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In United Kingdom it's Indian summers for ever

India is stepping a little into middle England of beer, beef and football. Not the exotic, not the low, just a fact of everyday life, a factor in everyday living.
PTI | By Sanjay Suri
PUBLISHED ON JAN 07, 2005 04:20 PM IST

It was always trite to call an Indianisation of Britain. Because, if nothing else, the advantage is once more with the British. If the Raj was a jewel in the crown, this is a second Indian gift to Britain, delivered to them at home. Though we have always been looking for signs of a cultural brownwash, there is more now to see than the usual salwar-kameezes at Heathrow airport, the browning of Southall, Wembley, Leicester and Birmingham - the Indian heavy areas of Britain.

An India touch is coming now to an England that has never stepped into Southall. India has lived in England either in its little-Indias, or in a chattering fondness among the upper classes to whom a love for India is just that right evening announcement. Now, India is stepping a little into that middle England of beer, beef and football. Not the exotic, not the low, just a fact of everyday life, a factor in everyday living.

Take Anne, or Sarah or Jane or whatever you want to call her. She wakes up, heads for work. No, it'll probably not be in a Maruti Zen, though there are a couple of thousand of those on Britain's roads. She might take the London underground, that was computerized by an Indian firm, though almost certainly she doesn't know that. But think of what she knows, hears, sees every day. She picks up something from an almost certainly Indian run local store.

If she settles to work on a computer, an Indian can't be far behind. The morning radio is playing the top of the British charts, and Indian sounds are right there at the top. There was Brimful of Asha from the music group "Cornershop" led by Tejinder Singh - that Asha number was top of the British charts. And there are Indian sounds from bands like Asian Dub Foundation, Jazz Man, Apache Indian, and there are the Sanskrit-inspired bits from Madonna.

Sarah's way of looking her best becomes ever more Indian. "Indian influences have made British women more feminine," a designer said at a meeting at Selfridges. Princess Diana had made the salwar-kameez famous. A touch of Indian has always triumphed after that, one way or another. The funky fashion design house "Red or Dead" devoted a show to Indian design; that Indian look has stepped from the catwalk onto the street.

And in the business of beauty she is looking more and more to Indian magic. If Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie Blair can wear a sari and then go to an Indian for beauty treatment, so can she, so must she. Meditation, Yoga she has known about for some time. And the Indian meal to follow.

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