every object
tells a story

Family Learning through objects in the home and in museums

The Khan Family

Mr Khan

Personal objects

One possession that was most precious to Mr. Khan was a watch that was bought for him by one of his sons. It was bought in Kuwait, it was made of gold and Mr. Khan wore it on a chain. He used to joke that the watch was a bit too thin and he would have preferred a heavier one, one that had more gold in it. However, it was clear that this watch meant a lot to him as he wore it all the time.

Mr. Khan was very proud of the fact that he was a driver, and he always took very good care of his cars. He would always polish his car and take his family on outings. To him the car symbolised freedom, and the opportunity to grow and prosper in his new life in Britain. This was also a reflection of those early years in the 1950’s when Mr Khan bought his first new van, when cars were scarcer and few could drive.

Interests & Passions

The Asian culture was completely alien to people in 1950’s England and Mr Khan told stories about this naivety. On one occasion he wanted to find somewhere he could obtain chilli powder for cooking. He asked around but nobody could help until one enlightened chap directed Mr Khan to the local chemist. Mr Khan found this a strange suggestion, but under the circumstances followed the advice. Upon asking the man at the local chemist for some chilli powder, he responded by asking if Mr Khan owned a racehorse, this naturally confused Mr Khan and he sought clarity from the chap serving him. The man responded by commenting that what on earth would anybody want with so much chilli powder unless they owned a racehorse, it was the only practicable use for it. Mr Khan informed the man that he intended to use it for cooking and the man simply looked at Mr Khan dumfounded!

Stories from the past

Mr. Khan’s father was called Faqir Khan, and he led a very colourful life. He went to New York in the 1900s and stayed there for 10 years. He married an American woman and had a daughter, earning his livelihood through being an early pioneer of fast food, selling roast chicken on the side of the street and through shining shoes on the pavements of the boomtown that was New York. He made good money and eventually decided to return home with a small fortune in secret from his wife and to her great displeasure. Everybody travelled by ship in those days and Mr Khan senior knew that he had to hide his money well over the long journey home, else he was likely to be robbed. Very cleverly, he had a special pair of shoes made for him with hollow heels in which he successfully hid his fortune and returned home a wealthy man.

On another occasion Mr Khan recalled that all the toilets were outside in those early days and come rain or shine, if you wanted to use the toilet then you had to trek through the backyard, which particularly proved a challenge in mid winter with snow all around. On one such occasion Mr Khan awoke in the morning and went out to the toilet in his bedclothes. The neighbour upon seeing Mr Khan thus attired without dressing robe called the police who dually attended. Mr Khan was completely unaware of the furore he had caused until he was confronted by the local Bobby who informed him it was not considered decent to come out of the house without a dressing robe and could he please oblige to remember this in the future. How times change!

Mrs Khan

Personal objects

Mrs. Khan brought her own copy of the Quran with her to England, which is the Muslim holy book. At the time there were no copies available in Britain. Mrs Khan still has her Qaran after 43 years.

Interests & Passions

Mrs. Khan, like most Asian women, used to make clothes. She had a sewing machine, which she would use to make clothes for herself and her family, because at the time Asian clothes were not widely available in the shops. She was very skilled in needlework, crochet and knitting, which she learned before she got married. There were none of the light fabrics she was used to in Pakistan, so often she would use material that were usually used to make curtains. This meant that the clothes were very heavy and thick, which turned out to be a good thing during the cold British winters.

Stories from the past

When Mrs. Khan came to Rotherham, there were only a few other Asian women living here. Mr. Khan would take her for walks in the park, and whenever they met another Asian woman, it was such a rare event that they would be so happy and go up to her and start talking, even though she might be a complete stranger. To begin with Mrs. Khan wasn’t very happy with life in England. Her husband would be away at work and her children were at school, so she was left alone in the house a lot of the time. She found the terraced houses in Rotherham to be very cramped. In Pakistan families had very large houses with big courtyards, even if they were poor. Also she wasn’t terribly fond of the English weather – but then who is? Mr. Khan would make up for this by taking his wife and family on outings and on holidays. Eventually Mrs. Khan grew to love her new home, because she realised that home is not a place, it is family.

The winters were indeed extremely cold, and the snow used to fall heavily. Mr. Khan had to go out every morning to clear the snow from the path. There were no gas fires or central heating in those early days, and the only way of heating the house was with a coal fire. Coal would be delivered every week and be dumped into the cellar. If you’ve ever wondered what those metal hatches outside some terraced houses were for, that was where the coal man used to pour the coal. The first person to wake up had to light the fire, using firelighters to get the coals burning. Firelighters were sticks of solid paraffin oil.

Dr Akram Khan

Interests & Passions

Akram enjoys films. His favourites include The Chase, The Magnificent Seven and Return of the Seven. When Akram was younger, he would regularly go to see films at ‘The Regal’, which was on Staniforth Road, off Attercliffe. Asian films were also shown there.

Akram played cricket when he was younger for Sheffield Friends, who pioneered the way and set the standard for future Asian teams to follow. Although his playing days are now behind him, Akram’s passion for and interest in the game has not diminished and is a very keen supporter of cricket.

