Life ain’t easy ! Those that know me and those of you who read column 503 and 504, know that I want to go back to Southall.
Although Belgian Limburg is not a bad part of the world, and although I love the walking and cycling, I do miss the big sangat and the many Gurdwaré of London. I miss the big city atmosphere and all the buses, trams, undergrounds and trains. I miss meeting with people of many cultures and religions, I miss working together with people of all different backgrounds.
And in this first generation community you do not have the diversity of sangat that you have amongst the well-established Sikhs in the UK.
Two weeks ago in the Gurdwara, after the Sunday divan, I was called into the room where committee members and some others active in the community sat together. They promised me to support me financially if that was needed to keep me one more year in Sint-Truiden. This came not just from committee members but also from ordinary members of the sangat.
I am in a difficult position. I badly want to go back to the UK (see above), but here I helped start various projects in education that are not easy to leave.
I recently discovered that the two UK organisations that have been my main sources of income over the ten years that I lived in West London do have work for me, but no money to pay me. Although I think that in the UK I will be able to earn some money to top up my pension (I’ll be 65 on the 6th of May), there is the added problem of currency conversion.
I will receive three bits of pension, and two of these are in Euros. With Spain causing new unrest and the conversion rate between sterling and the Euro already down to about 80 pence this will add to the uncertainty.
Sorry to bore you with my personal financial affairs, but these are important issues. I am sure that there are many people who have lived both in the UK and in the Euro-zone and who face similar problems.
And trusting in God does not mean that one should not look at all sides of a question like the above. To cut a long story short, I have decided to stay here one more year till June 2013.
My Dutch pension will just about cover my expenses here, and if I can earn some more money doing tuition and by charging for some of the things that I have done for free so far, I might be able to recoup part of the 8000 Euros that I spent here the last two year.
Please UK friends and relatives come and visit us here in Belgian Limburg. Eurostar still offers tickets to any Belgian station, and although the Brussels area is famous for its overcrowded motorways, driving from Calais to Sint-Truiden is not too bad.
And next year is going to be exiting as we might be able to lift the ban on the wearing of patka, turban and híjáb in secondary schools this country !