Words by Rishi Bonneville
Ten blocks of brightly-painted shops along Liberty Avenue, strung between the last stop on the A-train and the Van Wyck Expressway in Queens, are the vertebrae that together form the backbone of New York’s Indo-Caribbean community. Trinidadian eateries serve roti and phoulorie (deep-fried balls of chickpea batter, $1 per bag), while Guyanese spots offer heaping plates of Chinese-style noodles and meats. When night falls the menu changes: less food, more beer and rum. At Kaieteur Sports Bar on Lefferts boulevard, laborers, realtors, cheating spouses and hustlers congregate, sharing drinks and shouting conversations over the sound system. The theme music for this daily drama is chutney—a peppery blend of Bhojpuri-inspired folk music and calypso sensibilities. On any given day, chances are good that the song you’ll hear when you walk in features the late troubadour Sundar Popo, the “King of Chutney”, who would have been 67 today.