I was on BBC Radio Tees on Tuesday talking to Gary Philipson about my story ‘My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree’
I’m on at 40m and 1hr 40m
Steve Bloomer was an England international footballer who became Derby County Football Club’s all time record goal scorer. Although not born in Derby, he was raised in a inner city suburb called Pear Tree where he would develop his footballing abilities and go on to become one of the greatest players the game has ever produced.
My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree is essentially a story about my father’s suicide. In a series of moments in my life I reconnect with Steve Bloomer, a ghostly pale face from the past, who then takes me on a journey of regeneration and discovery. Thus allowing me to eventually come to terms with my father’s death and in the process kick off my quest for happiness. Told in a non-linear time format I take the reader through a journey in time. Recounting how my father, myself and Steve Bloomer all grew up in Pear Tree, Derby and what then became of all our lives.
MF&TLLoPT is essentially a story about my father’s suicide and how a reconnection with a ghostly pale face from the past takes me on a journey of regeneration and discovery. Thus allowing me to eventually come to terms with my father’s death and in the process kick off my quest for happiness.
The story is told in two parts over the two years I worked as a teacher of Science at John Port School in Etwall, Derbyshire. Beginning with the death of my father in March 2006 to the birth of my daughter Layla in October 2008, and then ultimately the unveiling of the Steve Bloomer bust at Pride Park in 2009. During the progression of my story a series of flashbacks take me back to happier times as well as the more recent darker days leading up to and after my father’s death. Told in a non-linear time format I take the reader through a journey of how my father and I both grew up in Pear Tree, Derby. Halfway into Part One I reveal a memory about a legendary Derby County & England Football player who I had unexpectedly stumbled across in my childhood and who would never leave my thoughts.
It is Steve Bloomer who I reconnect with in Part Two after I leave my teaching job and look for a happier life. With time on my hands and a need to keep busy and distracted I decide to fervently buy up and read as many books about Derby as I can. Anything to somehow make connections back to my father, and look back into times in which I believe he would have been happier. I finally decide to read Peter J. Seddon’s Biography of Steve Bloomer, which had been consigned to my bookshelf, unread, for a year. As I begin reading the biography I realise that Steve Bloomer was a Pear Tree boy just like my father and myself. I become captivated and begin retracing Steve Bloomer’s steps up and down the streets of Pear Tree, where Bloomer, My father and myself had all been raised. It awakens my spirits. I’m reminded of the day I first came across Steve Bloomer and how sad I felt that he might have been forgotten in time. I also read the account of Steve Richards, Steve Bloomer’s grandson about how he was at his grandfather’s side on the day he passed away. Again it saddens me and I realise that I must reclaim Steve Bloomer’s legend for the people of Derby, as no good person should ever be forgotten in death. It is my way of remembering a good father: it is my way of remembering my own father. I contact the local newspaper, the Derby Evening Telegraph, and tell them that I have discovered the pub where Steve Bloomer passed away in 1938. I visit the Great Northern and have photos taken with the landlady who was also unaware of the connection. The story is then printed in the newspaper filling me with a great sense of pride and satisfaction. BBC Radio Derby then does a follow up interview with me at the pub. At this point Steve Richards writes to the landlady and thanks her and myself for remembering his grandfather. News has also travelled to family members still living in South Africa. Steve Richards also reveals that he would like to meet me. Hoping to somehow share my father’s story as well as that of the Legend of Steve Bloomer, I have an epiphany that feels like a regeneration (Doctor Who/Quantum Leap). I realise I can tell both their stories and also the story of Pear Tree, Derby and all it’s lost heroes and heroines.
A few weeks later Derby County reveal that they will erect a bust of Steve Bloomer in Pride Park. In the Derby Evening Telegraph the sculptor Andy Edwards asks Rams fans to come down and see him at work. I rush down to Pride Park and Andy and I immediately hit it off and become good friends. Helping Andy out with the research for the bust I also share with him my loss and my ideas for my own statue projects. He immediately realises how much Derby means to me and the pride I feel for my old neighbourhood and the city. One particular statue project I have in mind and discuss with Andy is of a Brian Clough AND Peter Taylor statue in Derby.
Our daughter Layla Anise Mohin Kaur Dhindsa is born a week or so after initially meeting Andy.
I attend the unveiling of the Brian Clough statue in Nottingham and feel gutted that Nottingham born, Peter Thomas Taylor was not also by Brian Clough’s side. Clough and Taylor were a partnership and they were a success together. It upsets me, just like I felt when I first came across Steve Bloomer’s plaque at the old Baseball Ground. Another father forgotten in time? Another man forgotten by his people? After initially having reservations about a Brian Clough and Peter Taylor statue I immediately change my mind. I ask Ashley Wilkinson, a Littleover schoolboy, who originally created the ‘Brian Clough Statue’ Petition to add Peter Taylor’s name too. He agrees that we should change it to Clough AND Taylor.
Steve Bloomer’s Bust is unveiled in Jan 2009. Andy allows me to put a little Pear logo under Steve Bloomer’s elbow. A reminder to everyone that he was raised in Pear Tree, Derby. I finally manage to meet Steve Bloomer’s grateful family and his two Grandsons, Steve Richards and Alan Quantrill, who both thank me for my contribution and efforts in keeping their grandfather’s memory alive.
