Born: 25th May 1946
Date of interview: 1st September 2006
My forename is Kanti spelt K-A-N-T-I, I've got a middle name but I don't think I'll repeat that because its too long. My surname is Ghosh spelt G-H-O-S-H.
And when and where were you born?
I was born in India, but the part of India that I was born is Assam [???] but I'm a Bengali by race, I'm Bengali...then from as we moved to, then Culcutta, now it is Calcutta. We moved there I don't know it was 60 years ago probably from Assam, to Calcutta. We have been in Culcutta ever since the reason why you move from Assam to Culcutta was because my other brother and sisters were growing up, they needed further education...only place nearest to us was at the time Calcutta now is Culcutta...so that is why it is my father and mother had felt is very inconvenient for them to stay in a boarding place and this and that. So that is why we moved to Culcutta...then subsequent that we bought a house in Culcutta not exactly in the centre of Culcutta but just in the suburb of Culcutta, or Calcutta we moved in.
So how...when you said, you started by saying you were born in Assam, but you were Bengali, is that, so Assam is...?
Assam is Assamis[ph], Assam is Assamis [ph]
How did your family then come to be in Assam in the first place?
Because my father used to work for Indian railway...long before the partition took place. Because my father had worked in the Indian railway...job in the Indian railway or any, most of the Indian governmental places after two, three years they get trust fund...hence my father was in Assam.
What did he do?
My father was a railway engineer. He was a DEN which is a district engineer which is a very high position. But he did not start that way, he started very humble life in the, in the railway, but he worked up his way to get to the position which he did. Hence when he retired, before he retired we bought the, before he'd retired we already moved to Culcutta [inaudible] except my father he used to be in Assam.
And what year were you born, Kanti?
1946, 25th of May, 1946
You mentioned your brothers and sisters...
Tell me about the whole family
I...I had a...I come from a large family...I think one of the reason is my father lost his father, ie my grandfather, when my father was only two and a half years of age...and he had always wanted to have a large family which he had missed and...when my, as I said, when my father was two and a half years of age, in those days life was extremely hard, especially for my grandmother, to bring up a son, and also I had... I had an auntie...one brother and one sister...but it was a very hard life to bring them up. My grandmother used to work... in door to door houses ...to earn some money so she could feed, feed them. That time it was undivided India...where my father was born it is now it is Bangladesh...but that time my father, that was undivided India so it was India at the time. Then it became known as East Pakistan...after that became Bangladesh. Because the life was so hard, my father from the young age...he used to buy one particular things in one town...and he would sell that to another town...to make little profit. [crying]
Where these sort of was he a kind of trader then?
Yeah, he was not a trader, he was just a schoolboy. But he'll just buy a certain item, even if that item was in Bengal, whether it was west Bengal, which is now my part of the country, or in Bangladesh, we, a lot of people chew a betel nut, to cut the betel nut, you need a little things to cut it with. So my father used to buy that from another shop or whatever the case may be. Used to go around, further a field to, further a field to sell that to make a little profit...and, and also he had to travel, twelve or thirteen miles to go to school. In those days there was not many school...I'm not sure whether he had travelled, or if he used to travel by bike or in his foot, but he did. And then when he grew up and gradually he became, more or less self-confident he studied hard...and then my father, I believe, I'm sure it is true, then my father did join the India's Independence Movement...complete non-violent...and although I have not seen it, I have always been informed my father was tortured for, because he was expressing political view. What is right or wrong I don't know. He has also served a prison sentence, not because he was a criminal...he served a prison sentence because his political view. He had been to jail many times, and I believe in one occasion my father when he received some food in the prison cell, because he didn't like the food, he chucked the food at the jailer. Of course the authority, if I may say so the British authority, [inaudible] British authority, the British administration I believe had punished him and they wanted to punish him very severely...and then because my grandmother, because he's the only son, she begged and appealed...to the authority to release him. Then they were very sympathetic and they did. That is why my father had, sometimes people ask me, 'Kanti your father, or other people have gone through so much trouble for this, why did you come to this country?' The reason for that, it was the British who had offered my father the job in the railway...and also my father used to play very good football. That is what he came to the attention of the British authority...and it was the British who had, who understood my grandmother's plight...that he was in a jail, this and that. So my father had always respected Britain, he had always said that the subordinates, subordinates had done what their orders were, they may or may not have committed those, is they didn't have the order. But it was the British man or British authority who had helped to secure his job and...so my father has said... he should never forget, he should never have a bitterness...he should always remember what other people had done for him [crying]. So I tell people, that is the reason why my father had encouraged me to come to this country. If he had a bitterness he wouldn't have done that. And also another reason, before I came my elder brother used to be here... he came, he came to this country soon after Suez crisis. That was in 1956 or 57. And he had invited me to come because he had found an apprenticeship for me in Reading and the chairman of the company who was extremely good and kind...and when I saw the opportunity arrived I took the offer on and then I arrived here, in Reading...on the twenty-second of December 1962.
Okay Kanti, let me take you back. You were telling me about your family, so how many brothers and sisters?
Yes. I got four sisters...and I had a four brothers...but two of my brother had died...at a reasonably young age...and it is, I'm here, I've got a youngest brother in India. Now I know you may say, he said four brothers, I got four brothers who I said...five now, because I believe one of my brother died I didn't even see him, hence the total really is five if we count it...I said four brothers what I should have said I got three brothers and myself that makes four but actually I have four brothers and myself that makes it five.
And where of all those brothers and sisters where are you?
Well we when we were young... [talking together]
No I mean in age, you were the, you weren't the youngest?
[talking together] Well I was the, I cant remember the number...but, I only got one brother after me, well first of all, I had a eldest brother...who died...then I got a eldest sister, she's still alive, she's very highly educated, she's alive. Then I got another sister, she's also alive. I believe after that sister, I had another brother, I believe he's the brother who died at a young age whom I don't think I've seen him. After that, I got another sister...after that I got a brother who used to be here, who now died. After my that brother is me, so there's a gap between me and my other brother I believe quite a few years, I'm not sure how many years. After me I got a younger sister, she's a doctor...then I got one more brother...that is all my families.
So when you moved from Assam how old were you at that time?
Do you know I cannot remember I may be five or six. Because the reason why we move from Assam, although my father had a house in Assam, but the reason because he had to build the house in Assam so it could be set in one place, rather than transferring everywhere the job where education would be hindered, that is why he bought but my mother had to be... because in India you see, wife or a woman, has, is prepared to sacrifice for the children, so my mother stayed with us most of the time, when my father on his own to earn his trust fund although he had a big bungalows installed, my father would go on, we would go on holiday to our father during the school term, then come, then my father would come, that is how we were to manage. The children and education they had felt is paramount.
