One man’s journey from India to Bristol, via a lesbian housing co-op in London.
This story was made on a five-day digital storytelling workshop for members of Watershed staff and local artists, led by Ruth Jacobs, Liz Milner and Beth Trimmer,
The course took place at Watershed during May 2005 and was supported by Bristol’s Museums, Galleries & Archives.
[Indian percussion plays throughout story]
Never in my wildest dreams I had imagined one day I’ll come to live in Bristol. Growing up in India, Bristol was just a word to me, seen on giant billboards, advertising Bristol Filter Cigarettes.
Later on in school learning history, the word took association of a place in England where an Indian social reformer, Rajah Rammohun Roy, was buried, and it was a famous place for trade and commerce.
Years later, when I met a traveller in India from Bristol, the place took a concrete shape in my imagination as my traveller friend would describe the places in Bristol: its people, its festivals, its landmarks (like suspension bridge, Brandon Hill, Ashton Court). When we were in Calcutta, my friend would tell me how much some parts of the city remind her of Bristol: The Mydans of Calcutta were like the Downs of Bristol. The Park Street in Calcutta reminded her of the Park Street in Bristol. She said if the heat and dust, the cows and other animals, the colours were taken away, parts of Calcutta were like Bristol.
Years passed by and I never thought of Bristol again. In 1993 I was in Delhi and I met my future wife travelling in India for the second time, completely by chance. That chance meeting brought me to the United Kingdom and I moved to London in my wife’s flat which was in a lesbian housing co-op. A man coming into the domain of “no men joan” was not a very good idea as i did not feel very welcome there. It was not an easy experience but we stuck it out for four years while our daughter was growing up.
In the end we decided to move and went on a nationwide home-swap. We got a few responses from different places, but the house in Bristol took our fancy. We decided to move to Bristol. One grey and misty day in November we took a National Express bus to Bristol and here we are.
Some places are the way I had imagined it to be, and some places are completely different from my imagination.
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