Table Talk with Sonia Jabbar
Date: October 31, 2021
Time: 20:00* IST
I knew Sonia via online networks and mutual friends over the years, and followed some of her work as an essayist, travel writer and photographer before I first met her at a party and gushed at her (I had just been blown away by an essay of hers that I had read in Elsewhere: Unusual Takes on India, a now out-of-print collection from the no-longer-among-the-living India Magazine) and she took several steps backwards, understandably alarmed. She did not, fortunately for me, block me from all social media after that, and I got to witness her metamorphosis into a plantation boss — when her mother passed away in 2011, Sonia took over the running of Nuxalbari Tea in north Bengal, which her family has owned since 1884, and she is the third generation of women who have run the estate— deeply involved not just with the growing of fine tea, but with the issues of the women who worked there and with conservation. In 2019, the Indian government recognised her work, giving her a Nari Shakti Puraskar.
We will talk about her various lives, about the nuances of tea, the elephants who pass through the estate and her work to give them safe passage, the reforestation efforts, and maybe some polo.
We’ll chat for a couple of hours, including questions from and discussion with the audience. We won’t go much beyond 10 p.m., because Sonia has to be up with the sun.
Table Talk will stay free to attend and free to listen to or watch later, for as long as I can afford to keep it that way. But we would like to use our privilege to help others, so we’re asking our guests to choose a cause.
Sonia’s choice is Haathi Saathi Foundation, an organisation she founded, which works on creating awareness of conservation issues with children and other community outreach, creating elephant corridors, and reforestation. Aside from making a donation, you could also choose to volunteer to spend time at the plantation, planting trees, recording elephant movement, building environmental and conservation leadership among rural kids. More here.
You will need to go to the Zoom link and register with a valid email address, after which you will get the link to join the event.
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* Please note, we start an hour earlier than the usual time, at 8:00 p.m. IST.