So at school we’re doing this project called ‘Southall Stories’ and basically what we have to do, is collect stories and interview people that have lived here.  I need your help with this.

Okay.                                                                                                                                                                                            

When did you come to Southall?

I came during the 1970’s when I was about 5 years old or something.

Do you know why your parents chose Southall, why they came here instead of other places?

Well, I don’t actually know to be honest. My dad was a businessman so...

So did he move here because back then there were a lot of factories apparently?

Yeah actually there were a lot of factories but over time they moved out into different places where it was cheaper. That’s probably why he chose Southall to stay and work. He gradually just brought the whole family over, first my older brothers and their wives, my mum and then me.

Yeah, I guess that was probably the case with loads of people back then. Anyway, do you have any “Southall Stories” that you’d like to share?

Well, what I remember is that back then people used to use paraffin for their heaters. There was no heating otherwise.  This guy used to come around selling paraffin gas, and he used to ring a little bell outside and we’d have to go buy it if we wanted to keep warm. It used to get really cold in the winter.  If people didn’t buy it or forgot to they probably just sat at home with their jackets on.  Other than that school and everything was normal.

That’s cool; do you know anything about the “Southall riots” and Blair Peach?

Hmm…well they weren’t exactly riots, more of a gathering actually, or protesting or whatever. I was little then so I was at home but I remember my brothers and their friends leaving the house to go see what’s happening.  I saw his body though, Blair Peach’s. I remember seeing it outside of the school that he taught at.

Oh okay so do you have any memories of any major gangs from here?  Did you happen to be a part of one or know any members?

Hahaha yeah, I think everyone knew about the gangs. There was the Tooti Nungs and the Holy Smokes. Obviously I won’t say whether I was a part of one or not. But I really loved one thing about them both, it was the fact that they were just made up of Asians.  You know?  Back then you were able to mingle with your own people much easier than anyone else.  Everyone had their own sort of groups and like all us Indians or Asians, we all just stuck together. The fact that it was the Asians who went on to form gangs in Southall rather than anyone else just gives me this really good feeling.

Yeah but they were said to be quite dangerous as in everyone feared them in one way or another, right?

Yeah a few of my mates were a part of one…plus the gangs usually hung around in our areas anyway. Didn’t scare me much but with other people it was different. Everyone would whisper “Oh, look it’s that guy from the Tooti Nungs” or “The Holy Smokes are here, let’s go.”

The thing is they weren’t necessarily always involved in the wrong stuff.  I mean yeah both gangs were pretty violent, they had this rivalry thing going and in some cases they’d even stabbed or killed people from the other side. BUT what I was saying is that no matter how much rivalry they had between them, they would come together as a whole large group of proud and strong Asians when it came down to standing up for their community, their people and themselves. Trust me the feeling of pride that I still get from all this, just love it! In fact even today our communities quite strong, everyone’s finally able to mix in with everyone with fewer problems in terms of racism or anything. 

Yeah I actually feel quite proud of Southall myself now. Knowing all the history, it’s all quite exciting as in I wouldn’t have imagined so much to have happened and like you said with being able to mingle with your own people, nowadays it’s much different because everyone’s so much more comfortable with each other. Thanks for sharing it feels good to know about all these things.

It’s alright. I wouldn’t mind doing this again. After all, it’s Southall that we’re talking about.

 


Comments

maryam razhi
07/06/2011 04:24

i love the fact that your interview is so open its also very funny:)
omg southall has changed so much!
where are the factories now

Reply
Rosemarie Koroyin
07/06/2011 04:34

I agree with Maryam. I agree.

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Lund Kebab
03/28/2014 02:51

I left my guyana band at home

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Vikram Jain
03/28/2014 02:51

I love you hardeep

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Mark Henry
03/28/2014 02:52

kl mayb u and me can have dixie chicken

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Sammy Watkins
03/28/2014 02:54

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