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British milkman masters Gujarati, Bengali for work.

London: It's business as unusual for a British milkman - the 69-year-old has become fluent in at least two Indian languages: Gujarati and Bengali, as many of his customers can't speak English.

John "Jimmy" Mather first delivered milk in 1960 and soon made friends with the few immigrants on his round from India and Bangladesh. And, as more Asian families settled in with very little or no English, this British milkman started learning their language and mastered spoken Gujarati and Bengali, the Daily Express reported.

"When I began in 1960 there used to be a handful of Asian families in the region. I can still remember the first few people I served. They were good, decent folk but obviously their English wasn't good. So I picked it up myself and it made things a whole lot easier," he was quoted as saying.

Prof Rachel Dwyer, an expert in Indian cultures, said: "Very few non-Indians learn Gujarati. I have heard a few Arab traders in Oman and there's few scholars who know it."
Even locals have confirmed that Jimmy's command of Gujarati and Bengali has built lasting bonds in the community. Mohammed Sufi, who has known him since 1974, said: "I remember he went into somebody's house and asked her what she wanted. I was shocked that he was speaking such fluent Gujarati."

Added MigrationWatch UK spokesman Alp Mehmet: "Gujarati is not an easy language for a westerner to master and this is also in the best traditions of the English milkman who looks for the best ways to serve his customers."


1 comment:

FMA said...

That's great! I'm sure being out in those communities everyday was a big help. There aren't a lot of learning materials available for either Bengali or Gujarati. I know. I struggled to learn Bengali and I'm married to a native speaker.