Maya Malhotra

Born: 27th January 1937

Agra, India

Date of interview: 7th June 2006

Map showing where Maya Malhotra came from

How did you travel to Britain?

By air, yeah we both came by air, did my husband came by Japan Airlines and I came by Air India. But we both travelled by air. Well we stayed in at his friend's place in London and spend the day there. And then in the night we took the train and went to Cornwall, and we reached early morning to Cornwall there. He had a flat there in Cornwall. We went there.

And my experience of Cornwall was very very different. I think that there ... although it was a mining area, because of the mining college there were not many foreigners in that. And in that whole town there were two Indian families there. I was the second one. One student was there senior to my husband. His family, his wife and two children were there and then we reached there, so wherever I go everybody say 'Oh I know you.' And I was thinking 'Oh what a thing to say.' [laughs] And first I was very puzzled why people say 'I know you' or do I look so different. And then I realised afterwards when we found there are only two Indian families in the whole town so everybody recognised me and because I always wore my sari so it's easy for them to recognise me.

There was a post advertised in Reading so he came to give the interview and he find out ... well in those days it wasn't that hours, weeks waiting, they said yes he had been selected and we have a vacancy. You can start from Monday. So then he wrote a letter to me, the phone wasn't that easily available that 'I got the job so you can pack up your, things and come back and meet me in Reading' because we were very, very short of money at that time so he couldn't come and pick me up and all that.

So I made my way to Reading. But ... in the meantime we find out, that in those days nobody was giving flat to ... Indians. There is the flat advertised when you ring them ... and, if they ... don't recognise you from your voice, when you go there then they say the flat is gone. So you don't get a flat in, in Reading at that time. And I remember there were only two Indian, well two landlords of ethnic minority. One was a Pakistani man, one was an Indian man, the only two people who have houses at that time, but they were more keen to rent room than to rent a flat. So ... in the end my husband said 'You have to stay in a room now, you can't have a flat any more.' We stayed in a room. And I was expecting my first child at that time ... it was ... we moved to Reading in December and I had my first child in February.