Salaam Brick Lane

You’d find many in England who’d look down upon the Tower Hamlet area. The reason seemed pretty clear to me while people reacted when I told them about my time in Brick Lane. This particular area is synonymous with Bangladeshis, Sylhetis and British-Bangladeshis. People who look down do that because they [not the Brits] don’t want to recognize Bangladeshis and their existence in Britain.
A Pakistani colleague of mine, for example, kept on criticizing the food in Brick Lane and the lifestyle of its residents. I understood his problem. The only thing Pakistanis could take pride after is ‘radicalism’.
He couldn’t take the success of Bangladeshis in UK. He failed to see that the whole of Britain recognize Brick Lane as the curry capital of England. I’ve tasted food of four restaurants there. The five-pound buffet at Sonar Bangla Restaurant was one of the best buffets I’ve ever had. I’ve been to many five star hotels in many countries. Dishes prepared by restaurant could easily compete with their dishes. And at such a low cost! Go to Gram Bangla; and Bengal Cuisine. These days, they are changing their names from “Indian” to “Bangladeshi” and “Bengal”. They are in the process of branding themselves as “Bengali”. That’s what aches migrants from other countries.
Then, there’s a section of British-Bangladeshis who are non-Sylhetis. Most of these UK Bangladeshis think Brick Lane area is under-developed and backward. Many of the young people around Tower Hamlets are drug addicts. True; many are drug addicts. But, aren’t young people of in other areas also addicted? Of course, they are. You don’t like the way Brick Laners catch news headlines for their rise.
After Chinatown, Banglatown is the most prominent neighbourhood in London. I’ve spoken to many in Banglatown, listened to their struggles as migrants, their hard work to make their presence felt in the heart of London. They have risen from mere ship jumpers to labourers to businessmen. They have successfully changed the food habit of the Britishers. They are now preparing to enter the island’s national politics.
And where did it all begin? It began from this area – Whitechapel, Brick Lane and Bethnal Green.
I do feel like saluting them.

Next: Friends in Reading and London.

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