Stories from the past

Akram has fond memories of his upbringing in his home village of Shadikhan in Pakistan. He loved school as a young boy and was a very bright student. It laid the foundation for his future educational achievements and most importantly taught him to speak, read and write fluently in Urdu, which is the national language of Pakistan, aside from his mother tongue of Pushto.

When Akram came to England as a boy, he remembered the weather was dreadful; there was two feet of snow at Heathrow Airport. Akram initially lived in Wincobank, Sheffield for a short time and he was enrolled in the local Wincobank Primary School and naturally had a lot of catching up to do, first objective was to learn English. His father again started a grocery and butchers business in Sheffield, but this time in partnership with a good friend Mr Malik.

Ravina Khan

Personal objects

Ravina’s mother has a china crockery set that is almost 60 years old. It was given to Mrs. Khan by her brothers who brought it back form their travels, and it formed part of her dowry. It has been passed onto Ravina, who is very proud of this possession and the legacy that goes with it. When Ravina’s brother returned from laying his father to rest in Pakistan, he stopped off in Russia and bought a china mug for his sister because he knew how much she loved china.

In the Asian culture, brides are always given gold when they marry. Not only does it look good on their wedding clothes, but also it makes up part of their dowry, and inheritance from the parents. It is to ensure that they always have something with them in case of a rainy day.

Also when an Asian bride is married, she is given hand-sewn silk or velvet duvets. In 1974, Ravina visited Pakistan with her family for the first time at the age of eleven. They have inherited lands around their village and grow a variety of crops through the season. In the 1970’s cotton was a very popular crop and locals would often use it to make embroidered hand made fabric, similar to cashmere. Mr Khan had some hand made shawls made from cotton he grew with his own hands at that time, which were passed on to Ravina. These are very special possessions for Ravina as they are a link to her father and bring back lovely memories of what a wonderful father and man he was.

Interests & Passions

Ravina got her love of interior design from her father, Mr. Khan. She would help her father to do the wallpapering and painting. In the 1970s the fashion was for woodchip wallpaper. Ravina and her father would regularly give the woodchip a fresh coat of paint, despite Mrs. Khan’s opinion that it looked perfectly all right. Through the years that followed, Ravina’s interest and ability for interior decorating blossomed. She helped decorate the houses of her family, but her showpiece is undoubtedly her own home of which she is rightly proud. But nothing stays constant in Ravina’s eyes, she regularly updates and refreshes her ideas in keeping with the changing times and moods. But her opinion is highly regarded and valued by friends and family alike. Gold and Silver spray paint can always be found at her home. She sprays elephants and frames and puts her own designer mark on everything.

One of Ravina’s earliest memories as a teenager is of growing tomatoes with her father. They began by growing them in window boxes, but they were so successful that the plants got too big to keep in such small planters. So they moved them into a greenhouse. Everyone who visited the Khan house would get a gift of tomatoes, and they would be told proudly that they were home grown.

Ravina’s garden in summer is always full of beautiful flower pots. She enjoys gardening and has fond memories of her and her father spending time together pottering about in the garden and bouncing ideas of each other as to what they should do next

Stories from the past

As a girl, Ravina remembers going shopping with her mother in a shop at the top of Kimberworth Road. In those days they used to be able to buy a whole week’s worth of shopping for just £5. Ravina knew all the children in her neighbourhood, and has fond memories of playing out in the street until 10 o’clock at night in the long light of the summer evenings. She also remembers being taken on outings and to parties by her Aunty Barbara and Uncle Pathan from Sheffield.

Zafran Khan

Personal objects

Zafran remembers seeing a lot of ornaments on display in his grandmother’s house, on the mantelpiece and in glass-fronted cupboards. This was repeated in many of the houses in the village and people also displayed guns, religious pictures and text, hand woven hanging carpets and on occasion pictures. Zafran recalls that in his youth Asian men used to make a habit of taking photographs of their possessions in England; not just the china, but also things like radios, televisions and cars. This was a reflection of the culture they had been brought up with, sending these pictures back to the old country to show their families was a way of showing how prosperous they were in Britain.

Interests & Passions

Zafran remembers that when he was in Ferham Infants School, he loved running. One of the teachers, Mrs Fisher, would regularly train him and a handful of other children on weekends for the 100 meters sprint. They marked out a hundred meters track on Sarah Street nearby and Mrs Fisher would time them running up and down that street until they could run no more. It as great fun and Mrs Fisher would always reward them with a visit to the local sweet shop at the end of their exertions.

Zafran also recalls that when he was in Ferham Junior they formed a band, he along with a few other boys got to play the xylophone. The drummer for the band was a young athletic boy called David Seaman, who later found fame and fortune through football, becoming a household name.

