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|Type||Confectionary in Darjeeling|
|Other Names||Vado's, Vado and Pliva, Pliva's|
Our beloved Glenary's has a history and heritage far more complex and intriguing than what meets the eye. With help from extracts of Margarethe Pliva's article in a (now out of print) Himalayan Travel Magazine, we try to present to you the life and times of Darjeeling in the early 1900s.
"My Father Adolph Pliva, known to all as "Pop", was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1882. After going to school in Vienna he trained to become a Confectioner. Pop always wanted to see the World, so after completing his training in Vienna he went to work in Cairo for some time before moving to India. It was whilst working in Allahabad that he met my mother, Daisy Louise Garland. Daisy was born into a large family in Woodford Green, Essex, in 1880. She trained in dress making and designing and worked for "Trevelyan and Clarke" in London as their dress designer. She later travelled to India, still working for Trevelyan and Clark in their Bombay office where she met my Father. It was during this early period of Pop's time in India that he first visited Darjeeling. He found a job in a Gentleman's Club very close to the Park where he worked as a steward. The Club was home to a number of real English eccentrics - on certain evenings they all sat in their own coffins! He loved this first experience of the magic that is Darjeeling and vowed to return. Since his first visit to Darjeeling, Pop had been corresponding with an Italian gentleman, Mr Vado, who had a confectionery business there. He informed Pop that he wanted to sell the business. This was the opportunity Pop had been waiting for; to allow him to return to the place he had fallen in love with. Pop now had enough money to buy a half share in the Vado business, so we set out for Darjeeling. Darjeeling was at this time governed by the Raj but actually belonged to Sikkim, with the British leasing it as a holiday destination. Mr Vado was married to a Tibetan lady and they had five children; Esther, Pepo, Barno, Jello and Serafino. He had a wonderful voice and used to sing romantic Neapolitan songs in the evenings. He wanted to take the family back to Italy. Pop therefore initially bought half the business that now became "Vado and Pliva", and then started to pay for the other half."
Vado and Pliva were based in Commercial Road, a very nice street consisting of mainly European shops. It was a four story building. The lower floor contained the bakery and kitchens where bread, chocolates and sweets were made. Plivas even produced its own brand chocolate. The second floor was our family accommodation with the third floor used as was the shop for selling the bread, confectionery, cold meats, ice creams and a particular local delicacy - camel hump, which was very popular! The top floor contained the bar and restaurant which was used for lunches, dinner and Tea Dances. It had large windows providing magnificent views of the Himalayas. A four piece Goan band played at the tea dances and lived in a house Pop found for them near the Town Hall. The large staff were always very smart, with the waiters wearing "pugri" (turbans). The Vado family lived in the flat downstairs that later became a flat for the resident confectioner. Pop used to get a confectioner from Germany on a three year contract to help at Plivas. Mr. Eschenbacher was one such person, a wonderful chap who stayed for more than three years because he loved it so much. He eventually became almost a brother to me. We later fitted a huge bay window in our flat to enjoy the magnificent mountain views. Pop used to teach the cooks as we had a very extensive menu in the restaurant. Dinner would consist of an hor d'oeuvre such as prawns or sardines all presented on lovely dishes; then soup; then fish; an entree; the roast followed by pudding, dessert and coffee. The business was very popular in the summer but there was no one around in the winter except for a few tea planters. It was therefore usually in debt during the winter months which was paid off over the busy summer.
Pop soon bought Mr Vado's half share of the business and the shop became "Plivas". At this time Mum's sister, Dolly, and her husband Henry Shenton came to live in Darjeeling. Pop opened a small shop and restaurant in Kurseong, a town halfway down the mountain, for them to run. It was used by the tea-planters but Henry was an engineer and knew nothing of the catering trade and Dolly didn't like it much either. It was losing money so Pop closed it down and rented them a nice flat in the house where the Goan band that played at Plivas lived. Gint and I used to love playing on the little trains. We would get the train down to Kurseong where at the start of each large loop we would jump off and run across to catch the train on the other side of the loop. It was great fun and before long the local children started to copy us. The trains were slow and low to the ground so it was easy to jump off and chase them across the loops. We were always fascinated by the characters working on the trains; the man who sat on top of the loco breaking the coal with a hammer and the two men who sat on the front of the train dropping sand onto the rails to give the train more traction on the steeper sections of the route. Occasionally there would be a derailment when everyone got off the train and the men would all help get it back on. Two long poles were carried on either side of the loco to help lever them back on the rails.