Tell me about your earliest memories of school, yourself
I had a...I had been to an excellent school. Indeed the town I come from which is not, which is now Calcutta but it's like a [inaudible], Calcutta has expanded. The town I come, I live...when we moved in all those years ago, to our place...we didn't have a...well there was some school, it was a small town then, now it is extremely large and very very busy indeed, so when we moved in to Barashat [ph] where I come from, there were a lot of neighbourhood was were looking for a children so they could start a new school...because there was a school there but with no children they couldn't do that. And so they started a school my father by then, I'm not sure I don't think my father was returned or was he? I can't remember. We moved into school and then that school in fact started in somebody's house. So we are going there, very small school that time there was no matriculation [???] [ph] you couldn't do matriculation [ph] matriculation [ph] is equivalent of GCSE...GCSE O Level I would think...and then what had happened is we gradually moved in there. Then they had other groups my father in among other elder people around there...they started working hard in the meantime they also applied for a grant from the governor of West Bengal. They found a plot of land and they started working on a small project... a lot of people from their local area, from the local area and they started building a small house, then we got transfer to that new school and in fact when the school was being built, we all students, I can't remember exactly how old I was then, we all started helping like constructing a hut if you like off the back of the building, we only had a small building at the time, they built a hut and this and that, and because the ground was a low field, because basically it was a paddy field, which is lower so they could catch the water and water could remain there. So what they had done, they had cut a small, they had made a small pond on the back of the school and the earth they moved from there putting it forward, that is what we didn't do, there was a people who does this job, they putting it to raise the height of the ground, so that it is not at prone to flood. So we done it very good and I was there till the age of sixteen, seventeen I think, I can't really remember, indeed I had [coughs] I have had very good memory. Two years ago they have celebrated fiftieth anniversary, and we were the first batch of the school. I had a wonderful letter from the headmaster, although I never knew him, because my headmasters they had pretty much they had all died. But what I used to do, even to date what I do, whenever I visit my home in India I always visit my old school. So the headmaster of the school wrote me a wonderful letter... to say we are having a reunion, for fiftieth anniversary. That was in two thousand...I think that was in two thousand and three. So I told them, I think it was two thousand and three I think, and I told them I couldn't go that year because the following year which is two thousand and four I was going to India, because my daughter was getting married, she was born and brought up here...to make two journeys would have been, financially could have been costly for me, cos Indian wedding or most of Asian wedding don't come cheap. So I went when I went in two thousand and four... then another reunion, not just for me they had it set up just to conclude the first anniversary, golden anniversary and I was invited to go there to give a speech and also they told all the other children how well that I had done, I was from the same school, in fact some of friend... were same batch, some of the friends have done extremely well, very well. Some of my friend had become a district, district judge, magistrate and high court judges. And so I had a wonderful time, its not only me...my, they have invited my wife to come along... and because they had a cultural program, and they knew my wife sings very well, her speciality is a rabindeshungit [???] [ph] Rabindranath Tagore was a Nobel prize winner in literature... so when, because they knew my wife, so when their cultural program was in the evening they had invited my wife and me to go there and they welcomed us I just cannot believe it, after all those years and to all my old friends in the reunion whom I had not seen for many years because when I go to India on holiday because I see a couple, few people just there lot of people have moved away elsewhere. Because of the reunion, lot of my old friends came, and I met them, in fact I had a tremendous problem, well I couldn't, some of my old friends, I know, they had to remind me who they were, what they were, because I could not remember anybody's name, only people's name who I know whom I see regularly who still lives in my old town, that is how my school began. Then of course I came, I did join, I did start to go to the university by then, my brother had asked me would I come over, and I did not complete my university education in India.
What was happening in, what was the political situation at the time? When you were growing up.
Political situation I have never found any problem, either I was not a political active as such...but that time it was not under CPM because India's communist party, comm...CPM, communist party of Marxist something....they'd been running very well to the best of my knowledge, but when I was growing up, that time it was mainly run by congress, congress party. So, later on, I think the CPM has been running West Bengal now twenty nine or thirty years I believe, I'm not quite sure, prior to that I think there was a coalition, or congress party, at least when I was there it's a congress party. That is how the political...but I, I personally had never found political problem because one thing I am extremely proud that...that I was born in India, born in India which is a world's largest democracy...worlds largest democracy we have a religious freedom, anybody can practise any, preach anything...and I'm also fortunate I came to a free country also democratic country. To date, in India is a billion people still democracy. India never had a military coup, and it never will have a military coup, never. India has been independent now, what, fifty two years...I think fifty two years, never had a military coup, and you look at the globe...lot of country has had a military coup, they never had a democracy, they'll never see a democracy in their life, they will never see it, so I feel extremely proud. You say what you want, and you can see everywhere the media coverage everywhere, you can see anything on the television set like anything, I mean you look at the Bollywood film...some of the film are explicit, but that is okay because that is how the society is...it reflects the view of the society...they don't tell me what to do what not to do, I speak, I can express my political view, which I feel extremely proud, as I do in this country.
Did independence affect you or your family in any way?
No. Only thing independence has affected, because as I had said, my father was born in Bangladesh, well India but now Bangladesh. My father had a house, and my lot of my uncles and so on lived in Bangladesh, but when my father moved away, the properties and so were confiscated or requisitioned they call it, lot requisition. And gradually we all moved to Calcutta anyway, I mean I didn't, I have never been to Bangladesh, I'm telling you what my parents told me. The only thing I know India, India only I don't know anything about Bangladesh. So he moved away from there to other places to settle, and my relations and so on and some of them were, some of them are probably still there, and I think most of them has returned to India because I suppose a lot of the reason is I, we are Hindu by religion...in India you can practice any faith and so I believe their biggest fear was... that they may not be looked after properly... because of their, certain things. I also acknowledge, not that I know, I also acknowledge that there had been some awful things committed after the independence, during the partition...that's for sure because you only have to see Ghandi and that will give you the clue. So it has been, I'm not saying that it was good, but that is what had happened, so in a way in my views, probably better...if a nation cannot stick together, it's probably better to be separated...not that I personally believe that, but what has happened has happened, you cannot rewrite history, you just can't rewrite history now. I'm not bringing religion in whatsoever but what I'm saying in India hosts the second largest Muslim population in the whole world...first is in the Asia [???] second is India...India has about three hundred and fifty million Muslim, but we live side by side, there are maybe now and again, some skirmishes take place, but that can happen in any country, and we don't have to travel very far on our land here, in Northern Ireland we have experienced a similar problem. Before that Britain and then the Ireland had a similar, so it's not a unique just in India, it is everywhere. But at the end of the day we should live together we may have a different political view but that's nothing wrong...but everybody in my view should have a religious freedom...doesn't matter which country they live, and they should be a, live in a democratic country so they can express their point of view. I believe in two way traffic, I personally do not believe in one way traffic...you give me what I need all the time but I don't give you something in return, I am not the person to accept that.
So you, lets move now, you were talking about coming to the UK, and your brother had come first.
And had set up an apprenticeship for you in Reading...
Yes that's right in Reading [talking together]
And you arrived in December 1962...
That is correct
What was your first impression when you arrived? That day?
