Hmmm. So in the one year of my moving to Australia, I've put on 13 kgs. And in the one week of my being ill and not being able to eat anything -- was on the drip for a couple of days -- I lost 6 kgs. Now I'm fluctuating between 50-52 kilos. And I need to stabilise at about 47kg.
Weight is one of the things I've been thinking of. Indian students being beaten up in Australia is another. After "What do you think of Slumdog Millionnaire?", the latest too-frequently-asked-question has become, "You must think Australians are really bad. Do you?" It's usually the same, part statement followed by doubtful question.
Some people get squeamish when they talk about it. There are those -- like the boutique owner in Torquay -- who get defensive and angry that they have to get defensive. Then there are those who seem to look for a fight and an argument: If you say Australia is racist, you'll have an argument; if you say all this could be a huge misunderstanding and media overkill, there's still an argument. Then there are those who get overly apologetic and critical about Australians and how they have a "serious issue about racism."
Keeping aside the fact that no one should have to face violence, sometimes it feels that the real issue is getting lost. It's become about Australia-bashing; no one seems to be asking what really is being done FOR the international students. Or for that matter, what the various international communities are doing to adjust to life in Australia. If the Oz government needs to reevaluate its education system, the various international communities ALSO need to look at various things they need to do before sending their kids here. Or for whatever else is needed to help them... If on one hand, international students need to learn to adapt to the ways of another country; on the other, locals also need to be made aware of the nationalities coming into their country. At the end of the day, we are NOT talking illegal immigrants. These students have been invited to study in Australia. At the same time, the students also need to remember they are in another country with its own culture, rules and ways of life.
Personally, no one has beaten me or been racially aggressive towards me. I study at a university with a lot of international students; my class has been majority white. They have laughed at my accent, I've made fun of their English or 'Australian' as they speak it here. I've had professors who have given me the time of their day. It could be because I am paying a hell of a lot for this course. Or because I am working really hard at uni and the profs can see that too. I have been invited to every event/party/function organised by classmates. I've had Australians calling up and enquiring about my health when I've been ill. I've even had bitching sessions with Australian chicks about other people. And there was nothing racist there, we were just being chicks.
The last time I worked in a restaurant, it was the first job I'd applied for. My cv said I was an Indian and that I had no experience in hospitality. I was still called for a trial and got the job -- at the same wage rates as Australian staff -- and my boss was happy with my work. It was a white majority restaurant and we served majority whites. I did not face racism and was as cheeky with 'white' clients as I'd be with Indians. I am naturally cheeky, it has not changed in another country. There was one woman who tried being nasty, but it worked out beautifully. I took the insults for a couple of weeks, then gave it back to her. And my colleagues and boss stood by me. They were all Australian.
Does that mean that there have been no 'funny' incidents? There have, but usually from small-minded, stupid people. And sincerely, small-minded, stupid people are the same ANYWHERE in the world. You ignore them. Likewise, the common sensical rules for staying safe are also the same everywhere in the country. Would Indians be walking with a laptop, late at night in Paharganj? Why would you do it in Footscray then? Anyway.
The third focus for me has been employment or the lack thereof. I want a job. I need a job. I am bored with the idea of sitting at home. And I really want to earn some money. I start on the last semester of my course, which wraps in November. Didn't do too badly in the previous semester...however, I have a strong suspicion that the degree is not really one that gets you jobs. I have to get cracking on the manuscript. But that wouldn't get me a job either. Applied to two restaurants, neither bothered to respond. And no, I don't think my not getting a job has anything to do with racism. It's called economic downturn. Sigh.
Anyway. What's up with y'all?
Pic courtesy: Siasat.com