Saturday, April 12, 2008


There's a good 'Face to faith' article in the Guardian today, by the estimable Sunny Hundal (of Pickled Politics and Liberal Conspiracy, to which I contribute periodically) on Sikhism, ritual and the power of symbolic meaning. That opens up a whole fascinating topic ... but it also brings back specific memories. Sunny lives in Southall, which I've re-visited a couple of times lately. I lived there for nigh on six years in the 1980s. It was a very difficult phase of life for me, but the place is somewhere I love deeply.

The Sri Guru Gobind Singh Sabha gurdwara in Havelock Road (pictured) was a relatively modest converted dairy when I knew it, lying immediately opposite the back entrance of the Anglican church I used to attend, St John's. It was dramatically redeveloped, re-opened - as it happens - on my birthday in 2003 (30 March), and is now the largest Sikh temple outside India. It was fascinating to go there again and witness the dramatic changes first-hand. Extraordinarily, there were some people I knew working in the kitchen at St John's, too. The church itself is being refurbished.

I also visited old eating haunts, including a snack at Rita's Samosa Centre and veggie lunch at Sagoo and Takhar, still my favourite. I used to go there regularly to pick up some stuffed veg parathas on my way to see Southall FC at their old ground in Western Road. Now they are at Dormers Wells Leisure Centre, after huge problems which saw them drop back into a very minor football league and go into geographical exile. I watched them in the comparative glory days of the Isthmian League.

Oh yes. I also picked up some excellent marsala tea when I was in Southall (Indian food shopping is a wonder at the various emporia and small holdings), and Carla is now addicted!

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