Southampton Communities: Indian

The second in my series of the many different cultures that go to make up my city.

Derber room

Kuti's Royal Thai Restaurant

As a significant part of our Southampton population, I would need to write a book to explain all the different groups plus a history of India, which I don’t feel qualified to do.

Definition of Indian

There are many living in Southampton who define themselves as Indian. Indians immigrated here way before the Partition of 1947 that divided their land into India and Pakistan. Many Indians living here have never even lived in India nor been on holiday there. Indians might have settled here from Australia, Fiji or Africa. Many Ugandan Asians, that came as refugees in the 1970s, might define themselves as African Indian. Many Indians have been here for generations and although they might be British-born and fully integrated, define themselves as Indian by their strong culture and historic roots. They might call themselves British Asian, English Indian, British-born Indian, or define themselves by their language Hindu, Gujarati, their region – Punjabi or Keralan for instance or their religion Sikh, Indian Muslim, Jain, Brahman, Indian Buddhist etc. All foreigners who have come to settle in Southampton more recently are referred to as Freshies by the people who have lived here a long time. One usually tries to guess by the clothes worn, from the way trousers are pressed to sweater-styles as to what group they belong to – but this isn’t always a correct assumption. Many who have just arrived from India, are often more western in their dress than people who settled here in the sixties. More often than not it is by their accent.

I shall mention the Pakistani and other communities at a later time but the predominant group in Southampton are Sikhs which make up about 1.3% of our city’s population.

Sikhs

Maharajah Dulip Singh
Maharaja Duleep Singh 1845

In the 2012 census 2799 Sikhs were listed as living in Southampton.

We have to go back to the time when the British colonised India and Prime Minister Disraeli bestowed on Queen Victoria the grandiose title: Empress of India.

The first Sikh to arrive in Southampton was the Maharaja Duleep Singh in 1854. He visited Queen Victoria frequently at her Osborne House residence on the Isle of Wight and she became Godmother to his children. Queen Victoria later commissioned talented Indian architects, particularly Ram Singh, to transform parts of her residence and gardens into a ‘flavour of India’. Today much of Britain has a flavour of India, from our seaside piers to rose gardens – not to mention adopted words in our language and our cuisine, which British call ‘curry’. Southampton is a prime example of this flavour with a beautiful Royal Pier which has been leased to Indian restaurateur Kuti, and spacious parks with tropical plants.

People raised here also greet each other with the phrase Acha Mush – Acha a slang word from hindi for ‘I’m good’ and Mush (of Romany origin, meaning mate) which is now an affectionate slang term for a fellow Sotonian.

royal victoria Hosptial Netley

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Sikh troops recuperating at Netley from injuries sustained in the first world war. Photo thanks: Marion Ivey/The Guardian

Queen Victoria had a large military hospital built in Southampton in response to the Crimean War. This she visited frequently by sailing boat from her Isle of Wight palace. The hospital was later known as Spike Island (the remains of which can still be visited in the Queen Victoria Country Park). In 1894 one entire floor of the main building was given over to Indian troops, one million of whom served in the British Military.

In the hospital grounds, a concrete platform, or ghat, was built at the side of a stream for cremations, after which the ashes would be tipped into the stream and borne back, spiritually, to join the waters of the Ganges.

Gradually Sikhs settled in Southampton from this time in dribs and drabs. Their caste system fit in well with the Victorian class system. It was mainly middle class Indians that arrived in great numbers in the 1950s and sixties to take up work in Southampton law firms or as doctors in the National Health Service. The photos immediately above are of Sikh festivals and two temples (Gurdwaras) in the Bevois Town area of Southampton.

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I have happy childhood memories growing up in a predominantly Indian community. My best friend’s brother married an Indian film star and our street threw out the red carpet, celebrating the wedding for three days and nights. This beautiful celebrity taught me and other children how to dance, Bollywood-style. It is my Indian neighbours I have to thank for opening my eyes to libraries, teaching me to swim, yoga, how to make a perfectly round chapati and the perfect cup of tea.

