Saturday, November 19, 2011

Iccho Butterflies

Autumn chill has turned the leaves of this ancient Iccho tree at Eiho-ji (永保寺) yellow, transforming them into a kaleidoscope of million colourful butterflies.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Deep Beautiful Loneliness

That deep beautiful colour
No one can describe:
Over the dark mountains
the gathering autumn dusk.
-Jakuren 寂蓮 (1139–1202)
(also known as Fujiwara no Sadanaga 藤原定長 before becoming a monk)

Image: somewhere near Tajimi City 多治見市 in Gifu ken (岐阜県) Japan. Loneliness is a really deep beautiful colour. Perhaps so is life. Sometimes it is set ablaze by a shaft of sunshine for a short while.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Autumn Memories

Even your pledges,
leaves of words, have lost their green
now that falling tears
dim my youth as drizzling rains
transform autumnal foliage.
-Ono no Komachi (小野 小町 c. 825 – c. 900)

Image of colourful foliage brought down to earth by autumn rains. Somewhere near Ueda (上田市), Japan. Long time ago.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Karuizawa 軽井沢町 Nagano

By lonely roads
this lonely poet marches
into autumn dusk.
Matsuo Bashō (松尾 芭蕉, 1644 – November 28, 1694)

Autumn colours in Karuizawa (軽井沢町) Nagano ken, Japan.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tea Tasting

Recently we had a group of tea enthusiasts from Japan at a tea tasting function. The group was to have gone to the tea garden but due to political instability could not go there. We tried to compensate for this disappointment by organising a tea tasting function in Kathmandu where we showcased various teas from Jun Chiyabari. It was our first attempt to organise tea tasting at home.

I included the picture at the bottom (showing the spoons and small ceramic tasting bowls) for a special reason. After each guest had finished her / his tea tasting she / he placed the bowl and the spoon perfectly on the tray. It came so naturally to them. Had it been us Nepalis, some bowls and spoons would have been on the floor, some on the table and perhaps a few on the tray but none perfectly aligned and so neatly done.

It is a perfect metaphor for all that is wrong in Nepal (and perhaps in South Asia) and why we have a long, long way to go before we can even dream of catching up with East Asia in general and Japan in particular.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Little Japan, Nepal v 2.0

The Tea Corner in the newly renovated and retrofitted (against earthquakes) living room is now often used to introduce fine teas to visitors and members of the extended family. Or just to relax on a Saturday morning.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tea Youngling

In Star Wars series a Youngling is a young child who is Jedi in training, learning to control the force. Here is a remote nursery in the jungle naturally protected by trees and man made shades, Tea Younglings are brought up.

After a year or two they will be planted in the garden. Like a Jedi Youngling who becomes a Padawan and then a Jedi Knight before becoming a Jedi Master, these Younglings will go through various stages of pruning, cutting, skiffing, center outs and so on and so forth to finally give us good teas. In perhaps 8 to 10 years.

Then those who drink this tea will truly overcome the Dark Side!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Predator Prey

Organic tea gardens attract many different types of insects and animals. Like this lizard sunning itself on the tea bushes and waiting for its prey. It is said that ladybirds are a good sign of a healthy garden. They efficiently take care of certain types of harmful spiders, while teas leaves attacked by green flies impart a highly sought after character in the teas.

It is important for predator prey bio-system to take root so that a healthy natural balance is maintained. Fortunately in Jun Chiyabari this is exactly what has happened because no pesticide has been used.

Images of some of the denizens of the Jun Chiyabari ecosystem.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

They asked me how I knew
My true love was true
Oh, I of course replied
Something here inside cannot be denied

They said someday you'll find
All who love are blind
Oh, when your heart's on fire
You must realize
Smoke gets in your eyes

So I chaffed them and I gaily laughed
To think they could doubt my love
Yet today my love has flown away
I am without my love

Now laughing friends deride
Tears I can not hide
Oh, so I smile and say
When a lovely flame dies
Smoke gets in your eyes
Smoke gets in your eyes

- Platters 1958
Originally written in 1933 for the musical Roberta, starring Bob Hope. The lyrics were written by Otto Harbach and the music by Jerome Kern.

Moisture from the tea leaves on the withering troughs in Ilam Chiyabari "smokes" my lens.

This photograph was taken from the tea withering room looking down at the tea receiving, weighing and transporting area. You can just about make out the tea leaves waiting to be carried by the conveyor to the withering room.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nepal Cardamom

Nepal Cardamom or Black Cardamom is quite common in the tea gardens. It seems that Nepal is one of the biggest if not the biggest producer of this type of cardamom. October - November is harvest time. After the pods are collected they are roasted. I guess most of it ends up in India. Images of cardamom being roasted by a tea farmer in Dhankuta.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Yume Wakaba ゆめわかば

A Dream. . A green dream takes root somewhere in the Himalaya.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Heater Dryer

21 October 2011 was a cold day in the upper reaches of Nepal. Sheets of icy rain lashed the hills as tea pluckers called it a day by 1000 hrs. Warm glow of fire in the heater-dryer at Ilam Chiyabari was welcoming indeed. While tea drying continued behind this huge heater-dryer some of us warmed ourselves next to the fire.