A. I have never seen them and my mother would not let me eat them. I have never tried eating saffron threads. I can only eat a little if it has a sweet fragrance. I can’t eat all of them. Also, I never saw a saffron-flower or any flowers in the house where I lived.
Q. Tell us about your family history. When we were in India, were there a lot of Indians in your family?
A. Yes. My parents were originally from Vellore. They were part of a large tribe of Bajra people living in the valley, in what is now Tamil Nadu, and were brought to India for marriage. My father was married to a very influential Muslim woman, who is now dead. As a result of that she was never allowed to move out of the family’s villa, and when she came to Chennai to meet me she was treated like any other “unmarried Indian”. The village was called Kallur and a very prominent priest, a known friend of King Akbar, had her converted to Islam. I was told by my grandmother that my grandfather was born there on August 18, 1776, though some historians have argued that he was born in Vellore rather than Vellore.
Q. What part of Vellore have you lived in the past 20 years?
A. I have lived in Vellore since 1994. There were many Hindu temples in Vellore. Since I was 12 or 13 I have been taking Hindu lessons. My mother and sister in law also were Hindus, although my parents and my step-father were not. My dad has done everything he can to try to make Tamil Nadu a separate Hindu nation. He got a passport, but it never worked. My mother is not Indian. She came from Bengal and she left for Australia with my grandparents in the ’80s.
Q. How do you think Vellore has changed during the last 20 years?
A. It was a small but important city during the 1950s when it was still called Vellore. During the ’70s it slowly got bigger, it was on the brink of being a city. Many good things happened in it. During the last half century especially, the economy of the city has developed rapidly. Vellore has been a very attractive city with many shops selling all sorts of things.
Q. What are you doing to make this a true city
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