Jun Chiyabari Story

 
JUN CHIYABARI STORY

In the spring of 2000 some of us, friends and family, who had all studied together at Mount Hermon School in Darjeeling in the 1970’s and 1980’s met over an extended lunch reunion in Kathmandu. During the course of the meal we mostly talked about our wonderful carefree life in the boarding school (away from parents!) and how growing up surrounded by tea gardens had affected us. None of us had forgotten the fantastic aroma of tea that used to greet us almost every day in Darjeeling all those years ago.

Mount Hermon School was surrounded by tea gardens like Tukvar and Singtom and overlooked Phoobshering on the opposite hill to the east. We had grown up around tea gardens and our senses were continuously peppered by tea: smelling the aroma of the tea leaves from the factories nearby; listening to the haunting songs of tea workers wafting up the valley as they plucked tea; looking out from the classroom windows at the green sheets of green tea plants all the way down to Teesta river valley; visiting tea factories; spending nights in tea managers’ homes or playing cricket against them and camping by Rangeet River on Vah Tukvar tea garden property during the long October Puja holidays. Not to forget the daily tea at 3 pm when we were served tea and cookies. School nostalgia and tea were the double helix of the DNA of our closeness and friendship.

After that lunch reunion two of us (Lochan and brother Bachan) decided to look into the possibility of establishing a tea garden with a difference somewhere in east Nepal.

We had no experience in tea business but had a lot of experience in various other businesses from travel and trekking trade, running hotels and jungle safari lodges; to electronic components manufacturing and running engineering companies; from establishing new businesses in Nepal to marketing their products in Europe, Asia and North America.

Braving landslides, leeches and long distances on foot during the monsoons, over the next months of 2000 and into 2001 extensive reconnaissance missions were undertaken to remote parts of East Nepal: from remote Taplejung down to Panchthar (on the border with Sikkim) on to more accessible Ilam districts on one hand; Dhankuta, Sankuwashabha, Terathum and Bhojpur districts on the other.

Errors as well as good business practices of other tea gardens were studied and taken into account. The outcome was the establishment, in 2001, of a small and exclusive tea garden spread over 75 hectares in three divisions over hills around the small town of Hile in Dhankuta district of the eastern Himalayan region of Nepal.