Snippets of memory of White Australia: an odd collection

Behind the overt racism and discrimination in public spaces, there stood ordinary Australians who reciprocated my egalitarian attitude and courteous behaviour. A cake shop across the road from my guest-house was owned by a Danish family. I would sit with them in a room behind the counter whenever they were not busy over a weekend. Their daughter, Australia-born, went to the pictures with me in the city, except that we never travelled to the city together. The family atmosphere they provided compensated for being a lonely stranger in a foreign country with strange attitudes.

My room-mate in the guest-house was of pure Irish descent. Yet, he insisted that he was Indian, because he was born in India, where his father was some sort of colonial poobah. But Tom, almost pink in colour, confusingly did have an Indian accent. I remember that his socks always seemed to be ready to walk out of the door, because he never seemed to change them or wash them.

There was a Chinese-Australian resident who was bedding a blonde fellow-resident, except that they pretended a casual connection before bedtime. The landlady and her husband claimed to have arrived in Australia pre-war from Sweden; but, as I discovered later, they were Jewish-Austrians. They fed us well, except on Sunday evenings. Then we were served, as dessert, stale cakes bought as such from across the road.

For a short while, there was a most dapper young Dutchman from Indonesia, always wearing a bow-tie, who chose to talk to me frequently in his English-sounding accent. From time to time, there were also a few very feminine girls of European origin, who reminded me of Asian girls, in contrast to the Aussie girls.

I soon discovered 2 landladies in the district who were bedding an Indian and a Malayan tenant respectively. The latter once rang me late in the evening for advice; his protector had become torn. My advice? Grab your passport and head for the hills!


What my book ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’ is about

Hidden Footprints of Unity : beyond tribalism and towards a new Australian identity 

This is the third of my efforts to meet the obligation I had accepted to contribute to cultural bridge-building. This book is about the inter-connectedness of mankind. It has 2 threads – the relationships between the ethnic communities in Australia; and their respective searches for God, with some peering into the Void of the Cosmos. I ride my spiritual horse to extol my ideal – the Aussie Family of Man. I find a basic or core commonality in the major religions when dogma is divested; and express the hope of a revised national identity, with new national icons identified by immigrants as well. After all, immigrants too had helped to re-shape Australia into the relatively tolerant cosmopolitan polity that it now is.

 Again, the endorsements were gratifying, especially the one from the Religious Affairs Editor of ‘The Australian.’  See This book was also Recommended by the US Review of Books. I have dedicated this book to ‘my grandchildren – who know not the boundaries of culture or see any skin colour.’

 A manuscript appraiser said this: “What a beautiful mind! Hidden Footprints of Unity is a substantial work from an intelligent and spiritually perceptive man. Arasa has skilfully navigated his way through a vast array of subjects: the ‘strange sensitivity to skin colour … the search for the Divine … the desire by some to peer into the Void … the issue of a divisive tribalism, and the imperatives of an evolving new Australian identity.’… an eminently readable memoir, uplifting, provocative and well written .”

 James Murray (when Religious Affairs Editor of The Australian) said: “I find the concepts in Hidden Footprints of Unity most appealing, coming as they do from an agile mind which has managed to embrace cultures usually seen as  competitive, or even enemies. This book should prove a precious contribution to mutual understanding.”