We met Packiam in Munnar, Kerala, when roaming through tea plantations and admiring the lightness of being and the greeness of the green color around. Packiam and other women who work together with her was going back home for a lunch break. Having noticed foreigners, she became so happy and asked us to click a picture with her and then invited to her place for a cup of tea. Of course we agreed, and I like visiting people in India. With a very poor English Packiam explained that she lives nearby. We communicated with her almost through gestures since she didnt understand Hindi, and we didnt know anything in Malayalam, but since Naren knew a bit of Tamil we were able to have a simple conversation.
Packiam works on a plantation of a huge group of companies TATA, they produce everything starting from bottled water and paper napkins to cars, buses and Jaguar Land Rover. Tea pickers are provided with food and accommodation, they live in such simple houses.
Plantations are at a stones throw from the house, and the tea pickers llive in very picturesque place, though it might be already very boring for them.
We came to the house (or a flat, dont know what exactly to call it) of Packiam. Everything is very civil and clean, a normal village accommodation.
Tea pickers live a normal life, like all of us wash clothes, go to the town by bicycle to buy sugar, grow cactuses.
Inside the house of Packiam reminds me old village houses in Ukraine.
TV, mini system and a box of cookies people like people.
Here Packiam keeps photos of other foreigners. Munnar is a very popular destination for Indian tourists though foreigners also come here a lot.
Packiam treated is with cookies Maria, we have the same in Ukraine and I believe Maria cookies are actually international. She didnt have anything herself but saw that we ate everything.
Packiam is 53 years and she is not married which is quite strange given the fact that a girl not married after 25 is kind of a shame. She has a married brother who lives in another town.
Later she went to the kitchen to cook a lunch as it was a lunch tim. In Keralan cuisine there a dish cooked from vermiccelli, and the vermiccelli is prepared from rice flour which is processed with something like a meat grinder.
We decided not to fish to be invited for the lunch. Tea pickers salary is peanuts 85 ruppes a day (a little less than $2) and taking into account the constantly growing prices in India its so little money, just $40-50 a month. A working day is from 7am till 5pm with a 2 hour break . TATA produces tea for its own brands (Tetley) as well as sells it to others. By the way, Lipton and Brook Bonde are Indian teas, so if you fancy for a cup of real Indian tea just head to a supermarket :)
So, we were about to leave, and Packiam asked to make one more photo of her with me and to send it to her later. She gave me a small piece of paper with her address on it (by the way, when I already came to Ukraine I occassionally stumbled across that tiny piece in my luggage and it felt so warm inside). The next day we printed out the photo in a photolab in Munnar and brought to Packiam, she was very touched and called me her sister :)
This is the tea picked up by Indian tea pickers with love and care. I guess you understand what kind of love and care it is for Rs 85 per day.