I went to visit my maternal grandfather on Thursday, ostensibly to install a VCR but more to discuss the Problems Of The World as we seem to do now every time we come over. We started on the classic family stress topics of “are you getting married soon?”, “are you getting enough done?” and “are you happy?” (no, no, yes) before broadening out. Getting on to the topic of the yoof, I was surprised to hear him say that he believes that 2nd generation Indian kids don’t do enough to integrate with England and damage themselves by sticking to Asian cliques. He thinks they should throw themselves into England entirely. Though I somewhat agree, I found it a strange opinion for him to have. I’ve never heard any of his age say anything like that. If anything, it’s always the opposite – my paternal grandad insists I don’t hang around with enough kids of Indian descent.
I can understand why my father’s generation of immigrants stuck very close together – the country was a lot more hostile place to be different back in the 70s. But surely now, we can go beyond that. I’ve no qualms with people maintaining and cherishing a heritage, but if 70% of your friends are Asian descent, that seems to suggest a certain amount of isolation. One for me to consider and I’ll try not be all sanctimonious about it…old guys are allowed to do that, I’m not just yet. Perhaps those cliquey guys just have a better handle on it all than I do, hey?
(By the by, the moving of the VCR was to enable my grandad to set up a tape recorder next to his bed in order to get his memoirs down. Can’t wait to hear it – he’s had a hell of a life, that man.)