It was, to me it was very...I wouldn't say a shock...complete change in a new country, new way of life...that I started to figure it out, I'll tell you a little story that I did write in one or another, one of my college magazines, some years ago...I came by boat, because the air fare at that time was quite expensive...so I came by boat, to catch the boat I had to travel to Cochin which is in Kerala, south of India...because that was the cheaper way of travelling. My father had retired by then [inaudible] and my father still had the responsibility of my other brothers and so on so he couldn't afford it...although he's done everything for us, while we're growing up, but end of day when he'd retired, because in India we did not have, like do not now, we did not have social security or anything like to help people...so I went by, I came by coach, not coach, by ship, that was a wonderful journey, because I had, although I did travel on a pleasure boat and so on, but never a boat like that, very big boat I still remember the name of the ship was Neptunia, Italian registered, lovely, I never knew, although I had seen it on the brochure what the facilities were available, but I never experienced until I started travelling myself. So, that also gave me the experience, I think the first I was in Aden, from there we travelled to the Suez Canal, that gave me an excellent idea because I had heard of a Suez Canal, I've heard about when my brother came Suez crisis, we travelled through Suez Canal and port, I think the side was the port side I believe...but when you got off in the beginning of the starting journey from Cairo I think, those with the money they could have taken a coach trip to go see the pyramids and so on. But because I did not have the sufficient money, well, in those days you could not bring money from India that much, I think you could only bring three pounds ten shillings in those days pound shilling and pence. Now it is three pounds fifty equivalent. And I thought that if I spent that money, well not that amount, maybe half of that it would have been extremely difficult for me when I get to here this and that. So I was in a boat but I wanted to take the Suez Canal journey anyway, but had I travelled by to the pyramids I would have missed that journey...then I think the next stop was in Naples, next it was in Naples, I saw the big mountain where the Vesuvius is, where the biggest volcano, I saw the mountain not that I went down there, but we could get up on the boat and just look around the side. After that was a Genoa, that's where the boat finished, Genoa and from Genoa I had to take a train but my ticket was already booked from India from Cochin to Victoria and we got off at the Genoa but in a boat I make some friends and this and that who knows a bit more about than I do, and the people in the boat and everybody was very good because I did not know anything about how to go, how to travel. So from Genoa, I took a train...but it is extremely cold that year, 1962, extremely cold, my goodness I have never experienced such coldness in my life, that was the biggest shock I think at the beginning...and then I had a long coat and this and that, monkey cap and all this...from there I travelled to Milan, from Milan I travel to Calais via Switzerland and France. That was the biggest shock, I mean that is the article I wrote some years ago in my college magazine here...when I was travelling through because overnight travel or day travel, I saw the field on the left and the field on the right was white...little did I know that it was snow, I thought that it was fertilizer, honestly...I didn't know, I had never seen snow, I've seen ice, because if you travel in India the Himalayas at Darjeeling, you get a, you also get a snow but you got to go further up. You go to Nepal and that side, but I never...ice you see on the electric wire, ice deposits. So I thought it wasn't snow, so when I ask somebody...why's it all the fields is there fertilizer there, said its not fertilizer there, it's snow. So that was the biggest experience for me which I never done that and arguably not do that had I not travelled at the time. So I came to Calais, I mean I had to ask somebody how do I go to London from here they told me you catch the boat, you cross the channel go to Dover or Folkestone I can't remember where, Dover or Folkestone. Then there's a train there, that'll go to Victoria, that is precisely what I had done...at that time the train was not running as fast as they do now, this probably took about two, two and a half, three hours to travel to Victoria. My brother and my sister in law was waiting for me at the station in Victoria, my brother who was here when I came he was married to a German lady, so they were both waiting they, she was the most wonderful sister in law...my brother had always loved me, my sister in law had always loved me. When I said my sister in law had loved me, it's because my sister in law has died...she died in Germany and my brother asked me first... 'Kanti have you eaten something?'...I said I have eaten some food this and that because I didn't know the food this and that so I didn't want to eat too much and he said 'yes we will go, what sort of food?' I said 'I will have Indian food.' The reason for that, I think the fourteen days it took me to travel by boat, I think thirteen or fourteen days, I had never eaten, thirteen or fourteen days, eaten food, eaten the Indian food on the boat, roast chicken or pasta, this and that I used to eat, so of course I was crying out, so he took me to a very small restaurant at the time, very small restaurant, Bangladesh Indian restaurant he took me there, so I had a stomach full of food. From there we came to Paddington, from Paddington we travelled to Reading. Then my brother had found a place for me, my brother had wonderful friends in Reading, very nice, Jack and Amanda Stadholme [ph], they're ever so nice, in fact they got two children, oh they have grown up now, I became their babysitter, and they're lovely, Jennifer and Penelope, I think Penelope is one of the very high personal director for BAE, formerly known as British Air..., well I think it is still British Airspace, Penelope is I think a director or personal director or something. So I was staying there this and that, then I found a place where my brother and sister used to live in thirty three Bath Road, that is where I used to live. My brother had one room bed-sit, and I had another bed-sit...that's where I lived and the landlord, landlady were so good, Mr and Mrs Hull, I still remember...you couldn't get any better people, I mean I, they were so good, they never had the children and I was relatively young they had always looked after me as I was their son...then when my brother and my sister in law left, they went to India, my brother had an excellent job in India in Poona, which is near Mumbai. Then I was on my own, then I from that house I moved to somewhere else...that is how it started, and now...when you said how I felt when I came, that is another story. That time, that year, snow is almost to knee high, I still remember, snow is almost to knee high, I never experienced that, I used to walk, I never had a Wellington boot, and the biggest problem was, everywhere white, I did not know where my employer was, I couldn't find the place because by then you know, twenty, I came here twenty second of December, I started work, I started work on the thirty first of December...and when I used to travel by bus I used to, in those days there used to be a bus called twenty, I think the twenty five bus Donkin [ph] hill, it used to go from Donkin [ph] hill to Southcote and from Southcote back to Donkin [ph] hill...it used to come to Bath road because I used to live on the Bath road, sometimes I'll catch a bus I don't know three, five or whatever [inaudible] maybe, or sometimes I'll walk because the cold I'd rather go on the bus but even the buses was cold in those days, you had to sit near the, near the heater where it was blowing to get warm. And I suppose at that time they didn't have any, I don't think they had any doors which open and close, I don't think it was...at the back which to get out, so when I used to get up and I didn't know how to, which road to go because it was whole white everywhere, only way I could go, on Southampton street there is a church, I forget the name of the church...so I used to follow that church spire, that was my hallmark, I knew where that was. [laughs] So I used to follow there, then I used to go to work.
Where did, what was the name of the place you were working at Kanti?
Yes, I was working for a company called G Allsebrook, A-L-L-S-B-R-double O-K, and the address is twenty, I still remember, there was no postcode in those days, and the address was twenty nine Crown Street, twenty nine Crown Street. My employers excellent, and they're, the reason why Mr Allsebrook had offered me a job, he was deeply involved in OXFAM, has always been involved in OXFAM, and United Nations Association. So he had always felt, if he could do anything for India, water supply this and that, and his business was in water supply, it was artisian [???] work, they used to do irrigation, then deep well for pumping water out and lots of irrigation work, big big farm, when I started my apprenticeship I used to go to the big big farm to install and to help my other senior people when they're digging a...
Was this in the local area, in Berkshire, or...
Local, not only Berkshire they done a quite a further a field, quite a further a field they had done, big big farm, and we used to have aluminium pipes, for the irrigation and we used to produce our wattal [???], wattel [???] is the sprinkler for the big big farm to sprinkle. And in my apprenticeship I was very very fortunate I , I was fortunate to learn the mechanics, the mechanical parts of it, I had worked in the workshop during my apprenticeship...I where I worked on the lead machine, capsing [???] machine drilling machine, lots of machine, welding and all those I learnt from that then I moved into the, I think the third year I moved into the office...as a [inaudible]
Were there, how many employers...employees?
[talking together] I think the employees were about...fifty I think, it was a family business, Mr G Allsebrook...was the actual owner, I don't know who owned it before that, but his son, Colin Allsebrook, he was the man who run the business, when I say G Allsebrook by then he had retired by then he didn't have very much to do at all in the company, but Colin Allsebrook does, and Colin Allsebrook's son, he has got a son and a daughter and Colin Allsebrook's son, Duncan, he was about the same age as me...and Mr Allsebrook used to look after me as of his son and this is absolute true...and his daughter was also, Ann Allsebrook, I believe, I'm not quite sure, I had not seen Duncan for many years... and I had not seen him many years, I had spoken to him some years ago, had not seen him. I believe he has gone to France and he does a farm of some kind now but he was not, I think he was a actually chemist I believe, senior chemist somewhere but he didn't always do that. And Ann I believe, Mr Allsebrook's daughter, I believe Ann, works in OXFAM, I'm not quite sure now, and Mr Colin Allsebrook used to live in Pepper Road, in Caversham Reading. And Mr Colin Allsebrook, time to time would take me, I didn't have a car, will take me to his house and his wife was American, Mary Allsebrook, she was a wonderful lady, Mr Allsebrook would take me to his house, I'd have a dinner, lunch and everything, some days he would say, 'Kanti stay with us, Ann and Duncan' and Duncan was my same age and Duncan later on I think he studied at Layton Park. So Duncan was very good and Mr Allsebrook was very good, Mr Allsebrook sent me and Duncan indeed through United Nation Association to travel to Geneva to learn about the work of United Nations and this and that and from Geneva they took us to Basil [???], various places, Basil [???] and in Basil there was a lot of speeches and so on, there was a, there was a Indian ambassador, came to give us the speech about the such and this and that, then I was also in Geneva, from Geneva they also took us to Serne [ph], Serne [ph] is a nuclear research centre. So I had a, I had been looked after extremely well.
Were there any other Indian employees or apprentices there?
