I can, at once, celebrate Welsh rugby, obsess over British politics, admire the pace of Delhi’s change and reminisce over my parents’ Bihari food.
The hyphen in British-Indian comes in a hundred strains, bearing variable weights of ‘British’ and ‘Indian’. In my case, recency and duration tilt the hyphen towards the British end, but I carry still the fondest memories of my Indian childhood.
I was born in smalltown Bihar, on the eastern tip of India. I only remember mischief: early mornings spent deflating neighbours’ scooter tyres, afternoons spent picking off lychees and guavas from our garden. My primary school years were spent in Delhi. There was much less mischief, but a much expanded scale of possibility and expectation from the world.
When I was 12, we packed our bags and much of that expectation to move to Wales, on the south western tip of the UK. We had downsized from a Delhi of 18 million to a Cardiff of 300,000, but to me, it had felt yet another expansion. I played cricket in beautiful Welsh villages, interacted with friends from a huge range of backgrounds and developed childhood interests - some trendy, most just plain geeky - that now define me. Despite spending most of my adult life moving around different British towns and cities, Wales has felt the one constant. It is where my parents still live.
My strain of British-Indian is of this specific Welsh-Londoner-Bihari-Delhiite variety. I have found in that abbreviated version not just simplicity, but happy flexibility: I can, at once, celebrate Welsh rugby, obsess over British politics, admire the pace of Delhi’s change and reminisce over my parents’ Bihari food.