About this time of the year, 25 years ago, I went to Venezuela with a few other graduate schoolmates, on a three-week study trip.
|One of the very few photos from my Venezuela trip|
If I am an idiot now with no social skills, well, I was worse then. I am guessing that I would have phrased it in the most awkward and politically incorrect way possible when I asked him if he had any Indian connections.
Turned out that he had!
Curiosity was, for once, useful—Carlos’ grandparents were from India. They came to Guyana, from where his father later immigrated to Venezuela, married a local and, hence, Carlos the Venezuelan!
The Guyana connection was especially interesting because a student in our group was from Suriname. And, yes, she too was an "Indian" whose great-grandparents, I think, had emigrated from India to Guyana, if I correctly recall. Like many of Indian origin from there, she, too, was keen on getting out of the country.
She never said "Indian" but always used the phrase "East Indian." Understandable--to differentiate from the "Indians" in the Americas and the "West Indians." What a confusion thanks to Columbus!
I have in my mind this blurry image of her mother and sister cooking a fabulous meal for a whole bunch of us when they were in Los Angeles. They all settled down later in New York. The years have taken a toll on my memory and I have absolutely no idea about her name; how sad!
I do remember Trevor, however.
Trevor was from South Africa and, yes, was a product of the Indian dispersion into that country. Not merely India, but from Tamil Nadu!
The common thread here is, of course, the colonizer--Britain.
So, after recalling those old stories, the nerd in me gets curious. Would the British connection then have opened up a portal for Indians into Belize? Are there people of Indian origin in Belize? Can one get an aaloo paratta there? ;)
The web comes to my rescue:
The "East Indians" as they were referred to, perhaps in order to distinguish them from the original "Maya Indians" that inhabited this part of the world, were first brought to Belize to supplement the African laboring population. It was not until slavery had been abolished that the first East Indians, between 1870 and 1880 first arrived in Belize.Tada!
East Indian food, a significant aspect of culture, is still very much prevalent in the homes of the contemporary East Indian population, as well as Belizeans as a whole. Today the East Indian community is identified by a distinctively "Indian" appearance, either in hair, or facial features. Although they have adopted many of the social practices, customs and values of the creolized Belizean populace they have given as much in return, so much so that they remain among Belizeans a group that has truly become a dear collaborator, sharing their culture and most notably, their food.So, any Indian eateries in Belize? I am awfully curious by now.
Another search and Lonely Planet recommends Sumathi Indian Restaurant! Meet the chef:
What a fascinating world!
By the way, why does the chef not smile for the photograph? Not smiling is in the Indian genes?