No. No I was the only one. I was the, but what happened, it goes...you asked me one question...Mr Colin Allsebrook used to have a friend called J Radley [ph]...Jack or...they used to be Elgaron [???] [ph] they used to be public laboratory. Jack Radley was Mr Colin Allsebrook's very good friend indeed...and when Mr Radley had a...one Indian employee came, he came from Punjab, he didn't know the communications, so Mr Jack Radley asked, or something, I got a, I got a fellow working for me Kanti, he will meet him because he had felt a lot of, in those days there was a very few people, very few people, and...so Mr Radley, I think he took me down, that fellow that came from India, Bahri [ph] his name, Sumna Bahri [ph], he used to live in a YMCA, in Parkside Reading, Park Road or Park Street, Parkside...so I went to see him, and then he asked me... 'Kanti I feel very lonely here, can I move with you?', by then I did not, I was not living in a, in fact I was living in a, I was living in Bath Road even then, when he asked me, I felt sorry for him, because I know what I have gone through...that time I start looking for another place, then I moved to a London Road...that is where Barhi [ph] moved in, we had one room, large room, and he was with us for a, we together was for a long time, then, then he moved away, his own way. Then having said that, people, then I, because I had been here, by then quite a few years...I ended up doing a lot of social work so to speak...because I was involved in a British council in those days, the British council used to be on Kings Road...twenty five Kings Road I still remember...I used to go there and...there used to be another place in Watlington Street, Watlington House, there used to be international club. So, so I started getting a lot of phone calls from people...or people started knocking my door, 'oh Kanti so so and so come he doesn't know how to do, he speaks your language' or even if he doesn't speak your language you can communicate with his language because although I do not speak Urdu, or Hindi, I can speak, well I can just speak, I can communicate, but I cannot write it. So of course I ended up doing this and that, social work. I didn't mind, but I had done a lot of like it in London Road, when we moved in, that was a Polish house, or it was a Polish community house. Polish community didn't have their own...community centre or anything like that...so they bought this college, I think it's a college of some kind...when they moved in, or took it over, I moved there, that time I was the very first tenant in that house and they were very good and what you really ended up with I used to live there and then what used to happen...there were other rooms...I hope you don't mind me saying so, there was indigenous population of people used to come and live, the problem was they would live two or three shillings a month, then they would disappear they wouldn't pay rent, so they started asking me 'Kanti, can you please find a tenant for us?' so that's another job came in my hand. So lot of people used to come, today they come to the Reading University...by then they got to know my name, they start knocking my door, university students...is there any room, I told them, so after the landlord was very happy, to let them, because they normally by then quite a few years, so whole house ended up more or less with all the Indian students and also they got to know because almost opposite that Dom Polski name of the community centre the Dom Polski, Dom is community centre in Polish, Polski means Polish. Opposite that place is a Farley [ph] Hall...Farley [ph] Hall is a lot of international students comes and this and that. So they ended up...then of course things started to build up more and more and people started to move around the place, by then the demographic change started to take place because when I came here, what there might have been only forty, fifty people, or maybe a bit more. I couldn't even buy my own spices because there was no shop to buy, not like nowadays. If I were to buy spices I had to go to one shop called, it used to be in Victoria Street, called Cottle Brothers [ph], Cottle Brothers, Cottle, C-O-T-T-L-E I think, Cottle Brothers. They were local people, they used to live in Caversham, they used to live in a Caversham Heights or somewhere. I got all the spices I used to buy from there.
What was the name of that shop, Cottle Brothers shop or
No, it was known as a, it was known as a Cottle Brothers, it was a delicatessen, but I don't think they ever called it a delicatessen, I think they only called Cottle Brothers. So every spices we had to buy it very very small tin, not like now you can buy three kilo, four kilo, fifty kilo rice, we didn't, we had to buy rice one, at that time, one pound two pounds in weight. They were absolutely wonderful, you know, a lot of, not just Indian things, they had a Polish thing, Polish sausage and this and that. But that was a godsend that place, for us because in those days in a supermarket you couldn't buy, well there was no, when I came here there was no supermarkets as such like you know now, in those days in Reading. Supermarket used to be called Baileys, Bailey is a local, local family business, Baileys supermarket. It used to be on the corner of Broad Street and, but centre... My brother used to work for AEI Aldermaston, AEI is Associate Electrical Engineering, they were a very big company, later on it was taken over by JEC...but my brother used to work in the research centre in Aldermaston, Aldermaston, because my brother studied in London, he done a graduateship in British railway engineering, that time he was in London, then he moved to Reading I think he moved to Reading when he...married I think, about seven eight months before I came I think he moved to Reading from London.
And did, when you, when you arrived you were had this job and he'd found somewhere for you to stay, did you feel, did you miss home? How did you feel about...
Yes, yes [talking over] yes, yes
You were a young man , you were only sixteen or seventeen I think weren't you
There had been a time when I would cry and cry and cry. My mother and father would write a letter...that time I didn't have a phone at home in India...even to make a phone call from here for me the cost would have been prohibitive...and so I didn't, only through letter to correspond...then I came to term with it that...there's no...turning back. I have come, I have to earn my living, to better myself...which I feel I have done, and there was no point, then...then I said time would, time would be the biggest healer, there was no point, but it had been extremely hard, believe me.
What were the things you missed most at first?
Well I think I missed all my family surrounding...family surrounding. I think that was the biggest, yes, because I didn't have any friends or anything then. I think, and my mum and dad obviously, because, because I think the...mum and dad to a children is very very...I don't know how do I say it, very important...you can only have one mum, you can only have one dad. And, my family has always been very close, even now I have a daughter, two boys and my wife, they are the only people I have got in this country, I don't have any relations in this country, none so, none so whatsoever, I don't, my mum and dad, I brought my mum once, to meet Mr Allsebrook, Mr Allsebrook used to have a friend who corresponds with my father, till my father died. They were absolutely wonderful, I can never repay my debts, I never did, I can never repay my debts what they done for me, not only them anybody I have known, and I have known a lot of good people because of him. And he, because all the things he had done for me, which I cannot...forget, I never will. Because if I do, I'm not a human being...he had helped me a lot, because money was very tight, I was not earning very much, I was earning, that I didn't tell you. My income was three pounds ten shilling a week. Yes I remember, I think I still got a first payslip in my bag or suitcase somewhere, three pound ten shilling a week, and at that time, if my memory suits right, there are two types of national insurance stamp, one was three shilling and sixpence a week, and other was twelve shilling and sixpence a week, I believe, I cannot be sure, because these are the rates they used to be, twelve shilling a week I was not in that category anyway. Now, at the time other things were, I was not paying taxes anyway because I didn't earn enough to pay taxes, but if you compare that, my income with...my room rent, thirty three Bath Road, used to be two pound and five shilling a week...now you look at the proportion, of the money that I had to pay rent, and then my travelling, when my brother left he left very little money for me, I'm glad he didn't leave very much money for me because it helped me get the incentive to do something on my on my own rather than being fed by silver spoon. And, so then I had to travel, then I, then that time I had to go to college in Henley, because the year I came, December, because the Reading college of technology I was to enrol...now because I came late, initially plan was I would be here in September or something like that, that was sixty two, but I didn't I came in December by then I missed that enrolment in Reading, so I, I was then found a place, or Mr Allsebrook and my brother of the Reading college of technology, Reading college of technology or Reading technological college...they contact the Henley, Henley college or Henley technic college, so I had to travel to Henley. So in order to do that I had to pay, I can't remember I think one shilling and eight pence or something like that I had to pay bus fare, that was a lot of money for me.
Was this once a week or...
Once a week, once a week because I used to have a day release beginning, day release from my [???] once a week...it was a lot of money for me...and...and also, I had to find my heating because my...I'm talking about my time in thirty three Bath Road, that time there was a gas box thing, where you put a money, and that time it was a shilling or a sixpence, you had to put in, put in and turn the machine. But of course the gas even then was not very powerful, not like now, North Sea gas we just take it for granted, that time also the gas came from the coal, and gas fire was not like nowadays, gas fire was, gas fire used to be mental like that, so you lit it up, so your front gets warm, the back gets cold, back gets cold, turn round front gets cold. And I couldn't afford to do that all the time, so what I had to do, I used to go more or less to the cinema every Sunday...every Sunday I used to go to the cinema, not that I want to see cinema all the time, its because at least I save mine, money, not paying the money in the gas meter.