Stories from the past

Zafran had never been on a plane before his first visit in 1974 to their home village in Pakistan with his family at the age of ten. He recalls that they stopped off on the way in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan and remembers seeing guns along the runway with snow covering the surrounding hills. It was a very bleak but fascinating scene, and thankfully the stay was a short one. It was only a short flight from there to the city of Lahore in Pakistan, but they arrived late in the day so had to stay in a hotel overnight because it was too late to travel on to the village that same day. However, some major events and conferences were being held in the City so all the main hotels were full. They had to search around in a taxi for what seemed hours until they found somewhere that could accommodate them, by which time everybody was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. The next day, refreshed from a night’s sleep and some breakfast, they hired a minivan to take them to their father’s village, Shadikhan, which was a very long journey in those days.

They finally arrived at Shadikhan late at night, after 12 hours of travel. It was dark so difficult to get a good impression of the surroundings and few people were about or lights on due to the lateness of the hour. Zafran recalls the minivan was parked on the main road and they were lead along a narrow passage between houses, into what he later found out was their Grandfathers house. They entered through large wooden doors into what seemed a courtyard, then into a very spacious room with ornately carved wooden doors and frame and a carved central wooden pillar. It was all very exciting and at the same time confusing, as here they all were, many thousands of miles from there home in England in the middle of what seemed like a different world.

Jaan Khan

Interests & Passions

In 2001, just post the events of 9/11, Jaan wrote some poetry to accompany what was the first ever exhibition of Islamic Art, within a Church of any denomination. This was the ‘Faith 2 Faith’ Islamic Art Exhibition, in Rotherham’s’ All Saints Church. As the exhibition was then made an annual event, aimed at education and religious tolerance, he subsequently wrote a variety of poems, on topics such as the Iraq war, International Terrorism – 9/11 and Angels. At a special event, ‘An evening with Terry Waite’, at Rotherham’s All Saints’ Church, a poem Jaan wrote, entitled ‘Jerusalem’, specifically to accompany a one off oil painting by Zahir Rafiq, was incorporated into the art work and presented to Mr Waite, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Special Envoy to the Middle East and former hostage.

Stories from the past

The Khan family are Pathans, (sometimes referred to as Pashtoons), part of a tribal society descended from Afghanistan. They are distinguished by a very particular history as one of the world’s largest tribal societies and speak a unique archaic language ‘Pushtu’. As the language is nearly always received through nurture in childhood, a particular feeling of being distinct resonates with many Pathans, as it did with Jaan. Although the uniqueness of his people and their history of heroism, religion, Hebrew origin and strife was to be discovered later, through his academic studies and research, his early schooling fuelled an interest of language, English and the arts, which has set him many times outside the restrictive domains of his working class environment and wider ethnic community.

Jaan has noticed a number of changes over the years, in Sheffield and Rotherham. The increase in wealth amongst people generally, which is also reflected in the Asian community. A better state of education amongst the Asian community as many young Asians break free of the shackle of illiteracy, which governed and confined their parent’s existence. Also a marked increase in entrepreneurship, as people attempt to get on with a second or third property to their name, however a cost if any that communities are paying is a breakdown of their social fabric, a cohesion which would at times regulate itself, for the betterment of the community at large and wider society.

The Khan Kids

This section of the website was constructed by the Khan children Umar Khan aged 13, Aliya Khan aged 12 and Haris Khan aged 10. the Khan children went through the process of developing an interactive page by learning how to edit photographs in Photoshop, learning animation and incorporating sounds using Macromedia Flash. Their knowledge of using such software culminated with them putting together their own page, where they talk about some of their interest through the use of certain personal possessions

To the view the Presentation click on the link below. Please note! to view the Flash Presentation your device must play Flash content.

Flash presentation
  • Mr Khan
  • Mrs Khan
  • Dr Akram Khan
  • Ravina Khan
  • Zafran Khan
  • Jaan M Khan
  • The Khan Kids

The Khan Family

Mr Khan

Personal objects

One possession that was most precious to Mr. Khan was a watch that was bought for him by one of his sons. It was bought in Kuwait, it was made of gold and Mr. Khan wore it on a chain. He used to joke that the watch was a bit too thin and he would have preferred a heavier one, one that had more gold in it. However, it was clear that this watch meant a lot to him as he wore it all the time.

Mr. Khan was very proud of the fact that he was a driver, and he always took very good care of his cars. He would always polish his car and take his family on outings. To him the car symbolised freedom, and the opportunity to grow and prosper in his new life in Britain. This was also a reflection of those early years in the 1950’s when Mr Khan bought his first new van, when cars were scarcer and few could drive.

Interests & Passions

The Asian culture was completely alien to people in 1950’s England and Mr Khan told stories about this naivety. On one occasion he wanted to find somewhere he could obtain chilli powder for cooking. He asked around but nobody could help until one enlightened chap directed Mr Khan to the local chemist. Mr Khan found this a strange suggestion, but under the circumstances followed the advice. Upon asking the man at the local chemist for some chilli powder, he responded by asking if Mr Khan owned a racehorse, this naturally confused Mr Khan and he sought clarity from the chap serving him. The man responded by commenting that what on earth would anybody want with so much chilli powder unless they owned a racehorse, it was the only practicable use for it. Mr Khan informed the man that he intended to use it for cooking and the man simply looked at Mr Khan dumfounded!

