Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 29th 2017 Contents news A5
Monday, May 29, 2017 guardian.co.tt
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University of the West Indies history profes-
sor, Dr Brinsley Samaroo, great-grandson of
indentured Indians, in a moving search for his
roots in India, found his relatives in the village
of Baraich in Uttar Pradesh and keeps a close
connection with them.
A graduate of Delhi University and descended from
the Somaroos from Bahraich in Northern India, Sa-
maroo said he has been travelling frequently to India
after his studies there to do research and bond with
"I can go back at will to my village and I am treated
well." He said they actually had a piece of land that
was left for his great-grandfather which they offered
him. "They joked, do you want that or can we take it."
Samaroo, a Presbyterian, said he is valued by his
Hindu Indian relatives because he fills a void in their
lives created when his great-grandparents left India.
He said to this day Indians in Baraich and differ-
ent villages in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where the
majority of Indian immigrants came from, yearn to
know where brothers, uncles, other relatives went,
if they were killed or suffered.
"It pleases me that I am able to go to their villages
and fill that void, give them some kind of closure. I
tell them about the villages the Indian created here
and they are happy to know they did not come here
and were killed."
He said Baraich was a village when his great-grand-
parents left it but is now a thriving agricultural town
cultivated with pomegranate, mango, pineapple, gua-
va, rice, lentils and even sugar cane.
"It's quite big now and it was with great difficulty
I was able to find the particular region from where
my great-grandparents came."
Samaroo said he meets people in these villages
looking just like Trinidadian Indians who eat the
same kind of food prepared in exactly the same way.
"When you go to these villages you get food your
mother used to make, sada roti, dhalpuri, talkari made
with exactly the same ingredients. You see the Indian
from whence you came still very much alive."
He said India has started doing research into Indian
indentureship and has actually begun to celebrate
Indian Arrival Day and it is becoming quite popular
Samaroo, who did specific research on the humble
jahaji bundle Indians brought here with them, spoke
to the T&T Guardian on the eve of Indian Arrival Day
on his Indian roots and how 143,939 Indians who
arrived here between 1845 and 1917 not only changed
the economic and social landscape of T&T but its
physical space, as well.
He has been going to schools in different areas, like
Penal/Debe, giving students lectures on the jahaji
bundles brought to T&T by Indians, modest pieces
of cloth tied to long sticks, which carried the seeds
of new fruit trees and vegetables which were to later
change the literal geography of the island.
Given swamplands by the colonial authorities after
their indentureship was over, they also transformed
wet, marshy areas, like Felicity, into thriving villages.
Samaroo said Indians who came poor, bedraggled
and as semi-slaves have today transformed them-
selves and the geography of the Caribbean islands
where they settled.
"In their jahaji bundle, which was like a very large
three cornered handkerchief tied to the top of a large
stick, they brought a remarkable range of seeds of
fruit, vegetables and herbs we didn't have in the
"Like mango, pomegranate, guava, downs, cowa,
karaille, bodi, mustard, different varieties of dhal and
rice, a whole range of bhaji, cinnamon, clove, cumin."
The Indians brought ganga (marijuana) to the Car-
ibbean because it was not illegal and prohibited and
used it very sparingly as a form of relaxation in the
evening, he said.
Samaroo said Indians were given the worst lands
after their indentureship, the swamplands of Caroni,
Oropouche and Nariva.
"If you go and look at these swamplands now, you
see remarkable transformation. Indians had thou-
sands of years of experience in India in converting
swamplands to profitable lands.
"In places like Felicity, Barrackpore, Plum Mitan,
they changed the physical geography by draining and
cultivating these areas and making them profitable.
"Indians created villages where there were no vil-
lages before out of swamp and jungle and gave them
ancestral Indian names, like Chandanagore, which
means place where the moon shines, Calcutta Set-
tlement Number One and Two, Madras Settlement,
Coromandel, Malabar, Barrackpore, Fyzabad and Eli
Samaroo will lecture on Indian indentureship at
the Sangre Grande Civic Centre at 11 am today.
search for his roots
Prof Brinsley Samaroo
"When you go to these villages you get
food your mother used to make, sada roti,
dhalpuri, talkari made with exactly the same
ingredients. You see the Indian from whence
you came still very much alive."
A physical attack on several sen-
ior citizens, a nurse and a visitor
at a home for the elderly in Wood-
brook on Saturday is now engag-
ing the attention of the police.
Investigating officers are now look-
ing for the attacker, who is said to be a
close male relative of one of the home's
officials. Police believe that the man
is in hiding.
According to a police report, at
about 5.10 pm, a 49-year-old woman,
whose identity was not given, went to
the home at Petra Street to visit her
83-year-old mother when she was
attacked by the man.
The woman was slammed head
first into a wall, dragged and bodily
slammed twice on an iron gate before
being thrown out into the street.
A 55-year-old nurse was struck on
the right side of her head near her
ear with a stone by the attacker. The
visitor's mother, who suffers from
Alzheimers, was also attacked.
Currently at the home there are said
to be seven residents---three elderly
men and four women.
When the T&T Guardian contact-
ed one of the victims yesterday, she
said that she and the other victims
remained very much traumatised over
the entire incident and are hoping for
An investigating officer told the
T&T Guardian that they received
information that the man frequents
the place and is sometimes seen doing
chores at the home.
When contacted yesterday, the visi-
tor who was attacked spoke with strict
anonymity and described the incident
as "appalling" especially given the fact
that it happened on the first day of her
fast for the Holy month of Ramadan.
The woman said she arrived at the
home for the visiting hours, between
5 pm to 7 pm. She said usually they
would have her mother waiting for her
in the porch but when she got there
her mother was seated in the living
"I went upstairs and saw the gen-
tleman (the attacker) sleeping on the
couch, his back turned to me. I saw
that his pants were off and on the
ground and the nurse was trying to
wake him up. I went to my mum and
hugged and kissed her and asked how
she was doing. All that time the nurse
continued talking to the man telling
him to get up. He began to twist and
turn on the couch. She told him that
I was there to see my mother and that
he should get up and organise himself
because she had to leave as her shift
has ended," the woman said.
"With that the man got up in a rage
and started to curse the nurse and told
her to get out. I quickly asked the
nurse to help me move my mother to
the porch. The nurse told the man to
leave her alone and he left and went
outside. I thought he had left but when
I looked outside again I saw him run-
ning up the stairs with a concrete slab
in his hand," she added.
The woman said that as the man
entered the room an elderly man at-
tempted to block him but he slapped
the man and pushed him out of his
"The man then started to walk up
to the nurse and the nurse tried to run
but he chased after her and hit her with
the concrete slab to the head. She fell
and all I could see was blood. I started
to scream and tried to get my mother
away from there but then he walked
fasting and to move. That was when
he choked me and slammed me to the
ground," the woman added.
The woman said she told the nurse
to stay with her mother while she go
to the police for help.
All victims were taken to the St
James Medical Centre where they
were treated and discharged.
Investigating officers have already
retrieved their medical reports and are
said to be continuing investigations.
home for elderly
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