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Published in History & Culture, Author Interview

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Published in History & Culture, Author Interview

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Indians in UK and The British have also adopted many Indian cultures

Author Sheila Patel who is one of the Indians in UK, she has spent years claimed that being a British Indian, seems no culture diversity. The most of the Britishers have acquired many Indian cultures and vice versa. About Author Sheila Patel was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK. She is the youngest of 7 children. Born into a traditional ...

Author Sheila Patel who is one of the Indians in UK, she has spent years claimed that being a British Indian, seems no culture diversity. The most of the Britishers have acquired many Indian cultures and vice versa.

About Author

Sheila Patel was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK. She is the youngest of 7 children. Born into a traditional Punjabi family, she went on to study Engineering at Leeds Polytechnic and John Moores University. She later obtained an MBA from the University of Liverpool.

After working at British Aerospace for several years, she became interested in working with young people and ran a successful training company in Liverpool city centre for over ten years.

Sheila talked about her book and the cultures of both the country, India and United Kingdom. The culture, especially, how Panjabi frowns upon boozing for the female members. Her book, “The Magic Vodka Wardrobe” shed some lights deep onto the traditions and day to day life in her story lives in UK.

How the ideas of writing about “The Magic Vodka Wardrobe” came from? Was it a real life incident?

At a recent Indian wedding, I noticed the aunties were rather merry. The bar area seemed full of well-dressed men, knocking back whisky and performing various bhangra moves. On closer observation, it was the scruffy Uncle/ cousin/ brother that was lingering around the aunties with glasses of vodka, which he cunningly added to the various soft drinks. There were no objections from the happy wedding guests, actually, it was rather welcomed. 

It is no secret that the Punjabi culture frowns upon boozing for the female members of the family. Actually, daughters should be educated, married and very, very sober! I believed the Magic Vodka Wardrobe would be a light-hearted way to shine some light on this subject. 

The stories are very tongue-in-cheek and often ridiculous. I thought it would be amusing to write about a secret bar located in the wardrobe of Sharon Singh's bedroom. The bar would be complete with Bachittar the barman, a disco floor and a glitter ball.

The books are about pushing boundaries as a British Asian and dragging the older generation out of the corner shop and into the new world, often by the hem of their sari!

How did you spend your childhood? Most of the writers have a unique thinking, spend years and have a limited time for leisure. Was it a long race for you, or the writing came in sudden after studies?

I grew up in the 70s, in an industrious city in the north of England. There were lots of factories where many Indian people worked. It was a very Asian community with Indian shops, curry houses and temples. Nearly everybody was my auntie or uncle, and I can confidently say that it was a very happy time. 

I started writing in my 40s, it seemed like a good time because I had lots of life experience and had been secretly spying on everyone for years. The very first book in the series was written as a gift for my niece, I ended up writing five more. 

Has anybody from your blood relatives was into writing, or it's you who developed the nerves of fiction yourself?

I have a very funny family, lots of us have a great sense of humour. I think I am the first one to publish my stories. I will be encouraging others to write their stories in the future, I should ask at the temple on Sunday.

The Book, “The Magic Vodka Wardrobe” why not in one go? Are there series of the same book edition to come in future? Is there any specific reason you would like to tell the readers?

There are six books in this series. The reason they are written as a series is because they are set in the present day so include on- going world events. Mrs Singh takes great delight in reading her daily newspaper and sharing the news with everyone. She enjoys anything relating to the Royal family, the Prime Minister and Greta Thunberg. She likes to display their portraits on the wall and bless them daily with incense and garlands.

The series also covers the more traditional events in everyday life such as Diwali, weddings, Christmas and Baisaki. 

How much time do you give to your writing every day also tell us, is it part-time or full time?

I started writing as a hobby and only write part-time. If I have a good storyline, I like to jot it down for future reference. If I see something funny, I write it down. I enjoy the whole 'writers' experience and have made many 'book' friends along the way.  

Have you written any other short story? If yes, tell us more about its characters and about the protagonist.

During the lockdown, I published the 'Pandemic Diaries'. These are written in the style of a diary and include daily entries by Aunt Sheila. Some of her thoughts are on masks, vaccines, panic buying, boxsets and the Government. Again, written in the form of satire, to highlight a very serious world event that affected so many.

How different lives of Punjabi family in UK than those live in India. Would you like to share in details about the Indian food, tradition and other things well maintained, or you have adopted the culture of UK?

Although I have lived here my whole life and have adopted the British culture, it is still wonderful to visit family and take part in many of the festivities and ceremonies the Punjabi culture has to offer. I do enjoy a traditional Indian wedding, although after three days of bhangra it can be quite exhausting. 

I wonder if you know that 'curry' is the number one food in Britain, so it is interesting how over the years the British have also adopted many Indian cultures.

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