There’s more to a cup of tea than all that talk about emotion. Yes, there are people who have been providing for their families and living their dreams, thanks to your love for tea
Dharma, of Darjeeling, is often called Drama because she is so expressive
Life seems to be returning to normal in the hills of Darjeeling after more than 80 days of political unrest and all this while, we have have been keeping as close an eye on the developments as we could.
As you pause to consider the impact of the unrest on the lives of the tea pickers and other workers, we would like to present 10 incredible stories from the people who work in tea gardens in Darjeeling. For each of them, picking or processing tea is not just a job but part of a much larger picture.
1. Urmila Pradhan
Urmila Pradhan, 50, Kurseong It has been 7 years since my husband passed on. I now work to feed my family. I have no education to see me through other jobs and I cannot manage the rough work of construction. I learnt the art of tea picking from my mother-in-law who used to work in the estates. I now work here. It gives me pride to provide for my family and give hope to my children. I used to wear fancy clothes before but since my husband passed, I wear his shirts to work. It reminds my children of him and reminds me of the better days that we had seen. I work hard everyday to make sure that those better days that my husband and I had dreamt for the children, will come. #HumansofTea #Vahdamteas
2. Rupa Lepcha
Rupa Lepcha, 35, Dadaipani Being an unmarried woman is a tough business. Everyone thinks my life is easy. My family thinks I spend all my time making eyes at men. My friends think that I am lucky not to have a man to answer to at all times, I don't need to worry about children. Many others think I am too proud. Actually, I come to work every day to stay away from all these people. My mother fell very sick when I was 17 and I did not want to leave her side. She died a few years later and by then I was too old. Now I worry about my future, about my old father and my younger sisters. I worry about this 'easy' life I have. #realconversations #HumansofTea #Darjeeling #Vahdamteas #instatea #teagram #tealove #teacup #ilovetea #tea
3. Shanti Gurung
Shanti Gurung, 56, Ghoom I have spent many years hidden away. When I contracted a pigmentation disorder in my early teens, my parents decided that I was the shame of the family and I should be kept away from everyone. No one cared how much I cried from inside the room I had been locked in for the first few days. Suddenly, I did not exist for them anymore. Since no one talked to me, I used to sit by the door and hear other people talk. I was married to sickly old man, as I did not have prospects. We did not have children. After he died, all I have is everything I heard and learnt from listening to others. I can choose to sit outside if I want now and I make a good tea. My neighbours come in every day and they pour their hearts out and I listen. Over time, people around here have accepted me and respect me. They come for my tea and for my advice. #HumansofTea #Darjeeling #Vahdamteas #tea #teacup #tealife #tealove #ilovetea #teagram #cuppa #igers #picoftheday #bestpic
Kanchan, 34, Sidrabong I was born and raised in Nepal and I came to Darjeeling after my marriage. I still remember that afternoon two years ago, I was among the lucky few who had found work at a tea garden. Just before lunch, the ground started shaking and everything became a blur. I could hear the other women shouting in fear. I just sat down and I felt a very deep pain in my heart. It was the Nepal earthquake that killed thousands. It was felt quite strongly here as well. As for me, the pain in my heart didn't ebb. I lost my parents and an elder brother that day. I have chosen to stay strong because I know so many others who lost everything and everyone in that instant. #HumansofTea #Vahdamteas #Darjeeling #Nepal #instatea #teagram #tealove #ilovetea #teacup #teapot
5. Sunita Bista
Sunita Bista, 28, Giddapahar I'm the youngest girl on this tea garden. Most other girls in my village don't want to work in the tea garden but I cannot stand not being around tea. Even as a child, I spent all my time playing with tea. I am the youngest in the family and I use the money I make for my own expenses. I also give money to my parents. In the garden, being the youngest works to my benefit as I have older women to guide me. Unlike the older women in my village who are constantly asking me silly questions, these women understand my love for nature and give me good advice. #HumansofTea #realconversations #Vahdamteas #instatea #teagram #love #picoftheday
Sukhmaya, 64, Giddapahar Mine was the first love marriage in both sides of the family. My husband and I were young and very much in love and the only practical thing to do was to begin our journey together and so we did. Our families did not accept this union. All we had was each other. When my husband died after two years in a construction site accident, I had no one to turn to. Not only did neither family stand by me, several people in the neighbourhood accused me of witchcraft. I had to leave my village and move here. My new neighbours took care of me and became my only family. I found work here because of them. I have never had to go back to the people that abandoned me. #Vahdamteas #HumansofTea #life #tea #conversation #human #instapic #picoftheday #love #family
7. Nayan Tamang
Nayan Tamang, 78, Makaibari I used to be the shepherd and tended to the cows that were reared on the estate. Their dung was used as natural fertiliser for the tea garden. We did not have to rely on any chemicals for years. But now I am very old, the estate also does not have any cows left as everything is processed and brought from outside. I stay at home and watch over my grandchildren while my son and daughter-in-law work at the estate. It has been a full life and I have no regrets. #HumansofTea #Vahdamteas #Darjeeling #love #people #tea #real
8. Suncha Kurumbang
Suncha Kurumbang, Bada Gaon I cannot speak but I can hear. I have worked as a tea picker for the past 10 years. I took to drinking after my mother died. She was the only one who cared for me. My father, who would have thrown me out of the house much earlier, finally showed me the door. I did not get any work I do not find work in the tea garden as I am not very good. My hands shake from my excessive drinking from the past. This year I am lucky to get work in the estate. I hope I can be better from now. #HumansofTea #Vahdamteas #Darjeeling #instatea #teagram #ilovetea #tealove
9. Ripu Jogi
Ripu Jogi, 7, Bada Gaon Don't tell anyone that you saw me here! Badi is looking for me again. I broke another window while practicing football and I thought she won't notice it by the time she comes back from her shift in the tea garden. I love football but I have to practice everyday and my elder sister does not like me to play around the house. I have broken many pots. Now there's nothing left to aim at! When she chases me, I have to run to the tea garden. She cannot follow me there as her supervisor will tell her to return to work. I have got to run now! #Darjeeling #HumansofTea #Vahdamteas #teagram #instatea #ilovetea #tea #childhood #tealife #cuppa
Pimmo, 38, Sidrabong This is my second year as a tea picker. I have two children at home and they are both old enough to take care of one another while I am at work. When I started picking tea last year, I had come with a friend but I was quickly separated from her and placed among the best tea pickers on the higher slopes. My manager told me that I have the perfect fingers to pick the leaf without damaging the leaves. That was the first time I stopped to look at my hands and admire them. #HumansofTea #Vahdamteas #Darjeeling #instatea #teagram #tea #teaddict #tealife #tealove #ilovetea
Every purchase of Vahdam Teas comes laced with the love and care of thousands of such tea workers who toil against weather and incline to ensure you get to savour the finest cup of tea.
We salute their spirit and hope that you will join us in celebrating the soul of Darjeeling, with a cup of pure Darjeeling tea at hand!
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