100 days: Stories of Immigrants and Tenements #52

He has done this walk home everyday for the last 30 years and it’s only this evening that he notices how the area has changed. It, being full of readily cheap housing in an easily commutable location, welcomed immigrants and it welcomed migrants and it welcomed refugees. It’s only now he appreciates how much the neighbourhood has changed. He stops in Ruby M’s, a Gujarati pub showing cricket non-stop, serving beer and spicy nuts. He’s served by a Ukranian waitress who speaks passable conversational Gujarati. He remembers the first pub he went into, with his uncle and cousins, to drink whisky. They all cowered in the corner while the aggressive men played pool and darts around them, spilling beer and talking at the top of their voices. Now he sits in Ruby M’s and watches aggressive Gujarati men playing pool and darts around him, spilling beer and talking at the top of their voices. The sing-song nature of their conversations lulls him into memories. Memories where it was all different, where everything wasn’t so Indian around him, where he had to wait for the Bollywood man to drive around on Sunday morning with a new box of tapes for them to choose the latest releases from. Now there are cinemas and DVD shops and the great equaliser that is the internet. How did it all change so fast? And now everything is within reach, does it not feel too easy?

He sips his whisky, and leaves the pub heading for the chip shop where he buys cod and chips and heads home, eating them, whistling and feeling more British than yesterday.

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