Stories from the past

Mr. Khan’s father was called Faqir Khan, and he led a very colourful life. He went to New York in the 1900s and stayed there for 10 years. He married an American woman and had a daughter, earning his livelihood through being an early pioneer of fast food, selling roast chicken on the side of the street and through shining shoes on the pavements of the boomtown that was New York. He made good money and eventually decided to return home with a small fortune in secret from his wife and to her great displeasure. Everybody travelled by ship in those days and Mr Khan senior knew that he had to hide his money well over the long journey home, else he was likely to be robbed. Very cleverly, he had a special pair of shoes made for him with hollow heels in which he successfully hid his fortune and returned home a wealthy man.

On another occasion Mr Khan recalled that all the toilets were outside in those early days and come rain or shine, if you wanted to use the toilet then you had to trek through the backyard, which particularly proved a challenge in mid winter with snow all around. On one such occasion Mr Khan awoke in the morning and went out to the toilet in his bedclothes. The neighbour upon seeing Mr Khan thus attired without dressing robe called the police who dually attended. Mr Khan was completely unaware of the furore he had caused until he was confronted by the local Bobby who informed him it was not considered decent to come out of the house without a dressing robe and could he please oblige to remember this in the future. How times change!

Mrs Khan

Personal objects

Mrs. Khan brought her own copy of the Quran with her to England, which is the Muslim holy book. At the time there were no copies available in Britain. Mrs Khan still has her Qaran after 43 years.

Interests & Passions

Mrs. Khan, like most Asian women, used to make clothes. She had a sewing machine, which she would use to make clothes for herself and her family, because at the time Asian clothes were not widely available in the shops. She was very skilled in needlework, crochet and knitting, which she learned before she got married. There were none of the light fabrics she was used to in Pakistan, so often she would use material that were usually used to make curtains. This meant that the clothes were very heavy and thick, which turned out to be a good thing during the cold British winters.

Stories from the past

When Mrs. Khan came to Rotherham, there were only a few other Asian women living here. Mr. Khan would take her for walks in the park, and whenever they met another Asian woman, it was such a rare event that they would be so happy and go up to her and start talking, even though she might be a complete stranger. To begin with Mrs. Khan wasn’t very happy with life in England. Her husband would be away at work and her children were at school, so she was left alone in the house a lot of the time. She found the terraced houses in Rotherham to be very cramped. In Pakistan families had very large houses with big courtyards, even if they were poor. Also she wasn’t terribly fond of the English weather – but then who is? Mr. Khan would make up for this by taking his wife and family on outings and on holidays. Eventually Mrs. Khan grew to love her new home, because she realised that home is not a place, it is family.

The winters were indeed extremely cold, and the snow used to fall heavily. Mr. Khan had to go out every morning to clear the snow from the path. There were no gas fires or central heating in those early days, and the only way of heating the house was with a coal fire. Coal would be delivered every week and be dumped into the cellar. If you’ve ever wondered what those metal hatches outside some terraced houses were for, that was where the coal man used to pour the coal. The first person to wake up had to light the fire, using firelighters to get the coals burning. Firelighters were sticks of solid paraffin oil.

Dr Akram Khan

Interests & Passions

Akram enjoys films. His favourites include The Chase, The Magnificent Seven and Return of the Seven. When Akram was younger, he would regularly go to see films at ‘The Regal’, which was on Staniforth Road, off Attercliffe. Asian films were also shown there.

Akram played cricket when he was younger for Sheffield Friends, who pioneered the way and set the standard for future Asian teams to follow. Although his playing days are now behind him, Akram’s passion for and interest in the game has not diminished and is a very keen supporter of cricket.

Stories from the past

Akram has fond memories of his upbringing in his home village of Shadikhan in Pakistan. He loved school as a young boy and was a very bright student. It laid the foundation for his future educational achievements and most importantly taught him to speak, read and write fluently in Urdu, which is the national language of Pakistan, aside from his mother tongue of Pushto.

When Akram came to England as a boy, he remembered the weather was dreadful; there was two feet of snow at Heathrow Airport. Akram initially lived in Wincobank, Sheffield for a short time and he was enrolled in the local Wincobank Primary School and naturally had a lot of catching up to do, first objective was to learn English. His father again started a grocery and butchers business in Sheffield, but this time in partnership with a good friend Mr Malik.

Ravina Khan

Personal objects

Ravina’s mother has a china crockery set that is almost 60 years old. It was given to Mrs. Khan by her brothers who brought it back form their travels, and it formed part of her dowry. It has been passed onto Ravina, who is very proud of this possession and the legacy that goes with it. When Ravina’s brother returned from laying his father to rest in Pakistan, he stopped off in Russia and bought a china mug for his sister because he knew how much she loved china.

In the Asian culture, brides are always given gold when they marry. Not only does it look good on their wedding clothes, but also it makes up part of their dowry, and inheritance from the parents. It is to ensure that they always have something with them in case of a rainy day.

