My New Home – Crawley


Before I can talk about Crawley, I have to mention my first trip to England!

I was born in India in 1950 but my parents moved to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in 1953. My eldest uncle was apparently supposed to go, but he backed out at the last minute and my Dad took his place!!  This can never happen in this day and age!!
I was only 3 years old then – so Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) became my first home!!  And what a happy home it was!

After marriage, I accompanied my husband and came to England in 1976. I landed at Heathrow and it snowed the following day – my first ever snowfall!!!  So beautiful!!!  Being a Bollywood fan, I went out and started dancing in the snow, wearing a chiffon sari!!!  Loved it – and then fell ill for 3 weeks!!

I then went to Newcastle for 6 months, became a bit of a ‘Northern Lass’ – besides picking up the accent, I started following football as the Northerners were crazy about football!!! I even began hero-worshipping ‘SuperMac’ – Newcastle United footballer!!  People in Newcastle were so friendly.

Then I came to London 6 months later and what a shock!!  A truly cosmopolitan city!!  It was the ‘Hippy’ era – something I had never seen in my life😳😳!!  Also, what a difference between the two cities:  Newcastle so friendly and London totally opposite!!  However, after living for 7 months in London I realised I had become a Londoner – shocked that I did not know who my neighbour was!!!! This I only realised when I thought I was being followed by a man on the train and I was scared – he then came up to me and said he was my neighbour!! I asked him his address and yes, he lived next door to me!!!  I was so glad to go back home to Lusaka, Zambia, in 1977👏🏼👏🏼😁.

In 1979 I came with my husband to Crawley – his first flight as Captain of a Zambia Airways flight to London Gatwick. We stayed at the George Hotel for 2 nights. It was spooky and scary – I vowed if we ever came to England, I would never come to Crawley again!!

1987 – we left Zambia 😪😪 for good. We came to England, made a home in Milton Keynes which I loved. Although I was always in a saree, I never felt discriminated against! In fact, wherever I worked I was a ‘novelty’ primarily I think because of my background – Indian/Zambian with a very good command of English and very well-travelled!!! However, 7 years later in 1994 my husband got relocated to fly from Gatwick!!! So we HAD to move to CRAWLEY of all places!!!

Now the real Memories of Crawley!!

I didn’t know a soul, didn’t know the place as all I knew was George Hotel and Queen Square – me and my 4year old daughter!!  Sat in the rented house for a month and cried!!  Then told myself I was a fighter – so swim or sink!!  I chose to swim.

Got my daughter enrolled in school and became good friends with some of the mothers at school.

1995 – my daughter wanted to learn Bollywood dancing and there wasn’t anywhere I could send her to learn. So, I decided to teach her at home. I mentioned this to another mother whose dad ran a shop in the parade, and she asked if her daughter could join. We became the best of friends and still are to date.  From 2 children it became 6 and I had to find a bigger place to practice as my lounge was just not big enough!! I talked to a Youth Leader at the local leisure centre and she very kindly offered the youth wing for the girls to practice. I cannot thank her enough🙏🏽

Jokingly I said to the group we should have a name and I said how about MASTI – meaning fun and naughty!! And so MASTI was born!!  MASTI ended up with about 12 girls – and 1 boy for a short while!!  My best friend and I worked really hard for MASTI to get some recognition. They started performing at local school summer fairs, annual functions of local charities,  then schools out of Crawley, yearly dance shows at the Hawth, the Mela in and out of Crawley, with the finale at The Festival of The Sea in Portsmouth in the presence of Royalty!!!  After this the girls were busy with their GCSE’s and Universities, and MASTI came to an end.

My best friend and I still continue to help out with some of the local charity/voluntary groups.

I’ve had my share of ‘child’ racism in Crawley simply because my daughter was not allowed to let children into my house when I was not at home:
– throwing eggs/mud pies at my windows after the windows had been cleaned
– rubbish being put through the letter box
– my daughter being called names.
I had to teach my daughter to be strong, rise above those children and question them politely to which the children had no answers!!

It has taken 26 years to call Crawley HOME!!!  And now I would not or could not go away from HOME!!


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