Planting was a tough job ,not for the faint of heart! You are exposed to the elements .Its a mans job ,almost the only profession where there are no women!!!other than the pluckers of tea. And I believe that planters dreaded the monsoon cause it was wet and cold ,a nightmare to ride a bike and you got wet even if you had all the protection. And what many dreaded even more were the leeches! I was experiencing my first monsoons!
The leeches somehow made it through your shoes and through the stockings and ended up on your big toe! And its still a mystery to me how they manage to do that. After I heard that the leeches only removed the bad blood I really didn’t mind them getting drunk on mine !!
I had a custom made military green canvas rain coat made for myself and wore gumboots and a wide brimmed green hat but in spite of all that ,the water still managed to get in. And you secretly shiver in your pants cause you need to maintain your tough exterior of the boss! The clayey soil did nothing to ease the risk of slipping and going for a toss and the gumboots actually enhanced that possibility!
I was glad when we were through for the day and the workers finished their task ,100 tea plants per worker!By the time they finish this it is usually about 2 pm.I made the uphill climb to my bike parked on the road with the water in my gumboots squishing uncomfortably inside .I got on my bike and rode back to my Bungalow.
My cook Gopal was waiting for me at the entrance and subjected me to what is called a “Leech Inspection” .The tell tale marks, of blood oozing, were all over my body and Gopal stuck small pieces of newspaper on these spots like a blotting paper, to stop the coagulating blood from flowing.
And what I saw on the table would have warmed the cockles of the heart of any man! It sure did mine .
I quickly got out of my wet clothes and into a dry martini!!