Vimal’s Walks

Vimal reflects on his recent Remote Nest Residency, creating a walking tour documented via a diary.

BBC interviewing about the walk

Diary

This is my remit
Highlighting the culture and diversity of Coventry enabling people to see, taste, smell and hear stories of the people in the area via a walking tour.

Aim
To create a walking tour with real stories celebrating the culture and diversity of the area

Day 1
OMG where do I start what do I need to do???!!!!
Thoughts of places to explore:

  • I’ve always liked Fargo village and the diversity around there so maybe a good place to start?
  • Hindu Temples, gurdwaras, mosques
  • Information on the internet regarding diversity of Coventry
  • Yes some historical aspects but if people want to know about buildings, architecture this is not the tour for them!
  • Collecting stories from family and friends in the Coventry area

Day 2
Cinemas Ritz/Palladium – historically Indian cinemas – lots of information on forums.
Lots of history regarding Asian communities buying cinemas via self funding, hindi movies and Sundays became a day out to the cinema for the Asian community. Decades later there were disputes regarding ownership.
Possible to investigate further but currently too far from the Foleshill rd

Temples/gurdwaras near Foleshill Road:

First gurdwara built in Coventry is nearer the town centre – could be too far. Need something closer

Mosque being built on the Foleshill rd, the oldest one is on Eagle street built in 1962 Jaima Mosque

Thoughts
I need to physically explore Foleshill Road and the main road which serves Fargo Village and see which stores could possibly be up for interviews and use their locations to tell the stories

Day 3
Found a video on the internet about Foleshill which is a good reference point.
Foleshill the people’s hill

Thoughts
what do people want to know about Foleshill road or roads near Fargo village?
what would people like to experience?
visiting several places of worship – could it be boring?
Maybe I should just go into one place of worship and highlight the others?

It’s stories people enjoy
Need to celebrate diversity

Day 4
It’s raining – cancelled visit to Foleshill Rd
Thought – do I still want to do Foleshill Road or the road near Fargo village?

Day 5
It’s Foleshill Rd
General Wolfe has played a big role in Foleshill rd, Irish communities, Afro Caribbean
Music – Specials, Selecta

Interesting fact
First ‘coloured’ Licencee 1962 Mr Frances – The Wheatsheaf pub. A fact to share and terminology used at that time.

Day 6
Research internet – Coventry facts – historical forums
Lady Godiva – reenacted down Foleshill rd
Watch manufacturers
Blue Ribbon
Cashs lane – the building and significance – known as Topshops

I don’t want to go into too much historical facts

Day 7
Went to Foleshill Road to interview a few retailers
Interview with Tahims – Clothing retailor
Interview with Shan Paan – Indian fancy goods
Interview with Standard Indian sweets
Interview with Iranian fish Mongers

Retail store Shaan Paan

Day 8
Spoke to Mehru Fitter who worked at Coventry library – for some possible leads

Day 9
Spoke to Anita P whose grandfather arrived from India and settled in Coventry in the 1950s
He was a cotton farmer in India with a thriving business but had to leave everything after the partition – he ended up working in Courtaulds in Coventry. Story collated.

Thought
Joshi’s Story needs to be told outside Courtaulds

Day 10
I do the walk on the Foleshill Road and find
there is a big gap from Courtaulds to Shaan Paan.

Thoughts
Need to find out what most of the businesses were before they became hairdressers
Currently 8 hairdressers all next to one another
Maybe interview a hairdresser?

Day 11
I listen to the recorded interviews and turn them into script

Day 12
I Go through the Coventry history archives and find some interesting facts
Prince Charles visited Foleshill Road and also opened the Bangladeshi community centre on George Eliot Rd.
Clint Eastwood had a role in the film Lady Godiva
Phillip Larkin was born in Coventry

Thought
Little snippets of info that can be shared during walk without going into too much information

Day 13
Visit Talking Birds Nest (Phillippa, Dez, Janet) and share ideas/stories about the walk.
They give their views as to what stories they’ve enjoyed

I go onto Foleshill Road and note through chatting with owners of businesses in the hairdressing area that most of the retail stores are operated by Kurds

Thought
This is Little Kurdistan
I will refer this area as Little Kurdistan during the walk and talk about how vital the Kurd community has been in the development of this area of the Foleshill Rd

I Interview Lookman who owns a hairdresser – he was sent to Coventry!

Day 14
I transcribe Lookman’s interview

At Lookman’s Hairdressers

Day 15
I do research on temples, some are too far away from Foleshill Road, however I find there is one on George Eliot Road. A Hindu temple that serves mainly the Tamil community, with people originating from South India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. I speak to the president about the idea of a walking tour, and he would be delighted if we brought people from other communities to pay the temple a visit.
President of temple explains any rules that need to be observed. Photography and filming is fine.

Thought
The temple has a wow factor
I have knowledge of Hinduism so can share stories about gods and goddesses
Significance of Ganesh
This will be the starting point of the tour

Shri Sidhi Vinayagar Temple

I visit the Gurdwara on Foleshill Road, speak to one of the trustees who gives us permission to bring guests into Gurdwara as long as people respect the rules
No cigarettes, no alcohol at any time. Filming and photography is fine
Thoughts
Share tenets of Sikhism
5 ks

Nanaksar Gurdwara Gursikh Temple

Day 16
Speak to Haroon from Active Inclusion regarding floating library on canal

Thoughts
To include walk along canal side and share anecdote of Cash’s weavers

NP Aerospace is also on Foleshill Road
Bespoke bomb disposal suits made – predominately by Asian community

Next to NP is a Gurdwara – different section of Sikh community – previously George Wilson gas meters

Interesting fact
4 air raid shelters on the Challenge cycles building on Foleshill Road

I visit Gem jewellers who have a wow factor with the Indian jewellery they sell. I explain walking tour and they will allow a visit.

Thoughts
Stories regarding importance of gold in Asian community – dowry
Mangle sutra – Given to wife by husband and significance of black beads in the gold chain

A short interview with Shanaz who has a material and clothing shop. Selling lengha, Salwar Kameez, dothis etc

Cash’s Weavers along canal side

Day 17
The walking tour is taking shape.

I decide on a route
Hindu Temple
George Eliot rd,
Gurdwara
Canal side
Joshi’s story outside Courthaulds
Walk to Little Kurdistan
Lookmans story hairdressers – settlement
Fishmongers – Aras story – Masgouf cooking
NP Aeronautical – hand made bomb disposal
Gem jewellers
Shaan Paan – leaving Uganda
Standard sweet centre – food stories with potato chapatti and mango lassi

Day 18
I take Dez to test walk

A success!!!!!!
Market walk on social media

Day 19
I write a blurb and decide on a name for the Foleshill walking tour

Vimal’s Walks: Join Vimal for a multi-sensory walk celebrating the diverse and vibrant heritage of the Foleshill Road. Visiting temples and hearing the sacred stories of gods and goddesses, with a stroll along the canal side, a stop at an Indian fabric shop, a Kurdistani hairdresser, an Iraqi Fishmonger, A Ugandan fancy goods shop with anecdotes of settlement, food and success, finishing with a glass of cold mango lassi and a hot aloo porata. All experienced in a fun and relaxed way.

More bookings via Waterways weekend for the walking tour, interest from BBC Sounds

The walking tour over the two days is SOLD OUT!!

Big thanks to Talking Birds, Derek Nisbet, Janet Vaughan, Philippa Cross, Dom Watson, Frances Yeung

Developed during a Nest Residency with Talking Birds. Performances supported by Coventry 2021 Green Futures programme.  

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