Lankan Friends

*By Delerine Munzeer*
*Moiya Hazell recalls what it was like to be born in “Ceylon” and live a
carefree life on a tea plantation in “Ceylon” over half a century agoA?a??A?*
*Moiya Hazel on her recent visit to Norwood where she spent her early
Norwood Bungalow as it stands today is one of the world famous “Ceylon Tea
Trails” bungalows, which maintain the ambience and old world charm of an era
long gone by. But Moiya Hazell Kidde-Hansen is a rare person who has
experienced the real thing A?a??a?? she was born and lived at Norwood when life
still went on at a tranquil pace and we all had time to “stand and stare.”
Moiya Hazell was born at the Hatton Nursing Home in Dickoya in 1949, as were
her older and younger sisters before and after her. This nursing home no
longer exists but it was where most planter’s wives of that era went when
the need arose. Her father Dick Hazell was planting at Medecoombra Estate
for a short while before moving on to Norwood where Moiya spent the first
very happy 12 years of her life.
*A young Moiya Hazel with her parents at Norwood*
“We never went to school,” recalls Moiya. “Mum taught us at home until it
was time for us to school in England.” She recalls that as young children
they had to be very self-sufficient and finds ways of entertaining
themselves. This was long before the era of computer games and T.V. A?a??a?? a
period during which children actually learned to integrate with one another,
build relationships with fellow human beings as opposed to machines, and use
and develop their imaginations to keep themselves occupied.
She recalls how Podi Singho the cook would make them sugar sandwiches and
lovely plaited rolls with a thick layer of butter (the bread was always
baked in the bungalow kitchens) and they would picnic in the garden. “If
snails happened to invade the garden, we were given a bucket into which we
would collect them and be paid one cent for each snail collected,” she
remembers adding: “If we got two rupees we thought it to be a lordly sum in
those days.” “Mother would read to us every afternoon after lunch A?a??a?? the
usual Enid Blyton stories and it was a truly happy and carefree life,” says
Moiya remembers their neighbour A?a??a?? Elton Lane A?a??a?? who drove a pale blue
American car and one of the children’s greatest thrills came when Lane
allowed them to push the button which opened the boot of this magical car.
“He had built his own mausoleum and we were fascinated by it and would ride
around it and think about him being buried there!” says Moiya.
She recalls her father going snipe shooting in Mannar and on one particular
occasion he came home around 4 a.m. and announced to her mother that: “I
have a pony in the trailer A?a??a?? you sort him out.” Notwithstanding the hour,
her mother did just that and the pony became a part of their lives, starting
out the size of a large Alsatian and growing to a size where they were able
to go riding every day.
*Moiya Hazel as a child at Norwood with her pony ‘Dollar’*
Among her other memories of those halcyon days, Moiya counts going camping
in Okanda, near Panama in Arugam Bay. Buy lady era pills “We had special khaki shorts and
shirts and jungle gear made for these camping expeditions,” she says.
“We had a little barking deer called Bambi and ever so often she would
escape from her enclosure, and we would have to call out all the tea
pluckers to go and look for her,” says Moiya. They also had quite a few
other animals including cows, pigs, chickens and rabbits and her father kept
a pack of hounds and would often go hunting in the jungles and mountains
which lay behind the bungalow.
“My Dad would grow mushrooms and Mum would make her own butter and cream
cheese and she would even make our own ham, bacon and sausages,” she says.
Recounting how the Hazells first came to Ceylon Moiya says her father Dick
Hazell was originally from Guernsey, Channel Islands and came to Ceylon in
1935. He was a creeper on Norwood Estate, starting out as an S.D. or “Sinna
Dorai” and ending up as P.D. A?a??a?? “Periya Dorai.” While planting he had joined
the Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps (CPRC) and saw active service during the war
in Burma and Egypt along with other planters from Ceylon.
Dick Hazell met Thea, his wife to be in the New Forest in Hampshire while on
home leave. It was a whirlwind romance, they married in 1946 and he returned
to Ceylon while Thea his 25 year old wife followed a while later travelling
from England to Ceylon on board a troop ship. “And unfortunately my father
forgot and no one was there to meet the ship!” recalls Moiya. But Thea was
made of sterner stuff and remained unfazed by this slight hiccup. She had
stayed two days in Colombo and travelled upcountry to begin her life as a
planter’s wife.
“Norwood was a simply perfect place,” enthuses Moiya. She recalls that what
is today the Irwin suite at the end of the corridor was the children’s
nursery. “We always ate in the nursery and never had a meal until we could
put food in our mouths!”
Moiya married at the Scotts Kirk in Colombo and had “a wonderful wedding
reception” at the Ballroom of the Galle Face Hotel.
Moiya Hazell has moved around the world considerably since those wonderful
days of her childhood and youth spent at Norwood in “Ceylon.” She lived in
the Middle East, moved to Denmark and Poland finally South West France. “But
I want to return home to Ceylon,” she says. “I want to end up here and
finish up where I startedA?a??A?.”
*Reproduced with permission of the author. First published in the Sunday
* * These images can be seen in a larger size in the Photo Album. Please
type “Moiya Hazel” in the keyword search which will bring the images up.*
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