Monday, June 08, 2009

How not to get attacked in Australia-an insider's view. :)

To everyone who is worried about me, I am absolutely fine. I had stopped myself from writing anything about the recent 'attacks on Indians in Australia' only because I did not want to make a controversial post all over again and hurt nationalist and patriotic sentiments. 
However, the hype that Indian media created over all of this was extremely annoying. It is funny when newspaper people are ready with editorials like "Australia-paradise lost?" in less than twenty four hours after the reports. More hilarious are the opinions expressed under them!
I read one such reply to an edit page in some newspaper where the commentator called himself an "ex-Indian" and criticised the 'disgusting' behaviour of Indian immigrants in Australia.
Why are Indians being attacked in Australia? 
This question has a lot of words missing. Let me put it in all its perspectives.
Why are Indian males being attacked in Australia?
Why are North Indian males being attacked in Australia?
Why are North Indian males being attacked in Melbourne?
Why are North Indian males travelling late at night being attacked?
Why are North Indian males travelling late being attacked on train stations in Australia?
Let me answer these questions in the reverse order now.
Train stations are not the safest places in Australia. Or anywhere in any big city in the world. Even Australians do not travel late at night. The average Aussie who depends on public transport gets home well before six in the evening. They follow a European work routine from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Women do not travel at night at all. The only people you find on the train after six is students working part time or just gallivanting around the place!
The most recent attack happened at 1:20 AM on a Sunday night. Australia is a weekend to weekend culture. Most of the nocturnal attackers on weekends belong to the group that believes in drinking themselves to oblivion starting Friday night and then going on until Monday morning. Unlike in India where the younger generation does not give in to these kind of temptations in their teens, it is very common in Australia. So on weekends, especially late at nights the trains are full of people who have no money and want more alcohol. So anyone who gets off the train and looks like they might have money is an easy target irrespective of where they come from. 
Although Melbourne is a one of the most culturally diverse cities of Australia it is also known for its hippie and junkie population. To an average Indian sitting in India watching "Aaj Tak" this detail is almost never conveyed. Trying to expect cultural compassion from someone who is just looking for his next joint of Marijuana is going a bit far ahead in my opinion. So the easiest way of not getting attacked is not travel at two in the morning when you know you do not live in a safe neighbourhood.
I do not know what it is with North Indians and fearlessness but here whenever I am stuck in the lab late and returning home, it is like travelling on a train in Punjab. My own Punjabi neighbours often return home at 2 in the morning (with their cellphones singing loud Punjabi songs much to our annoyance). Maybe it is safe to travel at night in North India (which I still doubt considering that no one travels after eight at night in Delhi) but anywhere in the world be it New York, Mumbai, Delhi, Sydney, London or Melbourne, travelling at that hour is making yourself vulnerable.
The last question has a simple answer. Women (of any nationality) seldom travel that late or alone. Even before all this hype began, I resheduled all my experiments in a way that I can be out of the lab while it is still light outside. As winter set it, I changed my summer schedule from 8 AM-7PM  to  7 AM through 5 PM and this was not because I am an Indian living in Australia!
I do not deny that racism could be a part of these attacks but it is not fair to take that one point and advertise it all over a nation of 1 billion people. There are a lot of other factors that contribute to these kind of attacks and mostly it is being at the wrong place at a wrong time. Moreover, when someone is beating you up at two in the morning for not having money they could steal, you cannot control what kind of (racist) foul language they use. I am pretty sure they have special swear words for white people too!
It has caused a lot of anxiety to people who have their children studying in Australia and it also gives a wrong message to the world. 
Throughout my stay in Australia I have met a lot of full-blooded Australians who not only accept Indian people but also appreciate Indian culture. I have met Australians who have spent years learning Yogasanas in Pune and know the Bhagwat Geeta much better than I do. I have met strangers on trains who have made it a point to stay in the same compartment as me just to protect me from other 'suspicious' looking people. I have met Australian bus drivers who got out of the bus just to check if I am getting down on the right stop because it was late in the evening. 
Just a couple of days ago, in the wake of these attacks as my flatmate Riju went to get a takeaway dinner, an Australian came up to her and apologised for the problem and even offered to buy her dinner as a gesture!
In a steak loving nation, "vegetarian" Aussies may be in the minority, but so are the thugs! 
If  I ever fall prey to racism myself, in a situation that can have no other intention, I will fight it with all my strength. However, labelling something that could have a lot of other motivations as Racism is just creating more of it. 





24 comments:

Bonny said...

It's brilliant message & true- insider's-balanced-perspective.. and I know what you mean when you say North Indians & Fearlessness..LOL

Varun said...

Cant agree any more.....very well written n a very true inside picture which these media channels always hide from public for increasing their viewership....I can relate similar things here in London as well.....

ReCurZion said...

Well written. Very objective. This makes me feel very stupid about my own blog on the same topic.

Manmeet Singh Monga said...

Wonderful article and an actual insight to everything.
I am from North India and agree to what you call fearless attitude. I will tell you the reason behind it, if you go by history there had been lots of attacks on Northen India as that is the main land connected part with rest of the world. Due to this, the fighting attitude & aggression has come heridetory otherwise India would not have been as we see it today.

Having said that I believe we should introspect & moitor our behaviour.

Keep up the good work.

Ravi Santlani said...

Aggredd to what you said!!........