Darjeeling was such an interesting town to grow up in. It had two cinemas initially, one used to be a skating rink that later became a cinema but sadly there were not enough people to justify it. The other cinema was in the Town Hall. We used to have wonderful holidays from Darjeeling visiting the Teesta valley, Gangtok (capital of Sikkim) and Kalimpong, that other small state. Pop had a great love of gambling, whether it was poker or the horses he was always game. We always had horses that were stabled in the Northern Bengal Mounted Rifles Cavalry stables. When I outgrew my pony Ginger, I gave him to a local boy, Mr Bearpark's son, who lived on a tea garden and was the Grandson of Mrs Bearpark who managed the Windamere Hotel. Darjeeling had the highest racecourse in the World at Lebong. Races were held every Saturday in the Summer when the Governor was in residence. Pop used to do all the catering at the races; lunches, the bar and of course afternoon tea. Pop also donated a shield for the local hockey tournament which became known as the Pliva Cup. The colleges, Police and other local teams all played for it annually. He left enough money so that silver shields with the winner's name could be engraved and added to the shield. Pop by now was running the Windamere Hotel. In about 1937 he helped establish the consortium that bought the buildings to form the hotel. At that time in Darjeeling there was a group of three small boarding houses run by a group of ladies. In most cases their husbands had died, many of them soldiers, and they had turned their little houses/bungalows into boarding houses with a few bedrooms to take just a few families. The boarding houses were used by people who couldn't afford the larger hotels. Now that War was coming some of the ladies wanted to return to England. Pop could see the advantage of these boarding houses, all grouped close together and on a quite a large flat area so had the idea of turning them into a hotel. He formed a group with some other local business men including Tenduf La and together they bought the boarding houses, including Ada Villa - one of the oldest. Pop was the main shareholder and managed it. One of the original boarding house owners, Mrs Bearpark, stayed on to help run it and lived in a flat in the hotel. She had been married to a soldier but after selling her boarding house, Pop kept her on to give her a salary. Her son was a tea planter down the hill. In the mid 1930's Pop had taken a holiday in England and had stayed on Lake Windermere at The Windermere Hotel. He thought it one of the most beautiful places he had ever seen. He therefore decided to call the hotel, The Windamere. He was worried about copyright however so called the hotel WindAmere. Many still think it must be a spelling mistake! Pop now owned Plivas and The Windamere as well as renting the top floor of a building called "The Chalet" located on the Chowrasta. This was used in the summer months for tea dances.
The Windamere was later extended by Pop to provide a flat where Aunt Dolly lived and a larger dining room. The British/Indian Government insisted that the extension was in a modern "Indian" style. Pop would come up to the hotel several times a day from Plivas to supervise its running and every morning would look in the menu book to choose for menus for the day. Most of the hotel visitors were Europeans. I only remember one Indian ever staying, Mr Tata the Indian steel magnate. The hotel was usually full during the summer months but as the people returned to the Plains after the summer, business became rather thin. We always had a wonderful old English Christmas with carols which was always very popular and a tradition that is still carried on today. The climbers coming to Darjeeling to tackle the Himalayan peaks would also stay but mostly they stayed in the Mt Everest hotel. In those early days, the Himalayan, and indeed the Everest expeditions would get their supplies and porters from Darjeeling because at that time Nepal was still a closed country. Indeed when Tenzing Norgay first came to Darjeeling, he came to see Pop for a job. Although he wasn't trained for anything Pop gave him a job looking after and washing our car at the garage. It is still with great pride that I can say that Sherpa Tenzing used to wash our car! Although I imagine he would rather be remembered for his other achievements! Darjeeling was full of wonderful people in those days of the Raj. There was Mr Dudley, the Raja of Sikkim's right hand man. He was also headmaster of all the schools in Sikkim as well as being in charge of the Army. His wife was French and was great friends with Mum. We used to see them whenever we visited Sikkim. I remember Mr Sloan who was the manager of "Hall and Andersons'" just down from Plivas which was a small department style shop that sold clothing and furniture; Dr. Venables the dentist; Mr Kidd who ran the weekly newspaper; Mr Das ran the local photography shop and Mr Fook Chong, the Chinese shoe maker next door to Plivas. He was quite remarkable and would draw around your feet and within a week had made the shoes. One of the great social centres of the town was the Planter's Club which was formed by the Darjeeling Planters Association and used by the tea planters. But only the men! Even though I was once invited by a friend for a meal there, the steward who knew me had to refuse me entry. Many of the single tea planters lived at the club. There were several major events I remember during my years in Darjeeling. One was the funeral of Mary Tenduf La's father, General Laiden La. He was said to be descended from Tibetan aristocracy and lived in a large house on the Market Square. There was a huge funeral processing with the General's body sitting upright in a decorated chair carried through the streets to a place on the hill where he would be burnt. Many high ranking Tibetans were presents together with numerous llamas and men playing the traditional Tibetan horns. On one occasion I was honoured to lead my Nepalese Girl Guides on the Parade behind the soldiers. I was Captain of the Guides at the local Nepalese girls' school because none of the other European girls could speak Nepalese. In 1944, it was feared that the Japanese were about to attack India. They had already captured Burma, Malaya and Singapore and were now attacking Assam. Pop sent Mum and I down to Bombay to catch a ship to South Africa for our safety, where Mum had two brothers living in Durban. This was the last time I would see Darjeeling for nearly sixty years. When India gained its Independence in 1947 Pop and Mum were advised by the Banks, friends and others to leave due to the uncertainty of the future for Europeans. I was by now married and living in Sierra Leone. Pop had already sold Plivas and was now living at the hotel. In 1947 he sold the hotel to the Tenduf Las' who took over the management from then. Pop and Mum moved to East Africa where they went on to establish another hotel which they ran until Kenya gained its independence in 1960. They then moved to the UK where they remained. In 2001, at the age of 83, I returned to Darjeeling with my Son-in-Law. It was very emotional to see the town again after so many years. We stayed as guests of Mrs Tenduf La and her son Sherab and were present at her 96th birthday celebrations. The hotel had hardly changed in the last 60 years, although the biggest difference was the lack of the view. I think probably due to industrial pollution it was constantly hazy. I visited the Loreto Convent and saw my old dormitories and went to what was Plivas, now called Glenary's. It brought back so many wonderful memories, especially riding on the dear little toy train, even if it was rather dirtier than I remember in my day! I have such fond memories of my time in Darjeeling and feel very privileged that my family had a part to play in the history of this wonderful Himalayan town."
