Upcot is a small town found off Maskeliya in Sri Lanka’s Dimbula region. Strathspey produces some wonderful teas and in fact, my first business success was with a line of Strathspey Tea.
The current Superintendent of the Plantation is Mr. Seevali Muddanayakke, a planter with 30+ years of tea planting experience. He was nice enough to host me at his bungalow and show me around the plantation.
I had heard of Seevali through family and employees of the company. On meeting him, I wanted to confirm if a story I had heard about him was true.
Seevali’s first dealing with PMD was back in the early 1980’s on Brunswick Estate. At the time, the company was under the stewardship of my grandfather.
At the time, PMD provided plantation supply and tea transportation for Brunswick. The man tasked with loading our lorries with Brunswick’s prized tea was Seevali.
At the end of the year during the festive season it is customary for estate suppliers to give gifts in the form of hampers to the management of estates. Hampers would have a variety of goodies, and the most important of all were the bottles of imported Scotch whiskey.
As a young SD in the 1980’s he was the same age as my father and uncles. Due to the fact that Brunswick is the largest and one the closest estates to the Transport office, he developed a close relationship with my grandfather, who from time to time would advise the young SD on matters of life.
The story goes that when hampers were handed out to the estate management, Seevali’s hamper was missing the all-important bottles of Scotch.
On inquiring as to why, my grandfather had said that not only did he look a lot like his own sons but he was also the same age and that it would not be right to be giving him alcohol. All this even though he was well above the legal drinking age and was a frequent member of the Maskeliya club, a notorious drinking establishment for the areas Planters.
The story goes to show the close relationships that are formed in the small world of Tea planting. These same relationships are furthered even today by PMD working with Strathspey. You can watch Seevali orate the story below.