• Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

Keeping your culture alive in Edinburgh

ByAli Lakhany

Nov 26, 2023

‘-And if you lived in a place you had to
speak a foreign tongue,
your mother tongue would rot,
rot and die in your mouth
until you had to spit it out.’

Sujata Bhatt, Search for My Tongue

It’s the midpoint of semester one in Edinburgh and I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve changed in this time, for better or for worse. I feel my accent shifting as my name mutates from ‘uh-li’ to ‘ah-li’ day by day, not to mention my spice tolerance is out the window. When moving to a new place, it is easy to let slip your culture, but how do you make sure it doesn’t ‘rot and die’ as Bhatt suggests in her poignant poem on identity?  

Sujata Bhatt is a poet of Indian heritage, who, upon moving to London, was conflicted with adapting to her new culture. Her poem rings true to several of the issues many might be facing in Edinburgh today, where speaking your language less and less can feel like your tongue is festering away. In this way, one of the best ways to stay in touch with your roots is by keeping in touch with friends and family from home. Using your language as much as possible is a great way to ensure that your foreign perspective isn’t lost in a new city, and also a great excuse to have a chat with a family member or a good friend!

Another one of the ways that you can keep in touch with your roots here in Edinburgh is through the wide range of societies on offer that might represent your culture. Here, you can meet like-minded people who may be suffering from a similar culture drain to you. Not only are these people a friendly, familiar face who you can discuss your issues and concerns with, but these societies provide several opportunities through organised events to feel like you’re at home again. 

In an attempt to not lose the grasp on my Pakistani upbringing, I embarked on a culinary adventure on the phone with my mother. With a saucepan in one hand, spoon in the other and a phone lodged between my neck and my ear (an image that fondly reminds me of my mother) my aunt soldiered me through an intense preparation of some delicious samosas. Not only did the hard work provide me with some delicious spiced baked goodness but reminded me of home and how grateful I am to have a culture with such rich and delicious food. I encourage you to get in the grab some groceries (there are plenty of halal butchers, oriental supermarkets, and general foreign goods stores across Newington and near the main campus) and whip up a mean of your own, reconnecting your tongue to a culture like Bhatt suggests in a completely delectable way.

Remember, you aren’t alone in Edinburgh. This city is vibrant with life from cultures far and wide, and you have to look no further than the High Street to be reminded of the countless walks of life that surround you every day. So call a friend or grab a spatula and get ready to make your student house a home. 

Edinburgh” by barnyz is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.