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The words ‘Bengali’ and ‘entrepreneur’ are unusual bedfellows.  They don’t mesh well.  Bengalis are better known for being intellectual snobs righting the wrongs of the world from their armchairs.  My father and uncle are such specimen.  They like nothing more to debate until the small hours of the morning, get lost in a piece of Indian classical music, and watch the cricket.
Dadu and DimaAnyhow, I digress wildly.  This entry is about my maternal grandfather,  Dwipendra Chandra Chaudhuri aka dadu (the next post will be on my grandmother).   I know he was a tea garden owner and manager in Assam but that’s about it.  I knew very little about his journey to this point and so finding out more through asking Maa questions that I never got round to asking before has been so worthwhile.

I never knew that after completing his MSc in Chemistry from Presidency College, Kolkata, he refused to go to England to take his Indian Civil Service exams..  He did not want to work for the British government.  More than that, he didn’t want to take orders from someone else.  While my great-grandfather was bittely disappointed, he admired dadu’s determination and spirit and so when dadu set out to do his own thing, he earned his father’s respect.

Like many entrepreneurs, Dadu’s path to success had very humble beginnings.  He started by selling vegetables from a market stall.  Amazing!  From there, he won some wartime building contracts and eventually opened a transport service between Sylhet and Shilong.  However, here the story takes a sad turn.  After the 1947 Sylhet referendum which led to Sylhet going to East Pakistan, dadu lost it all, every last thing.   At this juncture, many would have given up but dadu had true grit.  He started again.  All over again.  This time, after shifting his family to Shilong, he took out a bank loan to buy tea gardens.  And so a new chapter in his life started.  I never met dadu as he died before I was born but I am so proud to be his granddaughter.  His spirit, the strength of his own convictions, and his entrepreneurial spririt are immensely inspirational.   I’m not sure if I have this said spirit and this is partly due to not seeing it around me.   However, I do know that an entrepreneurial spirit can take many shapes.   The important thing is to have a go at creating something that is your own and that you can be proud of.  Dadu taught me that.

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