Play / pause Changing the Turban

Changing the Turban

  • Balbir Flora
  • Interview by: Jess Boydon

Transcript

As Sikhs in the Air Force,

we used to have a light blue turban.

The same color as the RAF Ensign.

Now, the problem with that was

you can imagine engineers working on aircraft.

Or, they get dirty so quickly 'cause you get,

catch it on the side of there,

exhaust off an aircraft or whatever.

And you guys who were engineers.

And they got dirty very, very quickly.

So I addressed the issue with the,

the ceremonial people and the dress regulations people

and said, look,

why can't we go for a gray the same as the beret

or a darker color?

So, I had to do a little survey

with all the serving Sikhs at the time.

We had about 15 so it was a,

you know, slightly larger number.

That is 15 who wore turbans.

We've got about 40, 50 odd in the Air Force,

but only about, now,

currently, only six of us wear a turban.

All the rest are short back and side.

So, I did the survey anyway,

going back to the original story,

and they all agreed that it would be better

if it was a darker color.

So, I raised all the paperwork to staff it up,

put up a business case.

And the Air Force Board actually approved it and said,

"Right, the gray, we can't go for the gray."

'Cause the Air Force gray is made up of lots

of different gray shades all woven together.

So we can't use gray,

because, obviously, a turban is dyed,

so it'd be one flat gray color.

But they agreed that we could have the blue

which is the same as our blue jacket or the rank tabs.

So it would still fit in with the uniform.

So, you know, it's things like that.

Addressing issues that we know are out there

to make my life easier and better for everybody else.

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