Living in England

There is a lot of debate on who voted what in the referendum, friends and families are said to be be at logger heads,and it is said that racism is on the rise.

it gives the impression that Britain is a racist country , is it? I don’t think so.

I was born in India and came to this country in the March of 1970. My late husband who was a doctor was invited in 1969, on a job voucher , as the NHS was desperate for medical graduates. I filled a year later, we were not married but have been going out together since I was 17,and wanted to get married.

I grew up hearing about and dreaming of England. My father had spent his formative years here, first at a prep school and then as an undergraduate at Cambridge . He came back in his early thirties, but never could erase England from his mindset.

He was married off to my mother who came from an influential but orthodox Indian family. My father was by then an officer in the British Army, soon after the war came to an end and he was given a prominent post in the civil service.

I grew up in a very western household. Listening to the BBC world service, eating toast and jam for breakfast and going to a school run by Nuns. There were dinner parties and alcohol  flowed freely, my parents friends came from all religions, we enjoyed, Hindu, parsee and Christian religious festivals and regularly shared meals and their customs.

I loved listening to Alice in Wonderland on BBC world service ,looking greedily in magazines like the Colliers, Life international and Saturday Post. I drooled over the goodies and the presents featured at Christmas time. My mother who was ,as was the case in that era a very socially conscious and a member of the oneupmanship brigade. Loved the fair and blonde women featured in those magazines,she would look in dismay at my darkish skin and emphasise how lovely fair skin looks!

So I came to England, not as a stranger, but as someone who thought she knew what England was about ,but still a bit nervous, I was young,in- experienced and unsure , I had no idea what to expect.

We were living in Kent,where my husband was a junior doctor, a huge hospital , it had fantastic grounds, roses as I have never seen before,and trees and manicured lawns. Coming from a tropical country,where the greenery is dependent  on a months rain a year,this was a feast for my eyes. I couldn’t get enough of it. The senior doctors and their wives,were quick to take the new comers under their wing, I was given two tickets to Chelsea flower show,just because I expressed an interest in flowers! The doctor’s Mess where we had our meals, the Chef would ask me what was my favourite food and at meal times everyone tried to hold conversations and just made me feel so welcome and at ease.

It continued when I started my nursing training,the Matron of the hospital treated us as if loco parentis , she would quickly gauge if I looked downcast, the Home sister at the Nurses home kept an beady eye on out food intake,if anyone was skipping meals,she wanted to know. In our batch there were Chinese, Portuguese, Italian and Jamaican girls. And we lived and worked as a big family.

I have made friends in the early years of my being here,who still are my friends ,and as life has changed ,we got married, bought our first house and started a family,people I met ,and lived next to ; colleagues and neighbours have always been friendly ,helpful and generous .

it simply cant be due to me can it? The thousands of people I have come across, lived next door to, worked with,nursed, and been friends with ,have never shown any tendency to being different or in anyway ever talked about their hostility to outsiders of any type.

I think we were also motivated to have a better future, in coming here. To get better opportunities for our children,and we did provided a very bright future for our children, they are highly accomplished and successful and that wouldn’t have been possible had we not come here and worked hard.

Apart from anything,what I really like about the British society and people ,is that they are non judgemental, fair minded and do not interfere . Something the Indian society is steeped in. One can not do anything without being talked about or criticised and gossiped. Indian society is very materialistic  and social conscious, you are judged for your bank balance first and personality ,later and sometimes never.

Am so pleased I live in England, a country I so love and which has never made me feel like an alien or different in any way.

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