Also when an Asian bride is married, she is given hand-sewn silk or velvet duvets. In 1974, Ravina visited Pakistan with her family for the first time at the age of eleven. They have inherited lands around their village and grow a variety of crops through the season. In the 1970’s cotton was a very popular crop and locals would often use it to make embroidered hand made fabric, similar to cashmere. Mr Khan had some hand made shawls made from cotton he grew with his own hands at that time, which were passed on to Ravina. These are very special possessions for Ravina as they are a link to her father and bring back lovely memories of what a wonderful father and man he was.

Interests & Passions

Ravina got her love of interior design from her father, Mr. Khan. She would help her father to do the wallpapering and painting. In the 1970s the fashion was for woodchip wallpaper. Ravina and her father would regularly give the woodchip a fresh coat of paint, despite Mrs. Khan’s opinion that it looked perfectly all right. Through the years that followed, Ravina’s interest and ability for interior decorating blossomed. She helped decorate the houses of her family, but her showpiece is undoubtedly her own home of which she is rightly proud. But nothing stays constant in Ravina’s eyes, she regularly updates and refreshes her ideas in keeping with the changing times and moods. But her opinion is highly regarded and valued by friends and family alike. Gold and Silver spray paint can always be found at her home. She sprays elephants and frames and puts her own designer mark on everything.

One of Ravina’s earliest memories as a teenager is of growing tomatoes with her father. They began by growing them in window boxes, but they were so successful that the plants got too big to keep in such small planters. So they moved them into a greenhouse. Everyone who visited the Khan house would get a gift of tomatoes, and they would be told proudly that they were home grown.

Ravina’s garden in summer is always full of beautiful flower pots. She enjoys gardening and has fond memories of her and her father spending time together pottering about in the garden and bouncing ideas of each other as to what they should do next

Stories from the past

As a girl, Ravina remembers going shopping with her mother in a shop at the top of Kimberworth Road. In those days they used to be able to buy a whole week’s worth of shopping for just £5. Ravina knew all the children in her neighbourhood, and has fond memories of playing out in the street until 10 o’clock at night in the long light of the summer evenings. She also remembers being taken on outings and to parties by her Aunty Barbara and Uncle Pathan from Sheffield.

Zafran Khan

Personal objects

Zafran remembers seeing a lot of ornaments on display in his grandmother’s house, on the mantelpiece and in glass-fronted cupboards. This was repeated in many of the houses in the village and people also displayed guns, religious pictures and text, hand woven hanging carpets and on occasion pictures. Zafran recalls that in his youth Asian men used to make a habit of taking photographs of their possessions in England; not just the china, but also things like radios, televisions and cars. This was a reflection of the culture they had been brought up with, sending these pictures back to the old country to show their families was a way of showing how prosperous they were in Britain.

Interests & Passions

Zafran remembers that when he was in Ferham Infants School, he loved running. One of the teachers, Mrs Fisher, would regularly train him and a handful of other children on weekends for the 100 meters sprint. They marked out a hundred meters track on Sarah Street nearby and Mrs Fisher would time them running up and down that street until they could run no more. It as great fun and Mrs Fisher would always reward them with a visit to the local sweet shop at the end of their exertions.

Zafran also recalls that when he was in Ferham Junior they formed a band, he along with a few other boys got to play the xylophone. The drummer for the band was a young athletic boy called David Seaman, who later found fame and fortune through football, becoming a household name.

Stories from the past

Zafran had never been on a plane before his first visit in 1974 to their home village in Pakistan with his family at the age of ten. He recalls that they stopped off on the way in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan and remembers seeing guns along the runway with snow covering the surrounding hills. It was a very bleak but fascinating scene, and thankfully the stay was a short one. It was only a short flight from there to the city of Lahore in Pakistan, but they arrived late in the day so had to stay in a hotel overnight because it was too late to travel on to the village that same day. However, some major events and conferences were being held in the City so all the main hotels were full. They had to search around in a taxi for what seemed hours until they found somewhere that could accommodate them, by which time everybody was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. The next day, refreshed from a night’s sleep and some breakfast, they hired a minivan to take them to their father’s village, Shadikhan, which was a very long journey in those days.

They finally arrived at Shadikhan late at night, after 12 hours of travel. It was dark so difficult to get a good impression of the surroundings and few people were about or lights on due to the lateness of the hour. Zafran recalls the minivan was parked on the main road and they were lead along a narrow passage between houses, into what he later found out was their Grandfathers house. They entered through large wooden doors into what seemed a courtyard, then into a very spacious room with ornately carved wooden doors and frame and a carved central wooden pillar. It was all very exciting and at the same time confusing, as here they all were, many thousands of miles from there home in England in the middle of what seemed like a different world.

Jaan Khan

Interests & Passions

In 2001, just post the events of 9/11, Jaan wrote some poetry to accompany what was the first ever exhibition of Islamic Art, within a Church of any denomination. This was the ‘Faith 2 Faith’ Islamic Art Exhibition, in Rotherham’s’ All Saints Church. As the exhibition was then made an annual event, aimed at education and religious tolerance, he subsequently wrote a variety of poems, on topics such as the Iraq war, International Terrorism – 9/11 and Angels. At a special event, ‘An evening with Terry Waite’, at Rotherham’s All Saints’ Church, a poem Jaan wrote, entitled ‘Jerusalem’, specifically to accompany a one off oil painting by Zahir Rafiq, was incorporated into the art work and presented to Mr Waite, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Special Envoy to the Middle East and former hostage.

