Maya Malhotra

Born: 27th January 1937

Agra, India

Date of interview: 7th June 2006

Map showing where Maya Malhotra came from

Let me just take you back to when you first came to Reading, you said, there that you had the real experience of being an immigrant. What did you mean?

Well I think when I was in Cornwall we were treated like guest because they all knew there are students here, they are here for a year or six months or twelve months or maybe two years and they go back. And because people treat you like you are doing something for their economy because the students were the main source of income in that area so, there were not much prejudice there, they were very friendly, very, very co-operative people. And here when I came to Reading, though I personally have been very lucky, I've never been abused by anybody. I have good friends, good English neighbours and all that, only a small incident, one or two where you can see that it was not right.

Well I remember when my daughter was ... small, she went to school, she was going to nursery and one day she come home and says to me, and she was only four years old at that time, 'Mummy, are you going to arrange my marriage.' I said 'Of course I will arrange your marriage' [laughing as she speaks] I thought, she must have, heard somewhere arranged marriage, so ... 'No way!' I said 'Why?' 'No way. I'm not going to marry a Paki.' And I said 'What do you mean by Paki?' But I have to explain to her at that time what is a Paki means and what is Indian means and I said 'Look. They can call Pakis but you are not going to call anybody Pakis from today.'

So I've told her now, and so this was the small things like when ... I remember when I bought my first house. We went to see the house and the next door neighbour, they were all eager who is coming to see the house and we were ... we went in the evening to see the house and so she just come out. And, out of curiosity I just said 'Hello' to her and say 'This is nice area and is a quiet area too much noise?' She said 'No it's a nice area.' And after that we left it, and I didn't see her any more. When we bought the house, when we moved into the house, then she didn't like it, that I ... that was the English lady and she didn't like it that we've been Indian buying this house. And she stopped telling even, I say whenever I see her I say 'Hello, good morning' and she will not respond to me at all. After a few days I stopped telling her, I say if she don't want to respond to me let her do it whatever she wants. Well my daughter she will stand in the back garden [laughter in her voice] on the steps and, and she keep on saying 'Hello' until she reply to her. [laughs heartily] And she was thinking, why don't she reply to me [laughs] so, that's one thing. Then I think I ... after that, after a few months of resentment they become friendly, and then I find out one day that they were evicted, when I come home I was told they were evicted they were the tenant they hadn't paid their rent and so.