'Spirit of India'

Parsi Community of India

Society & Culture

Sufis - Poetic Wisdom

South Asian Women Leaders


Music in Pakistan
A story of five decades


Fast Foods - the 'E' Cuisine


Royal Bengal's last roar?


'Parsis-Zoroastrians of India

'Silk Road on Wheels'

Editor's Note


The Shop

Old  Prints




the-south-asian.com                               April  2001

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Editor's Note


The Buddhas of Bamiyan were still on everybody’s mind when I arrived in Manchester – the second city of Great Britain. It was my first visit to the city – I expected a bustling city, a close second to London. But it was not. I expected the normal urban alienation and indifference – it was not so. On the contrary I found myself in a friendly city devoid of pretensions, getting ready to host the Commonwealth Games next year. There was construction work happening all over.

I had already taken a Virtual Tour of the city on the web, which had given me sufficient information about the different communities living in Manchester – English, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Jews, Buddhists, Gays, and, of course, the entire Manchester United cult! There was the China Town, the Curry Mile, the Gay Village, Old Trafford (with its twin sporting attractions – the Cricket Club and the Football Stadium) and Preswich – pockets of industrious communities defined by the usual urban socio-economic parameters.

Superficially, it seems ‘business as usual’. A closer look – and you realise it is not so.

It was my second day in Manchester when I noticed a sign ‘Hussain Singh Khan Solicitors’ – three common names in south Asia – but a very uncommon partnership. It was almost a sign of good things to come. The following day, a lady I had just met and befriended, offered to drive me around Manchester. We drove past an old church with scaffolding around it – not an uncommon sight when repair works are required. Pointing to the church, she casually mentioned that it was being converted into apartments. For a moment I thought I had not heard her correctly. Church … a place of worship … apartments….my south Asian ears could not comprehend this space adaptation. This was a novel concept for me. We drove further, and at an intersection while waiting for the traffic light to turn green, my friend pointed out, still very casually, another church that had been used, until recently, as a recording studio. The light turned green. So did I – with envy. I envied the maturity of the society, the maturity of the City Council to put to good use structures that had limited use. Could we even dream of converting a little-used temple or a mosque or a church to a day care centre or put it to any other constructive use for the society? I can almost hear the distant thunder of falling stones.

Roopa Bakshi






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