Sunday, May 10, 2009

A thousand humble apologies . . .

. . . for those random readers who actually bother to visit this blog. Got some complaints lately regarding the radio silence. No particular reason, just been very busy. Anyway, new post, new picture. This new profile photo of yours truly was taken by Dutch senator Anja Meulenbelt who actually came by to check out Oba Live herself. She was pleasantly surprised and came back a second time and wrote two detailed reports. To go to one of them, click here. And it's thumbs up for Oba Live, even though I am as inexperienced as can be.

For those of you interested in India and living in the Netherlands, Oba Live will be doing an India special on Tuesday 9 June. The first reason being the parliamentary elections in India and how the results will affect the position of India's 140 million Muslims.

The second reason is the commemoration of the 136th anniversary of the Indian arrival in Surinam. In the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries over one and a half million Indians went overseas, to exotic places like Burma, Malaya, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific islands. They went to earn a living as indentured workers on the many sugar cane plantations. Over 34.000 ended up in Surinam, including my great grandfather.

Hope to go back to Surinam this August to find out more about my Indian lineage. I know my great grandfather came from Kamanpur, some village or small city in the Indian state of Andra Pradesh. That in itself is quite remarkable, because most Indian immigrants came from Northern India. Not my ancestors, so it seems.

But how about my great grandmother? The good news is that I actually met her in 1971. That said, I was only six years old and hardly remember anything about this meet and greet. It was my first time ever in Surinam. I even have a picture of her taken by one of my uncles (oom Henk). Her name: Subhagia Ramzan.

I have her DNA, but what do I know about her? Where did she come from? From the north, the middle, the south? What is her story? Did she come of her own free will or was she tricked into boarding that ship? How old was she when she left India? On which plantation did she work? More answers than questions, hence my second trip to the Caribbean, to Surinam.

P.S. I did find out though that Kamanpur is about 200 kilometers from Hyderabad, the very beautiful capital of Andra Pradesh. Hope Hyderabad has a decent night life... ;-)