The story finishes with the unveiling of the Steve Bloomer bust. However, in the epilogue I also reveal the unveiling of the Clough and Taylor statue too and all the other projects I have involved myself with off the back of Steve Bloomer. Including a Sikh Poppy Khanda I designed for the Royal British Legion to honour all the Sikhs who fought and sacrificed their lives to help the British Empire in their time of need during two World Wars. The Khanda is also my way of honouring Gian Singh VC who was a soldier from my Mother’s village in the Punjab. Like Steve Bloomer, Gian Singh also guided me through my dark days.
Our second child Raman Rohan Singh Dhindsa is born in November 2011.
I still have periods of darkness ranging from extreme lows to extreme highs. Until one day my dark days are finally put behind me after I read a newspaper article about the death of Robin Williams. I finally come to the realisation and understanding that my father took his life because he had a mental illness. It took nine years to fully accept this and in the end I am eternally grateful to Steve Bloomer and all my heroes[*] who kept me so distracted and busy so that I was unable to follow the same dark path that my father travelled. Even at my lowest points they were always there to remind me to keep ticking, to keep going, to keep fighting and most of all to never, never, never give up.
I owe them my life.
My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree
Chapter 01 : D-Day
Chapter 02 : High Rising Spirits
Chapter 03 : The Gathering Storm
Chapter 04 : Catch – 51
Chapter 05 : Derby – England
Chapter 06 : Nawanshahr – Punjab
Chapter 07 : Steve Who? I & II
Chapter 08 : Into The Storm
Chapter 09 : The Silence
Chapter 10 : DeAD
Chapter 11 : Bury Your Head
Chapter 12 : Back To School
My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree
Chapter 13 : Seconds
Chapter 14 : Operation DynaMO
Chapter 15 : Fields of Dreams
Chapter 16 : Destroying Angel
Chapter 17 : Good Old Derby
Chapter 18 : The Great Northern
Chapter 19 : Steve Bloomer’s Watching
Chapter 20 : Pear Tree Ram
Chapter 21 : Crossed Wires
Chapter 22 : For The Bairns
Chapter 23 : Stoked
Chapter 24 : Lost & Found
Chapter 25 : Epilogue
[*] Some of them who have a connection to Pear Tree, Derby.
Steve Bloomer – Gian Singh VC – Clough & Taylor – Dave Mackay – King of Rome/Charles Hudson/Dave Sudbury – Alice Wheeldon.
Thank You to the Suicide Bereaved Network for this review of Part One of my book, My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree.
My Father & the Lost Legend of Pear Tree, Part 1 by Kalwinder Singh Dhindsa. 2016 (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, £8.99). Available from Amazon and listed in the Suicide Bereaved Network Library.
It is rare to find a book that deals in any depth with the subject of suicide in a minority ethnic or religious community, and Kalwinder Singh Dhindsa’s self-published book is to be welcomed for filling this gap and for providing such a rich and informative account of life in the Sikh community in his hometown, Derby. The loss of his beloved father, Mohinder, to suicide when he himself was in his mid-twenties is the central theme of the book, and this event provides the starting point for the narrative. Although Mohinder was a man of few words, his relationship with his son is described in a very authentic way, leaving us in no doubt about this man’s devotion to his son and to his wider family. This makes his decline into depression all the more heart-breaking and heightens the sense of loss felt by his family and community following his suicide.
The book provides a vivid description of the young Sikh boy growing up, from a perspective that spans two continents. Kalwinder’s pride, both in his Punjabi ancestry and in his East Midlands hometown is vividly evoked. The cultural complexities of Sikhism are explained, particularly the hierarchy of sibling roles within the family and – amusingly – the difficulty Kal experienced in trying to maintain his top-knot as a young boy.
This book also provides a remarkable insight into the male psyche, describing the author’s pride in his beloved Derby County Football Club, his strong work ethic and drive to achieve, and how he draws on these elements when navigating his grief at the loss of his father.
My Father and the Lost Legend of Pear Tree is not necessarily an easy read, as the narrative tends to jump around and there is so much background detail to absorb. There are also some sections that don’t add much to the reader’s understanding and which would have benefitted from editing. Another observation is that the pages of this book are unnumbered, making it difficult to refer to specific locations in the book.
However, this is a hugely valuable and informative book on the themes of suicide and suicide bereavement, on the Sikh community and culture in Britain, and on masculinity and father-son relationships.
I was on BBC Radio Newcastle earlier talking about one of my all time favourite shows.
Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.
I’m hoping to kick off a campaign to build a monument to the Magnificent 7.
You can hear what I had to say to Lisa Shaw from about 1hr 40m onwards.
I received the following email message yesterday from the Anthony Nolan Stem Cell Register
We are pleased to inform you that you appear to be a potential match for a patient requiring a stem cell transplant, and would be most grateful if you could provide blood samples to verify this match. As a registered Anthony Nolan donor you are eligible to continue to be tested and to donate until your 60th birthday.
I had initially signed up to the register about 7 years ago during the Rik Basra Leukaemia Campaign. A couple of years later I also helped promote the Gaurav Bains Campaign. And since then I’ve tried my best to promote many more campaigns especially within my own BAME community.
Last year saw the highest ever number of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people register as stem cell donors, according to a new report which shines a light on the inequalities which remain for BAME patients in need of donors. The annual review from Anthony Nolan and NHS Blood and Transplant, From Strength to Strength, reveals that BAME people made up 23% (42,326) of new registered adults on the UK donor register, which rose by 185,000 in 2016 to almost 1.3 million.
We are co-producing the Museum of Making with an inspiring team of volunteers, each bringing their own unique set of skills, energy and ideas to the project. Today’s volunteer profile, in support of #VolunteersWeek, focuses on Kal, who drives projects for the Museum of Making forward, sharing his unparalleled passion for and knowledge of Derby’s history and its famous (and sometimes not-quite-famous-yet) residents.
How have you been Making the Museum of Making?
I have been involved with the This Is Normantonexhibition as well as contributing to others across Derby Museums. I have also made some laser etched wooden coasters with the help of Graeme Smith at the Silk Mill.
What inspired you to get involved?
I’m a Derby man. I love Derby and really enjoy engaging with my community and sharing stories about Derby and Derby folk.
What’s your favourite thing about volunteering?
Something that made me feel proud was being part of the This is Normanton exhibition and seeing my photo alongside my friend Dave Sudbury who wrote, in my opinion, the greatest folk song ever written ‘The King of Rome’. Dave and myself both attended the same school (Building).
I have also enjoyed sharing stories about the likes of Kevin Coyne, Alice Wheeldon and the King of Rome to people who were unaware of Derby’s great heritage and history.
Have you gained anything by becoming a volunteer co-producer on the project?
I’ve gained a lot of good contacts, who either work at the museum or volunteer there. I am now able to share my thoughts and ideas with them knowing that they will always listen and consider what I have to say.
What is the first thing you remember making as a child?
The first thing I remember making was little ponds in the garden. A huge hole would be dug out in the soil and then a carrier bag would then be placed inside the hole to cover all the sides. I would then fill it with water to make my own little underwater world filled with miniature figures and soda boats collected from cereal boxes. I would also add some plant life and continue to play with it until the water was no longer clear.
Share something unusual about yourself.
I designed the Sikh Poppy Khanda for the Royal British Legion. I am an author from Pear Tree, Derby. I write books about Derby.
If money/time were no object, what would you make?
A virtual reality augmented reality head piece that can be used to show how Derby used to look like at various times in it’s history as you walk around the old town and city.
If you are interested in volunteering to make the Museum of Making contact email@example.com to find out more.
I was on BBC Asian Network Radio today discussing
#MentalHealthAwareness and the impact of Anxiety in everyday life.
Do we take anxiety seriously enough? Musician Ariana Grande has opened up in a Vogue Magazine article about her history with the condition and says it’s “very real”. After that Imam Qasim and former Apprentice star Uzma Yakoob talk about the passing of Philanthropist Ali Benat. He captured the hearts of thousands of people around the world after setting up a charity called ‘Muslims Around The World Project’ when he was diagnosed with cancer. And this week’s Big Debate’s Little Debate comes from Sandi Shokar. She contacted us and said she wants to talk about the lack of stem cell donors in BAME communities.
We are pleased to confirm that our friend local author Kalwinder Singh Dhindsa will be at Whooverville 10. Kal is a Whooverville regular and a long-time supporter of our event.
During the day he will be at the Whoovers stall selling and signing copies of his book My Father and the Lost Legend of Pear Tree – Part One & Two, which discusses his father’s battle with mental illness, culminating in his suicide.
Being a fan, the book also contains references to Doctor Who.
The following email was sent to me by a family friend about 6 years after my father passed away. I’ve kept it all these years hoping that one day I might be able to share it.
As it’s Mental Health Awareness Week I have decided that this week is the perfect opportunity to share it amongst not only my own Punjabi community, but the wider public too.
At the time, this email really did add to my story. As much of what is expressed was also touched upon in ‘My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree’. Obviously I’ve had to redact some information from the original email to exclude names and other personal information.
Thank you to my family friend for allowing me to share their experiences.
“Hi Kal, I would like to share a time when your dad came to my mum’s house. I believe it was in Dec 2005. 3 months before he left us all, I can remember walking in and seeing your dad sitting down talking to my mum. I said hello how are you? He said that his head hurts and that he doesn’t feel too good and he has been to the doctors, but the doctor did not know what it could be, possibly thinking it was to do with his head injury in the past.
On previous visits to the house he had mentioned his head and the fact that he was taking medication in the form of anti depressants.
I then said to your dad that the medication can make you feel like that, I however did know as I too have been taking them and suffered symptoms. I started taking them back in 2000 when I started feeling physical symptoms of anxiety. Not knowing what it was I went to the GP who also did not know what I was suffering, but put me on anti depressants and beta blockers. At that time I did not know too much about these meds but just started taking them.