Stories from the past

The Khan family are Pathans, (sometimes referred to as Pashtoons), part of a tribal society descended from Afghanistan. They are distinguished by a very particular history as one of the world’s largest tribal societies and speak a unique archaic language ‘Pushtu’. As the language is nearly always received through nurture in childhood, a particular feeling of being distinct resonates with many Pathans, as it did with Jaan. Although the uniqueness of his people and their history of heroism, religion, Hebrew origin and strife was to be discovered later, through his academic studies and research, his early schooling fuelled an interest of language, English and the arts, which has set him many times outside the restrictive domains of his working class environment and wider ethnic community.

Jaan has noticed a number of changes over the years, in Sheffield and Rotherham. The increase in wealth amongst people generally, which is also reflected in the Asian community. A better state of education amongst the Asian community as many young Asians break free of the shackle of illiteracy, which governed and confined their parent’s existence. Also a marked increase in entrepreneurship, as people attempt to get on with a second or third property to their name, however a cost if any that communities are paying is a breakdown of their social fabric, a cohesion which would at times regulate itself, for the betterment of the community at large and wider society.

The Khan Kids

This section of the website was constructed by the Khan children Umar Khan aged 13, Aliya Khan aged 12 and Haris Khan aged 10. the Khan children went through the process of developing an interactive page by learning how to edit photographs in Photoshop, learning animation and incorporating sounds using Macromedia Flash. Their knowledge of using such software culminated with them putting together their own page, where they talk about some of their interest through the use of certain personal possessions

To the view the Presentation click on the link below. Please note! to view the Flash Presentation your device must play Flash content.

Flash presentation

The Khan Family

Mr Khan
Personal objects

One possession that was most precious to Mr. Khan was a watch that was bought for him by one of his sons. It was bought in Kuwait, it was made of gold and Mr. Khan wore it on a chain. He used to joke that the watch was a bit too thin and he would have preferred a heavier one, one that had more gold in it. However, it was clear that this watch meant a lot to him as he wore it all the time.

Mr. Khan was very proud of the fact that he was a driver, and he always took very good care of his cars. He would always polish his car and take his family on outings. To him the car symbolised freedom, and the opportunity to grow and prosper in his new life in Britain. This was also a reflection of those early years in the 1950’s when Mr Khan bought his first new van, when cars were scarcer and few could drive.


Interests & Passions

The Asian culture was completely alien to people in 1950’s England and Mr Khan told stories about this naivety. On one occasion he wanted to find somewhere he could obtain chilli powder for cooking. He asked around but nobody could help until one enlightened chap directed Mr Khan to the local chemist. Mr Khan found this a strange suggestion, but under the circumstances followed the advice. Upon asking the man at the local chemist for some chilli powder, he responded by asking if Mr Khan owned a racehorse, this naturally confused Mr Khan and he sought clarity from the chap serving him. The man responded by commenting that what on earth would anybody want with so much chilli powder unless they owned a racehorse, it was the only practicable use for it. Mr Khan informed the man that he intended to use it for cooking and the man simply looked at Mr Khan dumfounded!


Stories from the past

Mr. Khan’s father was called Faqir Khan, and he led a very colourful life. He went to New York in the 1900s and stayed there for 10 years. He married an American woman and had a daughter, earning his livelihood through being an early pioneer of fast food, selling roast chicken on the side of the street and through shining shoes on the pavements of the boomtown that was New York. He made good money and eventually decided to return home with a small fortune in secret from his wife and to her great displeasure. Everybody travelled by ship in those days and Mr Khan senior knew that he had to hide his money well over the long journey home, else he was likely to be robbed. Very cleverly, he had a special pair of shoes made for him with hollow heels in which he successfully hid his fortune and returned home a wealthy man.

On another occasion Mr Khan recalled that all the toilets were outside in those early days and come rain or shine, if you wanted to use the toilet then you had to trek through the backyard, which particularly proved a challenge in mid winter with snow all around. On one such occasion Mr Khan awoke in the morning and went out to the toilet in his bedclothes. The neighbour upon seeing Mr Khan thus attired without dressing robe called the police who dually attended. Mr Khan was completely unaware of the furore he had caused until he was confronted by the local Bobby who informed him it was not considered decent to come out of the house without a dressing robe and could he please oblige to remember this in the future. How times change!


Mrs Khan
Personal objects

Mrs. Khan brought her own copy of the Quran with her to England, which is the Muslim holy book. At the time there were no copies available in Britain. Mrs Khan still has her Qaran after 43 years.


Interests & Passions

Mrs. Khan, like most Asian women, used to make clothes. She had a sewing machine, which she would use to make clothes for herself and her family, because at the time Asian clothes were not widely available in the shops. She was very skilled in needlework, crochet and knitting, which she learned before she got married. There were none of the light fabrics she was used to in Pakistan, so often she would use material that were usually used to make curtains. This meant that the clothes were very heavy and thick, which turned out to be a good thing during the cold British winters.


