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Interview of Ashish Kundu by Mahbubur Rahman

Recorded in Norfolk, United Kingdom. Ashish Kundu, originally from Bangladesh, has developed a deep affinity for coastal and near coastal places, eventually settling in Norwich. A doctor in the Accident and Emergency Department of an NHS hospital, Ashish's journey involved a shift from his initial aspiration to become a scientist. He spoke fondly of his father, a university professor and author, whose influence sparked his interest in writing. Reflecting on his childhood and young adulthood, Ashish recounted memories from Sussex University and his educational experiences in India. Actively involved in a voluntary organization called Sandhani, he shares impactful stories of encouraging blood donations. In his leisure time, Ashish enjoys gardening, music, writing, and reading. Expressing the importance of consoling and easing patients' heartache, he noted this as a common oversight in the medical profession. He applauded the National Council for Writing's project preserving Bengali life stories, recognizing the cultural richness they bring to the historical record. Overall, the interview captures Ashish's diverse experiences, professional journey, and his appreciation for preserving cultural narratives.

Interview of Rahnuma Sultana (Raki) and Shahid Akther by Mahbubur Rahman, part 1 of 2

Recorded in Norfolk, United Kingdom.

Rahnuma, of Dussindale, Norwich, was born in Chittagong and was originally from Sylhet. Rahnuma discusses her upbringing in a railway colony in Chittagong, highlighting the vibrant childhood she and her siblings enjoyed with numerous friends and engaging in extracurricular activities. She spoke warmly about her parents, emphasizing her mother's role as a full-time homemaker.

The conversation shifted to her marriage to Shahid Akhter, a lecturer, and their journey from Dhaka to the UK in 1997. Rahnuma expressed her fondness for Shetland, Scotland, where they initially settled, and later relocating to Norwich in 2013. The couple have three children, and Rahnuma detailed the challenges she faced during her first pregnancy, which coincided with her final year of undergraduate studies.

Professionally, Rahnuma is a qualified teacher and currently works as a teaching assistant in a primary school in the UK. She shared her initial plans to pursue a full-time teaching career but had to prioritize childcare for her two young children. Rahnuma discussed her desire for a Bengali school in Norwich to teach the language to the local Bengali community, emphasizing the potential for fostering deeper connections between generations.

Shahid Akhtar, born in Karachi, Pakistan, discusses his childhood in Dhaka, emphasizing the positive environment and close relationships with friends. He highlighted the influence of his father, an automobile engineer in the Pakistan Air Force, and shared admiration for his parents. Shahid mentions his family, including three brothers and one sister, detailing their professions and international residences. He described the unconventional story of meeting his wife, Rakhi, through a medical match arranged by his maternal uncle. Celebrating their silver wedding anniversary last year, they have two daughters and a son, with Shahid attributing his shift from a seafaring career to spending more time with his family.

Interview of Shiblee Sayed by Mahbubur Rahman

Recorded in Norfolk, United Kingdom.

Shiblee discusses his childhood experiences in a rural area, highlighting the communal bonding facilitated by the introduction of the first black and white TV in his home. Shiblee reflected on his strict upbringing by teacher parents, the challenges of his engineering education at Shahjalal University of Sylhet, elongated because of political upheaval, and shared memories of his graduation ceremony (for his Masters degree) in the UK with his parents.

He touched upon his work experiences, including a stint in Afghanistan, where he contributed to rebuilding infrastructure. Shiblee also spoke about his move to the UK for further studies and his subsequent job in Norwich, expressing his love for the city's landscape and his role in flood management at the Environment Agency. He shared personal moments, such as his memorable reunion with his parents in the UK and details about his family life with his wife and two children. Shiblee expressed appreciation for the National Centre for Writing's initiative to preserve Bengali community stories, emphasizing the importance of documenting the experiences of Bengalis living in the UK.

