(1/2) Our family is very nomadic. My kids are first generation Australian, I’m first generation English, my mum’s first generation Ugandan and although my dad was born in India, he moved to Malaysia when he was a kid. Then he moved to England in his early 20s, where he and my Mum were married.
I loved my childhood. I was an only child and the youngest in my extended family. We did a lot of things that would normally not have been done by Indian families back then, like camping! We also had a boat parked outside our back garden as our house backed on to a canal. When we had parties it was a strange sight – a boatload of Sikhs going down the canal!
Then in 1980 Dad came out to Australia to visit my uncle, and when he got back, he said, ‘I love it, let’s move there’. I was 13 when we arrived. It was a big adventure. Everything was very different, very open, very flat, and there didn’t seem to be many people! Dad didn’t want to work as an engineer here, so my parents decided to get a fruit block in the Riverland, growing oranges and apricots.
Suddenly I was living on a farm and going to a country high school. I was the only turbaned Sikh there, but I made quite a lot of friends. Still, my closest friend was 5 km away! Unfortunately, the year after we bought the farm, the recession hit and the bottom fell out of the market, and after that we had to do all the fruit picking ourselves rather than hiring pickers. As a result, all my spare time and holidays were spent working on the farm, which was a hard contrast to living in London with a boat parked out the back.
I always felt British as opposed to Australian. But when I was 18, I went back to England for the first time, and it was just not what I had pictured in my mind. The colours all seemed grey and dull, the houses were narrow, the roads were cramped and the people were different. Australia seemed more vibrant and open in contrast.
When I came back, I felt Australia was home.
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Wow you’re so mixed and full of culture that what Australia is!
I felt like that, after living in England for years and then coming back to Australia. The colours, the space, the light and the smell of Eucalypt! Wonderful!! Arent we lucky. Welcome home to you too ????
Love this ☺
Love the story, can’t wait for part 2
What a smile
That story made me smile!????
I also was born in England . I go back often to visit and I know without a doubt that Australia is my home . Great story, Ajit .
Similar story. I’m born in Wales, parents Uganda, grandparents in India. Now when I go home for holidays, the UK seems extra grey, wet and cold. I’m too used to blue skies 350 days a year here in Central Qld, winter temps mid to high 20s and absolutely no sleeves! Oh and the claustrophobic feeling when in semi-detached houses or terraces!!
Great story… Thank you
Really sweet story!
Welcome fellow Australians we are in the lucky country
Couldn’t believe the intensity of natural colours of flowers and plants on returning from a couple of years in London, some years ago, and it was so great to be back in the sunshine – yes we are so lucky in so many ways
How open hearted your family were to have such a culturally mixed background but still be open to trying out life in Australia. Fantastic story.
I was born in Australia to an oz mum and french dad we went to live in france at the age of 8 till my almost 17 th when we returned back ,i love this country but am drawn back to where i spent my childhood and most of my extended family am hoping to go back one more time as i am now 68 and traveling is getting harder on the purse .
Great story! You can have a boat most places in Australia..maybe in your irrigation channels? ????
Glad you chose to stay here, so welcome to our mutual homeland.
Instead of the boat going down the canal, you could have used a tinny on the Murray. Are you still in the Riverland? That is where I call home too.
My parents were Malaysian, British educated, and came to Australia in the 1980s. The description of Australia as quiet, flat, and open resonated with me. It was also bone-chillingly cold that first year for migrants who knew nothing but the tropics. There was such a yearning for warmth and Malaysian food, and the cacophony of noise and pungent smells that characterised my parent’s native country. However, over the years, Malaysia stopped being the ideal. We experienced the same thing as Ajit when he went back to the UK and discovered that Australia was the best home. When we went back, it felt dirty, too smelly, and everything wilted in the heat. For my parents, there was abit of cultural homelessless for awhile I think.
For me, Australia will always be my home. The smell of backburning in Spring will always herald the beginning of the Christmas/Summer season. I love the open sky, the rock pools at our beaches, and the random BBQ dinner in summer. I love telling people I’m Australian when I travel to conferences because we have a great reputation of being laid-back (and they are always surprised that I don’t hail from an Asian country).
Yet, Pauline Hanson has been re-elected back to the Senate. I feel Australian but clearly, some of my fellow Australians feel that I don’t belong here as much as they do. It’s a shame. If only they could see and feel my sense of belonging and identity as an Australian. They would understand that the cultural difference between them and us is essentially trivial. What divides us are the aesthetic differences but what unites us is the love we have for this country, and that should trump all of our differences.
I love this story when I see Sikhs here in Australia it reminds me of England. I have lived in Australia for 20 years but I feel the same when I go back too. I love that this country has such a diverse culture I hope it stays that way for my kids .
ThAnks Ajit for sharing your lovely story
My dad is an English expat (came over in the early 80s) and he has said the same thing about going back… that everything there is just … grey. The people are grey, the houses are grey, the weather is grey!
Ravi have you ever seen a boatload of Sikhs going down a canal?
The coolest thing I’ve seen about ” New Australians” is how cool they are. A Sikh with a turban is still so much more Australian than anyone else with a cap on back to front.
How do you ask someone with his rich cultural heritage “where are you from?” What an epic answer you would get
Born Malaysian with British education……my dream…….to make Australia my home……
Where is best area to live in Australia? Not cold, sunny, affordable, accepts retired people, mixed cultures, fresh foods ready available, rather slow pace, ?