Stories from the past

When Mrs. Khan came to Rotherham, there were only a few other Asian women living here. Mr. Khan would take her for walks in the park, and whenever they met another Asian woman, it was such a rare event that they would be so happy and go up to her and start talking, even though she might be a complete stranger. To begin with Mrs. Khan wasn’t very happy with life in England. Her husband would be away at work and her children were at school, so she was left alone in the house a lot of the time. She found the terraced houses in Rotherham to be very cramped. In Pakistan families had very large houses with big courtyards, even if they were poor. Also she wasn’t terribly fond of the English weather – but then who is? Mr. Khan would make up for this by taking his wife and family on outings and on holidays. Eventually Mrs. Khan grew to love her new home, because she realised that home is not a place, it is family.

The winters were indeed extremely cold, and the snow used to fall heavily. Mr. Khan had to go out every morning to clear the snow from the path. There were no gas fires or central heating in those early days, and the only way of heating the house was with a coal fire. Coal would be delivered every week and be dumped into the cellar. If you’ve ever wondered what those metal hatches outside some terraced houses were for, that was where the coal man used to pour the coal. The first person to wake up had to light the fire, using firelighters to get the coals burning. Firelighters were sticks of solid paraffin oil.


Dr Akram Khan
Interests & Passions

Akram enjoys films. His favourites include The Chase, The Magnificent Seven and Return of the Seven. When Akram was younger, he would regularly go to see films at ‘The Regal’, which was on Staniforth Road, off Attercliffe. Asian films were also shown there.

Akram played cricket when he was younger for Sheffield Friends, who pioneered the way and set the standard for future Asian teams to follow. Although his playing days are now behind him, Akram’s passion for and interest in the game has not diminished and is a very keen supporter of cricket.


Stories from the past

Akram has fond memories of his upbringing in his home village of Shadikhan in Pakistan. He loved school as a young boy and was a very bright student. It laid the foundation for his future educational achievements and most importantly taught him to speak, read and write fluently in Urdu, which is the national language of Pakistan, aside from his mother tongue of Pushto.

When Akram came to England as a boy, he remembered the weather was dreadful; there was two feet of snow at Heathrow Airport. Akram initially lived in Wincobank, Sheffield for a short time and he was enrolled in the local Wincobank Primary School and naturally had a lot of catching up to do, first objective was to learn English. His father again started a grocery and butchers business in Sheffield, but this time in partnership with a good friend Mr Malik.


Ravina Khan
Personal objects

Ravina’s mother has a china crockery set that is almost 60 years old. It was given to Mrs. Khan by her brothers who brought it back form their travels, and it formed part of her dowry. It has been passed onto Ravina, who is very proud of this possession and the legacy that goes with it. When Ravina’s brother returned from laying his father to rest in Pakistan, he stopped off in Russia and bought a china mug for his sister because he knew how much she loved china.

In the Asian culture, brides are always given gold when they marry. Not only does it look good on their wedding clothes, but also it makes up part of their dowry, and inheritance from the parents. It is to ensure that they always have something with them in case of a rainy day.

Also when an Asian bride is married, she is given hand-sewn silk or velvet duvets. In 1974, Ravina visited Pakistan with her family for the first time at the age of eleven. They have inherited lands around their village and grow a variety of crops through the season. In the 1970’s cotton was a very popular crop and locals would often use it to make embroidered hand made fabric, similar to cashmere. Mr Khan had some hand made shawls made from cotton he grew with his own hands at that time, which were passed on to Ravina. These are very special possessions for Ravina as they are a link to her father and bring back lovely memories of what a wonderful father and man he was.


Interests & Passions

Ravina got her love of interior design from her father, Mr. Khan. She would help her father to do the wallpapering and painting. In the 1970s the fashion was for woodchip wallpaper. Ravina and her father would regularly give the woodchip a fresh coat of paint, despite Mrs. Khan’s opinion that it looked perfectly all right. Through the years that followed, Ravina’s interest and ability for interior decorating blossomed. She helped decorate the houses of her family, but her showpiece is undoubtedly her own home of which she is rightly proud. But nothing stays constant in Ravina’s eyes, she regularly updates and refreshes her ideas in keeping with the changing times and moods. But her opinion is highly regarded and valued by friends and family alike. Gold and Silver spray paint can always be found at her home. She sprays elephants and frames and puts her own designer mark on everything.

One of Ravina’s earliest memories as a teenager is of growing tomatoes with her father. They began by growing them in window boxes, but they were so successful that the plants got too big to keep in such small planters. So they moved them into a greenhouse. Everyone who visited the Khan house would get a gift of tomatoes, and they would be told proudly that they were home grown.

Ravina’s garden in summer is always full of beautiful flower pots. She enjoys gardening and has fond memories of her and her father spending time together pottering about in the garden and bouncing ideas of each other as to what they should do next


Stories from the past

As a girl, Ravina remembers going shopping with her mother in a shop at the top of Kimberworth Road. In those days they used to be able to buy a whole week’s worth of shopping for just £5. Ravina knew all the children in her neighbourhood, and has fond memories of playing out in the street until 10 o’clock at night in the long light of the summer evenings. She also remembers being taken on outings and to parties by her Aunty Barbara and Uncle Pathan from Sheffield.


