The local culinary fast food ‘doubles’ is probably known to every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago as over the years it has become the most sought after street food. What was unknown however, was exactly who created this now renowned savoury food item.
That is until Badru Deen, author of Out Of The Doubles Kitchen decided to set the record straight.
“For years a number of people, mainly the Ali family of Princes Town, have been taking credit as the creator of doubles when in fact it was my father Emamool Deen, also of Princes Town, who created it and out of the kindness of his heart shared it with them,” he said.
Deen said he felt inspired and motivated to write the book for a number of reasons.
“I wanted everyone to know the truth since my father was illiterate and had no knowledge of protecting his intellectual property and as a result there’s a lot of falsehood about where doubles originated from.
“Additionally, I did it for my family as I wanted them to know of my humble background; to pass on something to my posterity and by extension the Deens’ posterity; and to record my family’s innovation and register our contribution to the nation.”
Deen, who is a graduate of the University of Manitoba in Canada, said he was the only one of his parents’ nine children who got the opportunity to attend university.
“He was wise enough to send me to school so I had to give back something to him, at least the recognition for what he has done for this country.
“When my father created doubles back in 1936 it was not called doubles then since he served a single bara together with the channa and chutney”, he said, adding that customers began asking his father to double up on the bara which led to it being given the name it now has.
Deen said his father, who had a spirit of entrepreneurship, encouraged his two brothers-in-law, the Alis-one in Princes Town and the other in San Fernando, to come into the business with him.
But tragedy struck the family that led to them abandoning their Princes Town property and relocating to San Juan.
“My father had brought my twin brothers Cabil and Habil into the business when they were around 15-16 as they were to be the future of the business but their deaths within a year of each other took its toll on the family and we moved.
“In addition to the loss of his two sons, alcoholism and domestic abuse plagued his life and all of those contributed to him not selling the volume he was capable of doing while others were. But he maintained his spirit of kind-heartedness by giving to his competitors any chutney that remained at the end of each day’s sale.
“Out Of The Doubles Kitchen recognises his spirit of giving to the point where he’s described as a candle that lights other candles but does not lose its own glow,” Deen said
He added apart from addressing Emamool “Mamo” Deen escaping poverty by vending doubles and the issue of his children overcoming social impediments through education, it also served to relieve the author of a monster that possessed him.
“When we moved to San Juan I attended the Gandhi Memorial Vedic School and like most teenagers I was filled with false pride and combined with bullying led me down a road of shame.
“In Trinidad it’s almost a pastime to level fatigue at someone else, so I became the subject of such action because my father had something unique people did not know or understood so they sought to make fun of it.
“Thus, I was referred to as “Channa Grain” and “Channa Boy” which made me feel insignificant and I became ashamed of my father’s creation,” he said, adding that shame had infiltrated the pride he should have had for his father’s innovativeness because people called him ‘doubles boy.’
“I hated the fact that I was the son of a doubles man behind the mask of anonymity while working with top flight companies in Canada and the US.
Deen, who ascended the pinnacle of the corporate world with a successful career in business with companies such as Royal Bank of Canada, Phillip Morris International and Nestle, said, “Think about coming out of the doubles kitchen and going to 100 Park Avenue, world headquarters of Phillip Morris International, the number one company in the world at that time, whose sales exceeded the gross national product (GNP) of Trinidad and Tobago. Now that’s mind-boggling.”
He said he carried the baggage of shame that he was the son of a doubles man for almost five decades but writing Out Of The Doubles Kitchen was the healing he needed to acknowledge that he is the son of a doubles man, which has set him free.
“The seeds of channa on the front cover of the book represent the seeds of rejection that I put to vindicate the bullying and name-calling I experienced.”
Out Of The Doubles Kitchen is available in print and e-book at amazon.com or fans can get some excerpts at www.outofthedoubleskitchen.com
The local launch of the book takes place on May 14 at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) and its being held in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism.