People who grew up in the city from the 50s to the 80s would vouch for the ubiquitous presence of the Anglo Indians. In fact, there was a time when many companies including the famous Parry’s, Binny and Crompton had Anglo Indian women as secretaries for their command over English and work culture.
Harry MacLure says, “There was a considerable percentage of Anglo Indians who left the city from the sixties. They began to settle down in countries like Australia, Canada and the UK. At that time it was a necessity, but today it is a matter of choice for the younger generation in the community. They are doing well in any field, be it services, entrepreneurship, films and music.”
MacClure who originally hails from Tiruchy began Anglos In the Wind 15 years ago to provide a bridge between the Anglo Indians who are settled across the globe.
Though a significant number of people from the community have migrated, Tamil Nadu and Chennai still have the largest numbers of Anglo-Indian settlement in India. “Someone recently said that we only have 25 years before we become completely extinct. But, I would say that is maybe true about the Anglo-Indians settled in other countries, but in our case, we will be around for longer,” he says.
Without any State exclusively meant for them after Independence, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had said that the community was free to stay in any part of the country. Augustine Roy Rozario of Anglo Indian Suburban Front says, “One of them had approached Nehru to grant permission to make Andaman and Nicobar Islands as a settlement for us. But, he had said we were as much Indians as any other community and could settle down where ever we wished to.” Maybe that explains the lifestyle and culture they borrowed from the natives, in places they made their homes. D’Souza explains, “The fish they prepare in Calcutta will be a little different from the ones made in our households in Chennai. And, then we have the pepper water, a variant of rasam. Mulligatawny (or milagu thanni), a dish made of chicken or beef is a big favourite. Connemara and Gymkhana club had a good variety of this dish in those days.”
She adds that the multi-cultured background and their modern outlook were mistaken. “We have always been a modern community and the lifestyle that we have always had is followed by others as well today. So why should anyone think that we are immoral or don’t have values,” she adds. Ruing the lack of a good representative of the community in the State and country, D’Souza says, “We need someone who is proactive and is there for the people. We too have a percentage of people who are below poverty line,” she signs off.