Story 16. The Adventurer.

Mehmud’s father Khaleel and my father were friends. Khaleel Uncle as I used to call him was from the aristocracy and was my first exposure to the lives of such people. Mehmud and I were of the same age and the two of us hit it off straight away from the first meeting.

Mehmud’s sister Fatima was much older and was totally given to spiritual pursuits and was mostly otherworldly in her interactions with us youngsters and other members of the family and their help.

They lived in a large estate with dogs, cats and many other animals and it was always a pleasure going over to their place for weekends to spend time with Mehmud who was looking after the estate having done badly in academic pursuits while the father was busy running a couple of businesses in the city.

Mehmud initiated me into shikar and fire arms and along with another friend Hassan, we used to go off on two/three day trips after game big and small. Both of us were avid bikers and would often go on shikar on bikes though the preferred vehicle was a jeep. We would also drag race in an abandoned airfield in the outskirts of the city. There are some very interesting stories about those adventures, but those are for another day.

Our friendship blossomed into a very strong bond with Mehmud spending nights at my little digs in the town whenever he came to town and when we would be late after double dates. The friendship was much encouraged by his parents who thought that I will be a good influence on him as I was already working for a living and studying in the evenings to get additional qualifications.

Fate intervened and I relocated to another city to a better paying job but Mehmud and I kept in touch through letters. Some time after we parted company, Mehmud’s father was able to get him a job as a trainee assistant in a tea estate in Assam. This was way back in 1963 when there were still some British planters staying on in India and it was in one of these plantations that Mehmud was absorbed thanks to his father’s connections.

Plantation life was made for some one like Mehmud who had already some experience with agricultural labour and practices and the laid back life style of planters with their club life and shikar was almost tailor made for him. He flourished there and in short order was confirmed as an Assistant Manager with his own bungalow and other perquisites. It was during this time that I met up with him in Assam where I had gone on a short holiday in 1964.

I moved to Ahmedabad to study for my MBA in 1965 and Mehmud came down for a week end to meet me while he was on holiday in Bombay with his family. He came primarily to talk to me about his life in Assam and the jam he had got into.

My friend and the hero of this story, had fallen in love with his Scottish boss’s wife, who in turn reciprocated his feelings. In the tea business such developments cannot be kept secret for long and Mehmud was in fact looking for a way to get out of Assam and move to the South of India where too there were many tea plantations so that his paramour could divorce her husband and join him. Although I did not know anyone in the tea business, I did know some people who lived in the Nilgiris and gave Mehmud some leads so that when he did move he could have some friends of his age group and who would help him settle down.

That was the last I heard from or of Mehmud till three years later when I was back in his home town on a visit and went to the family estate to find out what had happened during the five years that I had been away.

Fatima received me with great affection and grace but gave me the news that was simply devastating.

Mehmud could not relocate to the Nilgiris as he could not get a job there, he was sacked by his Assam employer and his paramour was sent off to Scotland. When Mehmud broached the subject of his returning home and getting the foreign lady to come down and marry him, his parents went apoplectic and would have nothing of that.

Mehmud put a revolver to his head and shot himself and was found dead one morning when he did not come down for morning tea. Seeing him like that his father suffered a stroke and died within a few months and his mother went into deep depression and what I now know as dementia. Farida took me to meet her but she could not recognise me nor talk to me about Mehmud or anything about our old days.

Farida was in the process of winding up all their affairs and moving to her maternal grandfather’s home in Gujarat where she hoped to further pursue her spiritual studies while her mother’s family could provide care for her. She did that and I found out subsequently that they had moved out. That was the last I had anything to with them.

There are many occasions when topics like shikar, camping, cross-country motorcycling, camping etc come up when I remember that dashing and cavalier friend with much nostalgia.

Half Full Glass.

This old chestnut of half full or half empty glass has been discussed ad nauseum in so many blog posts in the blogworld that I wonder why Padmum chose this one! Perhaps on the day that she was choosing her list of topics, she was feeling a bit low!

I intend approaching this topic in an unusual way. I am usually an inquisitive fellow who wants to know what’s in the glass before I decide whether it is full, half full or half empty or whatever.

I do not have enough glasses at home to illustrate what I intend to convey and have had to do with tea mugs/cups.


Except for the very rare visitor who has to be satisfied with instant coffee, in my house tea is the favourite beverage. The problem is in understanding the quantity that each guest wants. Ranjan and some friends prefer a mug full of the left extreme size, Some other friends and I the second from the left, and others from either of the other two.

Very often I also get requests for half a cup or half a mug and I have to bring all the four sizes to ask for the precise quantity that the guest wants.

Now, the question is when I pour the tea into the container, do I think about whether it is half full or half empty; and when the guest gets the tea, is s/he getting half an empty container or a half full container of tea?

So instead of trying to solve these koan type of questions, I simply enjoy playing host and drinking lots of tea in good company. If you would like to join, I would be delighted to have you on such joyful occasions. I can also make some lip smacking snacks to accompany the tea, available at short notice.

To have a bit of fun while on the topic you can visit a couple of my earlier posts here and here.

You will, if you have read those two posts appreciate that this old codger believes that all of us have both traits in us and sometimes one is ascendant and at other times the other. Perfectly natural and nothing to worry about “improving” oneself!

I hope you enjoyed reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where eleven of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Padmum. The ten other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Maria SF, Padmum, Paul, Shackman, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

Tea In Kerala.

One of India’s 28 states is Kerala. Kerala is the most literate state in India and is a classic example of a remittance/ money order economy. Local industry is almost nil as Kerala has a militant trade union movement strongly supported by the ruling left front. The left front consists of communists and socialists of various hues. Most Keralites, also known as Malayalis leave Kerala to work elsewhere in India, the Middle East and send back money for the family. You can read about Kerala here.

Kerala’s preferred beverage is Tea and its grown up in the mountains around the head waters of a river called Moonar meaning three rivers. The British Tea Planters called it Munnar and made the tea famous for its unique flavour.

People from Kerala speak a language called Malayalam. They are therefore affectionately called Malayalis or Mallus for short. They have a very high sense of humour and are delightful conversationalists. They are also known for thier sangfroid. I have intimate connections with this wonderful state due to my mother having come from there and our own posting there for a few years.

In the picture below, you can see the Malayali sense of humour, their sangfroid and the local favourite beverage being vended from a mobile tea shop atop a bicycle, with aplomb.

tea in Kerala