11 January 2024

There is another interesting intersection point!

My first trip day before was unsuccessful. But, I had decided to keep trying till I left the island. So, there I was today again – pulling into this parking lot of a small food shack called “Diane’s Roti Master”.

There was nobody at the front. Decided to go inside the kitchen. There was a lady working by herself.

“Hello? Are you here to pick up food?”, she asked.
“Not exactly. Can I talk to Diane?”
“I am Diane.”
“Oh! I had come yesterday to meet you. You were out.”
“Sorry. Do you want to order something?”
“Ummm… no. I came to meet you.”
“About what?”, she asked wiping her hand as we both walked back to the front.

“Well, I am a friend of your granddaughter in New York. She could not say enough good things about you. I had promised her that I will visit you and send her a picture of you when I come to the island.”

“Oh!”, she was a bit relieved and confused.

So, I laid out the whole story to her.

“See Diane, I have a daughter in New York City. I was visiting her a couple of weeks back. I was in a coffee shop. And this young girl made my coffee.”
At this point, I pulled out a picture from my iPhone.

“Oh! that is my Tsuni!” she exclaimed.

Two weeks back, I was in New York to drop Natasha and Tuy in Brooklyn. I had stayed over in the city for a day. I had befriended the young lady (you can see in the bottom right picture) who made the coffee for me.

“What is your name?”
“No, T-s-u-n-i”
“Oh! Where is that name from?”
“I grew up in St. Croix”
“REALLY? I will be there two weeks from now for the first time in my life! Is your family there?”
“Well, my dad lives in Atlanta …”
“That is where I am from!”
“… oh! and my mom is here in New York. But my grandmother is in St. Croix”
“That is awesome! Did your grandmother grow up in St. Croix?”
“Well, she was born in Trinidad. She has a restaurant in St. Croix now.”
“Do you know the name?”
“Her name is Diane. I think the restaurant is called “Diane’s”
“Let’s see if we can find that place,” I said furtively looking into Google Maps. I thought I got a hit – “Diane’s Roti Master”.
“Is it called Roti Master?”
“Yes, yes, that is the name!” she said excitedly.
I flipped thru the images in Google Maps. There was one with a lady in it inside what looked like a kitchen.
“Is this your grandmother?”
“Grandma!!!” she said visibly energized looking at the picture.
“Ok. I will tell you what – I will make it a point to meet her there two weeks from now. And I will send you a picture of her from there!”
We took a picture together that I was going to give her grandmother and exchanged our contacts. Then I left.

Coming back to today…

“That is Tsuni indeed!!” I told Diane as I told her the story of how I met her.

Diane pulled me to the next store (which also belonged to here) and all excited about showing the picture of Tsuni to another lady sitting there. Later, I found out that was her sister in law.

We sat down and I got to learn her life story.

Born in Trinidad, she had moved to Louisiana. Tsuni’s mom – her youngest child was already born by then. In Louisiana she had three more kids – two of them twins. She then moved to Miami. And once the twins finished high school and left home, she was not sure what to do. She came to St. Croix where her parents were. As a single, she lived with her parents and was trying to figure out what to do in life.

Then she got herself a red truck (you can see it in the picture) in 1999. She and another lady (turned out later to be her sister in law who I had just met) started making food out of the back of the truck and selling from one construction zone to other. Slowly but surely, that hard work paid off. Eventually she had three small stores and finally consolidated everything and built out this food joint that I was sitting in. She got featured in one of the Youtube Influencer’s video too (the URL of which is proudly captured in a QR code she showed me in her menu card).

We had probably talked for over thirty minutes when the customers started coming in again.

We took some pictures together. And I promised her that I will send her picture to Tsuni and for sure will visit her next time I am in the island. For good measure, I got her phone number too.

You can never go wrong calling up an elderly lady once or twice a year to check up on how she is doing.

Self made folks – especially women – are to be specially recognized!!