Haji Mohammed Sadiq


 

 

 

 

 

 

Mohammed attended school in Pakistan until the ninth grade when on his seventeenth birthday he decided to go to the UK to seek work, with support the of his family and friends.

Mohammed took 5 days to reach Karachi where it took him two months to get a passport and documents costing him 5,000 rupees (£50). He used an agent to travel to the UK who helped him purchase warm clothing for the trip who then escorted him to the aeroplane. During the flight Mohammed experienced some air turbulence prayed to Allah asking him for protection and arrived safely in London two days later.

On arrival at Gatwick he passed through immigration and was put on a coach and taken to Paddington Station where he and his travelling companions caught a train to Birmingham, arriving at Snow Hill Railway Station. Mohammed enjoyed the journey from London, but was not so keen on the weather which was dark, cold and snowing, not like Pakistan.

On arrivial at Snow Hill station Mohammed took a black cab to a house in Hockley as his Uncle was at work and couldn’t meet him. As he couldn’t speak any English he gave the taxi driver a piece of paper with the address; the taxi driver seeing that Mohammed was new to the country and spoke no English was very kind and helped him to carry his luggage into the house and asked him if he was OK. Mohammed never forgot this act of kindness shown to him.

Mohammed found many people living at the house with the ones who had work supported those who didn’t.  Food costs were shared and all food was cooked at home and was very basic comprising of watery curry chapattis and chai; chickens were bought direct from the farms and slaughtered at home and shopping was only done at local Pakistani shops.  Baths were taken at the public baths in Nechells and clothes were washed at home or at the local launderette.

There was very little to do during the week except looking for work but Mohammed did visit the cinema sometimes at the weekend.  Everything was new to Mohammed and every house looked the same  so he placed  some bricks outside his house, to help him identify it, but one day someone moved the brick and he got lost looking for the house wandering the streets for hours.

Although times were tough Mohammed had the help and support of his family and friends, without this he would have had trouble surviving those early days in Birmingham.

Mohammed had difficulty finding work due to his lack of English and transport; however after 6 months of traipsing the streets, he found work at Birmingham Dairy in Corporation Street; thanks to being recommended by one of his relatives who worked there already. Mohammed worked there for ten years rising to management level, all this time improving on his English as well as helping many people like him find work at the dairy on arrival in the UK. After Birmingham Dairy was demolished Mohammed worked for a variety of companies in the West Midlands for over thirty years, before taking a well earned retirement.

Mohammed had an arranged marriage in Pakistan to his cousin in 1960; his wife joined him in Birmingham with their children in 1984.  He also arranged passage for his brothers, sisters and their families to the UK also  helping them to buy their homes.

In 1965 his Uncle bought him his first home which cost £900 saying that this property would ensure he stayed in the UK and not return to Pakistan. It worked, since then Mohammed has bought 10 more homes for himself and his children.

Mohammed was told by the agents in Pakistani that England was like heaven and that there was no poverty, and no money worries unlike Pakistan.  Fifty five years on, Mohammed believes that, coming to the UK has improved his quality of life but at what cost? the increase in prosperity counteracted by the loss of core values within the community.