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Chhagan Mistry
Academic Field:
Years at RTC:
Town of origin:
Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
Recent Residence:
London, England
Life after RTC:
I left RTC in July 1965, having completed the first part of the RIBA course. In September I arrived in Liverpool on a dull grey Sunday afternoon under a Student Exchange scheme between RTC and Liverpool University.

After the exciting times at RTC, I found Liverpool University Architectural students a bit boring. I had to cook, but I could barely boil an egg; and God forbid I had to do my own laundry! After the first month I was hankering to go back to RTC.

To spice up life at the University, Angelo Martin, from RTC and I organized a “mandatory” health check for all architectural first year students! We spent the day pretending to use stethoscopes, taking blood pressures and listening to confidential medical histories! We nearly got dismissed from the University but luckily the health-checked students did not lodge a formal complaint against us; so we survived. For the rest of the academic year Angelo and I stopped telling others that we were living in Faulkner Square when we discovered it was a well known red light district!

At the end of that academic year Angelo went back to RTC to complete his studies, while I set off on a pilgrimage of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the USA. With a rucksack and not much else, I hitchhiked through the USA, working as and when necessary in the restaurants, bars and on one occasion with IBM. I then went south into Mexico, down to Mexico City and back up into the USA and then into Canada to see the EXPO ’67 under construction in Montreal.

I flew back to London flat broke and decided to stay in the UK to complete my studies. A friend from RTC lent me £15 to help me with a roof over my head and food for three weeks. After that the landlady did not give me food. It was either shelter or food! So for three days I starved until money arrived from Dar es Salaam. I gratefully paid back my friend and had a big meal at “Moo Cow”.

I completed my studies in 1969 and went back to Dar es Salaam. Nalini and I got married on 23rd May 1970. Soon afterwards I returned to UK and we bought our first house in North London. It was a never ending struggle to make ends meet. I worked with various architectural practices until 1978, when I set up my own practice. It was an adventure I will always cherish. Briefly I travelled to foreign countries including Nepal, as an advisor to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) based in Vienna. I had the privilege of designing many interesting projects, but in 1999/2000, after laying the foundations for the Deraser on Oshwal site in Potters Bar, I embarked on a new career in healthcare. In 1999 I went back to college to study management in care. I started with one care home in mental health and by 2004 had several homes in London. Now we have consolidated our operations and run a comprehensive rehabilitative service encompassing mental health, learning disability and dementia. Nalini has now retired as a dentist and helps me.

Nalini and I have two happily married daughters, both with twins! One daughter is a doctor and another is an Orthodontic Consultant in two local hospitals. We have five wonderful grand children, all under the age of four!

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