(Trinidad Guardian) India High Commissioner to T&T Bishwadip Dey has embarked on a journey to discover T&T, not through the eyes of the young, but through the eyes of the elderly, those who witnessed the birth of this nation and contributed in their own way towards its development. He is a man on the move and has now devoted time to journeying to various parts of T&T, meeting people of Indian origin who are over 90-years-old.
He is the first of any India High Commissioner to T&T to embark on such an ambitious project.
T&T Guardian spent a productive hour discussing these journeys with Dey at his offices in Port-of-Spain.
Comfortably seated in a white chair in his brightly lit office, wearing a dark blue suit, coupled with a comfortable pair of shoes for traversing the various areas in T&T, Dey related his discoveries.
When asked what he learnt from his dialogue with elderly he said: “They are happy, filled with joy and have a love for life, they do not complain and are grateful for everything.”
The High Commissioner said he found that citizens over the age of 90 are very much active and recalls meeting a 93-year-old lady who still seizes every opportunity to do chores around her house such as washing, cooking and cleaning.
Dey said these elderly citizens have contributed not only to the development of T&T but have played an important role in keeping family values alive and passing on the cultural and religious practices from one generation to the next.
He said there are also strong family ties in the homes that he has visited where he witnessed that love and devotion for the elderly.
Dey said as senior members of society, the elderly have had an important guiding role for the local communities and form a historical link to India for nationals of East Indian origin.
He noted that the High Commission of India also shared in the pride of the Indo- Trinidadian community which remain justly proud of these elders who carved out their lives through initial struggles in their adopted country.
Respecting and caring for elderly family members is an integral part of Indian culture and the India High Commission is honoured to take this tradition forward in its own way by felicitating the elders and showing its gratitude to them.
Sharing some his experiences, Dey spoke of the day he visited Dharmie Deo, 104, of Digity Trace, Penal.
He said Deo vividly remembers her past years and recalled many important events of her life, including marriage, and her parents’ home in India.
He said she is strongly spiritual, hardworking, even now she tends her garden, and is a thoroughly family-oriented person.
He added that Deo remembers names of all members of the family, now into fourth generation, numbering over 50, who are spread throughout the country.
Samdaye Dhanasar, 104, received the High Commissioner at her Carat Hill, Barackpore home.
She narrated her many experiences during her long lifespan to him, and recollected working extensive, arduous hours in the rice and sugarcane fields of Barrackpore while also tending to her responsibilities as wife and mother.
The first house in the street was built by Dhanasar’s husband Dhanasar Moosai.
Dhanasar said she kept thanking God for strength and for his blessings.
Dey said he found Dhanasar to be very cheerful, enjoying spending time with family.
He presented her with a token of appreciation besides paying his respects.
Dhanasar was overwhelmed at the interaction with the High Commissioner and wished him good luck.
Sooknanan Nancoo, 101, of Woodland, Penal said he was deeply involved in agriculture and was a top-ranking farmer in the community.
Nancoo, who helped to construct a temple and school in the area, and speaks good Hindi, also spoke about his strong spiritual connection, hardworking nature as secrets of his longevity.
The High Commissioner praised Nancoo for his fluent Hindi and for his contribution to keeping Indian culture alive.
Dey noted with satisfaction that a street was named after the father of Nancoo, who had done great service to the community.
Mahadaye Padarath, 104, of Spring Village, Valsayn recollected events leading to her marriage, working in the cane fields of the sugar estates that were once owned by Tate and Lyle and Caroni (1975) Limited.
Dey wished her continued good health and presented her with a bouquet before taking leave. Dey said his visits will continue.