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No Feelings In Me For India, Says Author Dharambir Lall

BW Businessworld’s Manish Kumar Jha caught up with Lall while he was New Delhi recently

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Dharambir Lall moved to England 60 years ago. A millionaire chartered accountant who is now retired, he has been conferred the title of Lord Bill Lall of Woodlands in addition to being bestowed the British Empire Medal in 2014. In his latest book, England, My Love, Lall captures England and his life there. BW Businessworld’s Manish Kumar Jha caught up with Lall while he was New Delhi recently. Excerpts from the conversation:

You have been living in England for the last 60 years. What are the changes you have felt in India?
When I first came to India after 45 years, I was shocked. I landed in Bombay, as my brother was living over there. The people walking in were giving the glamorous feeling to my eyes that had been never given before.

Which year are you talking about?
I came to India for my marriage in 1969, just for two weeks but at that time I really didn’t like India. But when I came back again, after a gap of ten years, to Bombay, it gave the glamorous feeling of Shri Raj Kapoor sitting over there. But I was so disappointed to see people sitting on roads. But funnily enough, I started coming more often. After seeing people on BBC News, I had started developing a feeling though that maybe, it is a starving country but there is always a smile on the people’s face. They are not mourning and groaning about anything and they are living a normal and happy life. I started to grow love again for India. But when I was in England, I had no feelings in me for India. Even now I don’t think I have anything within me for India.

While you were struggling in England during your initial stages you wanted to come back to India, right?

That was the initial stages, as you miss your mother country where you were born and brought up. I was missing my country for 2-3 years. Sometimes, I cried and said I wish I could go back to India but at the same time I felt like there was nothing for me over there. So, I worked hard, qualified as a chartered accountant and then my life started changing. I bought a very big house with a swimming pool and other luxurious necessities in it. So, in the initial stages, I used to tell everybody that for the first two to three years you will miss India.

Somewhere in the book, you have written about the characteristics of English people. You said English people have committed lots of atrocities but those were either committed by the Scottish or the Irish. How did you base your judgments?
They do lots of silly things within their own country. Here is the point that I have tried to explain in my book. In this country (India) we blame the English but those are Irish and Scottish actually. They suffer from inferiority complex in their own country. And it’s like when you go to other countries you realise that “hum bada sahab bann gaya”, (and then they commit atrocities). There are so many jokes about Scottish people. True English people are very kind-hearted. This is my own judgment after having lived there and moving with them — they don’t even harm anyone.  So one day, I asked for a room in a hotel and they said no to me and wife. So when they see a brown face they are like, Sorry madam, the room is gone. Later, when my wife’s colleague asked for a room in the hotel, she was English, they said Yes, the room is available. Such  is the beauty of English people that they will never say ‘No’ to you openly. They could harbour harsh feelings about you but they would never say this to you in your face. But in India, although I don’t know much about it, we say it aloud. There is discrimination on the basis of caste and creed but the English people will never say that.

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Dharambir Lall magazine 24 November 2018

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