January 07, 2021
Kavita Puri’s Three Pounds in My Pocket is an extensive oral history of the lives of Indian and Pakistani migrants and their families, from partition to Cornershop
This is British history: the radio series preserving the nations south Asian past
“A lot of them had survived partition, they were living in difficult conditions, working hard shifts in the factories. It was so expensive; they must have been so lonely. But they made these extraordinary lives for themselves and their grandchildren …”
The broadcaster and author Kavita Puri has spent much of the past six years interviewing people from India and Pakistan who relocated to British migration hotspots such as Bradford, Birmingham and Southall, west London, in the 1950s and 1960s. Many have spoken of a country more cold, grey and hostile than the majestic, golden streets and idyllic green countryside they had been propagandised to imagine as faraway colonial subjects, and some were carrying significant trauma from the horrors of partition. Puri was first inspired to delve into their history by her own father, Ravi, whose own distant past she knew little about until she interviewed him on his 70th birthday in 2005 – a consequence of a wall of silence which still exists in many South Asian households.
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