This Anglo Indian was a healer and entrepreneur in England. He owned a restaurant and did shampooing business and used his Indian origin as a leverage to create a life for himself.
To honor Sake Dean Mahomed’s life and works, Google has created a wonderful doodle. In case you haven’t heard about him at all, you will be elated to know that he is probably the first Indian to publish a book in English.
To know him better, here are few facts about Mahomed’s life and works:
- He was born in 1759 in Patna, Bihar, which was back then part of the Bengal Presidency.
- His father was from a traditional Nai (barber) caste, which is a sub-caste of Shudra (lowest caste/untouchables), who was an employee of the East India Company.
- When he was 11 -year-old, he followed his father’s footsteps and joined the East India Company Army, and served under British Captain Godfrey Baker.
- After serving in the Army for 13 years, Baker and Mahomed grew close. When Baker left India, he also followed him to Ireland. He was 25 then and wanted to create a life for himself in England.
- Baker took charge of Mahomed and took care of his education. It was there where he primarily studied language and literature.
- Mahomed fell in love with Jane Daly, and some say that he converted to Protestantism from Islam to make their marriage legal since multi-cultural marriages were illegal back then.
- He received public recognition for the first time in England by publishing his autobiography titled The Travels of Dean Mahomed.
- His other family members also moved to London in search of better opportunities, and he settled in Portman Square, a hub for high society.
- He had ample money to start his own business and therefore, he decided to take advantage of his Indian background when it came to open a restaurant, the Hindoostane Coffee House, which was located on the west side of London in 1812. But, the restaurant was initially closed down and he became bankrupt.
- Again using his Indian origin, he added the title Sake, a variation of Sheikh, before his name. He also added 10 years to his age, joined the army and boasted that he had medical training in India.
- He started to promote his Indian oils and herbal treatments as a cure for numerous ailments and offered free treatment to patients of paralysis, asthma, and rheumatism. Soon, his business was thriving and he was known as Dr. Brighton.
- In 1821, Mahomed and Jane opened his own establishment- Mohamed’s Baths near a waterfront. High-class people used to flock in for exquisite facilities, vapor and shampooing treatments. There were bedrooms too for people who wanted intense treatments.
- Even Kings George IV and William IV also visited Mahomed’s Baths and were benefited from the treatments.
- He was a very generous donor to local charities and the official Steward for the Annual Charity Ball.
- A few years later, his establishments went for auction and he didn’t have enough money to buy them. He along with his wife continued to treat patients in their home.
- Mohamed passed away when he was 92 and within 2 months, Jane died too and their children continued their family business.