Meera Syal: My family values

From The Guardian:

Meera-Syal-006 We lived in Essington, a mining village close to Walsall, in the West Midlands. It was a very rural, working-class upbringing and one of my earliest memories is walking through a cornfield with my dad. My early years were a riot of earthy smells, outside loos, fun in fields and windy bus stops. And lots and lots of fresh air and freedom.

Inside our Punjabi household the atmosphere was one of familiarity and solidity, but outside the house things sometimes felt threatening. I have vivid memories of my parents and all their friends talking about a certain speech that Enoch Powell made. I always thought that the reason there were packed suitcases on top of every wardrobe was that we might have to leave the country in the middle of the night because of Enoch Powell. It was only years later that I realised that everybody's families had suitcases on top of the wardrobe.

Punjabis are the cockneys of India. They are party people – gregarious, outgoing, very entrepreneurial, sharp-witted, loud, meat-eaters. Back in the Punjab, they are basically earthy, rural workers. And that was very much the atmosphere when we had friends around. It was incredibly noisy, loads of music, lots of loud voices and drinking, and I thought that was normal until I went to other people's houses and I was shocked to discover that sometimes people's families say nothing to each other during dinner.

More here.