Here we conclude the story of the Pliva family and their association with Darjeeling. The sixth and final part of the story will comprise of The Edwards family and Glenary's as we know it today.
One of the most adored international imports during the British Raj of India. Glenary’s is one of the oldest confectioners in Darjeeling. Started in the pre- independence era, Glenary’s was to contrary popular belief started by an Italian confectioner, Mr. Vado. Thus, Glenary’s was first known as “Vado”. Later he partnered with a German gentleman, Mr. Pliva. Thus, “Vado” became “Vado and Pliva”. However, later Mr. Pliva bought the entire share and became the sole owner of the business changing the name to “Pliva’s”. Mr. Pliva used to get confectioners from Germany on a three year contract to help supervise the bakery at Plivas. So, Plivas sold breads, chocolates, ice creams and sweets. Apart from offering these confectionary delights Pliva’s used to host regular tea dances at the restaurant. It’s large windows providing magnificent views of the Himalayas, with a Goan band serenading the occasion just like in the old romantic films. Pliva’s contributed in many ways to promote the status of Darjeeling as the go to hill station, the Queen of Hill, a haven to the British, hosting royalty, aristocrats, nobility, scholars and students from all over the globe. But with the eminent fall of the British Raj in India, Mr. Pliva left the country and the business. And since then has come to be known as “Glenary’s” which was the original name of the building. The legacy continues with Mr. Augustine Tarcius Edwards and his family. The most loved confectioners in Darjeeling.
How it all began… Mr. Augustine Tarcius Edwards was born in Kasyong, Kalimpong. The eldest amongst twelve siblings, did his schooling from St. George’s Kalimpong. Mr. A.T Edwards was always enterprising, so he left his home when he was very young to come to Darjeeling looking for work. He tried his luck in the dairy business and even tried with a radio store which was located where Nepal Curio House is today, trying his hand in different things till finally finding a niche that suited him. Mr. A.T. Edwards made a life here in Darjeeling with his family, with his wife Agnes and his four children. Then he joined “Pliva’s”, as the Manager under Mr. Pliva’s for a few years. After which he joined the British Army. After independence Mr. A.T Edwards left the British Army, wanting to return to his family and his home back in the hills. When he returned “Pliva’s” which was now “Glenary’s” was being run by Mr. T. Sinha, who was having a rough time doing it and even the business had taken its toll. It is then when three gentlemen came forward to run “Glenary’s”. They were Mr. Badal, Mr. Galstaun and Mr. A.T Edwards. After a few years Mr. Badal and Mr. Galstaun who had their own businesses to run and just could not give the time, left Glenary’s. It’s then Mr. A.T Edwards took over the business from 1959 on lease from Mr. T. Sinha. When Mr. A.T Edwards took over the business it was in a bad shape with little amenities. However, since he had worked with Mr. Pliva’s before he left for the army, he was well acquainted with the staff working at “Glenary’s” who were also trained under Mr. Pliva and that took him a long way. Having support from his family and help from his eldest son Bonney, they worked really hard to run “Glenary’s”, now a family run business. Almost a decade ago the family bought over the property from Mr. T. Sinha, bringing all the effort to a full circle. Over the years, Glenary’s has gone through various changes with the changing times, but we can still peek into a time that was in the various dishes that dates back to its British Raj days. Passed down from Mr. Pliva himself. Such as the Chocolate Éclairs, Lemon Tart, Chocolate Rolls, Jam Doughnuts, Marzipans, Chocolates in the bakery and The Sizzlers, Baked Cheese Macaroni and The Fish Au Gratin in the restaurant. However, the establishment of the building and the erstwhile business was quite a mystery, until a political unrest of 2012, when few newspaper clipping fell out from behind a broken mirror in the restaurant dating back to the 1920. We know from our research that the restaurant was constructed five years after the bakery. Therefore, we can guess that the business itself goes back to the 1915, give or take. Glenary’s today is synonymous with all that is Darjeeling. It is the epitome of our history, our heritage where it has always been a melting pot of all cultures. A business that been the labor of love of Mr. A.T Edwards and still continues to be till this day.
Part 6 is written by
Ava Aliyah Rai