Being an Asian man you find it hard to explain to others what you are suffering – call it pride or just being too ashamed. It took me nearly 1 year before I told my wife and 2 years, before I told all my family, which made me feel a lot better. I believe your dad found it hard to explain what he was suffering, like I said, pride, too ashamed. It has been over ten years for me now; I have tried all types of anti depressants and suicidal thoughts play a big part in these meds. I however at that time didn’t suffer too much depression because my problem is only anxiety, but I did feel suicidal with the meds. I have since experienced my worst ever depression about 4 years ago, as I was off meds for a year but had a relapse in my anxiety and started meds again, which put me in to severe depression.
Depression is very hard to cope with I still do suffer but not as bad. If only I had tried to explain to your dad more that time, but I believe we all could have tried to understand. I am strong as I have learnt to cope, but your dad found it to hard to share his thoughts – he didn’t even want to talk to me when I asked him – like I said, PRIDE.
Also your dad said that he has stopped drinking because of the meds, I didn’t personally agree with that. The reason is that your dad was a social drinker, not heavy unlike me them days. But that didn’t stop me – meds can help you out of depression but can also put you in, like me. What helped me was that I continued with my life, so depression doesn’t take over, however, your dad decided to stop as the GP said to. But that also took a lot from your dad because he liked going to the Chestnut Pub. I know it’s very hard when you’re in depression like me when I feel down I base my whole life on just that day, thinking how will I cope, but then I say to myself, its just for a few days I will get better, you need to fight it, but like I said its hard as I still find it difficult at times but I know my family’s here for me. I have stopped anti depressants over a year ago and my mind is a lot free and clear. Meds do mess you up, but like I said, they also do help some.
I wish my GP never put me on them because they do mess your mind up. I believe the GP should explain in more details about side effects and also speak to a member of the family to let them know that side effects of suicidal thoughts do occur and there is a worsening of depression when starting any anti depressants. Your dad didn’t know this but I now Google any med I take to check on side effects ¬– not always a good idea as most only write about the bad side effects, not how well they work.
Your dad leaving us really hit me hard as he was the only person that visited me as he liked to see me doing up my house and give me ideas. He used to come at least twice a week. He was like an inspector coming to pass off my work. I still remember taking that call that afternoon. This moment and the above are the only ones I will never forget. I have always wanted to share this moment with you but just didn’t know how.
I don’t blame anyone especially not your dad as I know how it feels. I have made some enemies in my life but I wouldn’t wish depression on anyone, it’s horrible.
What we need to learn is that as Asians we need not be ashamed to talk openly and understand. My wife and mum always say don’t think too much, but I say you can’t just stop thinking, its just our genetic makeup, we’re all different.
I know I can’t add to your story, but I did know how your dad felt. We all need to be there for others in the future. I just wish he told someone that he was suffering depression.”
I was on the Sally Pepper Show earlier in the day talking about the recent Aidan Connor storyline on Coronation Street in which the character takes his own life by suicide.
The vast majority of us in this room today will be familiar with what this means, because as Sikhs we have had it ingrained into us from birth.
Chardhi Kala is the Punjabi term for aspiring to maintain a mental state of eternal optimism and joy, even during times of great adversity.
A positive mental attitude.
An ascending energy.
To be in constant high rising spirits.
A state of mind in which a person displays no negative emotions such as fear, jealousy or enmity. Instead the mind is filled with positive feelings including joy, satisfaction and self-dignity.
But what if I told you that Chardhi Kala was a load of nonsense?
Some of you are probably now wondering who on earth invited me up here to talk such nonsense?
How can a so-called Sikh not believe or even practice Chardhi Kala? This man is no Sikh? He doesn’t even look like a Sikh?
Well I’ll be honest with you. I do believe in Chardhi Kala. The only reason I said it was nonsense was because I wanted you to reflect on how we judge others.
You see, what if I was diagnosed with a mental health condition? What if my mind was corrupted by a mental illness that prevented me from practising Chardhi Kala?
Would you still judge me the same? Might you even abandon me because I could not live according to the Khalsa spirit.
Sadly I think there are too many within our community who readily reject those who cannot fully practice this aspect of living in Chardhi Kala. As a community we are seriously letting our people down. They deserve better.
It is the Sikh way to defend and protect those that are vulnerable or who have fallen on hard times. It is not the Sikh way to abandon them.
Two years ago I released Part One of my book, ‘My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree’. Part Two will be released within the next month.
My story deals with the stigma of mental illness and how it continues to ruin lives. It was always my intention to share my father’s story as well as help others in our community who have also been similarly bereaved by suicide.
Suicide stops people talking. That was definitely the case with my father and it almost became the case with me. But as time went on I realised that the longer I refused to speak up about my father the greater the possibility that he could be forgotten in time. That was not fair on him, nor all the other good people in this world who have ended their lives by their own hands. I refused to be silenced by suicide. Their stories deserved to be told. They deserved to be remembered.
12 Years ago when my father died by suicide I could never imagine that one day I would be here talking so openly about my father’s passing. But I am Sikh and that is exactly what a good Sikh should do. To help others who have also been bereaved by mental illness.
As I continue to speak out I no longer feel afraid. I no longer feel any embarrassment or shame. I feel alive with high rising spirits and overcome with a feeling of great happiness.
As us Sikhs would say.
