TODAY -

An interview with Ragesh Keisham, the founder of CC tea

Mubasir Raji *

Ragesh Keisham, the founder of CC tea
Ragesh Keisham, the founder of CC tea :: Picture from http://thesuigeneris.in



A female voice calls "Oi hello". As I turn around suddenly I met an old friend. I ask her "how are you?" but she retorted back with mock alarm, "what do you mean how are you". She knows that what I'm asking for is whether she got married.

Last time we met it was some years back, I said exactly in the same manner, "what do you mean study nicely?" At that time she was with her boy-friend and she was expected to be getting married soon, so as she was about to be getting married, she was wishing me lovingly to keep continuing my study nicely. What she means was as she is a girl and she already had a boy-friend so she is getting married but I being a boy can continue my study! At that time I was about to be completing my masters. To extract more meaning from her I enquiringly ask, what prompted her to say such kind words to me as if she is an elder woman. She only smiles meaningfully not willing to reveal about her open secret marriage plan.

As I was on the move already bidding her good bye, I found seven missed calls on my phone which I have keep on silent mode. The call was from a senior journalist, I call him back. He told me I have to reach Kwakeithel Lamdong Leikai without wasting any time. He fixed an interview with the founder of Lemon Grass (CC tea) Mr. Rajesh Keisham for me. I have wanted to meet this guy for quite a while. He recently got an award, the NICT Perfect 10 award sponsored by The Telegraph.

With some difficulty I reach Kwakeithel Lamdong Leikai, travelling down a narrow street down Kwakkeithel Bazar. It seems everyone was waiting for me and there I met the entrepreneurial guy Mr. Rajesh Keisham.

An executive MBA by qualification, he returned to Manipur because of his love for his motherland but the dilemma was what an educated youngman should do in Manipur? Reportedly everyone from friends and family circle advise him to stay at home and look for whatever it can be done here.

So he decided to stay in Manipur but he is determined to make big in life. One thing is sure as reported to the writer; he wanted to make some contribution to the society. Nevertheless, the dilemma over what he is going to do still continues. He keeps looking for ideas for a while. He at least knew that Manipur has a rich and fertile soil, so anything associated with plantation will not be a bad idea.

"But what is to be planted that can be cultivated commercially?" that was the question he ask himself. This Youngman wanted to do something innovative yet a commercially viable venture. It was certain that he was not interested in traditional farming because he knows he cannot make the kind of contribution he wanted to make with traditional mode of farming. So his hunt for new ideas continues.

A certain scientist advises him (as being reported to the writer), "if you wanted to do anything experimental with plantation; start with grass family". The said expert even provided him a small booklet with a list of plants.

From among the plants described in the booklet, he chooses a grass named Cymbopogon Citratus. He planted the same in his personal farm of around half an acre. He planted in winter season after the Manipuri Rice harvest season; as it was the winter there was no water. Fortunately there a small drain nearby, so he made arrangement for irrigation through a small Chinese made water pump. Every morning he carries the water pump over his shoulder up to his farm. That was a great inspiration coming from a Pune University degree holder and it was certainly a very humble beginning.

After some months, the grass (Cymbopogon Citratus) started flowering and everybody told him to cut down. It pained him a lot, he was yet to decide what to do with those aromatic smelling grass. He became alarmed thinking 'what to do with his hard labor'.

He seeks expert opinion and they told him unanimously to cut the grass down because after flowering grasses always dried up. If he didn't cut them down they will dried up naturally, that's how there life cycle is like. So he better cut them down and decides whatever he wanted to do with the same grass.

Even though he does not invest a big amount of money, he had put a good amount of labor and hard work and he mixed them with great amount of hope. So it was natural for him to become restless in such a scenario.

He tries all sorts of means thinking at least there should be some utility for this grass but to no avail. He tries even feeding the grass to the cattle. The cows and buffaloes refused to touch this smelly grass. He search internet and do all sort of reading he can find. He read somewhere as a parting reference that the same grass is traditionally used in Brazil to treat fever; that is how he found the idea of brewing the grass for the first time.

The first time he brews the leaves; it looks mesmerizingly green yet it taste really out of order. Seeing the beautiful green color his entrepreneurial sense gets tingling.

He knew he is on the verge of discovering something big. He came to the conclusion that instead of raw leaves dried, one should be used for proper tasting.

On an experimental basis he makes his parents and other family members to take what was later going to be call CC tea . Only after that he came to the realization that it can be a substitute for daily caffeine consumption.

After UNACCO group managing director Y Irababta Singh, this is another Manipuri whom I met who really inspired me. Just like Mr. Irabanta Singh, he has an unconventional way to things done. After the interview one line remains in my ear echoing "Marak marakta khara khara khanghanba darkarni", meaning, at times we need to surprise people, he continued "especially the people from the north-eastern region carry an inferiority complex. We limit ourselves, that's why people took us for granted"

What a personality and what a day it was!


* Mubasir Raji wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao as part of 'Unlocking trends with Mubasir Raji'
This article was posted on September 15, 2014.


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