Which cinema did you go to?
I used to mainly go to Odeon, at that time it is Odeon, and or I used to go ABC, in those days ABC, I think central or whatever the case may be, where there is Silver Nickel on Friar Street, and I used to go there, or, yeah that's the, or there used to be another picture house , where there is a snooker hall, Riley, that's near another snooker hall I can't remember, Goldmont [ph], Goldmont [ph] cant remember..., I used to go there because in, in...ABC it is Rabattin [???] that used to come first...and Odeon it used to be Look at Life, trailer and this and that. And also in those days, the, at present, at the, at the moment they got a film at a fixed time, that time there was no fixed time. You can go any time, you can come out at any time, if you want to see the film twice you can see it, there's no problem, that's precisely what I used to do. And I still remember, I don't know whether the lady is still alive or not, I still remember because how long can I stay before I fall asleep, and usher the lady who sell the ice cream, used to come and wake me up, and they got to know me. They will always know that I will fall asleep [laughs]. Then I'd see the film, come home, that is because I wanted to save my money on gas bill. And not only that, I started working the evening in various places, to supplement my income. So I was working in Great Western hotel, that, that time by the station used to be Great Western hotel. I used to work in the kitchen, or I used to work in a, at that time there was a two Indian restaurant, two I think, one was a Taj Mahal near, which is almost, I used to be almost corner with, Prudential building is, that's a new building, Taj Mahal, or there used to be Bombay restaurant which is now inner road distributions, there is a Chinese, and it used to be there. Reading has changed since. Anyway, I used to go there work as a waiter, and also, when I finished my work, I would be fed. Which is very important...which is very important to me, it is I know once a week my food, I don't even think about. If I didn't, even if I didn't eat there, they'll give me the food in a pot, I'll bring it home, I'll probably make it last for two days. But it was enough for me, and anyway, so I used to do that, and I had to buy...most cheapest meat that I could buy, and that is what I used to do, I had to survive, I needed food in the body, and then in Broad Street, there used to Mack fisheries...Mack fisheries...I used to go there, so I could buy string lamb, which is neck of lamb, that was the cheapest. And the fish I used to buy was herring, in those days, herring people wouldn't touch it with a barge pole, now herring's expensive, you can get it in a, you probably go to Dorchester, they'll probably offer the herring, I do not know. But in those days people wouldn't even touch it, but I used to, I used to, I used to buy those, by then there were similar people who would do exactly the same and that is how we done.
What was Reading like in those days?
Oh, very quiet...there was not many things going on, I mean what they did, when I had the money I used to go, I used to go ballroom dancing, because I used to keep myself active, which doesn't exist anymore here, well I mean there was a...gradually time came I got a little bit of money, because of my birthday I used to get a pay rise, I don't know maybe five shillings a week or something silly like that. I used to go to the, because I have always liked going to the various places and then, I used to go to, in those days called Olympia...now it is a bingo hall or something, on, on...what you call it, London Road or London Street, London Street. I used to go to a jazz club, there's jazz music and places like that. Or I used to go to, there used to be Oxford Ballroom, where the Chatham Street car park was or, there used to Oxford Ballroom, I used to like that to meet people this and that, meet a girl have a dance this and that, and then when I had the money I used to go this with a dancing school, on Duke Street, there used to go dancing in quite a few places, but I think I used to go to Duke Street, I cannot remember the name of the dancing hall. But Reading was always a good town, I have always, I have always liked Reading.
Did you travel outside of Reading at all?
Travel mean to visit?
Yes, well you said you went sometimes with work
Yes, sometimes the work either during the day or, maybe sometimes just for overnight, sometimes we would work further a field.., it was the work trial, coming back and going back the following morning, the company would pay the...bed and breakfast while we were, whatever the case may be, I don't think that I, only place I used to travel probably London because to me the friends or so on, my brother and so, my brother had a friend, he still is...I used to go see him, or any friends I met I go see, or sometimes they'll come to me, but other that that...to travel I, for pleasure I don't think I travelled that much at all, indeed my first holiday was potato picking, even that was my brother I think first day my brother was, to the, it was to the youth centre. There used to be youth club in, Reading, central club...central club, yes I used to be quite active in the central club as well. I used to go there you play this and that, you can build your own canoe and so on, central club and that, I don't know, in Broad Street, almost opposite the, almost opposite the Chemist there is a little alley way, there used to be a central club in Reading. I used to go there, the lady there she was so, again she was being, she was introduced to me by Mr Allsebrook. So I used to go through there, so my brother arranged for me to the central club or something, go for potato picking, so I went to Grantham, Grantham in Lincolnshire, Grantham I went. So that was very good, I think there was two weeks, so my brother had felt I need a holiday, working holiday because that is the way I could get some money.
Did a lot of young people go
Lot of people. I do not know now if they still do it or not, but it was excellent experience. Very good experience I recommend anybody, because we got, we go to Lincoln, from Lincoln, [???[ I don't know we got up there, they took us there. And we lived in a big dormitory, very good experience. Live in a dormitory, you know your rota, everybody helps, somebody does a washing up this, somebody peels the potatoes this and that. And then in the morning you go to the field, you pick the potato, put in a sack, not like nowadays, there was a machine to dig it up, to dig the potato out of the ground, but not to pack it, to pack it we had to pick it up...and we had a, we had a team, I think at end of the [coughs] at end of the night I think they will count how many bags because it had a measurement, I mean not that they weighed it but, when it was full, the you got pay accordingly. It was excellent life, very nice, and the man who was a supervisor or a, warden or whatever you call it, he were, they were very nice people, and...and in the evening we were free, within our group we used to have music this and that, then we will go out in the evening. There was a pub on the corner, we would just go out in the, excellent, I think, I think that life I would not, I miss. I wish I was sixteen seventeen now, or eighteen now, I could do what I used to do then. Well I do not know whether people do it nowadays or not, I do not know. But that was a very good experience.
When, how long were you working at Allsebrooks?
Yes, I worked for Allsebrook my apprenticeship was for five years, I...complete my apprenticeship...after that I stayed further year. So it was more or less six years that I was with him. After that, yeah, oh I didn't tell you, Mr Allsebrook he knew I had been away from home for a long time, Mr Allsebrook even sent me to India, on a holiday, in those days plane was not a, it was a charter flight...but what he had done, I , he paid my air fare everything, but he used to deduct, when I came back, he used to deduct from my wages, it does, we never called salary, he used to deduct I don't know five shilling a week, or something like that a week, whatever the money he paid I don't know hundred and forty, hundred and thirty six pounds, or whatever the case may be. I paid him back, but I paid him back on that basis, not that he asked me to give it, that is what he had done. That was the very first visit I made in nineteen, 1966 I believe, I think I made the first visit to India, or 65 I cannot remember the year, I cant honestly remember the year, but he, he had felt...he knows he got a, he has got a son on his own, so, so he realised that Kanti should go, and he was in regular correspondence with my father, and also even if, if my father wanted to pay my airfare, with the foreign exchange, he couldn't always send, now from India you can send any amount of money you want, there's no restriction whatsoever, no restriction if I want to send a, from India, suppose I want to send I don't know, one million pound there's no restriction, you just send it. Because India that much prosperous, so there were enough foreign exchange, and also the globalisation is opened.
So after you left Allsebrook
[speaking over] Yes
Where did you go next
[speaking over] Yes. Almost the opposite Mr Allsebrook there used to be a company, no not...yeah, there used to be a company called Hebron and Medlock, they were contract office in design.
What were they called?