Further reading:

The Sikhs in Southampton by Ranjeet Singh Shahi

Spike Island – Memory of a Military Hospital by Southampton writer Philip Hoare (Harper Collins paperback)

Corrections: I do not profess to be an expert on the cultures that make up my City. I am happy to take any corrections or additions to my posts.

If you read General G Tony’s comment, you will realise that I have had to adjust my post. I assumed that British piers were influenced by Indian architecture. I have been informed now that they were more influenced by Versailles in a Rococo fashion. However the Prince Regent was a great fan in of Indian architecture and he himself influenced our seaside culture.

 

 

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Southampton, Polish Capital of Britain

Southampton Communities: Polish

I have been meaning to do a series of all the wonderful different cultures that make up the people of my City for some time. With so many xenophobic comments about immigrants during the EU Referendum, I think this is long overdue.

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According to the statistics of the Literary Association of the Friends of Poland, the first Polish refugees to Britain numbered just over 460 in 1851 and over 200 left the country.  At that time the general number of Polish refugees numbered about 800 people. The refugees from Turkey came to different English ports: Liverpool, Leeds and Southampton. Many of them decided to emigrate to US. There were further waves before WW2, in the fifties and in the early noughties. Polish immigrants now make up 10 per cent of the population of Southampton.

This programme was made for Channel 5 in 2014 when the biggest influx of Polish where celebrating 10 years of living in Southampton.

As well as the changes mentioned in the film clip, some of the changes I have noticed are the Catholic churches being full again on Sundays, family picnics along the rivers and on the common (something I haven’t seen since the sixties) and a great respect for the elderly – something I think the traditional English could learn from.

 

 

Happy Easter

chocolate factory in Austria © 2016 Southampton Old Lady
chocolate factory in Austria © 2016 Southampton Old Lady

Most Brits are such Pagans at heart. We look forward to our spring holiday. To us Easter is all about chocolate eggs, symbolising fertility. Birthing and the spring equinox, with images of lambs, chicks and rabbits. It has been a happy occasion since it was brought to us by the Germanic peoples and their worship of the Goddess Ēastre.

It was the same when I lived in Cyprus. Painted eggs decorated by children and happy picnics with lamb kleftiko and freshly baked flounes.

Flounes from a hot clay oven in Cyprus.
Flounes from a hot clay oven in Cyprus.

When I lived to Portugal though, I thought I was being clever when I said: “Feliz Pascoa” to some Portuguese friends. They were shocked!  I had said Happy Easter okay, but to most people in Roman Catholic Europe, Easter is certainly not a happy time.

“Our Lord died this day – what is happy about it?”  I was taken along to mass with a long dirge of a procession and realised that this was more like our Remembrance Sunday.

When I moved to Andalusia in Spain, it was even more sad, with religious brotherhoods in tall peak hoods carrying heavy statues of Christ in agony on the cross (this is where the Klux Klan got the idea for their brotherhood).

Spanish tourism photo
Spanish tourism photo

I follow a wordpress blog called “Wandering Wives”. The two British women explained that they went to a Remembrance Day service in a small French village and it was a happy occasion there – it was in honour of the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month and that meant “Liberation!”

So it occurred to me, that there are certain times of the year, usually around equinox and solstices where we all get spiritual – sometimes in celebration and sometimes in commemoration, but that these vary according to climate, country and culture.

So Peace to all – and may your god or goddess go with you

Photo Challenge: One Love

Locks on a bridge, Salzburg © 2016 Southampton Old Lady
Locks on a bridge, Salzburg © 2016 Southampton Old Lady
© 2016 Southampton Old Lady
© 2016 Southampton Old Lady
© 2016 Southampton Old Lady
© 2016 Southampton Old Lady
Two hearts, one lock. © 2016 Southampton Old Lady
Two hearts, one lock. © 2016 Southampton Old Lady

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Weekly WordPress Challenge: “One Love:

If you would like to see others or take part, click here: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/one-love/

 

Southampton’s Christmas Festival

A few snaps taken at Southampton’s Christmas Festival. This year our Council hosted a big German Christmas market from a new company that Sponsored the Festival in the city’s centre.

