Chaudhri Riaz

Born: 10th June 1946

Nanka Kohana, Pakistan

Date of interview: 25th May 2006

Map showing where Chaudhri Riaz came from

And Deputy Mayor, yes. How did you see your role, as ... as somebody coming from ... a big family in Pakistan and being mayor?

As I said, I think from day one my outlook and approach was ... international ... and multinational rather than actually village or town or a province or a country or a ... you know anything like that. And proof of that is now that I didn't learn English when I came here. I started learning English when I was only nine years old. OK? So when I came here I had studied English for fifteen years. And then when I had a choice either to do my BA or even O-level or A Levels, you know or whatever, and degree basic degree, either in Urdu medium, which was my national language or in English medium, I decided to go for English medium.

I like being exposed to the other parts of the world and that's something. And I can tell you now. As and when I can afford it timewise we would like to actually go away a few days and you know see the world. I can tell you because my outlook was international I didn't have any language problem but I had an added advantage being an Asian, originally because I could speak, can speak Punjabi, I can speak Urdu, I can speak a little bit of Arabic, I can speak a little bit of Persian. I can understand Hindi ... and English. So it was a wonderful experience actually whenever I used to go, if I used to go to Sikh Temple I used to speak Punjabi, their language, their mother-tongue. If I used to go to Hindu Temple I used to speak their language ... OK? If I go to you know other, somewhere else, I will speak their language. So I think as a matter of fact it gave me an advantage and I was in a position to actually put the communities together, bring them closer. And to make them feel at home ... and I felt at home as well because wherever I went I adapted to that because I was familiar with it. So I think it was wonderful and believe you me I was welcomed everywhere I went ... you know, in Reading and I loved it.

I am grateful to my colleagues and my friends. And in particular to the people, like you know my ... particularly in earthquake you know. As you know we collected about hundred and thirty-five thousand pound in Reading all of us, with the other friends and ... you know then ... other people helped me as well and I'm grateful to all of them.