Interview of Sirajul Islam by Mahbubur Rahman

Recorded in Norfolk, United Kingdom. Sirajul, born in Bangladesh in 1969, shares insights into his life. Growing up in a rural village without modern amenities, he emphasizes the simplicity and serenity of his family life. At the age of 27-28, he moved to the UK and joined his brother's business in Norwich. Reflecting on the changes in the city over the years, he expressed affection for Norwich's historic charm. Sirajul Islam, a practicing Muslim, speaks about his faith, his admiration for Prophet Muhammad, and his involvement in the local mosque and community centre. He discusses his family, including his four children's diverse pursuits. Memories of his mother and the significant role of his wife in shaping his life were also highlighted. Overall, the interview covered aspects of his personal and professional journey, cultural experiences, and reflections on life lessons.

Interview of Zahid Rahman and Makhduma Akhter by Mahbubur Rahman

Recorded in Norfolk, United Kingdom.

Dr Zahidur Rahman, a consultant in acute and emergency medicine, discusses various aspects of his life and career. Born in Bangladesh in 1977, he shares details about his family. Dr Rahman describes his journey in the medical field, from studying in Bangladesh to completing fellowships in Saudi Arabia and the UK. He became a consultant in emergency medicine in 2017.

Dr Rahman speaks about his family in Bangladesh, his siblings, and the challenges of being away from his aging mother. He also mentioned his active involvement with the alumni of Chittagong Medical College in the UK and shared anecdotes from his school days and recent gatherings with friends.

The interview touched upon Dr Rahman's marriage, emphasizing the initial challenges of convincing families due to societal norms.
Dr Rahman also talks about his social life in Norwich, mentioning the expansion of his social circle and the enjoyment of friendship and laughter in the community.

Makhduma Akhter, born in 1983, is a care support worker with flexible shifts. She balances her responsibilities with her husband Zahid in raising their three children. Akhter expressed pride in her eldest son's interest in learning Bengali and emphasized the importance of preserving Bengali culture and history within her family.

She discusses her close-knit family, including her brothers' support and the challenges of being separated from her parents in Bangladesh due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Akhter highlighted the strong family bonds that become evident when they reunite in Bangladesh, sharing a poignant memory of her brother helping her at the airport.

Reflecting on her school days in Khulna and her journey to marriage, Akhter described her initial hesitations in building a relationship with Zahid and the eventual support from their families. The couple moved to Saudi Arabia after marriage, and later settled in Norwich, where they initially struggled to connect with the Bengali community but eventually became part of a thriving network.

In closing, Akhter expressed a desire for a system to teach Bengali language to children in the UK and hoped for cooperation from the council and the National Centre for Writing in this regard.

Interview of Wali Ullah (Rubel) by Mahbubur Rahman

Recorded in Norfolk, United Kingdom.

Wali Ullah, also known as Rubel, discusses various aspects of his life. Born in 1978, in old Dhaka, Bangladesh, he spent his college years in Chennai, India, before moving to the UK. Wali shares memories of his diverse college life and the influence of his multicultural experiences in Chennai.

Coming from a large family of seven siblings, Wali highlights his mother's culinary skills, particularly her famous chutki shemai. Despite a background in import-export business, he unexpectedly found himself drawn to the food and hospitality industry, inspired by his Old Dhaka roots and Mughal cuisine.

Wali mentions his family's political background, with his uncle's affiliation with the Bangladesh Awami League. Tragically, his uncle was killed in 2005, prompting Wali to move to the UK to escape political unrest. He emphasizes the importance of tenacity in overcoming challenges and talks of his commitment to philanthropy, which includes the support of a charity for supporting students in Bangladesh.

Living in Norwich since 2006, Wali observed changes in the city's population, increased traffic, and a rise in migrant families. He also expressed admiration for his local MP, Clive Lewis, citing Lewis's support during challenging times in his business.

Interview of Khairul Anam and Shireen Anam by Mahbubur Rahman

Recorded in Norfolk, United Kingdom.

