From Sylhet To Cambridge: Reflecting On 60 Years Of Family History And Heritage

During my school days, history was something that hardly filled me with excitement. Even watching Doctor Who episodes set in the past required serious effort to motivate and inspire me, but credit where it’s due, on most occasions they succeeded.

Perhaps as a child, intrigued and fascinated by science fiction and technology (my uncles hold responsibility for that), my interests were focused on the present and the future. The past just seemed dull; a visualisation of the 1960s where everything was in black and white, and out of focus. This childish, indifferent and immature perception of history has since undergone a mature transformation to one of understanding, appreciation and pride.

I am a third-generation British Bangladeshi, born and raised in Cambridge, a city that is renowned for education, diversity and tolerance. I have lived here all my life and am proud to call it my home.

On 26th March 1971, Bangladesh declared its independence from Pakistan. 46 years have passed, but 1971 remains a very important year for me – even more so for my family. Let me explain why this is the case, but first, let’s wind the clock back further to 1957.

1957 was where it all started – the year my late maternal grandfather arrived in Britain. He experienced a difficult childhood after losing both his parents at a young age. He was given the opportunity to work in the UK as he sought a better quality of life, before eventually settling in Cambridge permanently. He arrived at a time when the country was recovering after the Second World War – the period of post-war immigration.

The British economy was undergoing a process of reconstruction and it was soon identified that large numbers of immigrants were needed to support the pressing demands of the UK labour market. This also attracted many workers and their families from the Commonwealth and beyond Europe – mainly from the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent. My grandfather entered the business trade, opening and running two Indian restaurants called The New Bengal and The Bengal Tandoor Mahal within the Cambridge city centre. Sadly, these restaurants have since closed down, but photographs of them can be found in the Cambridgeshire archives.

A photograph of the New Bengal Restaurant on Regent Street, Cambridge, published in the city’s local newspaper in May 1973 (Photo Credit: Cambridge Evening News)
2017-04-03-1491252681-317561-bengal_tandoor_mahal_restaurant.jpg
The Bengal Tandoor Mahal Restaurant (right) on Fitzroy Street, Cambridge, circa 1976 (Photo Credit: Cambridge Evening News)

In 1963, my grandmother followed, also settling in the city and has been living here ever since. She gave birth to three sons and two daughters in Cambridge. The daughters were twins; one was my aunt who sadly died in 1997 and the other is my mother – an author, writer and publisher. There are many people in our family and across the local community who particularly remember the birth of my mother and aunt, not simply because they happened to be twins but because of the timing. Two days after they were born, Bangladesh celebrated Victory Day – a significant and momentous occasion in the nation’s history, when the Allied Forces High Command triumphed over the Pakistani Forces during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

My family history in Cambridge goes back exactly 60 years. My family was one of the first from the Sylhet region of Bangladesh to settle in the city, and has seen the Bangladeshi community expand over time. I believe it is important for me to reflect upon such a milestone and understand why I am here today. My late grandfather, who came from a rural village in Sylhet, travelled to Britain because he was given an opportunity – a chance for a better life. Looking back, it helps me to learn about my roots and understand them, and to appreciate my heritage. I wonder how life could have been so different for me if my grandfather remained in Bangladesh.

The lesson I learn from reflecting upon 60 years of my family history and heritage is that I should never forget where I am from. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to meet my grandfather, as he passed away in 1985. However, he left behind a legacy and made his mark in Cambridge through his work in the restaurant trade. When I first visited Bangladesh in 2002 as an eleven-year-old, I recall a couple of local villagers asking me the names of my grandfathers:

“What is the name of your Dada (paternal grandfather)?”

“What is the name of your Nana (maternal grandfather)?”

I told them their names, and I noticed their faces light up when I mentioned my maternal grandfather’s name. At that moment, I was rather surprised at their reaction and struggled to recognise what was so special about him. Fifteen years on from that encounter, I have a clearer understanding. I feel inspired.

I am proud of my history and heritage. I am proud to be British and to have lived in Cambridge all my life, and I am also proud that my country of origin is Bangladesh.


Source: Huffington Post UK
Date of Publication: 4th April 2017
Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ibrahim-rahman/from-sylhet-to-cambridge-_b_15684898.html

Rahman Red Reflection: Liverpool Triumph in Marathon Penalty Shootout

Liverpool won a dramatic penalty shootout 14-13 against Championship outfit Middlesbrough to reach the fourth round of the League Cup.

