IT ALL BEGAN WITH…
.Whenever we would go to the mountains of Darjeeling, the valleys of Assam, or anywhere where tea grows, we would see people busy at work in the gardens. Swift, steady and efficient, their hands, plucking away at the tea bushes, their distant conversations, melodic songs, the very soul of the soil.
And yet, we never hear or have any idea about their stories. In India, with the Indian tea industry being the second-largest employer of organized labor, there are over 3.5 million people working across 1686 estates.
We want to bring your attention to the source. To the people, who so often overshadowed by the distance created by an over-convoluted and old industry, the politics of the region, and a distinct lack of voice. As we are part of the problem, the responsibility lies firmly with us to contribute to mitigating this chasm that separates us.
That is why we decided to dedicate this year’s First Flush by-
Our tea picker– an embodiment of each and every woman who strives under the sun and rain to pick for you the finest of the teas. In Sanskrit, Kalpana translates to ‘Imagination’, a befitting name as it allows your mind to wander across the misty mountains and valleys to imagine your own Kalpana.
With this campaign, we bring to you not only the hands that pick the best teas but the lives of the people to whom those hands belong.
This idea we wanted to make it more tangible, something that you can touch and see, to bring you closer to the story of these extraordinary women. As we pondered on what exactly that could be, our CEO Kausshal Dugarr came up with the suggestion of handmade dolls.
Dolls made from left-over clothes and a little sponge stitched by grandmothers and handed to little children, a practice as old as time, an intrinsic part of our culture. A perfect symbol for our campaign.
To make this happen-
WE COLLABORATED WITH HAYDEN HALL
Established in 1969 and named after the Irish Jesuit Father Edward Hayden, it is a private non-profit-making organization in Darjeeling that dedicate their efforts towards the development of underprivileged women and helping them become self-reliant.
With the help of dedicated volunteers, they have helped us create simple dolls with social and cultural significance. They have translated the nuanced elements one observes in the women in the tea gardens and created our Kalpana.
We have also extensively researched and spoken with the women in the gardens. Talked to them about their lives dreams and more. To help them tell their own story, we bring to you an interesting series of-
PICKED WITH LOVE
Meet our Kalpana- Elina Rai
“I have been plucking leaves in the Namring Gardens since 2018. I replaced my mother when she retired after working for the past 30 years and in a way she long ago told me the secret of good plucking, even before I had started. Mother would always tell me, “You first pick with your eye, then with your hands. Only the greenest and softest makes the best cup.’’
Since I have started working here, there has been a sense of security and peace. I go to work with my best friend Sarajana and come home in the evening to my daughter and husband. I love dancing and when I am not working in the gardens you will often find me dancing away in some competitions.
I really hope you enjoy the teas we have picked this season. We have worked hard to make sure that wherever it goes around the world(I am aware Darjeeling teas are really famous), it is well appreciated.”
Want to meet more of our Kalpana’s and know their story? Read on.