Lavanya Loganathan was born in Ealing Hospital in 1996. She is one of three generations living under the same roof in Greenford, a large suburb in the west London borough of Ealing. When we first meet at the Loganathan home in April 2012, all three generations are there to welcome us in from the damp chill of early spring in London. Her grandmother, the last of the family to arrive in the UK, recounts tales of arriving to school in Jaffna in the back of a horse drawn cart. Her mother, passing around a plate of fish cutlets and chutney, was the second to arrive in London, uprooted from Jaffna in the late 1980s amid conflict between the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) and Tamil militant organisations. Lavanya, switching the conversation from Tamil to English and back again, has never left Ealing. She was raised on a steady diet of extracurricular activities – English verse and prose, Carnatic violin, Tamil language classes, voluntary work at the Temple and bharatanatyam dance, to name a few. Like many young people, her studies – GCSEs in Latin, German, French, Drama and Geography – consume most of her waking hours, but she still manages to find down time to listen to hip hop – Eminem is currently her favourite – or to bow her violin. When asked about the future, she has a plan: a career in UK journalism. In addition to her love for English language and literature, her reasoning is clear: ‘I’m a British citizen but my parents aren’t so I think it will be great for them to know that even though they haven’t been given opportunities, we have.’


Lavanya Loganathan, 16, talks about growing up surrounded by Hindu Tamil
celebrations in Ealing and the influence these immersions have had on her
understanding of Tamil heritage and her impressions of life in Britain and
Sri Lanka.

In her interview, she also shares how her family keeps in touch with relations spread around the world…

Yeah, my family don’t all live here. My cousins live in Australia and Norway
and I’m able to talk to them on Facebook and things like that, which is great.
Technology has really helped us. Like my dad, when he was actually going to
Sri Lanka, he went last year to, something to do with claiming his house and
renovating his house back in Sri Lanka, he actually was able to Skype call
people and talk to them and his friend in Sri Lanka, he was actually fascinated
by the fact that you can talk to someone face to face from a different country.
So he got in touch with his old friends as well and I sort of got to talk to his
friends children and things like that, which is really good.’

…her idea of home and thoughts on the future…

‘I want to live in England. I’ve always felt quite at home here but I guess I don’t
really know what I want to do in life yet because I haven’t experienced much.
But I think it would be nice to go to Sri Lanka, not on work necessarily but just to help them out there, you know, just stay there for a while. But not necessarily work there, just go there. It’d be nice… I want to become a journalist, which is my ultimate goal. I’m not quite sure what that entails yet.  I don’t really know much about it but I think it would be really good to, I would love to work with BBC and just for people to come from Sri Lanka in this country and be able to go to a higher position in this country would mean a lot. Because I’m a British citizen but my parents aren’t so I think it will be great for them to know that even though they haven’t been given opportunities. We have, our parents push us to our full potential so I think it will be great to be able to work with BBC and just that would be my ultimate goal.’

…and what she chooses to express as important to her sense of identity…

‘Well, I’m a British citizen but I always say I am a Tamil person and I’m proud to be Tamil. I think it’s important for me to learn, when you are learning things that are from South India or Sri Lanka like all these arts that I’m learning. It’s an important part for us to recognise our own culture. Tamil schools there are so many in London right now which I think is a brilliant opportunity for Tamil people to get together. Without Tamil school, I wouldn’t know any other Tamil people outside my family. And now I have friends who are Tamil and who recognise and who are in the same position as us. And I think it’s really important that we sort of stick together.’