The Reds took the lead after ten minutes through 17-year-old debutant Jordan Rossiter, but the away side equalised when Adam Reach headed in just after the hour mark. In extra time, Suso came off the bench for Liverpool to slam home with 11 minutes remaining but Middlesbrough’s Patrick Bamford stunned Anfield with a last-gasp spot-kick to force a penalty shootout.

Simon Mignolet pushed out the away side’s first penalty from Bamford but Raheem Sterling failed to score Liverpool’s fifth, confirming sudden death in the shootout. Twenty penalties were all scored in a row as each player from both clubs, including the goalkeepers, demonstrated fantastic courage and showed nerves of steel. The match finally reached its conclusion when Boro winger Albert Adomah missed the target – Anfield roared with relief and celebrated a memorable victory.

Middlesbrough certainly deserve massive credit for pushing Liverpool all the way in this cup tie. There is still plenty for Rodgers to worry about and he must have been relieved to see his side progress to the fourth round of the League Cup.

Overall, performances this season have generally been poor (except for the display at Tottenham Hotspur) but worryingly and most importantly, the league results have been unsatisfactory. The Merseyside derby is fast approaching and both Liverpool and Everton have struggled in the league so far, but Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez will view this game as a great platform to reignite themselves as they aim to climb the table.

Rahman Red Reflection: Impressive Irons Hammer Lacklustre Liverpool

Liverpool were well beaten by a powerful West Ham United, inflicting a third defeat in five league games on Brendan Rodgers’ side.

The Reds failed to cope with their opponents’ fast start, scoring twice through Winston Reid and Diafra Sakho in the opening seven minutes. Liverpool halved the deficit through Raheem Sterling who lashed in the rebound for his third goal of the season, after Mario Balotelli’s attempt had initially been blocked. The Reds pressed hard in search of an equaliser, only to be continually thwarted by Hammers keeper Adrian but this left them vulnerable to the counter attack and their misery was soon complete. Morgan Amalfitano jumped off the bench to apply a late clinical finish and secure West Ham’s first home win this season.

It was a dreadful display from Liverpool. They never looked settled and West Ham exploited their weaknesses. Looking at the defence, there is a serious lack of organisation and leadership. Dejan Lovren has had a shaky start to life at Anfield and Mamadou Sakho has also struggled in recent games. Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo have been hit and miss so far. These defensive frailties, however, are not new and you only need to look at last season to see the number of goals they conceded. Too many.

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge were so important in the previous campaign but there is little point saying Liverpool are missing the Uruguayan. First of all, it’s obvious that any team would miss someone with his qualities. Secondly, he is still banned so he wouldn’t have played anyway. The bottom line is he no longer plays for Liverpool. Focus on the players who are actually in the squad. Move on.

Sturridge’s absence is clearly hurting Liverpool at the moment and he should be returning very soon. I hope he can hit the ground running straight away as Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert have yet to score in the league.

They are also really missing Joe Allen, a player who is accomplished with the ball at his feet but works very hard to reclaim possession for his team. Liverpool are missing his tenacity, energy and excellent workrate.

The Reds are lacking that spark at the moment and hopefully Sturridge’s comeback will reignite their attack. It’s still early days but three losses in their first five league games is worrying. Liverpool face Middlesbrough in the 3rd round of the Capital One Cup at Anfield and it seems inevitable that Rodgers will make plenty of changes, but I hope he fields a strong starting eleven as they need to return to winning ways quickly.

The Merseyside derby is not far away…

Rahman Red Reflection: Ludogorets Lacerated by Last-gasp Liverpool

Last night, Liverpool returned to Europe’s greatest club competition and kicked off their Champions League adventure with a late, hard-fought victory over Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad.

The Reds finally made the breakthrough in the 82nd minute through Mario Balotelli – his first goal for the club. Holding off two defenders, he brilliantly steered the ball into the net with the outside of his right foot. Dani Abalo looked to have snatched a point in the last minute for Ludogorets after rounding Simon Mignolet. However in the second minute of stoppage time, the visiting goalkeeper Milan Borjan failed to control the ball in his 18-yard box and conceded a penalty for fouling Liverpool right-back Javier Manquillo. Steven Gerrard assumed his spot-kick duties and calmly placed his penalty into the bottom-right corner to give the Reds a winning start to their European campaign.

