I cried when I arrived but now I'm so content

ADARSH KULLAR has vivid memories of the day she arrived in Glasgow as a young mother in 1971.

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The weather was terrible, it was cold and snowy, and the house she lived in with her husband and two children had no bath.

To make matters worse, she was thousands of miles from her home in India.

She said: "I missed the family I left behind so much. I cried here and my mother cried over there."

Adarsh's story is one of many told by immigrants to Scotland in a new book.

Scottish Memories was produced by the Trust Housing Association, Han-over Housing Association and Bield Housing and Care, with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The immigrants featured in the book were among thousands who arrived in Scotland from the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. Most were from India and Pakistan but others came from China, Africa and the Caribbean.

They worked their way up from grinding poverty to settle into their new lives in Scotland as engineers, bus drivers, shop owners and restaurateurs. Others studied and became doctors, nurses or teachers.

Adarsh and her late husband Harbans Lal, both from reasonably well-off Indian families, came to England in the early 1960s. After several years living in London and Slough, Berk-shire, they moved to Glasgow.

She said: "The immigrant community was ignored in those days. Now Glasgow is more like a home and I am a stranger in my own country.

"I am so happy and content and so proud of Scotland.

"It was not easy. We were the first generation to leave and we missed each other.

"Keeping in touch with family and friends was difficult. We did it by letter and when we tried to phone we had to make a booking and be put into a queue. Sometimes they cancelled it.

"Nowadays I Skype my grandchildren in New York."

Santosh Bahanda, sailed from India in 1956, aged 22. What was supposed to be an 18-day journey lasted for five weeks when her ship passed through the Suez Canal while it was at the centre of an international conflict.

She and her husband Prem, who had been in Scotland for three years, lived in St George's Road.

She said: "I remember everything was dark. All the houses looked the same and it was easy to get lost.

"It took time to get used to the life here, it happened slowly. It made a big difference when children and grandchildren came along. Then it felt like more of a community,"

Abdul Razzaq also recalls a "city full of dark buildings". He started with nothing and built up a sizeable grocery business.

He said: "If Barack Obama can work hard and become the first black President of the USA then one of my grandchildren - through hard work, education and determination - could be Prime Minister of the UK."

iain.lundy@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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