Today, I was dusting some old racks lined up with books and a particular book got my attention – a tea book that had been gifted to me by Mr. Rajah Banerjee of Makaibari Tea Estates – tea book which normally relates to Darjeeling Tea and Makaibari. It had been lying there for a long time and as I flipped through the pages, I could see Mr. Banerjee’s handwritten note which said – “Benoy – what a pleasure to meet a digital voyager. Warmest, Rajah Banerjee, Makaibari 16/03/06”.
I succumbed to a magical nostalgia which brought back all those memories, beautiful and pure – all those everyday ventures of breaking into a tea garden field without a particular reason, just to pay respect to the tea bushes – foolish some may perceive but that is what I felt during those days and it still resonates today – you may wonder why?
The reason: though I came from a tea oriented family who worked for decades under the tea culture, never had I thought that the tea which ran through all of our family blood lines, would form the base of a business pyramid which I had to crawl slowly. It was a godly revelation that paved way for me and that is the reason why I resorted to such foolishness, a foolishness which gave me eternal happiness, a foolishness which gave me celestial peace, a foolishness which I would like to do time and again. A billion dollar bill cannot give me the ‘essence and peace’ of lying on that softly matted grass bed with herbs, shrubs and tea bushes lying around. And not to forget the company of the ever charming and lovely tea garden people, always welcoming with their arms and hearts wide open.
You may have noticed Mr. Rajah Banerjee addressing me as a “digital voyager” and there is a specific reason why he calls me this. During 2006 (the year when I received this book from Mr. Banerjee), most of the tea shops / businesses in Darjeeling depended on the actual tourists visiting Darjeeling. A website related to tea was just a vague idea which was never implemented properly – meaning there was no ‘click and buy’ tea shop from a Darjeeling based tea merchant.
Though I had started my tea business way earlier, I managed to launch Thunderbolt Tea‘s site in the year 2004 – this idea was well received and appreciated by Mr. Banerjee who said, “this is not only good for you, but good for Darjeeling in ethical terms” – he explained “the resource taken from Darjeeling never gets paid back properly to Darjeeling directly. The sales you achieve may not be big, but whatever you sale comes back to Darjeeling directly – The economy stays in Darjeeling.” Wow, I was a bud and Mr. Rajah Banerjee seems to have watered my roots which gave me passion to bloom and move ahead which I am still doing and will do it till the end. At the very beginning, the sales were meager and disheartening, but the love for Darjeeling Tea and my passion to sustain life through what I loved, always re-kindled the fire and promised me hope and aspiration. Today, after, 7 years of online presence, sales have improved and I am being able to sustain my life and that of my family. Sincerity, hard work and the love for tea has proved vital. Thanks to all tea lovers who have been with us for years and above all thanks for trusting us – without you all, Thunderbolt Tea is just a banner on the wall.
I am still struggling with the tea knowledge procurement, its a gigantic encyclopedia and I believe, learning about tea is a never ending story. I raise my cup of Darjeeling Tea and dedicate it to the world of tea lovers around the world – I can see that the love for tea is growing, leaps and bounds and thats good! Tea is a health beverage and you know tea is good for you :)