Chaudhri Riaz

Born: 10th June 1946

Nanka Kohana, Pakistan

Date of interview: 25th May 2006

Map showing where Chaudhri Riaz came from

What were the bad experiences that you had?

Bad experiences? [Interviewer: Yes] Well, I wouldn't call it bad but, yes, it was disappointing. I applied to two hundred and sixty-five people to get the articles and [wry laugh] some of them didn't bother to answer. The others actually sent a regret that four, five others had got the invite too and I didn't get the articles, and I thought, well I'm not that bad. [Both laugh.] I mean, I wouldn't call myself to be Plato or Aristotle and a philosopher... not a Shakespeare and [Interviewer laughs] not a Wordsworth, but at the same time I don't think I was that bad. So probably, you know, I think in those days there was ... probably you know sort of reservations and, you know sort of ... You can call it psychological barrier. You know in crude language you can say discrimination.

And I would say that it was psychological barrier because the people ... I'll give you an example. One of my clients came to me and he rang me. And you know he's realised that I am an Asian. I mean probably when I was younger I would have told him off, you know but now as I said ... you have, you get mature, and you have so much experience you enjoy things rather than being irritated about it. He said 'Where are you from?' I said 'I am from Pakistan originally.' He said ' I don't like Pakistanis.' And I said 'Look, I didn't ask you that question, so this is unasked for and unwanted for.' So I said 'But again, if you had a bad experience, there's nothing that I can do. If you don't want to come to me, don't come to me. OK. But I think now that you don't like Pakistanis, I would like you to come to me. Don't pay fees, but come and see me because where on earth you got that impression? You know I'm proud to be a Pakistani.'

He came to me, and do you know what happened? He gave me a bouquet and he said 'You are wonderful person. My sincere apologies. It has changed my impression of all Pakistanis.' But probably he must have met someone you know who didn't do good ... you know who didn't behave properly. But I told him. I said 'Look. You go to zoo. You know it doesn't really matter which country you go, you see animals of every colour, every skin, every height, every size, every nature, you know, and ... every character. God has created human beings. You find the human beings. There are wonderful human beings, there are worst ones, there are criminal, there are sick, there are saints. You know there are angels. So really you shouldn't form opinion until you have met the person and you have experienced the behaviour, you know, he is putting forward and presenting.'

Anyway I have never had a problem, you know, once the people came in. And as I said, now I have been councillor, I'm happy. My ward people have been wonderful and I was Mayor of Reading as you know just a week ago and it was a brilliant experience. I have enjoyed every moment of it. I was welcomed and never ever even once a single time I felt any discrimination or anything. And I really think so far as the system is concerned, as I said, there are individuals of every type, probably sometimes it's based on ignorance, you know lack of experience ... lack of exposure. But I can tell you that system is brilliant because otherwise I wouldn't have been mayor. And not only me, I mean there are you know seven, eight Asian and Africans who are Members of Parliament, there are members of the House of Lords. The system did not stop me. It encouraged me to go forward.

Then I came into politics when the children were grown up and, yes, the credit goes to my wife. She helped me along because she gave, always gave me support. You know, Naeema Chaudhri, the Mayoress of Reading and she is a wonderful girl and, a lady, and she has supported me as the mayoress as well. And she was always willing to actually be in the kitchen and cook the food like you know the part which my mother played there at my home, she has played here. So I made a lot of friends and you know we did wonderfully well and I didn't have any problem with that. I was welcomed in politics, I was welcomed as a councillor, I was welcomed as a mayor. And as I said credit goes to her because you know she supported me all the way now.

I think one thing I missed out which I would like to mention was my father's name and my mother's name. My father's name is Chaudhri Mohammad Sherif Aulakh spelled as M-O-H-A-double M-A-D Sharif S-H-A-R-I-F and Aulakh A-U-L-A-K-H. My mother is [pause] Ayasha Bibi A-Y-A-S-H-A B-I-B-I. And children I have got five.