I was particularly impressed with the full-backs – Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo were excellent. Moreno’s brilliant left-wing cross enabled Balotelli to open his Liverpool goalscoring account. Manquillo was in an advanced position very late into the game and ultimately won the crucial penalty that secured all three points for the Reds.

Obviously, Mario Balotelli deserves credit for his goal. It looked like it was going to be another frustrating game for the Italian but when given the chance, he took the opportunity with aplomb. Balotelli is off the mark and that goal will give him confidence. I thought he wasn’t in the box more frequently enough as he was usually found hovering outside the area to collect and hold up the ball, but playing as the lone striker probably didn’t help his cause either as he was often left isolated. When Fabio Borini was brought off the bench, this helped to improve Liverpool’s shape and eventually led to them winning the game (although I do feel the Reds were very fortunate and have the Ludogorets keeper to thank for that) and must improve if they are to progress this season.

Brendan Rodgers should continue to deploy the 4-4-2 diamond formation and I believe that this would allow Mario Balotelli to flourish – he would receive support from a fellow striker and from the midfield, particularly if Raheem Sterling is positioned at the tip of the diamond.

In summary, it wasn’t the best Liverpool performance by any means. However, they showed character and resilience to win a game that they could easily have drawn or even lost. That in itself is a positive, considering the poor performance last weekend against Aston Villa. The most important aspect of this game was the result but Rodgers and his players know that greater tests lie ahead in their Champions League quest.

Next up. Basel.

Rahman Red Reflection: Moreno of the Same Please?

Last Sunday, Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool returned to winning ways with an impressive 3-0 away win over Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur. Mario Balotelli produced a lively display on his Reds debut, presented with excellent chances but unable to convert them into goals. However, his inaccuracies were insignificant as Liverpool delivered another brilliant attacking display at White Hart Lane.

The Reds gained an early lead when Raheem Sterling slotted in at the far post – Daniel Sturridge identified Jordan Henderson’s clever forward burst, who unselfishly squared across the face of the goal for the 19-year-old to steer past Hugo Lloris. Spurs right-back Eric Dier conceded a spot-kick for tugging back Joe Allen, with Steven Gerrard confidently burying his penalty after 49 minutes. The home side’s demise was confirmed at the hour mark as Liverpool’s Alberto Moreno dispossessed Andros Townsend, before charging forward into space at blistering speed and then firing a low shot into the far corner to secure the points.

It was a brilliant performance from the Reds, reminiscent of the types of displays that Liverpool frequently showed throughout last season. Balotelli had a good debut despite failing to open his goalscoring account but as his fitness and understanding of the team’s playing style improves with time, one can only think he will make progress. £16m to secure his services was an excellent piece of business – time will tell if he is a success at Anfield and Balotelli knows that he needs to make the most of this opportunity.

I was particularly pleased with Alberto Moreno. He received a lot of criticism for his inability to prevent Manchester City’s opener at the Etihad, but he responded in superb fashion against Spurs. Defensively he was solid but the highlight has to be his stunning solo goal. Signed for £12m from Sevilla and only 22 years of age, he can only get better. Still a long way to go of course, but Moreno looks like he will be a vital player if he continues to burst down the wings and provides another dimension to Liverpool’s attacking play. Most importantly, he is a full-back so he must carry out his defensive duties too as this is an area that Liverpool must improve on, after their back-line frailties were exposed in the last campaign.

Last but not least, we have Raheem Sterling, who was just exceptional. Liverpool have such a talented young player in their hands and he is so good to watch. I remember my first visit to Anfield when I watched Liverpool draw 2-2 with Aston Villa. A game that most Liverpool supporters would probably want to forget but when I watched Sterling on the ball, he looked a player who could really make things happen. He would get you out of your seat. He was unpredictable – you didn’t know if he would cut inside or go round the outside. He was a serious threat against Spurs, playing in a more central role and constantly striking fear into the opposition with his pace and direct running. Many will have loved the moment when he was dancing into the penalty area, beating players as if they weren’t even there… until you get to the part where he weakly prodded the ball straight into the grasp of Hugo Lloris. What a moment that could have been…

It has been a decent start in the league for Liverpool so far. 2 wins out of 3 is respectable, especially when the defeat at Manchester City is also taken into account. As mentioned before, there is a still a long way to go and Rodgers’ side will be closely examined as the sesason progresses. It certainly is a massive season for him and the club.

