Trinidadian Sue has created a home away from home in the form of the Caribbean restaurant Sue’s Food Place in the city
For the last 30 years, India has been home to Susan R. John or Sue, who hails from Trinidad and Tobago. Ask Sue what Indian element she has adopted in all these years and she says: “My two daughters Vijaylakshmi and Vindhya are more Indian than most Indian girls.
“They don’t appreciate calypso music but they love Lata Mangeshkar and all old Hindi songs. What more could I have taken from Indian culture?” And through her Indiranagar restaurant “Sue’s Food Place”, Sue brings Trinidadian flavours to Bangaloreans.
After marrying a coffee estate owner in Coorg, Sue first came to India in 1970. The couple separated but Sue didn’t go back to her country.
“Of course my country is beautiful and I love it. But drugs and drug-related crime is a big problem there and I have seen it ruining young lives. As a single mother, I didn’t want to take chances,” says Sue. She stayed back, determined to raise and educate her daughters in India. Her elder daughter Vijaylakshmi graduated from National Law School and works with Steel Mittal in Trinidad, while her younger daughter studied in Jyothi Nivas College.
“I am grateful to India and my second husband who put us on the right track. Both my daughters have grown up so traditionally,” says Sue. Ten years ago, she opened Sue’s Food Place, the only restaurant in the city serving Caribbean food, which turned out to be a success. “I love music, dancing, cooking and meeting people,” says Sue. Since her business required her to interact with locals, Sue also learnt Kannada.
The restaurant also gave her freedom to be herself. “I put on Calypso music and I dance on it. Trinidadians are happy-go-lucky people without any reservations. And I am a true Trinidadian.
“But in India, I realised one had to be cautious especially when it comes to religion. I needed a place where I could just be myself,” she says. Sue gets Scotch bonnet (a smaller pungent version of capsicum), Jamaican jerk seasoning and black aamchar masala — all an integral part of Caribbean cuisine from her country.
And her recipes like Jamaican Jerk chicken, jeera pork are big hits with people here. She meets wonderful people in her restaurant and she loves Indian festivities.
But despite all this, Sue longs to go back to her country. “From the day I landed here, I have wanted to go back to my small island. India has given me so much but I am still a misfit. May be it has got something to do with age,” says Sue.
SHAILAJA TRIPATHI TANEJA