Hebron and Medlock, H-E-B-R-O-N, Medlock, M-E-D-L-O-C-K. Hebron And Medlock. I used to see their company there, never thought much of it at that time I never knew, so before I left I was looking around, because had to be complete diverse from the subject I know. Then when I looked, I was looking in the paper or something and I saw their advertise, but by then they moved to Kings Road, it just happens to be, same place, same place that I used to visit to the British Council, British Council used to be on the twenty five Kings Road, and this company by then British Council was no longer around, that is about sixty nine or seventy I cant remember exactly when. Sixty eight or sixty, no sixty eight? No, seven I think I join, I think its sixty seven I went down there...can't remember. So anyway, it just happens so I work there, and because the contract office...you had to go in sometimes for a week or ten days, contract, now because I was a bachelor, of course being a bachelor, you were the first on the line to go, but I didn't want to travel too many times to go further a week or two weeks. They'll pay me the travel expenses, lodging and everything, then I decided I would change. So back in 1969...I changed my job...to a company called Nuclear Enterprises in Woolhampton, or Beenham rather. Then it became part a of a Thorn EMI group, then it became a part of a Thorn EMI group, and....in fact that is the company for which I like to, I feel proud, I have a contribution, not only me, many other people have done a contribution, that is where the first diosonigraph [ph] developed, diosonigraph [ph] which is now commonly, commonly known as a ultrasound. The diosonigraph [ph] initially was developed just for mitardy [???] [ph], just for mitardy [???] [ph] purposes, but that time its some the crude size and , but that's another story to it I'll tell... so I was one of the person who was develop a lot, we used to do gamma probe and a scanner, I don't mean the body scanner, scanner, scanner for sheet metal, when the, when the, when the steel sheet metal comes off the roll, they check it out for thickness, it rolls through it with a neutron source, so that was a lot of other, there's a, they did a lot of things, they done a mechanic which is mechanic take it for granted modem and all this, lot of thing. So I, I was involved in certain projects, with certain...and then I was there for ten years I think, then I went to India, then I got married. I got married in 1972.
Tell me about that, where and how did it happen, how did you meet your wife?
What happened, is this. I went to India in nineteen, well I have been to India two or three times earlier, once I went in 1969...yes sixty nine, when I went in my mother, my mother and father and my eldest brother indicated, look would you like to get married, I said no I don't think I feel like, so anyway, I never thought much of it. So I went to India in 1972, by then what, by then I was probably...don't know twenty eight or something, I don't remember exactly how old I was...so in just...yeah, it was the month of May, in 1972...so, they said to me look, I think it about time you settled down...I think it about time you settled down, oh by then my father died, my father died after I, the last, before seventy two when I went to India, my father was alive I saw him, few months later he had died. So I went...I said I'm really not thinking, but by then I had a lot of friends here you see... because I am not, I wasn't bothered either way, whether it was an arranged marriage or whether it was a love marriage I wasn't bothered because it didn't bother me. Well ive always thought, my mother and my sisters they got married the way in India people have always done, so it did, I never thought of that, so I, I saw a couple of the girls, they were you know, friendly, friend wise it was not that, It was not that my mother and my brother just got somebody and said look that's the one you are going to marry, it was not like that. And, I saw a couple of the girls, I thought they were quite pleasant, but anyway, suddenly this proposal came, because my eldest brother, he loves music, somewhere somebody told him that, Darhamind's [ph] eldest brother, not me somebody else, we have got a proposal she is a very nice girl, very nice girl, she's just graduated, she's a good singer...and, my brother came and said, and because I didn't have a phone even then in India my brother said to the person who, my brother couldn't say yes or no if I would go or not he didn't know, so he said, he said,look, I forget the name, Horunbaba [ph] or whatever the name is, look what I will do, if we go I will meet you at the station, Hurha [??? Ph] station, is very big station, and if you don't come that means we are not going, that means my brother has chosen not to go, well I don't think I ever promised, I just saw it, and so I said to my brother, look, if you had said somebody we will probably go and see and that poor fellow will be waiting at the station I think its unfair that we don't go and meet him, because...otherwise you should have said no we are not going, if you promise somebody you should try and keep the promise. So my, my brother, my eldest brother and myself and my sister in law, and anybody else? No I don't think anybody else, so we went to the Hurha Station, we met him...so we travelled to Bolpur, B-O-L-P-U-R, now that is where the Santiniketan is, Santiniketan is a Tagore's University, it is known as a Viswabhariti, that is the man who had receive Nobel prize in literature, Tagore, and my wife learned Tagore's music, and she sings very well. So I, we, now, when you are going by rickshaw, because Bolpur is a station, and we got off the, something just, I don't know having to mull down the road, that's where the something the boundary start. Now, the man who took us, he, he is frantically trying to get in touch, with my father in law, became my father in law, we was trying to locate him because my father in law had a business, he was trying to locate him to tell him we were here, and he could not because my father in law was a timber merchant, and he didn't know I was there, so anyway we got to her house, their house, I saw her, I didn't know it was the girl I was going to see, she was very simple, doing this, and later in law became my mother in law she was not there, she went somewhere to do some, some ceremony or something, she didn't know either, only person was in the house my, now is my sister in law, youngest one, younger than her. I dint know, so her father came, by then I think in the afternoon her mother came, and we are talking they are talking this and that, then so they talked, my brother this and that, then they asked what does your brother do, what type of, this and that so they, no this is fine and then, I saw her I thought she was quite nice, and my brother asked her to sing, which she done, my brother was very impressed, I also listened to the music. And then we were to return back that night from, Bolpur to Calcutta. They asked us please stay overnight, by then her father was very impressed with me or whatever the case may be, and he said no, I think we like your brother, I'm prepared to give my daughter away. And then, then what had happened, we went to the station, the train we were going to catch was running five hours late, so [laughs] what do we do, we come back to their house again, so that is what I call a, what is written on your forehead, it'll always happen, came back so they are very pleased. So we stayed overnight, following morning we came, by then the proposal was proceeded, so I think I got married within seven or eight days. We marry a particular date, so they looked in the book and this and that, so that's the day only available to, because my holiday I didn't know I was going to get married, so I was going to have to return at a certain time...so within ten days we got married, and
Where did you get married?
