Musha Chothia and his granddaughter Zaiba. Chothia says the main difference between India and Barbados is the culture. (Picture by Xtra-Vision Photography)
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As part of the Nation Publishing Company’s 50th anniversary of Independence celebrations, the WEEKEND NATION team – through this series – This Is My Story – will be speaking to people who migrated to the island and visitors who have come and fallen in love with our shores. We invite you to share with us or point us in the direction of an interesting person we can feature each week.
MUSHA CHOTHIA was born over 14 000 kilometres away in India. However, he has never spent a birthday there.
For almost his entire life, he has resided in Barbados and has never even contemplated moving back to his homeland.
And as Barbados gears up celebrations for its jubilee 50th anniversary of independence, Chothia will be celebrating having lived on this 166-square- mile paradise for over just over half a century.
In explaining how he moved to Barbados, Chothia said his father had been residing on the island from the 1930s, before the war, before his mother and siblings eventually relocated.
While here, he attended St Mary’s junior and infants schools and then St Leonard’s.
A Muslim, the 52-year-old resident of Kensington New Road, St Michael has returned to India on several occasions – the last being 1996 – to visit his family and he readily admits that the difference in cultures is easily the biggest contrast between the two countries.
“Obviously in India there are mostly Muslims and Hindus, while here it is mostly Christians. Over there it is mostly Indians and in Barbados it is mostly Blacks and Africans, so the cultures are very different,” he told the WEEKEND NATION from the living room of his upstairs home, which sits almost directly opposite the mosque.
Having been living here for over five decades, Chothia has embraced the island’s culture.
However, as a Muslim, he said sometimes people did not fully understand his religion.
Chothia said because Muslims are viewed as terrorists, he sometimes had to deal with snide remarks.
“You would sometimes get one or two fellas who don’t understand, but it is not really a problem,” he said.
Love for Bajan foods
He explained that while he still enjoyed Indian foods, he also had a love for Barbadian dishes.
“I just like everybody and I eat both Indian food and Bajan food,” Chothia said with a laugh.
“When I do my meat though, like mutton, curry and beef, I tend to do it Indian style as compared to the Bajan style.”
A cabinet full of trophies sits in Chothia’s living room and when asked if they belonged to him or his two sons, his face lights up and he beams with pride.
He recalls that in his “younger days” he played for a team called All Blacks and was a good opening batsman.
Indian boys cricket
In fact, Chothia said the Indians from Kensington New Road and the surrounding areas were the first ones to introduce tapeball cricket to Barbados.
Additionally, he said they were also the first ones to play night cricket at Kensington Oval.
“To be honest, the first people to play tapeball in Barbados were us, the Indian boys of Barbados, myself included. Every day after prayers we used to go and play cricket until outside got dark.
“We used to play right behind here years ago. We originally started to play softball, but then one day this fella took some tape out his car and began to wrap the ball and we started to play from there,” Chothia said.
“Eventually, the local people started to pick it up, but we the Indians were the first ones to start playing.” (RB)