British Bangladeshi Curry house Kings and their palaces !!

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Joined: 12/17/2012 - 10:15
British Bangladeshi Curry house Kings and their palaces !!

All along the dusty streets, children play naked in the baking sun and beg for coins from passers-by.

Stray dogs fight over scraps while cows wander among the impoverished shacks.

But a short walk away, luxury vehicles gleam in the driveways of magnificent mansions.

The buildings rise elegantly above the palm trees, their marble sun terraces affording breathtaking views.


Mohammed Nanu's British home (above) is the unassuming terrace on the left ... but in Sylhet he has built this six-bedroom villa. Anwar Ali (below) divides his time between this Northampton end-of-terrace and the White Palace, one of Sylhet's most imposing properties.

These are the palaces of Britain's curry kings, built on profits made from tikka, vindaloo and pilau rice.

So many are returning to build homes in Bangladesh that they are fuelling a building boom in Sylhet, north eastern Bangladesh, the region which gave Britain most of the migrants who are now at the heart of the curry empire.

Collectively they have been dubbed Ruby Millionaires - Ruby Murray is rhyming slang for curry.

Hundreds of opulent homes have been built in the region since the late 1980s, when Bangladeshi families began to harvest the fruits of endeavour from the first large-scale migration of the 1950s.

Among them is the blue-tiled mansion of Mohammed Nanu and his family. In contrast to some of the more extravagant designs, which feature castle-keep-style architecture or striking art deco frontages, it is quietly unassuming.

But it is still a startling contrast to the family's first rented room in a West Midlands terrace.

And in a land where 40 per cent of the population still lives on 50p a day, the £500,000 mansion is striking indeed.

With thousands of others in the 1950s, Shamsu Miah Mohammed emigrated to England in search of a new life and a secure future for his wife, Mehrun Nessa, and what would eventually be four sons.

He saved enough for the family to join him permanently in 1986. Now, Nanu, 33, and his brother Labu, 34, own the lease of two restaurants in Warwickshire and Leicestershire, a business thought to be worth more than £1million.

They also own two other homes in the West Midlands, and are nextdoor neighbours in a pair of modest, brick-built three-bedroom terrace houses near Aston Villa football ground.

Back in 1957, when Pat Boone had a hit with Ain't That A Shame and the Russians launched the first Sputnik into space, Shamsu Miah was working six or seven days a week in a cutlery factory.

Labu said: 'His wages were not very high and I told him once that he would be better off signing on the dole. But he told me, "I've never done that and I never will. I want to work for my money".

'That ethos has passed on to my brother and I. We've been working in the restaurant trade since we were in our teens.

'My first job was in an Indian restaurant in Blackpool when I was 14. Since then we have moved on to owning our own business and have been fortunate enough to run two successful restaurants, employing 25 staff, for the last ten years.

'Fortunately we saved a bit of money and decided to honour the sacrifices our parents made for us by having a luxury home built for them in Bangladesh.'

Nanu, 33, described the six-bedroom-house as the realisation of his father's dream.

'Dad had a small stall here selling tea and biscuits,' he said.

'He went to England planning to earn a living and come back. We settled there, but this was always his home. He always longed to come back one day.'

Sadly, Nanu's father died from cancer two years ago and never saw the house completed. But his legacy - and that of many fellow curry pioneers - lives on.

More than 281,000 people of Bangladeshi ethnicity are registered in the latest census for England and Wales, and thousands more are believed to have arrived since that was completed in 2001.

Among the curry kings is Anwar Ali, 36. In Sylhet, he owns a newlybuilt house named White Palace.

'I am doing quite well now but I never dreamed of being in this position,' he said. 'My parents are very proud of me because we had nothing before.'

Ali joined his grandparents two decades ago in Britain, where he and his brother Imran now run three upmarket restaurants in Northampton, Wellingborough and the Northamptonshire village of Long Buckby.

He also diversified into the property business and is now able to divide his time between England and Bangladesh.

In Northampton he, his wife Farana and their threeyear- old daughter live in an extended 1930s end-of-terrace in Abington, a student- dominated suburb.

In Sylhet, White Palace has become one of the new wave of mansions whose construction is boosting the local economy.

Ali is ambitiously planning a luxury community for older, Britishbased Bangladeshis seeking to go back to their roots.

'Probashi Palli' (foreigners' village) promises a home-town paradise which could eventually comprise 11,000 houses and plush apartments.

And of course, it will have a curry house.