It has been the longest journey to get from point A to point B, but we made it. In blistering hot Kolkata at the end of my first day here. The city is as expected and anticipated – loud, noisy and chaotic. Cars do not stop honking, there is no semblance of traffic laws that anyone seems to follow, and yet, somehow everyone gets to where they are going.
The day began at the Kolkata Tea Auction. The tea auction has become largely electronic, which means that the action of days gone by are just that, days gone by. You can now log into an authorized account and have full access to the days goings on as well as the full history of previous teas auctioned off. The brilliance of the system of course, is that one can do this from wherever they are. No longer do you need to be present or have a broker present at the auction house. Whether this is better or worse for the industry, only time will tell.
From auction, up the stairs to J. Thomas and Co.’s tasting rooms. They are the largest and oldest existing tea auction in the world and the tasting room felt like stepping into the pictures printed in books that are falling apart at the seams. Walking the halls makes you think of the stories the walls could tell. The stained teacups make you wonder about all the teas that have passed through them. And the etched on board room table, makes you wonder about the people who have sat there over the years deciding the fate of a vast industry.
The day went on to a meeting at The Tea Board of India – enlightening and all rather business. And that is what made our last stop that much more special. A visit to Motherhouse Convent. The home and resting place of Mother Theresa. Standing in silence at her tomb. Kneeling on cold marble with the nuns saying evening prayers.
How does the day all make sense? It actually does. The day was wrapped up in one word, humility. From the halls of J. Thomas to the tasting rooms which have existed for over 150 years. Walls and space that have existed long before I existed. It forces you to realize that you are just one more small piece in the greater picture that makes up this business. A temporary caretaker of this industry. You are here to do your part and then pass it on to the next generation. It just seemed appropriate to have that all wrapped up in the ultimate picture of humility…Mother Theresa.