I got married in Santiniketan, well my house, in Barasha [ph] but I went, I went by coach to their house which is in Bolpur Santiniketan, then we got married following day came home then after two days later we had a reception in my own home...then about eight to ten days later I had to come back here, and I my wife didn't want to come back same time with me, well I could have got a visa and everything anyway, that was, that was not a problem, because for me it would not have been a problem. My wife did not want to come that time because...the chancellor of the university is always the prime minister of India, at that time is was Mrs Ghandi, I don't know if there is a photograph I will show you...if I can find it. So my wife said look, I would like to take my graduation from Mrs Ghandi, I came back and she, wrote me, my graduation so and so I think it was eight or nine months later I went back to India again, no not even eight months, earlier, I went back to India again, so I saw her graduation papers this and that. And she came to England in 1973, yeah, we got, we got married in May, May seventy two, and...yeah May seventy two, and she came here joined me on the February seventy three. And when she came I was living at Dom Polski that time still, so when she came this and that. Then when she expected the first child, yes first child, that's my daughter, that time we had a first home, I say I will not live in a rented accommodation, in a rented accommodation you are only paying good money after bad, that's one thing and secondly I will never, I will never be on housing ladder, so we bought a small house in...Shin, off Shinfield Rise in Reading. So my first daughter was born in my new place, [coughs] then all my subsequent, oh I didn't tell you something, I'll tell you in a minute..then I...all my other children were born or whatever it was, now, I joined as I said, Thorn EMI in sixty nine, I left Thorn EMI in 1979...then I joined Racal [ph] PLC, Racal PLC I joined. They're based in Reading, Raycall is a big company, now it is a Teles [ph], Racal has sold the business. Then when Racal was, then I, then I, then I worked on the Vodaphone, I was deeply involved on the Vodaphone project, not only me, many other people, but my part was, product development project, at that time what the technology was available, it was good but it was big size which we used to call our cell tele brick, but it was the technology available at the time. Not nowadays. Now, also we were constrained because...Mrs Thatcher she was the Prime Minister then and Mr Hanson [ph] he was the chief executive, they were extremely good friend, so they gave a licence to two companies to do it, one was BT, BT joined up with Securicor...and their phone became cellnet, and Racal joined up with Plessy, then Racall took over Plecy. And Racal's portable system is cellular, and...so I was involved, deeply involved, at that time the Vodaphone company which is now such a big size, at that time it was not that big, it was just a, I don't know, small little building, and but what Mrs Thatcher made a rule was that company who manufactures, they cannot set the bill, so...that time what Racal done, or what Vodaphone done, they started another company called Vodac [ph], so Vodac used to do the billing, Vodaphone used to do the marketing for the product. There is a story to it, what Racal started because Racal set up a British group, when the mobile ohone started Racal started another company called milicom [ph], Racal milicom, they initially joined up with an American company called EF Johnson, mobile company, so they thought Racal would tie up, they'd do a development, but that project didn't work very well so they brought the whole project back in, in England. And I was one of the contributors among hundreds of others, to take over, the trouble was, lot of us, didn't know the radio frequency, well I certainly didn't, and my other [inaudible], so we had to, we had to learn a lot of things as quickly as you can because time was running out, because the date has been scheduled to do that, and this within ten years they'll open the market, so it had to go open very well. And, and in Raycall I was looked after very well, I mean Thorn EMI looked after me very well, Racal also looked after me very well, I cannot, I cannot, I cannot find them any fault. And then, what had happened is Vodaphone, Vodaphone gradually moved...moved to Newbury headquarters, and...moved to whatever headquarters, and then what happened...then of course our other project was very important because first thing they had to set up a base station, what we now call a transmitter receiver, when you drive anywhere small antennae sticking up, that time it was a base station because you cannot install everything in one day. So the mobile was introduced, you had a particular corridor you could ring the mobile from, that was M4 corridor, that was business corridor. And that time was, if you give in the television adverts they are very, many years ago...somebody's ringing up, a doctor on a horseback is ringing up on his mobile, because that was initially anticipated the provisional buy, then they would realise. Another story is that TV advertiser also used a owl, owl they used to you know, owl used to. And my children were very young then, my children used to say 'dad, is it a real owl? Or is it a stuffed owl?' I said no it is a real owl, they said 'can we come and have a look?' [laughs] because I used to tell them, this owl is in our company and nice, and little they used to go, because when they used to come, my children used to come to Racal's various activities, Racal fete, we used to have a Racal fete in Cantley recreation ground near Ascot, or we used to have a, or we used to have a Racal's fireworks on Guy Fawks, and I used to be deeply involved in the social club and I used to do the cooking, Indian curry. And two hundred and thirty people believe me or not, with a big canteen and I had a big team, they all knew what to do because I had done so many, they all knew who should do what, so...after a few times they got to know exactly what to, I used to do the shopping, arrangement everything, they knew exactly what to do. And then, back in eighty nine, Racal started to rationalise with a lot of companies, merging that, closing that, and I was given option...that, either I take redundancy, or I can apply to another group. I either fold up, I think it would have been the right thing in my view because, all the team although one of them Chris, died and so on, but I, I, I knew them all much earlier, but I decided no, no I don't think I will work, so I don't know why, I said to my wife, look we will do a little business, and a little shop. So my wife was running the post office and I was running the shop, or the staff was running the shop, then in 1994 I fell ill, I had a heart trouble and all this sort of thing. Although I managed it very well, I felt the time has come that I think, it would be too, too much for me. So I more or less packed in everything in 2004, my wife still works, she still does a post office relief work, it sort of suits her this way. When's she's free, she teaches music everyday, here she teaches music in my home, I'll show you some of the stuff. My wife teaches music at home, she teaches music in, oh my god, Hounslow, there's a school, Eastern cultural, this, she teaches there, she teaches at Wimbledon, she teaches at Kenton, she more or less teaches, I mean, she does mainly she does, I got my car is coming up to two years, she has done forty one thousand miles, so you can see how many miles, how far she travels.
When she first came here, did she travel alone, or did you go back and she came with you when you were first married?
[Talking over] No no no. Because she was, when she came here?
No no she was free because I, I took her first where the shops were this and that, shops and so forth.
When she first came from India
When you were married, did she travel here...
Oh she, she was, she came on her own
She flew did she?
She flew, she came by British Airways. She flew.
And how did she find it, coming here from India?
I think...I think she found it alright I think. I think she found, I mean I think initially probably she was a bit, again, she probably, she probably used to have a home sick, I cant remember if I did ever as her, she probably felt a home sick initially but then, life moves on, and when my wife came, , I, as I said I used to live in eighty one London Road until 1975, and initially because she did not, I used to go to work, and...she used to feel lonely being at home...and when she, ah, when she came to England by then it was only me...Indian Asian in the house, by then the other, old Polish people started to move in. They were very nice people, and, she used to feel lonely being at home, so she didn't know what job to get, this and that, and she started working in a Huntley and Palmer, biscuit company, she was a biscuit packer, I remember she also struggled very hard because she never done this sort of work in her whole life, she used to come home with her fingers all sore, because the sugar. Then she, I don't know how she happened, then she started working for a company called...in...near South Street, Stirling House I think, there's a company called Mill [ph], Media [inaudible] Analysis Limited, she started working there. In fact the sore irony is, before she started working there, first she used working exactly the same place I had worked on Kings Road. Exactly the same place initially. Because at that time they had just started growing up the company, Mill. Then they moved to, near, what was the name of the road, near South Street, anyway, then started working there, but she worked there for many years, until we had the, until I had the business. She worked there from well more or less 1973, to, she was on hundred pound for six seven months or whatever, maybe a year, then she started working Mill, till I had my business and post office then she was running the post office
Did she speak English before she came?
[Talking over] Yes, she is a graduate she studied in English, and yes she spoke
And yourself when you came over?
Yes, yes you see...my accent probably was different at the time, I accept that, my accent's more different now. I think when I converse with people now, I like to think people do understand me, I like to think that. Now, that is because I took the initiative, I took the initiative to integrate with people, in fact I'm very pleased to say most of the friends that I know, and most of the, I'm not saying all of them, lot of the Indian people has integrated, very well, very well indeed. And...and I, I, you see I took the initiative, but other thing is that, you see, in India or Pakistan, or Bangladesh or wherever you come from, always you can speak English, forget the accent, accent is different...unless you can speak English, that gives you the game away, you had not been to, you had not been to good, you had not been to school. If you had been to school properly, you'd speak English. But that is a fact.
Tell me about your involvement with the Indian community centre in...
[Talking over] Yes,
...Reading. How did that start?
[Talking over] Indian community centre because we had a...oh, something I must tell you, when the Indian community centre came, when I was living at eighty eight London Road at that time very few people if I may say so, I'd better tell you...we used to be Indian Association, I used to be the general secretary, and that time my wife wasn't married, I wasn't married nothing, I'm talking about much earlier days.
How was that formed? Did you...
How, yes, but what you done, some of my friends this and that, we said look, we need a [inaudible] we have nowhere to go, no club to, nothing...you see we needed some sort of association, so we can have a weekend trip or something like this, this and that, we can do something. And we celebrated out India's independence day, and we, which we had done in several places, we had done it, we used to in...a YMCA, and there used to be a church, church hall in Fatherson Road, we used to it there, we had done it every year, lot of local people, lot if Indian [inaudible], we were very close, in fact I wish those days were back now. And I, I among other people used to take the initiative, and, and we used to have a meeting, first Sunday of every month in eighty eight London Road, where I used to live, Dom Polski. In fact the, my place was known as the number ten Downing Street. I was a bachelor, lot of ladies and they'll come and they'll make tea and this and that, they used to do this and that, so after that, we had an Indian Association for quite a few years. Then I think gradually we drifted apart, because I got involved in marrying, married life and other people, families, this and that, graduation. Then, the idea for the Indian Community Association came in the, long before me there was other people involved, Bena Taylor [ph] and so many other people. When I heard about the project initiative, I said I think I'd like to get involved, but it is true to say, when the negotiation for the place and so, when the place was being negotiated, that's when I got involved, before that most of the hard work, negotiation was done by other people, for which I cannot take a credit for. But when this place was established at the beginning, from that day onwards I have been involved.
