes seemed to be saying “ You look very nice.” 

“ I thought you were a Ceylonese.”

              James realised that Neil and the headmaster were waiting from him.

“ Thanks. I must be going. They are waiting for me. “

“ Goodbye. Nice to meet you.” she said.

“ Nice to meet you too. Bye” he said and walked away to join Neil. The headmaster had gone.

              Neil and James went back to the house to have their midday meal. James kept thinking about the teacher while he was talking to Neil.  Her face kept coming into his thoughts. The roundness of her face. The deep pools of her eyes. Her shy smile. The beautiful array of her teeth. The charming dimples. The hair falling over her ears. The picture of her face kept coming back. He regretted failing ask her name. It would be a face that would remain in his mind for ever.  Do such things happen- he asked himself. You meet someone once and you never forget that person, that face. It happened to him many times. Sometimes the face of a woman remained etched in his memory. As if she was  comforting him. He could also sense her  taking him in, a similar response. She liked him. That was clear. He more than liked her. It was a kind of love at first sight. Maybe it does happen, he told himself.  Falling in love, at the sight of a person. The perfection of that face remained permanently in his mind. It was a memory that he wanted to keep. Something very pleasant that happened to him. It was almost an ache. He could have kissed her and felt a satisfaction that was special. Like a drink of water when you are very thirsty. He wanted to kiss her all over. A frenzy of kisses. He wanted to hold her face in his hands and kiss her eyes and nose and lips. It was as if he was in a dreamworld. 

              He knew he was going away shortly. Going back to his lovely Thangam. Even Daisy was a treasure he could not resist. And yet, this face kept coming back, in his minds eye. He could not come to terms with what happened. He saw her at a distance and could not resist the temptation to take a closer look.  She was a very beautiful woman. Her smile charmed him. Her face captivated him. He made small talk to stay for a while. But Neil was waiting for him. He had to get back. He had to say goodbye. But the moment remained etched in his memory. Is life like this, he asked himself. It must be so, he told himself. 

              After the meal, Neil and James went to look at the tea making machinery. The design were similar to the machine he had designed and installed in Loolecondere. The slight differences and the larger size of the tea roller he designed seemed to make a difference. The tea was well accepted in London. Governor Gregory had been informed of the potential of the  methods put together by James.

              “ I guess we are making tea using very similar methods. But you are using more of the leaves from each tea bush” said James.

“ Yes. It would be uneconomical for us to change our methods. The cost of our tea will increase and the profits will fall” said Neil

“ I’m hoping that our tea will fetch a higher price. A premium price. So far so good.

I want to see your markets and shops. Are they very far away?” asked   James.

“ Not too far. We can go over there if you like.” said Neil.

              They travelled to the part of the small town where the shops and market were. As they arrived at the shops, James saw that lady again. The teacher was standing there. The magical face was there and she looked towards James and Neil. James eyes met hers. he waved at her. She waved back.

“ Let me have a word with her, Neil “ said James and he walked briskly to where the girl was standing with her shopping bag. She stood there with a great smile, her beautiful teeth gleaming. He wanted to walk up to her and kiss her. but he walked up to her and asked :

“ Hello. We meet again. My name is James. What is your name?”

“ My name is Lakshmi, just call me Lucky.” she replied.

“ Hi Lucky. I’m interested in the artefacts and local foods. It seems  different from those in Ceylon. The food tastes different.” he said.

“ I can cook for you. Would you like to come to my home for dinner.” she said.

“ Certainly. Do you live close by?” he asked.

“ Yes. It’s one but the last house over there, at the far end of this road.” she replied.

“ You can bring Mr. Neil.” she said.

“ I will go and ask him. Just a minute” he said.

              Neil said that he will not coming as company rules do not allow for being social with locals. James agreed his own company rules were the same. James went back and told her that Neil will not be coming but he will come. She said she will start cooking in the afternoon as she marinated the meat and the yams. James said he will see her later and walked back to join Neil.

              Dinner arranged, James and Neil walked along the road and returned to the carriage. On the way back they discussed local customs. One was being generous to travellers. Total strangers are given shelter and food as it was customary to protect travellers fro the cold weather.

