Duklingia bungalow

Shona Patel

Shona Patel author

(The Editor would like to thank Shona for editing the Koi-Hai website for several years.)

 

Year of birth –1959

We live in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.

My sister Mithoo and I had a lovely, carefree childhood growing up in the tea gardens of Assam. We both studied at Pine Mount School in Shillong. I went on to major in English at St. Xaviers College, Calcutta. After graduation I embarked on a career in Advertising and Graphic Design that spanned 35 years. In 2013, I signed a book deal with Harper Collins to become a full time writer. Both my books Teatime for the Firefly and Flame Tree Road are set in Assam, the place of my birth. I am currently working on my third novel.

I came to America in 1995 after marrying my longtime penpal, Vinoo Patel. Vinoo is a retired engineer. He is a Handy-Andy and a very talented carpenter. This man can fix everything. We are a child-free and pet-free couple. We lead an active social life and love to travel. Besides writing, I enjoy photography, cooking and design. I usually have several creative projects going at the same time.

My father P.C. Nag was one of the first Indians to join tea in 1941. He was employed by Jardines Henderson until his early retirement in 1973. He left to start his own tea consultancy business in Calcutta. My parents were married in 1945. My sister was born in 1953 and I arrived six years later.

The tea gardens dad worked in are Burnie Braes, Aeyakhal, Silcoorie and Duklingia. His longest posting was in Duklingia (1959-1973) where he was the manager for 15 years. I spent my entire childhood in the same tea garden. Duklingia was on the verge of lockdown and embroiled in labor trouble when dad took over as Manager. He ran a tight ship, I am told. We never got to see the intimidating/scary side of my father, because at home he was a complete pushover and hopelessly bullied by the women in his family. He spoiled us rotten. But my poor sister Mithoo suffered greatly. She was a gorgeous teenager growing up in Duklingia, yet none of the assistants at the club would ask her for a dance. Later on we learned they were terrified of dad! As a result the poor girl imagined she was very ugly!

 

I remember another funny incident. I must have been around five or six. Dad was drinking tea on the verandah after his midday siesta and I was messing around with his hair. I pinned a small pink butterfly clip to the top of his head and ran off. Dad finished his tea and took off to the office with the pink clip still stuck on. When he came home in the evening the clip was still there. Mom said “What’s that in your hair”. Dad pulled it out. “Unblievable!” he cried. “Why didn't anybody tell me?” We heard not only had dad gone to the office, but to the factory as well before coming home. In all his interactions with several people that day, not one of them had dared to tell him (or even give away by their expression) that he had something funny stuck to his hair. That pretty much sums up the kind of scary boss P.C. Nag was. Hard to believe this is the same man-my dad-we are talking about!

Dad passed away in 1984 and my mother in 2006.

Shona's book

Flowershow medals

Mom in the garden

Tea on the lawn

Mithoo & Shona Patel

Jardines award