Balti Britain, By Ziauddin Sardar

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The Independent Culture

In Urdu, "balti" refers to a large receptacle for carrying water. You would no sooner cook with one than with a bucket. A Birmingham Balti magnate explains to Sardar, "It all started as a joke." Yet an Oxford dictionary now contains an entry for "Baltistan" in the Himalayas.

This nonsense typifies the miscomprehensions that persist between Asian Britons and the indigenous population. In a book as fascinating as it is clear-eyed, Sardar tackles the twin themes of his family, who arrived as emigrants from Pakistan in the 1950s, and the awkward relationship between Britain and its former Indian empire. Sardar's own story, including his successful arranged marriage, brings humour and tenderness to this engaging book.