The Migrants and a Movie Hall
thanks to Rocky…
Farrukh Dhondy reconstructs the history of Indian and Pakistani immigrants in London, through the story of one cinema hall
The first time I went to the Liberty Cinema, at some forgotten date in the early seventies, was not to watch a film but for an afternoon political rally. One of the conspicuous buildings in Southall (Pronounced ‘South-Hall’ by its residents and ‘Sudhhll’ by the snooty English), West London, with its ludicrous Chinese-dragon facade and its rather fetching art deco interior, it sits between the two shopping hubs of the Punjabi suburb.
Almost opposite it is a park and the main road proceeds over a railway bridge under which is Southall station with a connection to West London’s termini. It descends the railway bridge, passes a very famous pub with figures of men with sashed turbans stuck on the exterior called Glassy Junction and pronounced ‘Gill-arsyy Junkshin’ and runs a quarter of a mile to the High Street.
If one ignores the simplicity of the Victorian and Edwardian worker’s-cottage-terrace architecture this High Street with its garish signs selling sweetmeats and DVDs could be a market street in Ludhiana. The large groceries of the High Street flow onto the pavements with, to Britain, exotic fruit and vegetables: karella, kuddhoo, methi, different kinds of mirch, bunches of dhania and cardboard boxes of the various varieties of mangoes when in season.
The other road from the cinema leads to another shopping centre with equally sumptuous supermarkets for groceries, fineries and jewellery, past a tiny park where the old men, whom as a passer-by I always think of as Sikh veterans of the Second World War, gather of an afternoon. Then on to various gurdwaras and out of the suburb to the M4, a motorway that connects London to Bristol.
for more follow the link…