Zafran Khan
Personal objects

Zafran remembers seeing a lot of ornaments on display in his grandmother’s house, on the mantelpiece and in glass-fronted cupboards. This was repeated in many of the houses in the village and people also displayed guns, religious pictures and text, hand woven hanging carpets and on occasion pictures. Zafran recalls that in his youth Asian men used to make a habit of taking photographs of their possessions in England; not just the china, but also things like radios, televisions and cars. This was a reflection of the culture they had been brought up with, sending these pictures back to the old country to show their families was a way of showing how prosperous they were in Britain.


Interests & Passions

Zafran remembers that when he was in Ferham Infants School, he loved running. One of the teachers, Mrs Fisher, would regularly train him and a handful of other children on weekends for the 100 meters sprint. They marked out a hundred meters track on Sarah Street nearby and Mrs Fisher would time them running up and down that street until they could run no more. It as great fun and Mrs Fisher would always reward them with a visit to the local sweet shop at the end of their exertions.

Zafran also recalls that when he was in Ferham Junior they formed a band, he along with a few other boys got to play the xylophone. The drummer for the band was a young athletic boy called David Seaman, who later found fame and fortune through football, becoming a household name.


Stories from the past

Zafran had never been on a plane before his first visit in 1974 to their home village in Pakistan with his family at the age of ten. He recalls that they stopped off on the way in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan and remembers seeing guns along the runway with snow covering the surrounding hills. It was a very bleak but fascinating scene, and thankfully the stay was a short one. It was only a short flight from there to the city of Lahore in Pakistan, but they arrived late in the day so had to stay in a hotel overnight because it was too late to travel on to the village that same day. However, some major events and conferences were being held in the City so all the main hotels were full. They had to search around in a taxi for what seemed hours until they found somewhere that could accommodate them, by which time everybody was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. The next day, refreshed from a night’s sleep and some breakfast, they hired a minivan to take them to their father’s village, Shadikhan, which was a very long journey in those days.

They finally arrived at Shadikhan late at night, after 12 hours of travel. It was dark so difficult to get a good impression of the surroundings and few people were about or lights on due to the lateness of the hour. Zafran recalls the minivan was parked on the main road and they were lead along a narrow passage between houses, into what he later found out was their Grandfathers house. They entered through large wooden doors into what seemed a courtyard, then into a very spacious room with ornately carved wooden doors and frame and a carved central wooden pillar. It was all very exciting and at the same time confusing, as here they all were, many thousands of miles from there home in England in the middle of what seemed like a different world.


Jaan Khan
Interests & Passions

In 2001, just post the events of 9/11, Jaan wrote some poetry to accompany what was the first ever exhibition of Islamic Art, within a Church of any denomination. This was the ‘Faith 2 Faith’ Islamic Art Exhibition, in Rotherham’s’ All Saints Church. As the exhibition was then made an annual event, aimed at education and religious tolerance, he subsequently wrote a variety of poems, on topics such as the Iraq war, International Terrorism – 9/11 and Angels. At a special event, ‘An evening with Terry Waite’, at Rotherham’s All Saints’ Church, a poem Jaan wrote, entitled ‘Jerusalem’, specifically to accompany a one off oil painting by Zahir Rafiq, was incorporated into the art work and presented to Mr Waite, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Special Envoy to the Middle East and former hostage.


Stories from the past

The Khan family are Pathans, (sometimes referred to as Pashtoons), part of a tribal society descended from Afghanistan. They are distinguished by a very particular history as one of the world’s largest tribal societies and speak a unique archaic language ‘Pushtu’. As the language is nearly always received through nurture in childhood, a particular feeling of being distinct resonates with many Pathans, as it did with Jaan. Although the uniqueness of his people and their history of heroism, religion, Hebrew origin and strife was to be discovered later, through his academic studies and research, his early schooling fuelled an interest of language, English and the arts, which has set him many times outside the restrictive domains of his working class environment and wider ethnic community.

Jaan has noticed a number of changes over the years, in Sheffield and Rotherham. The increase in wealth amongst people generally, which is also reflected in the Asian community. A better state of education amongst the Asian community as many young Asians break free of the shackle of illiteracy, which governed and confined their parent’s existence. Also a marked increase in entrepreneurship, as people attempt to get on with a second or third property to their name, however a cost if any that communities are paying is a breakdown of their social fabric, a cohesion which would at times regulate itself, for the betterment of the community at large and wider society.


The Khan Kids

This section of the website was constructed by the Khan children Umar Khan aged 13, Aliya Khan aged 12 and Haris Khan aged 10. the Khan children went through the process of developing an interactive page by learning how to edit photographs in Photoshop, learning animation and incorporating sounds using Macromedia Flash. Their knowledge of using such software culminated with them putting together their own page, where they talk about some of their interest through the use of certain personal possessions

To the view the Presentation click on the link below. Please note! to view the Flash Presentation your device must play Flash content.

Flash presentation