The Grand Trunk Road - Recording Oral History Interviews
Talking to Families
My most in-depth interviews were those that involved speaking to several members of the same family. In the village of Saleh Khana near Peshawar in Pakistan, I met a British born Pakistani who was enjoying a family holiday (image 1). Following his interview, he introduced me to his father and uncle. Interviewing several generations of the same family was very insightful and produced a much more rounded picture of their migration experience.
During our stay at a guesthouse in Amritsar, we realised it was owned by a grand dame who was now in her nineties, and who still resided there. The guesthouse was now run by her daughter, Mrs Rattan Bhandari, who explained her mother was too weak to take visitors. So I asked Mrs Bhandari if I could interview her instead. When I returned that evening for the interview, she had also invited a cousin to join us (image 2). I hoped Mrs Bhandari would relate stories about her motherís life. It was obviously not as good as interviewing her mother, but we nevertheless collected some rich material, albeit it was about Ďmy mum rather than Ií:
My mum tells the story about when Lady Mountbatten gave a party or when they gave a party for Lady Mountbatten. She says when Lady Mountbatten gave the party she had a tremendous sense for noticing things. She knew for example that my mum loved mangoes so mangoes were served to Mrs Bhandari. And she says that when they gave the return party, the lemonade was taken out of enamel buckets with glasses where their hands were in the glass and put around the table. But Lady Mountbatten is supposed to have taken the glass and sipped the lemonade and said how delicious it was. My mum tells stories like those.