The last week at Second Chance House was one that transcended manmade borders, languages and customs. Selim Hill was home to a contingent of Oxford students who came from all over the globe. The house was abuzz with ideas, philosophies and plans.
Second Chance House seemed mysterious and enigmatic as it shyly hid behind the mist and clouds. At other times, its conversation shone resplendent as the sun and the ringing cicadas. The glamourous and scandalous history of tea was discussed. The heritage factory and the even older tea bushes piped in with anecdotes of their own.
Visiting on Independence Day, the reading list for the Oxford Group comprised of ‘Midnight’s Children’ by Salman Rushdie and Jeff Koeller’s ‘Darjeeling – A History of the World’s Greatest Tea’.
This group sure played as hard as they worked. The game that remains entrenched in my mind is a game introduced by Ludovich Fraser (Ludo). He organised the Real Life Cluedo. Every member was given a person, murder object and place of murder. Over 5 days, the house was privy to plotting, planning, whispering and lots of laughing. I felt a little like Ms Moneypenny as I gave out the murder assignments!
As a victim was killed on the Rocking Chair smoking the hookah, another was killed in the kitchen with an open umbrella. If you were able to complete your first assignment, your victim’s assignment then became your next assignment. And so, the game continued!
It was only right, that in this intense aura of crime and drama, we should plant the controversial tea saplings (you remember the thrilling saga of how it came to India). The monsoon clouds poured their hearts out as they put up a magnificent show of song and dance. On these wet days, people chose different corners to read their books or organise International Relations Quizzes.
Of course, there were foiled attempts as a potential victim refused to accept a lighted lantern from the murderer and saved himself. A chivalrous youth refused to take cheese from a beautiful French Femme Fatale and lived to see another day. It was a question of survival of the fittest – you had to be focussed at all times!
While I chuckled, joining in with the infectious laughter, I could not help comparing the game to life. For those five days, the definitions of friend and enemy were blurred, trust and distrust were two sides of the same coin. Yet, it was funny because deep down there was no mal-intent or meanness. In life too, we play games all the time – some transparent and some skilfully hidden. The trick is to never make it a question of life and death.
In the evening, as I had my pot of Dorje Second Flush Tea, I realised once again the health benefits of Darjeeling Tea – always giving and nurturing, never overbearing and destructive.
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