By Stephen Kangal
February 06, 2008
The soul and spirit that presides over the terrific and tranquil Northern Range Caura shrine served up an unspoilt mecca for relaxation for over sixty years. It catered with its lush vegetation canopy for the recreational and unwinding needs of thousands. That is the unique heritage that is now being desecrated by lawless brigands and shameless bandits causing worshippers to scurry for their lives. These bandits must remember that a Catholic Priest cast a curse on the building of the corruption-riddled Caura Water Dam on the site of a previous church and it never materialised. Those who desecrate the Caura peace will surely pay for their sacrilege and disrespect to the gods that inhabit this sanctuary.
Caura represented the last secure major inland sanctuary providing a natural, therapeutic and safe haven for fathers who took their entire family and friends on pilgrimage to this pristine shrine to pay homage to Mother Nature. Hindus also frequent Caura to perform ‘shaving’ rituals designed to purify and further release the souls of their dear departed ones en route to nirvana. It is as if the crystalline clear waters of Caura washed away the sins of the departed and the onerous cares of the living.
Imagine the shock and trauma that crept upon me last Saturday when upon arriving with a party of friends at my favourite haunt I discovered that Caura of all places was frightfully and completely deserted and abandoned. It resembled a disaster zone. The stray dogs looked lean and hungry. That was the result of Caura aficionados being terrorised and held to ransom by a horde of bandits. They knew that they would not be caught. The police patrols that I read about in the newspapers post-the-bandits-attack and upon which my visit was premised were no where in sight.
The PNM Administration refuses to appreciate the healing and reconciliation- with- nature value of Caura in soothing the nerves of over-stressed and poverty-stricken citizens; they who seek solace and respite under the trees and in the healing stream of the natural peaceful ambience of Caura from the psychological ravages of a siege mentality.
People are barricaded in their homes. Traffic congestion is dehumanising our spirits leading to road rage. The fear factor is stunting our young human capital development. Caura represents an alternative, stress-relieving, therapeutic environment. You can even get a sun tan in the Caura Valley.
Government never saw it fit to provide toilets for the hundreds of wives and daughters who visit Caura daily with their husbands and fathers even if they belong to a natural UNC constituency. They must use the primitive bush. The Forestry Division stopped maintaining the Caura recreation site for years. But uncomplaining devotees still succumbed to the lure and call of the Caura Valley heritage site. It has been etched in our national psyche and forms part of our cultural and recreational legacy and landscape. Our chutney artistes have immortalised Caura in verse with Hunter wanting his rum on the rocks of Caura.
How can a Government that claims to be caring and fair to all be so insensitive and so callous in treating with uncaring indifference the legitimate entitlements and welfare needs of citizens for decent and safe inland recreational opportunities especially at the popular Caura rendezvous? Here the rich mingle with the poor. Government should have intervened immediately to assure the picnickers that they would be safe. That they can return to savour the luxuriant and verdant Caura ambience under police protection.
Or is the Government in league with the “community leaders” to harass the law-abiding, the docile and the non-violent? What is the justification for spending millions at Maracas and miniscule at Caura? Will we anytime now read of a gun- fight for space at the Caura corral?
Caura allows people to go back to nature. We recreate and relive our humble past when we cooked with “chulhas” and fire-wood. Does anyone in the Manning Administration understand how compelling it is to allow Trinbagonians to return to nature to mitigate our ineluctable “progress” along the urbanisation continuum away from the natural state of man? Or are those who frequent Caura to be regarded and treated in the TV ad as ” pot-bellied country bookies” to be ignored and of no consequence to the urban-based ruling oligarchy?
I can arrive at only one conclusion based on my life’s accumulated wisdom in T&T. If it is Caura, cricket, chutney, kidnapping, tassa, sugar, rice (agriculture), phagwa, ram leela or the plight of the rural dispossessed and marginalised the predictable, “politically correct” response of the Manning regime is one of lack of care and concern and blatant, open and cruel don’t -care- a damn for those…