Royal wedding fever is mild in Southall, London's Little India
Southall is London's Little India, rumoured by some to be the largest Indian community outside the country itself.
This becomes clear the moment you step off the train and see a 'Welcome to Southall' sign — with a Punjabi translation underneath.
Its busy streets are filled with women in saris and Sikh men wearing turbans, as well as those in less colourful British garb. There are open markets selling fruits and vegetables, and more Indian spices than are even available in India, I'm told.
Food stalls offer chaat patta, naan and lamb biryani, and fresh juices.
The local cinema features a poster for Gurdas Maan: Live in Concert, featuring a lively picture of the Punjabi superstar.
There's even a samosa factory.
What you don't find in Southall these days is much pertaining to the royal wedding.
Ambivalent, to a point
In fact, some people here seem downright ambivalent about the big event, happy only because it means an extra bank holiday.
"They don't even know much about it," said Jaswant Shergill, translating from Punjabi for me the thoughts of his male friends, who were sitting outside the Sri Guru Singh Sabha temple. (It's the largest Sikh temple outside India.)
"But they don't mind," he said. "Plus, they get a couple of days off."
"I like the Queen," he added. "She reminds me of my mum."
"It's good for tourists," said Manoj Sharma, owner of the Poonam Sweet Centre on Western Road, standing behind a counter of row upon row of gulab jamun, habshi halwa and rassogulla.
"I think they have to have all the pomp and ceremony, don't they?" he said, when asked if he cared about the royal wedding. "If we didn't have all the royals, we wouldn't have so many tourists."
But even Sharma, ambivalent as he might be, has seized on the one fact that has many in Southall if not excited, then proud, of the royal wedding.
"Kate, that's her name, isn't it?" he asked me. "Her grandparents used to live just around the corner."
Ties to royalty
Indeed, Southall was once home to Ron and Dorothy Goldsmith, along with their son Gary and daughter Carole, who is Kate's mother. The family lived in a two-story townhouse on Clarence Street around the corner from Poonam Sweet Centre. Clarence is a quiet, simple street, where the houses look mostly the same, other than their colour and gate; some have chimneys.
An Indian family lives in the Goldsmith house now, but nobody answered when I knocked on the door.
But a few doors down, neighbour Abdul Baquee, originally from Bangladesh, told me the road has been busy in the days leading up to Friday's wedding. Clarence Street is hosting a massive street party, with free food, dancing and deejays. Residents of the street will be given special wristbands; more than 1,000 other people have been invited.
"The happy news is that when someone special is from here, they'll do the extra work to clean it up," Baquee told me with good humour. "Moss will not come on this street!"
"I noticed a couple of days ago that they replaced the street sign," added his daughter Nebbiha, 19, who's lived on Clarence Street for at least eight years. "It's been broken for as long as I remember."
'Weddings are the biggest things'
Food is a major part of celebrations in Southall, and the man often at the centre of it is Gulu Anand, owner of Brilliant Restaurant, an award-winning Indian restaurant that has stood in Southall for 35 years. Prince Charles has eaten there twice and Princess Anne at least once; it's also served former British prime ministers Tony Blair and John Major.
On Friday, Anand's chefs will prepare vast amounts of chickpeas, potatoes and kulcha bread, an important staple of celebrations, to give out free to passersby.
"In the Indian community, weddings are the biggest things in your life," Anand said, standing behind the bar in his 214-seat restaurant. "This is a bond for life."
Kate and William are "a fantastic couple," he said, with confidence. "They've been out there for about eight years, and the love is there."