Rahman Red Reflection: Clinical City Rifle the Reds

Liverpool suffered their first defeat of the season as Stevan Jovetic and Sergio Aguero inspired Manchester City to a comfortable 3-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium.

For much of the first half, Liverpool looked comfortable in possession and were rarely troubled. For 40 minutes, Manchester City were yet to register a shot on target, until a defensive lapse in the 18-yard box allowed Jovetic to pounce and blast his powerful strike through the legs of the despairing Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. Ten minutes into the second half, Jovetic doubled his tally with a wonderful team goal that was initiated and dispatched by the Montenegro striker. Sergio Aguero was introduced midway through the second half and within seconds, he dashed onto an excellent pass from Jesus Navas, finishing from a tight angle to all but end the contest. Liverpool secured a consolation after Rickie Lambert attacked a Daniel Sturridge cross and pressured Pablo Zabaleta to turn the ball into his own net.

Before Jovetic scored, I thought Liverpool played well in the first half. They had plenty of the ball and it looked like they would be going in level at half-time. Alberto Moreno made his debut and it was a difficult place to make an immediate impression. Unfortunately for him, he will be scrutinised for his error that led to Manchester City’s first goal. Moreno is 22 and can only get better. The home side were clinical in taking their chances and ultimately deserved the three points.

However, I am still concerned about the defence. Rodgers must address this as first priority. Liverpool conceded far too many goals last season and many have argued that this was the main reason why they failed to win the Premier League title. It will take time for Liverpool’s new signings to settle in and adapt to Brendan Rodgers’ philosophy. Mario Balotelli should be available for Sunday’s visit to White Hart Lane and hopefully Liverpool can return to winning ways as soon as possible.

At such an early stage of this season, I would not be too alarmed at this result as there is still a very long way to go. Rodgers must know that the defence needs to improve and hopefully they will work on this on the training ground. The new signings will understandably need time to gel and adjust to the high intensity of English football. Manchester City had the best home record in the league last season and I would not be surprised if Manuel Pellegrini’s side achieved this feat again. They have a fantastic squad – for a manager to be able to bring on a player like Aguero demonstrates their superior strength in depth and can only reaffirm the fact that they are one of the favourites to claim the title this season.

It’s still very early days and we shall see what happens…

Rahman Red Reflection: Southampton, Suarez and the (New) SAS

Liverpool started the 2014/15 season with an unconvincing 2-1 victory over Southampton at Anfield. It was a nervous encounter for the home side, as new Saints manager Ronald Koeman set out his team to frustrate the opposition and in doing so, they played very well and created some excellent goalscoring opportunities. The sheer delight on the face of Brendan Rodgers was clear for all to see when Daniel Sturridge swept in the winning goal, taking advantage of a knock-on from man-of-the-match Raheem Sterling, who also got his name on the scoresheet today with a neat finish in front of the Kop.

Sterling and Sturridge. The new SAS? Sounds exciting. Martin Skrtel chipped in a few times last season. We had a case of SASAS against Arsenal. If only El Pistolero was still here…

I was very disappointed that Luis Suarez left for Barcelona, especially the manner in how he made his departure, but I do believe the club was right to sell him. He is a really special talent and he will definitely be missed at Anfield, but the club has to move on and they will.

Is it impossible to replace Suarez? It is very difficult to name another player in the world who possesses similar qualities. The likes of Messi, Ronaldo and Bale spring to mind, but that is another debate entirely and it would be a dream if one of them became a Liverpool player! Tottenham Hotspur sold Gareth Bale for £85.3 million but failed to achieve their aim of securing a top-four finish, with Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood heading in and out through the revolving doors of White Hart Lane last season. The majority of the players they signed had struggled to make an impact and it will be interesting to see if their new manager Mauricio Pochettino can get the best out of his squad.

Liverpool sold Suarez for around £75 million and Rodgers has recruited the services of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Dejan Lovren, Divock Origi and Alberto Moreno. Javier Manquillo has also joined the club for two seasons on loan. I think they are all good acquisitions and time will tell if Rodgers has signed the right players for Liverpool to challenge for honours, but a quality striker is a requirement to support Sturridge.

To conclude, Liverpool should be encouraged by the fact they were able to kick off their Premier League campaign with a win despite a below-par performance. There is still a very long way to go and hopefully the displays will get better as the new signings adjust to life at Anfield, but the Reds visit Manchester City next week. A big game for both sides, but far from season-defining…