Bonny said...

Manmeet - Thats a nice reply and good explanation for the North Indian traits.. i am one too. But yeah we need to introspect and be more like the global citizens.. if we want to live in global societies..

शिरीष said...

Sai This I may call is the best post as far as social and cultural commitment is concerned.

The attitude of "Breaking News" in the Indian electronic media many a times spoils the social infrastructure.

I remember that in 1984 I was in Punjab for my work. The news in the media about the Khalistan terrerisom made us a little fearful but eventually I found that the atmosphere in Punjab was not the same what was reported in press. In fact I felt myself unsafe in Uttar Pradesh during the same time

The comments by Bonny & Manmeet Singh should be appreciated as they have taken your comments positively constructive and in right spirit.

Saee your blog post has also been reported in today's Pune Mirror a suppliment of Times ofIndia.

Congratulations for writing such a good post.

Atush said...

Hello Saee

This is very well written and yes it provides a true insiders view.You also pointed out the attitude of Indian media houses and the kind of information they provide.

I myself had such an experience last week, when i was fool enuf to not to take a cab and had decided to walk home. (This happened in UK though, and i was not carrying only a 5 pound note)

Miscreants are present at every part of this world, and yes we cant just blame on a million ppl over the act for a few such incidents.

Anyways this was inspiring enuf... following ur blogs now :)

Manmeet Singh Monga said...

Hi,

Sirish, just to clarify, when I said about history, was not talking about 1984, it is one of the incidents, but I was going into history way back from the time of Ganghis Khan & all, more over North India was totally affected not only Punjab by these wars.

This all gives me a very good topic to blog on. :)

शिरीष said...

Manmeet I know you are saying about the ancient history. What you have said is absolutly correct but I am refering to 1984 and even during that time I had a very good experience of Punjab which was absolutely different from the presentation of the Media.

Saee said...

Hi Everybody
Sorry for the late reply. I am glad that my point was put across without any misunderstanding. I am even happier that North Indians have replied in such a balanced way even though I was not so diplomatic about the whole thing. :)

@Baba
Unfortunately I could not get my hands on the e-edition of the mirror but if they follow this blog, I would like to thank them for giving my post a bigger platform.
Thanks everyone again.
Hopefully I will come up with something nice and light now.
Cheers
Saee

RJ said...

You may have seen this already...but thought I might do my bit to help you out...

Stay alert, follow rules
Another Indian student, Saee Keskar has made a new entry about the Aussie incidents in her blog randomvichar.blogspot.com.

It is titled ‘How not to get attacked in Australia — an insider’s view’. Saee, who studies in Brisbane, says, “The hype that Indian media created over these incidents is annoying.

The recent attack happened at 1:20 AM on Sunday. Most of the nocturnal attackers on weekends belong to the group that believes in drinking themselves to oblivion starting Friday night till Monday morning.

On weekends, the trains are full of people who have no money and want more alcohol. Anyone who looks like they might have money is an easy target.”

http://www.punemirror.in/index.aspx?page=article&sectid=2&contentid=2009061620090616041019868ab3678cd&sectxslt=

neha said...

hey congrats dear ...good one :)

Raj said...

Wow.. thanks for putting things into perspective. and surprisingly, yours is the only account which states something that is contrary to the hype.
unfortunately, at present, I have to listen to all the media crap. so it was good to read something authentic, for a change. :)

sudhirkeskar said...

Few days back I read an article on this issue in "Lokprabha" marathi news weekly. Author of the article is partially agree with your views.

However when I read your blog then whatever doubts in my mind about indian students are cleared. you rightly mentioned that print media in India has created media hipe on this issue.

Nice blog. I like it.

Rami said...

Thats the fact that You cant Deny . Well Done .

Muks123 said...

Dear Sai,
Today morning your mother was at our home to congratulate Sandhya for her brilliant performance in Saptahik Sakal's vardhapan din when she was interviwing Prakash and Mandakini Amte. She also told about your blog.

Simply Wondeful, Sai. Your cool-headed rational response made me overwhelmed. As a writer, you've a simple style which conveys a lot.

I remember the small girl who frequently visits our home. She has been really grown up in full fledged writer.
Congrats ! KEEP IT UP!

- Mukund Taksale

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Mangala said...

An excellent article with honest, balanced comments and it should get widely published. Very useful and illuminating for everyone concerned. Also refreshing that all the comments are taken in a nice positive attitude. Happy and proud of this whole chain!

yadu said...

This is what I wrote on a similar topic. Indian media loves to call Australia "Racist" but without much basis, rationale or logic.

http://yadusingh.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/who-is-racist-australia-or-indian-media/

Regards
Yadu Singh, Sydney
www.yadusingh.wordpress.com
www.facebook.com/dryadusingh
www.twitter.com/dryadusingh

akshay said...

thank you for writing this wonderful piece. I've traveled around Europe and north America and never experienced any racism there. i plan to go to Australia for Graduate school in 4 yrs time. I've always loved Aussie culture and i'm visiting Sydney next week for the 1st time. You've given me confidence to pursue my Aussie dream. I knew Australia couldn't be that bad :D

Bonny said...

So, what's your take on the recent RJ joke.. India a Shit Hole & Ganga junk yard. How much do you agree or disagree? :)

Saee said...

I wouldn't take Kyle seriously. No one in Australia takes him seriously!