Migration from India and Pakistan
British Asians on the Grand Trunk Road
Why do people still have links with their homelands?
To this day, British Asians maintain ties with their homelands on the Grand Trunk Road. Many people from cities such as Bradford, Burnley and Birmingham return to marry a partner from places like Jalandhar, Mirpur or Chach (see image 1). The bodies of many first generation Muslims are repatriated to the homeland for burial (see image 2). However, this tradition is decreasing as the elderly come to terms with the reality that their younger family members, settled in Britain, may not return in years to come to visit their graves.
In the hope that their children and grandchildren will maintain links, many people have invested in businesses in India and Pakistan. Many more have built holiday homes, which are frequently grander than those built by locals, since the exchange rate provides a bigger budget as well as access to superior fixtures and fittings (see image 3) . Ironically though, many newly built properties lie empty for much of the year.
Some businesses believe it is profitable to use a name that alludes to a link with the UK, whether or not such a link actually exists. Even if they have never visited Britain, some owners perceive that giving their business a name like ‘English Shoes’, ‘British Jewellery Shop’ or ‘Sheffield Grammar School’ suggests British standards of trading or staff training (see image 4). Catering for the needs of summer visitors from Britain, with pounds to spend locally, is also big business. In anticipation for instance, one shop in Saleh Khana near Peshawar stocks up on essentials like bottled water, breakfast cereals and tinned foods during the summer months.
Download the Word documents below to read oral history testimonies of British Asians and their families in the homeland.
The map below shows the route of the Grand Trunk Road from Calcutta in India, to Kabul in Afghanistan.