The launch of the British Sikh Report 2018 has found that almost 3 out of 4 Sikhs know someone with poor mental health. 77% of Sikhs find their lives stressful, and twice as many Sikh women have diagnosed mental health issues compared to Sikh men
Speeches were made from the following individuals:
• Seema Malhotra – Labour MP for Feltham and Heston
• The Lord Crathorne KCVO
• Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi – Labour MP for Slough
• Adam Holloway – Conservative MP for Gravesham
• Jagdev Singh Virdee – Editor for the British Sikh Report & internationally renowned statistician
• Alison Thewliss – MP for Glasgow Central – SNP MP for Glasgow Central
• Rt Hon John McDonnell – MP for Hayes and Harlington & Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
• Tejinder Singh Sahota – British Sikh Report Team
• Dr Jagbir Jhutti-Johal – Senior Lecturer in Sikh Studies. Department of Theology and Religion. University of Birmingham
• Harpreet Kaur Sihre – Phd Student in Perinatal Psychiatry at the University of Birmingham
• Kalwinder Singh Dhindsa – British Punjabi author of ‘My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree’
• Jaz Rai – Founder of the Sikh Recovery Network
• Shuranjeet Takhar – Founder of men’s mental health charity Tarakī
• Neelam Heera – Founder of Cysters
• Gurbax Kaur – Founder & Director of Positive Participation and winner of the Thrive Mental Health Commission Awards
• Jasvir Singh – Chair of the British Sikh Report & compere
You can also see news about the report here:
You can read the 2018 report here: www.britishsikhreport.org
Many thanks to Curtis Taitt for the photography
A new memorial to one of Derby’s most-celebrated footballing sons – Steve Bloomer – has been unveiled.
A blue plaque now sits on the front the Derby County legend’s former school building in Derby’s in Portland Street, now home to Paul Wallis Fashions.
The plaque was unveiled in a small ceremony in honour of Bloomer, who scored 332 goals in 525 appearances for the Rams – he was leading scorer for 14 seasons – and 28 goals in 23 matches for England between 1895 and 1907.
On the @bbcasiannetwork earlier with @Shuranjeet speaking to @TherealNihal about @_taraki__ and Mental Health Awareness.
At Tarakī, we want to help shape an open, honest society in which Punjabi men can speak comfortably about mental health.
Tarakī wants to normalise mental health discussion for Punjabi men. I am looking for Punjabi men who are able to share their mental health experiences… submissions can also be done anonymously! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
On Sunday 26th November I will be appearing at the Southbank Centre in London.
– Howard Cunnell, an author whose most recent book Fathers & Sons (Picador) is a critically acclaimed memoir of both growing up with an absent father and then as a father himself, having a daughter who is becoming a son.
– Kalwinder Singh Dhindsa, a British-Punjabi author, whose debut book is a memoir called My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree. Born to Punjabi parents in Derby in 1979, Kal was raised as a Sikh. For the first 28 years of his life he lived in the Pear Tree area of Normanton in Derby.
– Scott Graham, Artistic Director of Frantic Assembly who created Fatherland, an acclaimed play exploring the complexities of contemporary fatherhood, commissioned and produced by Manchester International Festival, Frantic Assembly, the Royal Exchange Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith and LIFT.
– Karl Hyde, musician, artist, founding member of Underworld and co-creator of Fatherland.
– Yomi Sode, poet, father and former social worker. Over the past nine years, he’s had work commissioned by The Mayor’s Office, BBC World Service/Africa, Channel 4, charities and for the UN Humanitarian Summit. He also created Daddy Diaries, an online forum for fathers.
Chaired by actor and writer Ben Norris. In 2013 Ben became the UK All-Star Poetry Slam Champion and has since performed his spoken-word across the country, from Latitude Festival to the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. His work has been broadcast across BBC radio, his first poetry pamphlet was published in 2014 and his debut solo show, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family, won the 2015 IdeasTap Underbelly Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival before touring the UK extensively in autumn 2016, finishing with a sell-out run at Southbank Centre.
“Do we still hide mental health issues in the Asian community? BBC 2 drama ‘The Boy with the Topknot’ tells the story of a boy growing up in the Midlands, who finds out as an adult that his father has mental health issues which the family have been keeping secret”.
by barfiCulture Team
13th November 2017
“I only begun to learn about mental health after I was impacted by anxiety whilst at university,” says Shuranjeet Takhar.
He started university being a sociable person but his experience changed all that. And it’s only now he is coming to terms with it.
“Now, as a postgraduate at Oxford University, I want to ensure that mental health isn’t something that needs to be experienced at its worst to be understood,” he says.
Shuranjeet is starting a new campaign called Tarakī to change how we deal with mental health issues.
“I formed Tarakī to try and make a structural change to how mental health is seen within the Punjabi diaspora community,” he told Barfi Culture. He chose the name because ‘Tarakī’ means being progressive and forward thinking in Punjabi he says.
He isn’t alone in his quest. The writer Kalwinder Singh Dhindsa documented his own battle with mental health issues in his book, My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree. His father Mohinder Singh Dhindsa took his own life after a long battle with depression, just as Kalwinder had gotten married.
Dhindsa wrote on his website: “Suicide stops people talking. Whether it is the person who has just taken their own life or the loved ones bereaved and left behind to pick up the pieces. Lack of engagement with the bereaved is a serious problem in our community due to the apparent fear of upsetting close family or just not being able to approach the subject or not knowing what to say.”
