My first stop was Southall, a part of London to the west; perhaps halfway between Heathrow Airport and Paddington Station. The slowest trains departing Reading for London stop there. Rob, Yvonne, and some of my loyal readers had all recommended that I pay this neighborhood a visit, and it was definitely worth it. The area is mainly Punjabi, or so it would seem from the signage. I did see some Tamil and Devanagri signs, and there was a lot of Urdu as well. The newspaper vendor at the train station has two local Punjabi newspapers, one in Gujarati, and another in Bengali. These are all UK-based papers; they are not imported from abroad. Otherwise, newspapers are hard to come by in Southall; some grocers have them in the back-most shelves. There were quite a lot of copies of Bridal magazines, but these were mostly in the very fronts of stores. If you are ever looking for deals on home or electronic goods, Indian textiles, phone cards, and a myriad of food items, Southall is the place to go.
More from Southall
On Yvonne’s advice, I stopped at Earling/Broadway next. This is the rail stop between Southall and Paddington. Yvonne mentioned that there was a Telugu center here, and perhaps there would be Telugu newspapers to find as well. Maybe there are… but I could not find any. Unlike the Southall, Earling/Broadway is just like everywhere else in England. There aren’t any eclectic shops to be found. Instead, the same chain stores you see in central London or in Reading dominate.
Lastly, I went to Brick Lane, which was another tip from Yvonne. The first grocery store I went into had four Bengali newspapers, all of which were meant for UK and/or European distribution. The next item on the street was a bookstore, and it had 20 Bengali newspapers. Not all of the these were UK or European; they were clearly imported from abroad. This was a little victory, but just a small one, since I’m designing for Devanagari and writing about Hindi. The neighborhood, though, is also worth a visit. Not only does it have innumerable Bengali shops, it also has several nice cafés, an alternative vibe, and a small flea market.