And which place was this?
Indian Community centre, number two Norris Road
Norris Road. And I have held various position, initially when I was in the...initially when I was in the, in the community association's executive committee, that was of course many years ago. They ask me 'Kanti, you organise a cultural programme' they said 'you be the cultural secretary'...so I started organising, started going, it took a very while. The community of people I have asked everybody's help, and this and that. I, it took a very long while, but then I found, because my married life, my children this and that I found my time was becoming difficult to give all the, but I still done that, I used to spend more time in the Indian Community Centre than I was spending at home, which is true. We all used to do these classes, they used to, different cultures and every...Then I became chairman, I only stayed for one term, but I could have stayed two terms, I only stayed two terms, because I felt that I, it was a bit of a strain on me really, pressure. Then I had not been that well some of the time this and that, then one year I became a general secretary, then another year I become a treasurer...now I'm a executive committee member, anything they want what I can contribute, Oshin [???] [ph] is extremely nice, Oshin always consult me, always, Kanti Vi [ph], Kanti Vi means brother, 'Kanti Vi what do you think this?' I say 'that's fine' Oshin, [inaudible] even everybody, all the executive committee members, if I...I respect them, I like to think they respect me. When you have a discussion this and that in the meeting we have a meeting one in three months I think, when I express my view they all take seriously, it because I , I would not express my view unless I had thought about it, otherwise I would not do that. And they have always respected me I respect them likewise, and like elderly club, sometimes elderly ask do this do that, sometimes they say...elderly men and women they can have a bit of a argument this and that. [Laughs] they always ask me, 'Kanti, can you come and talk to them?', and I do, they respect me, I respect them as well, so, although I, although I'm not, although Mrs Mal she does the, looks after that part, but they still get me in her...in this little committee, no it, the ladies, the other elderly peoples seem to listen to you more, I think is it not, listens to me more, it is how you approach them, it is how you approach them, is the main thing. And plus I have no reason, to be, I mean I don't have a vested interest.
Why is it important to have the Indian Community centre in Reading?
I think every community is essential to have their own community centres where you can gather people, but not to be segregated, not to seg, that is what I completely dislike, integral part of it. Now, if we are to say Asian community centre, for argument sake, I do no know how well people would accept it, I do not know, we never tried, I mean, I don't know when my children reach my age things may change I won't be here then. Things may change then, I mean there are some clubs, there are some places in London probably now, I think its, I thinks its probably...I think its probably identity purpose I think. I think, that is I think, because... that happens all over the world...I mean I doubt if it were Australia, lot of people would have a, I don't know, Islington club or a English club, I do not, I have never been to Australia so I can't comment on. Now, because lot of people have moved in Australia or whatever the case may be, lot of Indian people moved in, that does not mean that they have forgotten their home country if you like, although they are born and bred over there, but they do not you know, I don't think they do you know otherwise if you see when the Queen visits this and that you see a lot of people they, you know, in India, correctly so you know in India, because they probably have got still the feeling, and also you know and also I think its important...people should always know yhrie roots. I do not know if you have seen a program some years ago, there used to be a program called 'Roots' some years ago in America, or other place. You see lot of other places, lot of aggravation, people killed, lot of problem takes place, so in my view they do not know their roots and they do not know their culture, see because its difficult for a lot of people to correlate it, what their culture is. So, I think that it is important Indian community, I think its more like an identity, I think. I mean, for example, say in Reading if you go to...near the Chatham Street car park, they've got an Irish club, they call it Irish club...I don't know why they call it, they probably have the same identity, Irish club. I mean, I mean Irish club doesn't mean only Irish people goes there, I mean Irish club doesn't mean they only sell Irish Guinness or Irish beer everything they sell. And they have a Irish music which I also love, they probably have River Dance music and all this music. They probably, they have a other band as well, so I think that is the, that is my view, I think it is more of a identity, than anything else I think. And also...if you want to find out certain information, for example, say I want to go to India, visa, because I've got a British visa, I need a, because I've got a British passport, I need a visa or certain information...it has become convenient for me to ring up BT or whatever the case may be, and I can get a lot of things from Internet, but that is not as much personal, I think that is, I think that is probably [inaudible]. You see, because I am, we are the generation, I don't mean just my case, I...I'm well integrated, lot of people, for them it is too late to integrate, hopefully their children will do that, but some will always, will stay aloof, you cannot change it, well you can change it by force if you took American policy, or German policy, you can change it, but Britain is too liberal to do that. I don't think that [laughs] I don't think that they will change that.
Do you, was it partly to do with because you came here as a young man?
Yes. I think, I think that has got a lot to do with it. I think that is got to, I mean yes I can, my wife also came completely young, but, I came much younger than her, but she has adapted very well. Or most people I know they came, much later than I have come but they have integrated, I think it depends...I think it depends on your surrounding you know, surrounding and what sort of person you are, what sort of person you are by the families or by the communities. You see, I mean I do not know what, what others community, or my community, what person they are, I do not know. But the community that the, the community that I visit within the Indian, Indian people, I have always found that, I am expressing my own view, I have always found that they are very very...co-operative and approachable...I had a wonderful person to guide me through my year, throughout my life, and indeed, I have been fortunate, I have met a lot of good people. Now other things which I would just like to say, that, when people came in this country, all those first generation of immigration, immigrants, I can only talk about Reading because Reading is the place I know, I did help, I did help some years ago to another Bengali community, somebody just wrote me, I do not know how they got to know my name, from Nottingham, to give me the history of Bangladeshi people, in Reading, so I know the history, so I could...I could help him to do his research or whatever the case may be. So in Reading when I came, the, most of Asian people used to work in heavy industry, primarily there used to be a company called Huntley Bourne Stevens, on Southampton Street, there was a lot of people working there, but they were mainly Punjabi people, either they were from Pakistan or India whatever the case may be, and there used to be another company called Ideal Caseman [ph] which used to be a galvanising place, to galvanise the pipes and so on, and that was predominantly Bangladeshi people working there. That was extremely hard dirty work, from the acid and so on, but I suspect the people, other people probably did not want to take the job, so the other people who availed themselves to take the job, and, after that some of the Bangladeshi people which I, which I think give them a credit for, I had the same opportunity I didn't do it, they started to do the takeaway business, restaurant and so on. They were not born in that, they were not born in that capacity, but they done it, so, as I said earlier, I say it again, I believe in integration, I believe one should respect the law of the country they live in, I abide by it...I'm sure you do, I abide by the rules and regulations where I travel somewhere else, I believe people should do exactly the same in this country, which is not happening, which is not happening. I believe you put forward your point of view, but discussion and argument, not by burning things, because that way you are not doing anything yourself, you are spoiling and destroying the civilised society that we know. That is where I want to end. Thank you.
I was acquainted with allsebrookes through my great friend, Annie - truly wonderful people and they helped me through tough times as a stranger in a strange land. They showed me the goodness in people.
Jayne Hallewell (Canada), 19 February 2008
Kanti Ghosh is my father, I am extremely proud of all that he has worked for to support the family. To be quite honest the transcript really opened my eyes up to how much my forefather's have worked to benefit their family, and this family support has continued to date. I am also extremely happy to have read Micheal Warner's comments and will be sure to pass on the information to my father. Many thanks for your comments Michael!
Sumana Seeboruth, 13 June 2007
Colin Allsebrook was my uncle (my late mother was Anne Warner nee Allsebrook); Colin died in January 2006, approx 18 months after Mary; Duncan is now teaching English as a foreign language in Spain; Annie is living in Oxford and imports silk from Vietnam where she visits and supports local craftspeople making the silks- she has a shop in Woodstock to sell the silk dresess. I have been fascinated to read Mr Goshi's story, and admire his hard work and flexibility - so many immigrants have brought their skills to benefit the UK - we should recognise their contributions far more.with very best wishes, Michael Warner
Michael Warner, 18 March 2007