Santa flies above the German Christmas market in Southampton
Santa flies above the German Christmas market in Southampton
Santa heads for Southampton Bargate on his sleigh
Santa heads for Southampton Bargate on his sleigh. “We march on” is our football team’s banner
Santa's sleigh pulled by reindeer heading for Southampton Bargate
Santa’s sleigh pulled by reindeer heading for Southampton Bargate

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German Christmas market stall in Southampton High Street.
German Christmas market stalls in Southampton High Street.

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Smoking salmon at the German Christmas Market, Southampton
Smoking salmon at the German Christmas Market, Southampton

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Study reveals most people in Southampton count people living close to them as friends

Reblogged from http://www.dailyecho.co.uk article published Monday 23 February 2015


Alma Road is at the forefront of showing how neighbours can be there for one another.
Alma Road is at the forefront of showing how neighbours can be there for one another (Echo).

It is a city brimming with community spirit where neighbours become friends.

That’s the findings of a survey released today that has Southampton topping the charts when it comes to the most “neighbourly” city in the UK.

The research – carried out to mark the start of Love Your Neighbour Week – revealed how 90 per cent of people who were asked said they would count people who live close to them as friends.

One area in Southampton where there is real community spirit between neighbours is the Outer Avenue in Bevois Valley.

With its mixture of long-term residents and newly-moved in students in Avenue Road, Alma Road, Gordon Avenue and Earls Road, Outer Avenue Residents Association (OARA) has been at the forefront of showing how neighbours can be there for one another.

The group hold regular litter picks, parties to welcome students to the area, a cherry planting programme, table top sales and even have a wheelie bin management system.

They also rallied round to help a student who was assaulted in Portswood and bought him chocolates and a card, another example was when they brought tyres to help a resident whose car was vandalised.

Chairman of OARA, John Hayward, said: “It is good to reach out and get on with your neighbours for the common good.”

“From a personal point of view it makes a big difference, my wife and I have got to know lots of people we would have never met.

“It is nice to walk around and see the students clean and seethe planting going on and to feel like you are supporting each other.”

The survey was carried out by chocolatiers, Lily O’Brien’s and saw 5,000 people polled.

Des Hayward, 66, retired from Avenue Road, said: “We have grouped together because we wanted to have a community rather than being transient. We live here and we love the area and we wanted it to be a nice area to live in.”

Fiona Barnes,57, administrator from Avenue Road, said: “It has always been a friendly area here. We moved away in 1987 and moved back nine months later.

“People look after one another and I like the fact that even if you do not know someone’s name people say hello to each other.”


My photo of of Alma Road, Bevois Town, Southampton.
My photo of of Alma Road, Bevois Town, Southampton
Any season is street party season in Alma Road.
Any season is street party season in Alma Road.

Snap as Seen 1: Boat with Discarded Alien

Boat with Discarded Alien, from Discarded Objects series © Southampton Old Lady
Boat with Discarded Alien, from Snap As Seen series
© Southampton Old Lady

Reunion 2015

Sue Man and George David hand out samosas.
Sue Man (organiser) and George David (Ebony Rocker) hand out samosas.
Some of the young ones who I did not know but now do.
Some of the young ones who I did not know but now do.

I went to my school’s reunion. It was open to any pupil or teacher from any year and held at the Juniper Berry, an historical pub in the centre of Southampton.  The Deanery School was the first multi-culltural school in the South outside London.  There are no Sotonians that I know living in my neighbourhood. In fact, I rarely hear people even speak in English during the long summers until some 42,000 students arrive for their autumn term.  So it was wonderful to meet up with so many diverse races of people not only speaking my language but with Southampton accents and local slang. Ages ranged from 40 to 80 years of age. We conversed all evening about our school traditions what people are doing now and those that have passed away.

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Jenny and Mr Muggridge (Technical Drawing & Careers)
Jenny and Mr Muggridge (Technical Drawing & Careers)

Whole families came to the reunion. Each had attend the school throughout their generation. Because it was small and because we all joined in out-of-school activities we were familiar with each other. Many married their childhood sweet-hearts.