He adds: “Another factor in this is the issue of shame and dishonour within cultural groups. All these factors further diminish the good memories of the loved one who has passed on, resulting in a paradox in which as they are no longer talked about – they could possibly be forgotten in time forever.”
Researchers says that mental health problems are a big taboo not just among Punjabis, but South Asians in general. A recent report found that ‘sharam‘ (shame) was a big reason for people keeping their mental health struggles to themselves. And Punjabi men are particularly affected since they are not used to talking about their problems.
“Taraki wants to shape a society in which Punjabi men understand mental health as something they can speak openly about, discuss with their families, and most importantly, seek help if needs be,” Takhar told Barfi Culture.
The campaign hopes to reach out to Punjabi men, publish and amplify their experiences of mental health, and show that such difficulties can impact anyone, no matter their ethnicity, gender, class, or age.
He adds: “My focus is on Punjabi men, as that’s how I feel I, as a Punjabi man, can make the best impact.”
To start with Shuranjeet published a video with his own experience and the challenges he faced. He hopes others can also join him.
“We want Punjabi men to come forward from all walks of life to share their thoughts. In the longer term, Taraki will facilitate workshops and link individuals to support systems for the Punjabi community.”
My Grandmother on BBC Radio Derby talking about her memories of Partition.
I’m asking the questions in Punjabi.
About 35m in.
She passed away about 7 years ago.
When my father died. For a long time I tried to avoid the word suicide. And when I did use it I would also attach ‘commit’ to it.
In time I realised ‘commit’ was not an appropriate word to use. To ‘commit’ suicide once upon a time was a crime in this nation.
It is no longer a crime. Therefore in my opinion I will not use the word ‘commit’ any longer to describe death by suicide.
IF you would like to buy any of these DERBY related Mugs please click on the link below.
It was a great honour to have my good friend Andrew Edwards and his wife pop over for tea last Sunday.
Andy brought me a present. I am now in possession of a genuine ‘Andrew Edwards’.
A maquette of the great time lord John ‘longitude’ Harrison.
Tulip asks: Do men feel weak if they talk about their eating disorders?
I can be heard 1 hour into the show talking about my own experiences with suicide and depression.
As I will be releasing Part Two of My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree next year. I have reduced Part One to £0.99 on Amazon Kindle.
Self Published Author & Writer.
I also campaign for statue projects dear to my heart.
‘There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?’
Every Coffee helps to keep me writing and dreaming 🙂
I’m currently in the process of creating a Statue for the Legendary Kevin Coyne of Normanton – Derby. My friend Andrew Edwards is on board.
I wrote the following the other day.
This is why it matters.
‘The fact that he was Normanton born like me is of great significance but much more important than that is the realisation of just how much he did through his Music, Art and Writing to promote mental health awareness. He obviously had family and friends that had suffered in the past and he chose to do his utmost best to support the vulnerable. Not only by working in mental health institutes but then continuing to pursue it through his art.
Mental health awareness is always a difficult topic to put across. It can be so disheartening when you try and help others but you have the doors firmly slammed in your face. That aspect of his music may not have always appealed to the big record companies, but Kevin never gave up. He never allowed himself to be compromised. He continued relentlessly till the end.
“I don’t see the point in doing anything unless you’re going to say something, unless you’re going to try and communicate, or even to instruct in some things, to share or pass on a feeling that hasn’t reached other people. To encapsulate certain feelings for people that they haven’t been able to express. Sounds a bit pompous, but I’ve got the ability to do these things. So, why not use it?” Kevin Coyne (Liquorice, 1976)”
I’ve tried to do the same with my writing after the suicide of my father. It’s difficult at times when you can’t get the message across, as some people just don’t want to engage. But all the statues I have worked on in the past have been for a reason. To bring happiness back into people’s lives. To remember lost loved ones. In most cases lost fathers.
This is also my way of remembering my own father and giving back to my community.
Steve Bloomer kicked it all off and it seems quite right that I might just come full circle with Kevin Coyne. If this is the last statue I ever work on. I’ll be more than happy to say I contributed in bringing Kevin Coyne home.
And to think. I’ve only known about Kevin since last Wednesday. Ha’
Kalwinder manages to do this without preaching or lecturing to his readers but just by simply and modestly writing about the ways he tackled things himself.
I think this book works on two levels. Firstly on a person to person level but also on a larger and more general level. At a time in this world when tensions between racial and political factions have never seemed so dangerous and threatening this book could hardly have come at a more appropriate time.
Kalwinder is from the Sikh community and very proud of his origins. But he is equally proud of the friends he’s made in this country and willing to embrace the aspects of our cultures and traditions he approves of without prejudice. For example he has helped to have monuments to Derby celebrities, Brian Clough and Steve Bloomer and helped to write a book about a school he attended here as a teenager. But most important of all is Kalwinder’s approach to life in general. Instead of anger and despair he seeks tolerance and understanding. We need more people like this in our society and I wish him all the luck in the world.
I was on the BBC Radio Derby Satvinder Rana Show earlier. Preet Gill MP also appeared on the show via telephone at 34m. Myself and Ranjit Seehra appear at 46m.
