When Dick Widdington and his cat set off to London to seek their fortune, it was because he had heard the streets of the city were paved with gold. The story tells us that he was sorely disappointed to discover upon his arrival that London's streets were no more paved with gold than any town, anywhere, in the world. In fact, in many ways, it turned out that life was even harder in the big city then it had been in the small town he had left behind.
All over the world, in countries torn apart by war, famine, and other disasters, the myth of a better life awaiting in the West persists even today. Television, glossy magazines, and other media paint a picture of a fabulous lifestyle filled with luxuries just waiting to be lived by those fortunate enough to make it to the promised lands. The reality, of course, is the same crushing disappointment felt by Dick Widdington. For the majority their new life is in many ways worse than what they had left behind as they didn't even have the comfort of the familiar for solace.
In the the late 1940s and early 1950s, following the partition of Britain's former colony into India and Pakistan, the subcontinent was rocked with religious violence. Muslims and Hindi were moved from homes they had occupied for generations as all of a sudden their neighbours turned against them after years of friendship and doing business together. Muslim families in what is now India, and Hindu families in what is now Pakistan gathered what they could carry and fled. The fortunate ones were herded onto trucks and trains to be shipped to their new homes in a new country while others were forced to try and make their way across the new border, avoiding rampaging mobs out for Hindu or Muslim blood.
Many people of both faiths exercised a third option and headed to the land of their former colonial master. Quite a few of those who made this decision had been British educated and were considered well off. They expected the West to provide them with the life style that the movies and the glossy magazines claimed was everyone's right. Unfortunately, the Britain they landed in was in the midst of an economic tailspin that would last until the 1980s. Not only weren't the streets paved with gold, but they also found themselves the object of racial and political attacks. They, it turned out, had stolen all the jobs and were the cause of all Britain's woes.