              In the evening, the carriage driver drove James to Lakshmi’s house and went back agreeing to come later.  Lakshmi opened the door. Her shy smile made James want to hug and kiss her. But he held himself back and simply said “Hello” and shook hands. She gave that great smile which bewitched him. He became bold.

 “ May I kiss you.” he asked.

              Instead of answering the question, she came close to him and kissed him on his lips, with a softness which conveyed her attraction to him. It was so soft that he held her tight and felt himself becoming erect. They held each other tightly and kissed. Their tongues searching each other. James felt himself out of breath but she went on kissing him. He opened his eyes and saw her smile. It was the smile that captivated him. It was a shy smile with her eyes closing as she smiled. Her teeth shone with a beauty that James could not resist. He kissed her again. He held her tight again. This time he could not stop himself from kissing her neck. She closed her eyes.  Her hands moved down and touched him. James stood there wanting to see her breasts and to kiss them.

“ Let us go to my bedroom. We can have dinner later. i have sent my father away to visit his brother who lives in the next village.” she said.

“ Yes. That is good. Thank you.” said James following her to the bedroom.

The bed was a small one but well covered in a cotton bed cover. 

She sat down.

 “ Thank you for coming. I wanted to see more of you the moment I saw you.” she said.    

“ Yes. I saw you and I could not take my eyes off you.” he replied.

“ How long will you be here?” she asked.

“ I will be here for three months.” he replied.

“ Will you come back?” she asked.

“ It depends whether my company wants me to come back. It could happen.”

“ I want to be with you. I want to be your girl friend.” she said.

“ Thank you. I want to see you too. You are very beautiful.” said James. 

              She kissed him on his lips. It was a delicious feeling that James responded to with much pleasure. They kissed while she took off her dress and got into bed in her bra and pants, pulling the sheet back and covering herself.

              James took his clothes off and got into the bed. Her breasts were firm, round and her nipples erect. He sucked her nipples and she felt James while kissing him on his ear.

He lay back as she came over him. Her smile was making James want to pull her down and kiss her. She moved gently, first on her knees and then as her urgency quickened she squatted and moved . James was in another world. 

              They had their dinner soon after. The meat had been marinated in yogurt and tasted very different from the cooking in Ceylon. James agreed to meet her the next day after work. 

              They  kissed briefly before James walked out and looked for his carriage. When he returned  to Neil’s bungalow, Neil was asleep. They met at breakfast.

“ How was your dinner?” asked Neil.

“ Very nice cooking. So different from what I’m used to in Ceylon.” said James.

“ I have some news for you. One of the Loolecondere estate owners is arriving in Colombo in a few days.  They want you to return as soon as possible.”

“ Really. I’m just beginning to get to know this place.” said James

“ Ah. Yes. I can see you are beginning to like this place.”

“ But I suppose we are working for our companies. The owners have the last say.”

“ I’m afraid that is the way it is.” said Neil.

“ Any firm dates.?”

“ No. But you must get back within two weeks.”

“ So I have one more week to see what I can. This is much shorter than I expected.”

“ Yes. But that’s how it is. We must follow instructions.” said Neil.

“ Anything planned for today?” asked James.

“ Yes. We can visit some estates further up on the hills. You will be able to taste the teas that they make up there.” said Neil.

“ Thats good. I can try some of the tea which I’ve only heard about.” said James.

              James and Neil finished their breakfast. The carriage took them to the the hills along quite steep roads. They arrived in the estate and James was shown the tea factory. He could see that there were more workers involved in the processing as there was more hand rolling. The tea tasting took place with James paying compliments to the tea makers.

They visited three estates before the return journey brought them back to Neil’s estate.

              The evening was spent with Neil. James was anxious to visit Luxmi but contained himself. After dinner they sat down and chatted.

“ What have you planned for tomorrow” James asked.

“ We can take a walk along the South of this estate. The tea bushes are in slopes. You could watch some tea plucking along the slopes. And see the tea making back in the factory.” he said.