Khairul Anam and Shireen Anam, a married couple residing near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, discuss various aspects of their lives. Married for 42 years, they shared their experiences of living in the UK, particularly in Norwich, where they initiated and organized cultural programs for the Bengali community. Khairul, who has worked for the Department for Transport, discusses his professional journey from Bangladesh to various locations in the UK. The couple describe family life. They reflect on their childhoods, family backgrounds, and the close bonds with their siblings. The interview touched upon their children's achievements, the significance of Bangladesh in their lives, and memorable travels. Shireen works as an interpreter and translator, emphasizes the importance of learning from people's life stories. The couple also discuss positive changes in the UK's tolerance over the past 28 years and shared personal milestones, such as their wedding day and Khairul's qualification as a ship's captain.

Interview of Gias Miah by Mahbubur Rahman, part 1 of 2

Recorded in Norfolk, United Kingdom. Gias Miah, a chef and community figure in Norwich, shares his life journey from Bangladesh to England at the age of 2. Despite having no memories of his birthplace, he emphasizes his strong cultural ties and frequent visits to Bangladesh. Gias manages the restaurant 'Tamarind' in Blofield Heath, where he engages in charitable activities for the community. Family is crucial to him, with fond memories of his wedding day and a deep admiration for his late father, who was a politician, who remains his ultimate inspiration. Gias is proud to call Norwich home, expresses a desire to share his knowledge by resuming courses at Norwich City College, promoting the importance of tradition and culture, especially in the culinary arts.

Interview of Shefa Begum and Jewel Khan by Mahbubur Rahman, part 1 of 2

Recorded in Norfolk, United Kingdom.

Shefa Begum was born in Norwich in 1983, shares insights into her cultural heritage and family life. She described her love for traditional Bengali dishes, learned from her mother and sister, and the joy of cooking together with family members in a clay stove. She highlighted her family's early settlement in Norwich, where her father established a business called 'Curry House', located in Anglia Square, Norwich. Despite being the only Muslim and Asian girl in her school, she did not experience racism. She emphasized the changes in Norwich over the years, with more Bengali children attending her former school. She discussed the evolving communication patterns among today's youth, contrasting it with the close-knit interactions she experienced while growing up. She reflected on the changes in the availability of cultural amenities, such as the emergence of a mosque and Arabic lessons. She also shared details about her family, including her marriage and her three children. Finally, Shefa expresses her longing for Bangladesh, where her late father's grave is located, and her plans to visit Turkey with her family in the near future.

Jewel Khan, born in Bangladesh in 1978, shares his journey from a young boy helping his father run a shop to becoming a successful businessman in the UK. Despite his grandfather's plea to avoid a lifelong career in shop keeping, Jewel embraced the opportunity and expanded into a fertilizer business, benefiting the local community. The eldest of seven siblings, he moved to the UK in 2001, eventually starting a successful restaurant in Wroxham called Royal Pizza and Kebab. After 20 years in business, Jewel closed the restaurant to spend more time with family and travel. He expresses a deep connection to his roots, missing the cultural elements and family back in Bangladesh. Jewel appreciates the diversity in Norwich today, contrasting it with his initial sense of isolation, and expresses gratitude to the 'Queen and ... the British Parliament for [providing] immigrants the chance to live fulfilling and prosperous lives [in the UK]'.

Interview of Mahbubur Rahman (Mash) by Chris [Gribble], part 1 of 3

Recorded in Norfolk, United Kingdom. Mahbubur Rahman, also known as Mash, discusses his life in Bangladesh and the challenges he faced due to his liberal beliefs. Born in Sunamganj, he grew up in a middle-class family with five siblings. Despite societal criticism, his mother pursued a career in family planning. In Bangladesh, Mash engaged in various activities, including business, banking, and community projects. Fearing religious intolerance, he moved to London in 2011, facing initial challenges but eventually settling in Norwich. There, he encountered racism, started a family with three daughters, and faced many difficulties in 2018. Despite these setbacks, his involvement with the National Centre for Writing and Bengali community projects helped him rebuild his life in Norwich, where he strives to create connections and cultural awareness.

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