My very idyllic tea plantation upbringing was a charmed one .. a world where we roamed amidst verdant tea bushes, brought baby leopards home, discovered pythons in our swimming pool, where Santa Claus came on elephants and where my glass of milk came from my very own cow.. However my world seemed a million miles away from the one painted by Enid Blyton – that existed only in the pages of those books I avidly devoured. Our picnics on the banks of the majestic Jia Bhareli river never had pork pies and ice lollies.. We had no village store to walk into, to pick up freshly baked cakes or buns from the friendly lady behind the counter and the only time I saw a postman was in books for our post came days late through my dad’s office – delivered to the remote estate through aircrafts from Calcutta or through private Cessnas that plied between the gardens , carrying our fathers’ for meetings and sometimes giving us a ride if we got lucky.. Our boarding school was run by strict nuns and although the school was very pretty, it was nothing like Mallory Towers or St Clare’s..
However, as I drive for my meeting today, I realise Blyton’s world has now become mine too.. The rolling Surrey Hills, the winding country lanes with their red post boxes, the various farm shops who greet me with hugs, fresh cheese straws and sausage rolls are a part and parcel of my reality and everyday life.. The radio in my car comes on and as I sing along tunelessly to the words of Heaven is a Place on Earth, I also send up a quiet word of thanks .. inspite of all the ups and downs, I wouldn’t have it any other way..