Jubair Ahmed (Essex, UK)
Jubair notes that when he joined his parents in Manor Park:
There were very few Bengalis; gradually more Bengalis arrived. Now there is a big community of Bengalis. You see Bengalis everywhere.
Many of these new arrivals moved from Aldgate in East London:
At that time, Manor Park was seen as more relaxed than Aldgate. So everyone came here. This area has become crowded. People are moving to other places.
You know Bengalis are not well off… Margaret Thatcher introduced the 'Right to Buy' scheme to help people buy Council houses and many people bought houses at a huge discount... People made money and started moving to other places like Ilford or Manor Park, and these places became crowded.
The presence of Asian communities in Newham was also a draw:
They chose places like Manor Park for a number of reasons: where are the markets where we can buy betel leaves, betel nuts, vegetables, things like that? The mosque is another issue. In Manor Park there is a big mosque. I think this also has an effect on people; they'll be able to say their prayers… Those who have relatives in East London, Brick Lane, think, 'We'll move to Manor Park, it's not far from East London.' So all these thoughts were behind the choice of Manor Park.
However, he also notes that more recently people are moving on from Newham to other places.
Now Manor Park has become crowded. So, people want to move… House prices have gone up; roads have become congested, more traffic jams. People get annoyed. Because of this, people who can afford it are thinking of alternatives… I think the Bengalis are moving in this direction - to Chadwell Heath, Redbridge, Dagenham, places on the outskirts of London. Houses in Redbridge are more expensive than in Chadwell Heath and Dagenham. People who are better off financially are going to Redbridge, otherwise they are coming to this side.
Jubair moved from Manor Park to Chadwell Heath in 2007 because he feels the area is nicer and he needed more space for his two children:
This place is just outside London… I liked it mainly because of the schools. The kids can walk to school, they don't depend on transport. Later they can go to the high school that's also near our house. After high school, they'll go to a college that's also in walking distance… All the important institutions are very near to our house.
Communication is good; I've got good connections with East London and I have some friends over there… If I stay here, I'm not isolated; I can still keep in touch… There are three or four Bengali shops, there is a Bengali mosque… The mosque is very important to religious people.
Jubair feels that the Bengali community is now well established in the UK and in London:
Now our Bengali students can go to school with courage; we have grown up here. We used to go to school with fear, like thieves; at any time anybody could beat us up, slap us, punch us; we could not respond, we could not win; we were such a minority. Now our children can talk in Bangla even when they are on the bus; they do not care. I like it. They speak Bangla, then they switch to English quickly, and again Bangla. They have no complex…