On Saturday 10th June 2017 I attended the Derby Book Fair Event at the Derby Silk Mill. However, this year I appeared as an Author for the first time. In the previous two years I was a volunteer for the Derby Book Festival.
I had a great day and met some lovely people. Some I knew from the past and some I had never met before. It was great to be there to talk about my life and my writing and especially the books I have released.
Thank you once again to Steve Bloomer for watching over me 🙂
And Steve Wetton for being by my side.
I also did a reading from Chapter One of My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree – Part One.
Thank You to everyone who attended and engaged with me.
Picture: Derby Telegraph
It was a great honour to be there in the presence of the Silk Mill ‘Weeping Window’ Poppies too, knowing that I also designed the Sikh Poppy Khanda for the Royal British Legion a few years previously.
Last Tuesday I spent a good couple of hours giving Matt Barlow of the Daily Mail a tour of Pear Tree in Normanton, Derby.
Once home to Derby County Football Club.
The old neighbourhood where Steve Bloomer was raised.
Chris Cornell best known as the lead vocalist for the bands Soundgarden and Audioslave died by suicide last month.
It was quite a shock to hear of his passing and then subsequently find out that he had taken his life by his own hands.
Whenever I hear about suicides like this, I always think to myself:
‘If only there was someone there with them in those moments before they made the decision to end their life. If only they could have spoken to someone’.
‘If only they could have heard a voice. Something, anything to make them snap out of their mindset for them to reconsider what they were going to do’.
I then began thinking about some kind of audio device vulnerable people could carry with them for this particular scenario. A device in which a message is pre-recorded and then played back in times of urgent need and desperation.
A message of reassurance and positivity that once pressed might make the person reconsider and possibly change their mind. To pull them back from the edge. To create a moment of doubt.
It could be a message they have recorded themselves, a message from a loved one or a medical specialist offering reassurance and advice.
A simple record-playback device that could be pressed at the push of a button and temporarily snap someone back into reality.
I decided to look into the idea. The ideal device would work with a simple push of a button, very much like a Star Trek Communicator badge.
I ordered these items above a few days ago. On the left is a ‘Talking Button’. It is able to record and play audio up to 10s. On the right is a Recordable Voice Module Sound Talk Chip (30s).
As you can see, the item on the left is quite large and bulky for it to be turned into a badge, so I decided to play around with the Talk Chip instead.
Having trimmed down the motherboard, I squeezed it all into a little Vaseline container and then added the push button onto the back. It works quite well. And there is no need for speaker holes either. The sound produced is easily able to pass through the container without being muffled.
I’m just waiting for a bar pin now to glue to the back so that I can test it out properly whilst wearing it as a badge.
In the Asian community, the man is seen as the head of the household. So much is expected of him from the instant he takes on the responsibility to provide for his family.
My father was a proud and gentle man who always tried to do his best for those closest to him. My father was a good man. He was not a criminal; he did not commit a crime. He did not ‘commit’ suicide, but my father, Mohinder Singh Dhindsa, did die by suicide on March 1st 2006, resulting from a mental illness that had corrupted his mind thus silencing him forever. It also silenced many more around him who were also deeply affected by his death
Suicide stops people talking. Whether it is the person who has just taken their own life or the loved ones bereaved and left behind to pick up the pieces. The lack of engagement with the bereaved is a serious problem in our community due to the apparent fear of upsetting close family or just not being able to approach the subject or not knowing what to say.
Another factor in this is the issue of shame and dishonour within cultural groups. All these factors further diminish the good memories of the loved one who has passed on, resulting in a paradox in which as they are no longer talked about – they could possibly be forgotten in time forever.
Suicide stops people in their tracks. On March 1st 2006 that was definitely the case for me. It took me a long while to finally get back on track. An uncertain journey that eventually saw me on the straight and narrow, almost nine years later which was developed upon hearing about what led to the death of Robin Williams. The man who set me free and provided me with a form of closure and an acceptance to understand. This then allowed me to try to do my utmost best to help others who have also travelled a similar path.
But before that life affirming revelation I chose to open up to myself first and foremost. Immediately after my father’s death, I knew that I could never allow my memories of him to be lost in time. Therefore I decided to write down all the feelings and memories I still had of him in my life, up to that point. The memories I still retained within my mind took me to places only I could find and recall within the deepest corners of my mind. They had to be written down for posterity. The memories needed to be kept safe from the fear of one day losing them altogether should my own mind also be corrupted in the same manner as my father’s.
It was difficult to talk to anyone at the time; a cloak of silence seemed to have masked all attempts to understand why my father’s death occurred. Religion mixed with custom soaked, in culture. Suicide was taboo, a stigma to be avoided at all cost.
Eventually I began to seek some professional help. Thankfully, I was referred to a Mental Health Therapist who helped me set foot onto the road to happiness. A person who listened without prejudice, unblemished by society’s taboo.
Pain was the motivator for my change. An opportunity to question my life and move on. There had to be no time to stop and contemplate the darkness. I needed to be distracted. Thankfully writing came to my rescue.
