Thursday, July 5, 2012

Solitary Man


Don't know that I will
But until I can find me
A girl who'll stay
And won't play games behind me
I'll be what I am
A solitary man
Solitary man
- Neil Diamond in Solitary Man
In 1878, one year after the passing away of Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana to whom those precious tea seeds had been gifted by the Chinese Emperor, the first tea factory was established in Ilam at the Ilam Tea Estate. 

This factory was the the first modern factory in any industry in Nepal pre-dating even the Biratnagar Jute Mills and Juddha Match factory in the low-lands. So the modern industrial movement in Nepal began with tea plantations and a solitary tea factory in Ilam. 

Till the early 1950's Nepal was a closed country much like Japan during the Edo period / Edo Jidai 江戸時代。 Nepal's tea industry was greatly and negatively affected by this. Unlike its counterpart across the border in Darjeeling, which thrived under the British colonial rule, Nepal was deprived of an access to the world markets and there was very little domestic tea consumption leading to no growth in tea industry for the next 100 years.

Like a solitary man this tiny tea factory was the only representative of the tea industry in Nepal for almost next 100 years. 

Top: The historical Ilam Tea factory today. It is the building with the chimney on the roof almost at the centre of the photograph. (2012)
Middle: Tea being withered at Ilam Tea factory. (2012)
Bottom: An elderly lady stokes the fire of a drying stove in the factory. (2012)

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