This is a translation version of the original video documentary which was than transcribed and translated from Bengali to English. A book with the title of History of Bangladeshis in Greater Manchester has been published and it will be distributed to the libraries, schools and universities. The interview took place on 24 June 2010, so information about his personal family information may have been changed.
8.18 Alhaj Muslim Ali
8.18.1 Life in Bangladesh: Alhaj Muslim Ali was born in 1937 in the village of Alankari, Biswanath, Sylhet. His Father’s name is Md. Israel Ali. He studied up to class 4 from his local “Alankari Primary School” and due to his Father’s death he could not continued his studies any more. At that time he was 11 years old. He has 2 brothers and 3 sisters, amongst them he is the eldest. That time eldest person of the family has to take care of the family so he used to do that. After his father’s death his uncles helped him to do the agricultural work.
Before his father’s death his uncles and his father used to take care of their family. When his father died, at that time village people were very poor compared to this time. There were not many rich people in their village; only two or three families were rich. They used to maintain their family from agricultural work.
8.18.2 Journey to the UK & Immigration:
In 1962 he came to Britain. East West Pakistan was one country at that point. Mr. Anjob Ali from the village wanted his son to go to Britain; he came to know that people from Karachi in Pakistan are going to Britain by voucher.
Mr. Anjob Ali also came to know that Mr. Monir Khan from Moulvi Gaon used to live in Karachi and he used to help people with their Passports. He got the address from Mr. Khan’s Father. The local school teachers’ son and 3 other people went to Karachi to Mr. Khan because they wanted to come to Britain. He gave advice to Mr. Anjob Ali that he needs 5000 Rupees to come to Britain.
He sold paddy fields and had taken some loans from other people and he managed to collect 4000 Rupees and he attached a condition that the remaining balance will be paid when he could come up with the money. Then he went to Karachi, another 3-4 people came to Karachi with him to come to Britain. In Karachi they went to the teachers’ house that came before and found out that people who came to Karachi with the teacher are all going to Britain.
After 2 months in Karachi he came to Britain. When he came to Heathrow, it was his last day of coming to Britain. There were 7-8 people who came together. Mr. Monir Khan also came because if he missed this flight then he won’t be able to come to Britain by the Voucher. From Heathrow everybody went to their relative’s house and he went to his cousins’ brother’s house and people from his village in Bradford.
8.18.3 Life in the UK:
That time 3-4 people used to cook together. Everything was cheap that time; they used to use shillings and pence. They used to spend 5-6 pound on every month. For example: the price of bread was one shilling or 50 pence, £1.00 or £1.50 rent for sit per person. They used to go to public bath 1 day per week to have a bath.
They used to warm their house by using coals; there was chicken and lamb available that time. Mainly Pakistani people opened Chicken and lamb businesses in Britain. From the shop they used to get Chicken, Lamb and vegetables. That time there weren’t many vegetables and meat in the shops compare to this time. There were not many shops that time. That time they did a lot of hard work.
His first job was in Britain in Show Mill Oldham as a labour. He used to work 5 days a week for £5.00 and if he work on a Saturday then he used to get £6.00. After 6 months working there he found another job in a factory in Shaw. He used to get £17.00 – £18.00 per week. After 6-7 months he went to Bradford on holiday and he found another job in a cotton mill.
He came to Shaw and told them that he found another job in Bradford. He used to do a twisting job there. His wages were £18.00 – £22.00 per week. When he used to work in Shaw, it was a really hard job. After 1 and a half years working in Bradford he found another job in the same area in a Carpet factory. He worked there for 15 years and he used to go to Bangladesh and when he came back he’d go back to the same job.
His starting wages were £25.00 – £28.00 per week. They used to increase his wages. In 1980 when he was about to quit the job, he used to get £60.00 – £80.00 per week including over time. Without over time he used to get £45.00 – £60.00 per week. That time all most everybody was single. That time 15-16 people used to live in one house.
After he quit the job in 1980 he didn’t get any other job. People started to retire and he also retired that time. He didn’t do any job after his retirement.
When he first came to Britain, he stayed with his cousin for 1 week. He did not have to pay for anything. People had started to come to Britain before or after 1961. His cousins’ brother Mr. Toimus Ali had a coffee shop in Oldham. Then he came to Oldham and he used to stay with his cousins’ brother on the 2nd floor of the coffee shop. The coffee shop was in Oldham Mom Bridge. He stayed there for 1 and half months. He did not have to pay any rent.
They used to warm water with a kettle or a cooking pot to have a bath at home. That time they didn’t used to have radiators at home. They used to use coal to warm the house, some people used to have gas fires but not everybody. They used to buy coal and put it in a small room and they used to get the coal using a bucket from the small room.
In 1975 his wife and 2 year old son came to Britain. Before his family came to Britain, he bought a 6 bedroom houses for £6000.00. When he quit the job in the carpet factory he then sold the house and he went to Bangladesh with his family.
He left his family in Bangladesh and he came back to Britain. That time he bought another house for £3000.00 – £3500.00 in Manchester Oldham. Then they came to Oldham. After 4 years living in this house in 1984 he got the house from the Council. Per week he used to pay £15.00 – £16.00 rent. In 1988 he bought the house from the Council.
8.18.6 Social & Family:
In 1969 after 7 and half years he went to Bangladesh and got married. He is the father of 5 children, 1 daughter and 4 sons. His daughters have gotten married and are living with his 2nd son. The other 3 sons are living with their family in their own house. He has a lot of grandchildren. He has 3 granddaughters from the 2nd son, 1 grand son and 2 grand daughters from his eldest son, 2 granddaughters from his 3rd son and 1 grand son from his 4th son.
He was involved with Oldham Bangladesh Association and he is still involved with that association. Also he is involved with Oldham’s Central Mosque but he was more involved with the old Mosque and he was (Mutwali) in charge for 2-3 years of the old Mosque.
In 1985 he went to Makkah to do pilgrimage (Hajj), also he did Umra Hajj 4/5 times. He also said that he is planning to go to Makkah with his wife for Hajj. He wants to do Umrah Hajj with his wife during the Ramadan and after the Hajj. His house in Bangladesh is locked up and 1 person takes care of it. He goes to Bangladesh to visit.
During the work in Britain he used to get weekends off but sometimes he used to work On Saturdays. On his off day he used to stay at home and chat with friends, playing games and they also used to go to the Cinema to watch movies. At the moment he feels bored with all his free time.
It is embarrassing to go and spend free time in someone else’s house because everybody has their own family, daughters-in-law etc. He also said that during that time everybody was single and it was easy to go to someone’s house. He thinks that there should be a centre for a get-together for old people to go and spend their free time. His children don’t want to get involved in any businesses because they think a job is better than a business.
He mentioned that he thinks the younger generations are going down the wrong path. He also said the young boys dress up and talk to other people is a negative way. Sometimes the community talks about it and says parents or the guardian should look after their children and check on them. Mr. Muslim Ali is a happy man to our community. Also he said the community should open a new association for the new generation so that they can find a right path for their future.