But what of all those who can not see a way out? Who are not able to communicate their thoughts or feelings? No energy to engage? No ability to seek help? How do we help them? Anxiety and depression saps their spirit. Suicide will amputate it.
If the answer to the suffering of our people does not lie in our own community then we need to show these people a different pathway. Secrets can destroy lives. Especially for those that try to convince the world and themselves that they are not suffering. These people need to know there is no need to hide and that there is a way out if they seek to destroy the stigma of mental illness. There are agencies out there that they can talk to who will understand what they are going through. You are not alone. It’s time that our community stopped ignoring the most vulnerable that are obviously in need of help. We need to accept that mental illness corrupts the mind. Let us all take the onus if we see someone in difficulty. We can not leave it in the hands of those that suffer. We need to show them the light. Help is out there if only we can help them to ask for it.
Keep talking. Keep moving on. Keep the faith. Disown the stigma of suicide within our culture.
Between 1800 and 1930
I am currently in the process of starting to finish
My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree
Unlike Part One I will not be releasing the Chapters on this site.
I hope to release the book by March 2018.
From Portland Street to Downing Street. My quest for happiness has taken me to the steps of No.10.
I stand on the ground beneath my feet upon which Sir Winston Churchill defied the Gestapo and all the apparatus of Nazi rule.
Two roads diverged in a village street, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
ESWCSBRF1874 — at 10 Downing Street.
Going to Downing Street was all down to an accumulation of things I have done over the years since the death of my father. Things I needed to do to keep me distracted. To keep me ticking along. To keep me busy. More than anything to keep me happy and to raise my spirits. Many of these things I have contributed to have involved my community. My People. Derby folk. Punjabi folk. My folk.
‘NEVER REJECT YOUR OWN COMMUNITY NO MATTER WHAT FAULTS YOU FIND WITHIN IT.’
I’ve done nothing alone. I’ve always tried to bring others with me. You can’t do anything worthwhile alone. Everyone needs help to move forward in life.
Thanks for helping me all.
I’m not finished yet;
Anton Rippon, author of A Derby Boy
Yesterday I released ‘Homelands Revisited’.
Two paperbacks versions are now available on Amazon to buy.
Both books are of the same size and contain exactly the same content. The only difference is that the colour version has a mixture of both colour and black & white pictures/photos, and the black & white version is entirely black & white inside.
The reason for this was because I didn’t want to put people off buying the colour version if it seemed too expensive for them.
Another thing to clarify: I will be making very little money from the sales myself. The vast majority of the money will be swallowed up by printing costs etc.
I have also decided to provide a PDF version for a minimum fee of £2.99
Also, please remember that any profit generated from the sales of this book will be ploughed back into restoring the Honours Boards as well as creating the ‘Homelands Plaque’.
Finally, thank you to Philip Heath and Tom Fulep for their great assistance in putting this book together.
It’s been a great honour.
Next project ‘Homelands Reclaimed’. I’ll reveal more about that in the future.
I was on Radio Derby earlier.
You can hear what I have to say around the 0900 mark.
Nomia asks: Has it become easier for men to talk about their emotions?
Also, our immigration guru Harjap Bhangal answers your questions. Nisha and Hamel Soni talk about their young son Kush who has Down’s Syndrome and discusses whether the condition is still taboo in the Asian community.
Kalwinder Singh Dhindsa was a newly married and recently qualified teacher when he received the news that his father had taken his own life.
For Dhindsa in Derby, closure after his father’s death came as a result of his decision to prioritise his personal happiness above any other ambition.
Today is March 12th 2017.
It has been one full year since the since the death of Marjorie Calow. Marjorie was a student at Homelands Grammar School for Girls in the early 1940s. She later came back to Teach as Mrs Harrison.
In late 2016 Philip Heath left a post on the wall of this group informing that he had the original ‘Homelands Grammar School for Girls – Honours Boards’ and if anybody wanted them he would be happy to give them away. If not they would be disposed of. I quickly replied saying that I would give them a good home.
Philip is the co-executor of Marjorie’s estate. On October 1st 2016 I drove down to Melbourne to collect the Boards. During this visit I was also given a box of Marjorie’s Homelands possessions.
In this box I found two booklets, one was called ‘Homelands Remembered’ and the other ‘Homelands from the beginning 1938-43’.
Both books were put together by Homelands Old Girls.
I wanted to share these books with this group, but the last thing I wanted to do was just scan them. That would have been too easy.
So with permission I asked if I could reissue them in book form, with extra memories, profiles and information. To give these memories a wider audience and also acknowledge the hard work and effort that was initially put into these booklets to keep the memory of Homelands alive.
Today I will reveal the Cover Art designed by Tamás Miklós Fülep another Homelands Old Boy.
The book itself, called ‘Homelands Revisited’ should be released before the end of this month.
I’ll also be on Radio Derby later in the evening talking about the book.
My ‘Homelands Revisited’ Interview on BBC Radio Derby today with Satvinder Rana
Any money made from this book will be used:
– To restore the Honours Boards and give them a new home.
– To erect a plaque at the old school site (Village Primary School).
Compiled by Kalwinder Singh Dhindsa
Cover Art by Tamás Miklós Fülep
Foreword by Philip Heath
Marjorie Calow of Melbourne