I’m from Pipaldara, near Surat in Gujarat, where there are many people of the Khalifa community. In the old days our main job was cutting hair. Now people do different jobs: some are farmers, some are agricultural labourers with sugar cane, some are weavers and some still cut hair. They commute to the nearby town, Gandevi, where they have barber shops. There’s also a textile factory in Gandevi where many people work.
It was my father who went to Mombasa in Kenya to work on the East African Railways. He worked there for twenty years, and so did I, but after Kenyan independence they put Africans in our place and we all lost our jobs. I was about 30 years old and we came back to India. But we had British passports from Kenya, and in 1966 I went to Bradford, which is where I’ve lived ever since.
I started work straight away with British Rail, and worked for them for 30 years. In East Africa Railways I was a clerk, but in Bradford I worked as a ticket collector and as a platform guard at Bradford Interchange and Foster Square, and in Keighley, Shipley, Bingley, Saltaire and Halifax. I retired in 1994.
There are plenty of my Khalifa community in Bradford, who first went to Africa and then England. When we lived in Africa, the mosque back home in Pipaldara was just an old house. But me and my brothers collected donations from the community and rebuilt it in 1991. It’s a mosque for all the households there, and home to the madrassa and the teacher. The children come to mosque from seven to nine in the morning and then they go to the other school from half-past nine.