The many hats of Basdeo Panday

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Basdeo Panday and his dog Norman share a tender moment in 2020. –

Best known as a charismatic politician and fiery labour leader, former prime minister the late Basdeo Panday also wore many other hats.

He had a love for culture, agriculture, animals and making people laugh. Here are a few other things people associated with him.

Panday died on January 1, at the age of 90, and his funeral will be held on January 9, at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts before his body is cremated at the the Shore of Peace, in San Fernando.


Panday played the harmonium, tabla, dhantal and dholak – instruments which originated in India. He was taught by the late India-born TT-based Prof Hari Shanker Adesh.

In his later years, Panday often said staying at home and playing these instruments remained some of his main hobbies. He had a deep love of East Indian classical music, and also enjoyed calypso, soca and chutney. He also loved dancing.


He studied drama at the London School of Dramatic Art and graduated in 1960 with a diploma.

He went on to act in series and movies including Saki, The Moonstone, They Made History, Man in the Middle/The Winston Affair and Nine Hours to Rama.

Basdeo Panday played an Indian correspondent in the film Man in the Middle. –

He also acted in plays in Trinidad and Tobago.

The TT Film Company said Panday was “a man who explored the fields of the entertainment industry and political landscape.”


Panday grew up in a family of farmers – something he always took pride in. In fact, he used to work as a cane weigher at one point.

His love for farming and gardening continued over the years, and some videos of him doing that went viral in 2020 during the height of the covid19 pandemic.

Panday proudly shows off produce he harvested from his home garden in 2020. –

His daughter Mickela shared videos of him beaming with pride as he harvested a cabbage, and he also had crops of cauliflower, eggplant and peppers.


He always spoke fondly of his best furry friend Norman the dog, also known as “Normie.” Norman was a stray dog that would regularly stick around by the gate at his home. Eventually, he decided to take him in and make him part of the family. In 2020, he told Sunday Newsday, “It’s a very nice story…

“What happened is, one day, Mickela put some food outside our gate, and since that day he kept waiting for her when she returned from work every day. Eventually, we opened the gate and he came inside, and now he has actually taken over the family.”

He had said Norman enjoyed going for walks, resting and being petted.

Panday, left, in a scene from Nine Hours to Rama. –

“He’s a very loving creature and he loves to be loved. He gives me a lot of joy to see him happy,” Panday said.


One of the things many remember Panday for was his wit and sense of humour. One of his most popular quotes is: “If you see me and a lion fighting, feel sorry for the lion.”

The credits from Man in the Middle, a film in which Panday played an Indian correspondent. –

He often made others, including his political opponents, laugh during conversation.