“ That’s good. We should be back early. I can have dinner with Luxmi. I promised to contact her.”

“ Alright. That should be no problem. I can arrange the transport.” said Neil.

              The next day was busy with the visit to the South side of the tea estate. They were back home early . James set off immediately. He reached Lakshmi’s house and tapped on the door. Her father opened the door and asked him to come in, using his hands to point to the chair. He called out to Lakshmi and she responded by coming to the front of the house. When Lakshmi arrived, her father smiled at James, nodded his head, stepped out and closed the front door, saying something to Lakshmi in Nepalese.

              “ Welcome back James.” said Lakshmi.

“ Lakshmi, I could not wait to see you again. It was like your face and figure kept appearing to me all the time. I wanted to see you again” said James.

“ It was the same with me. I wanted very much to see you again. I kept thinking of you all the time.” she replied.

 “ When i first saw you, I was pleased to see you. You seemed such a lovely woman. And to actually meet you again and kiss you was a miracle.” he replied.

              Her English was spoken in a halting way.

“ I’m sorry. But I kept thinking of you. I know you are married. You did mention it.” she replied.

“ Yes. I did not want to tell you a lie. I liked you too much to lie to you.” he said.

“ Don’t worry about it. I will be your friend anyway.” she replied.

“ Thank you Lakshmi. It’s very nice of you . You are very kind.” he replied.

“ You are very nice too James. I really wanted to get to know you. You are very nice.” she said.

              They made love. She sat on him and moved with vigour. He came from behind her. He looked at her body as he made love. Her body was perfect. Her curves were delightful. Looking at her from behind her, James was moved by the shape of her body. The rise and fall of her behind.  A woman with a perfect shape and curves making him quicken his pace. He kissed her posterior in affection. It was such a lovely delectable shape. She was relaxed with her arms spread out, her finger seemed to be stretching as she came to her end. James quickened his pace and fell exhausted on her body.

“ I love you” she said.

“ I love you too” said James, feeling a little confused as he said it. It was true that he loved her. 

              James laid in bed and she massaged his body in a delicious way, gently kneading his muscles.

    “ I’ll cook dinner. Please help yourself to the fruit wine” she said.

James poured himself a glass of wine. It tasted very good. He topped up his glass.

“ I really like your cooking. Maybe i can arrange for you to come as a cook. Not now because i’m still a junior officer, but later when I’m a senior officer, I could say I need an indian cook.” he said smiling, half serious but more in jest. Perhaps it was the wine talking.

“ Please take me with you. If you will do that I will do anything you ask me to do.” Lakshmi pleaded, stopping her work cutting onions and vegetables.

“ I can’t ask you to come with me on this trip. The owner of the company has arrived from England and is waiting for me.” replied James.

“ Please ask him if i can come over.” she asked, while chopping some coriander leaves.

“ Not a problem . i will ask him if we can have a cook come over from India.” he replied.

“ Thanks.’ she said.

              The cooking was over as she had made a quick soup with potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cauliflower and mushrooms, topped up with fish boiled separately.

              They had their meal. James watched her eat the delicious soup in a delicate way, spooning it into her beautifully shaped lips. He felt he was blessed by God to meet such a gracious woman. He also felt a pang of guilt when he thought of Thangam. He thought he was blessed more than his fair share. Thangam’s delicious curries and her delightful body and now this amazing woman. He would never leave these places and go back to Scotland, he said to himself.

              He returned to the estate bungalow around midnight. Neil had gone to sleep. It  was usual for Neil  to go to bed very early. The woman who opened the door for him smiled gently as he stepped in. Her face was round and her cheek bones were slightly lifted. Her lips were like the petals of a special flower. The wine he drank may have made him see things very sharply. He stood aside as she closed and locked the door and turned around. He could not stop himself from holding her, his tall figure towering above her. She smiled and did not resist him as he kissed her cheeks. He kissed her gently on her lips. Her lips were soft and yielding. He let her go not wanting to cause a disturbance. She walked ahead of him towards her room which was at the far end near the kitchen. 

