There is a lot of talk these days about immigration and immigrants,and I feel it might be interesting to know as to how some come and live here. Not that this is of any interest to anyone,but I like to remind myself from time to time of how I have spent the best part of my life!
I thought I will tell you how I got here, how my life so far has been and how and why the experience of living here has been a good one for me,may be firstly because I knew about the culture and the country I was coming to and knew that I was starting a new life. I was not sure how it will turn out.
I arrived in England on the 5th of March 1970. As my then fiancee,now my husband was already here. In those days those who were responsible for the education and training of doctors,visited the affiliated universities in India regularly,to make sure that the standard of training and education was up to the standard of the Royal colleges here, then they would issue job vouchers to any graduate who wanted come here,work in the NHS and obtain their post graduation here. Thus my other half arrived here in 1969.
Meanwhile I had completed my health visitors training,and was working in a small rural health centre. After working for an year or so,it only seemed logical that I join my other half and may be we will get married here.
The day I arrived, it was a sunny ,and cold . As there have been a snow storm the day before. And Heathrow had little mounds of snow, piled up everywhere. There were no covered walkways, and I remember walking the length of the runway to get into the terminal. I was so excited to see this lovely clean, quite and bright scene that I did not feel the cold,as I was very unsuitably dressed for the weather. Wearing open toed sandals and a thin cardigan over a silk saree! Luckily though my husband has brought me a new top coat and some tights,thus saving me from a certain death.
We stayed that weekend in Kent,in the doctors quarters. The hospital building was grand and there was maid service and lovely dining room for the doctors. I remember the kindness of the senior doctors and their wives. I was invited almost every day to someones house for tea,coffee or was taken shopping. I soon started my training as a general nurse in a London hospital,the matron and the home sister were strict on discipline but very kind and caring.Telling my would be husband that he should make an ‘honest woman” of me , as she will take a very dim view if I was kept waiting too long!
My ward sister,tutors and colleagues were all so very kind and friendly, we worked as a team and then in the nurses home we all looked out for each other and supported each other.
I remember getting married in the registrars office, and my the witnesses were twoIrish student nurses, such lovely people they were.And the matron,the ward and the home sister came bearing gifts.Which was so thoughtful and kind.
We lived about half an hours train journey away from the hospital I was training at. We had no car so it meant a walk to the station, which meant getting up at 5am,to get the train at six forty, and then another fifteen minutes walk before I got to my destination and be on duty at 7.30.. And if I did a late shift and finished at 8pm, then I will get home around ten O clock and then be up again next morning . But they were happy days, I had loads of friends, I was learning a lot about the ways of the people and relishing the friendshoip and the support offered.I remember listening to radio 2,and the banter between Jimmy Young and Terry Wogan.And then I discovered radio4, and it taught me so much,about current affairs,history and what everything meant. I also learnt to pronounce things correctly,and name them properly! The first year was a long but enjoyable learning curve.
May be that is why I remain happy, I have never met racism, may be because I learnt and adopted everything my new life offered.
Though it did help that both my father and my grand father had their education here,and I grew up listening to the fascinating stories of their days in Cambridge,we regularly had magazines such as the “Life”, The Saturday Evening Post”, The Argosy” Men Only” and The Liliput”. Magazines which provided an insight and a glimpse of what the West had to offer,so there were no surprises on arrival.
May be that is the secret,that one should know about the country one migrates to and be willing to adopt to its ways. I have only known kindness and friendship and support from people.
I am sure there are thousands like me who have adopted and adjusted to their adopted country,and live happily and in peace. Perhaps that is why we do not hear about them.
And how could I forget the highlight of my immigrant life, in July 1999,we were invited to Buckingham Palace for the Garden party,and met the whole Royal family.I was told that this is the way the Sovereign says thank you to her subjects,for their services to the country. A day I will never forget.
Here is a link to what I looked like then,and later!