The Deanery concentrated on the Individual, it honed in on our abilities and seemed to bring out the best of each one us, regardless of intelligence or ability to pass exams. The invisible curriculum was just as important to us as the main one. Many ex-pupils run their own businesses or work for companies that take them all over the world, particularly at sea – with so many stories from other countries it must have given us an appetite to travel.

 

Anne McCarthy MBE (a French teacher) and Jon
Anne McCarthy MBE (a French teacher) and Jon
Lady Sovereign & Jim Bull
Lady Sovereign & Jim Bull
Cleo and Robbie
Cleo and Robbie

 

The Deanery School, 1930 -1989

Continue below for the history of the rise and fall of The Deanery School….

The Deanery was a mixed-sex secondary school for the central community; ages 11-16 taught over 5 years. Pupils could leave school at the age of 15 when I attended, but changed to the age of 16 with an option of going on to a Further Education College until the age of 18.

It was the first multi-cultural school in the South outside of London. Southampton, being a port city, has always had variety of diverse communities, all of which are valued and respected, as I have explained in previous posts.

When I attended, white English people were in a minority at the school. In my year, there were a great many Hindus  Muslims, some Buddhists and a few Jewish, although the majority were Christian. The biggest cultural group of people were first to third generation Indian, not only from India but from what is now Pakistan, and other parts of Asia including places like Fiji and from Africa (North and South). In my year we also had first to third generations of Polish, Spanish, Italian, Irish, Chinese (from Vietnam and Hong Kong), West Indies: Jamaica, Barbados (white and black), Virgin Islands, Dutch, Cypriots (Turkish and Greek), Hungarians and Maltese. Nearly all could speak English before they started at the school.

Multi-cultural schools are quite normal in cities now, throughout Europe. But at that time they were rare and my school was a great fascination for others, especially for the media, politicians, sociologists and those with ‘melting pot’ theories. We filled out endless surveys and felt as though we were being watched. We had a strict school uniform that included options for turbans and loose leggings (to wear underneath a skirt). There were no hats or other items that covered the head or face as these were rarely seen in the community then and certainly not on children. In the Summer boys could wear shorts (but none did; they weren’t cool) and girls could wear any attire so long as it was red and white and modest.

As the number of educational subject increased, The Deanery expanded to many other sites spread out over central Southampton. The main site was Marsh Lane, next to St Mary’s Church, and was originally built to educate children from the workhouse. It is now a block of flats. As the community grew, the school expanded to the other half of the building that housed Southampton College of Art until 1970 when the art department moved to a new building in East Park (now part of Solent University). The school also took over The Central Boys School building in Argyle Road, Nicholstown, mainly for teaching the 4th and 5th years. Nissan huts were added to the playgrounds. I lived nearer to this site (which is now a Hindu temple). It had a separate dinner hall about a 10 minute walk away in Covelly Road, where, unlike the food at Marsh Lane, lunch time meals were cooked on the premises. Due to the many different religious beliefs regarding meat, there was a lovely choice on the menu. That was rare in England in my day. The meals were some of the best I had ever tried. In the evenings this hall operated as The Boys Club. Opened by famous crooner Frankie Vaughn, who had been an Italian immigrant. He supported boys clubs, which opened up all over England and Wales, to keep boys off the streets and away from gangs.

Another site was Latimer Street off Oxford Street (Now trendy apartments and restaurants). This is where all the domestic science and needlework took place. In my day this was only for girls, while boys did wood and metal work. Many subjects were segregated until the late 1970s. I had my first and only ever fight in the corridor here. My head was thrown against a row of coat pegs by the school bully. It was generally a peaceful school, so this caused an outrage. There was blood everywhere, I’ll never forget it.

There was also Site 4, which was an inner-city farm. Though I never went there and Cross House Hard where I learned not only sailing skills, but how to repair boats and sails.The school  had its own launch on the river. We also used the Council swimming pool (now the Grand Harbour Hotel) at the Town Quay, the sports centre north of the town, the cricket pitches in Hoglands Park and The Common for all sorts of sports activities.

It was normal to walk through the city for 2-3 miles between lessons. As traffic increased it became more dangerous. Later the school could not match the range of subjects that the new comprehensive schools could. The Deanery School was forced to close in 1989.