              She opened her door and went inside her room and looked at him. She smiled, her beautiful teeth sparkling.  He walked towards her and kissed her again on her lips. He felt her arm holding his hand and tugging him, pulling him into her room.  She locked her room and took off her clothes off. James followed removing his cloths and placing them on the bed. He felt awkward about taking his pants off as he was having a strong erection. They stood and kissed. 

              She got into bed and lay there bare bodied with her arms by her side. He made love for a very long time before he could come. She moved over him and moved gently as his erection subsided slowly.  When she had finished she lay back. James got dressed and kissed her before going to his room. She smiled mischievously as he crept out of the room and tip toed to his room.     

              The next morning, Neil and James had their breakfast, served by the girl who had opened the door for him and invited him to her bed the previous night. James could not stop himself from looking at her and recalling the previous night. Neil noticed his eyes following the girl as she served the breakfast. 

“ Ah, I see you remember the girl from last night.” said Neil.

“ Yes. Sort of.” said James defensively, thinking of an excuse for his rash behaviour the previous night and it came to him.

“ Yes. i was a little drunk when i came in last night. Sorry if i disturbed you.” said James.

“ No. I was not disturbed. It’s just that I saw your eyes following her and I wondered whether you were given a taste of her. These people are very generous you know.” said Neil.

“ I must confess that she was very open and I did enjoy a short stay in her room. She was very generous, lavish even.” said James smiling.

“ Yes. bless her little soul. She is very generous to me whenever i so desire. i cannot come to terms with her generosity. She is so undemanding. Never asks for anything. Just takes her normal pay.”

“ As you say, she is one of those women who are generous. Mind you, she did enjoy herself. ” said James smiling.

“ My feeling is that it’s normal for young persons in these parts to enjoy their youth and experience sex before getting married.” said Neil.

“ Yes. I agree. It’s something cultural. It’s acceptable for young persons in these parts of the world to see a bit of life, enjoy themselves before they marry and have children.” said James.    

“ Once you get married, it becomes a routine. Feeding and looking after the family becomes your life.  Many are working and looking after family as well. My girl is certainly not missing out on her days of freedom. She is willing to have sex at any time. Even when she is having her period. She will warn me. Couple times i was feeling so horny that I had sex with her when she was having her period. It’s like having  normal sex, more or less. But you have to rush to have a shower.” said Neil.

“ Well, the beast is so demanding. And the girl is so undemanding.” said James.

“ Exactly. You hit the nail on the head. She is is so very nice and gentle that i sometimes wonder whether i should marry her.”

“ She has no children?” asked James.

“No she has no children. She has some handkerchief’s she uses after sex. She says that by using the hankies, she stops herself from getting pregnant.”

“Alright. That’s explains it. Or else she is a barren woman.” said James.

“ You could be right. Whatever it is, I don’t want to lose her. She is a wonderful gift to me. I don’t get jealous. I don’t worry about her having sex with another man. She is generous to me. She shows by her actions that she is available to me at any time. I can do anything to her. She has indicated that she is available to me all the time. She indicated that i can come into her room at any time and have sex with her, even when she is asleep. That is generosity that i cannot decline.” said Neil.    

“ But how is it that you are not jealous? After all she is yours and how is it that you don’t feel angry, jealous, upset or have the feeling that something that is yours is being given away to some other person. I would want to murder any man who tries to make love to my  female companion” asked James.

“ Good question James. I have no answer to that. It so happens that she is very young and so she would like to have sex with boys her own age. It’s not fair for me stop her from having sex with men her own age.” said Neil.

“ Fair enough. I can see where you are coming from.” said James.

“ Let’s get back to today’s programme which about details of your travel back to Ceylon. Are you are ready for travel? Do you need anything?”

“ Thanks for reminding me. And thanks for all the teas you have packed and the cuttings from favourite tea bushes. We will plant them in a area which will be called “Neil’s tea corner.” he said smiling.

“ Thank you James. That’s very kind of you. Let’s go and check out your transport arrangements.” said Neil.

They went out towards the stables.

              James was soon on his way to the city of Calcutta, where he would be boarding ship to take him to Colombo.    


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