Friday, 19 October 2012


‘THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH’ for Indians in Sydney

20 years back, in the  pre-reform days, Indians would walk into Heathrow, JFK, Sydney airport unsure of themselves, heads bent, afraid that they would hear the ubiquitous catcall ‘Paki’ from somewhere behind them. But today tides of skilled Indians are changing the social and economic landscape in many of these countries breaching borders and showcasing to the world ‘how the west can be won.’  Let me give you snapshots of some of these success stories I saw for myself in Sydney.

Let’s start the fact telling from literally the home of my dear friend Anup, working in Sydney, who hosted our entire stay in Sydney. Anup is at least ten years younger than me. He passed out from Delhi College of Engineering and then did his MBA from FMS, Delhi. He had made a name for himself as a marketing whiz kid in companies like Whirpool in India. He later joined Yum! and after a couple of years they posted him to Sydney. Anup is from a new generation - free from the baggage of the past. He and his wife Surubhi made a conscious decision to stay away from traditional Indian quarters in Sydney and opted for an all-white neighbourhood in Manly, an upmarket suburb of Sydney. When he moved in Manly, his immediate neighbour thought that he must be an ‘IT’ guy. After all aren’t all Indians supposed to be brilliant in maths and tech? Anup’s neighbour was surprised when Anup told him that he would be in charge of all marketing operations for Yum! in Australia. The point Anup was making was not lost on the Aussie. This new breed of Indians refuses to be tied down to ‘traditional roles’ that were once assigned to them. Anup is now literally teaching the Aussies how to sell pizza in their own country!

And why confine the new role of Indians just to work? Anup, every Sunday morning, goes ‘kayaking’ in the choppy waters off the Manly Beach. And one would have thought he would be following cricket in that country!

And then my wife and I met Warrier who could easily be one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Sydney. 25 years back the boy from Kerala immigrated to Australia and started work as a help in a Sydney restaurant. Today Warrier owns Majestic cruise liners that sail in and around Sydney harbour offering adult and cruising entertainment (see pictures). Warrier still retains his ties to Kochi – his hometown but he is always on the lookout for an opportunity where he can move in without fear or prejudice to set up new business.

And then there is Ron (Ranjyoti Barooah) and his wife, Seema, settled well in Sydney. Ron is my wife’s batchmate from the Tata Administrative Service (TAS). Ron was part of  senior management in Tata tea and fairly well known for his football commentaries on Star Sports.  His wife Seema was HR head for Nokia in India. And then one fine day, ten years back, they decided to put it all behind them and migrate to Australia. Ron and Seema are among the new breed on Indians who are willing to take risks with career choices because they are so confident of their abilities to strike out in new lands and unknown cultures.

I saw the same kind of spirit in Sunny. Sunny is the brother of my school batch mate Anil Kumar, a Commodore in the Indian navy. Sunny and his amiable Banker wife, Jo, are thoroughly enjoying the Aussie experience. They invited us to a pre Diwali festive gathering (celebrations there have already started!) of more than a hundred Indians in Sydney. Okay so some of the Indians there did seem to be stuck in some kind of a time warp wearing nineties-style Indian fashion clothing, but just about everyone in that laughing, drinking, belly-dancing watching, merry making gathering has made it big in Aussie land.

So how do the Indians do it? What is their magic mantra that works for them in foreign lands? The average Aussie, or for that matter the Westerner, would rather not work beyond 5.00 pm in the evening and weekends are sacred for them. But the Indian is industrious and willing to put in long hours, not afraid to take risks, and does not rest till he has brought in his entire family from India.

Someone rightly said that even in India we tend to move in certain parts of the city and have friends, relatives in say not more than ten to twelve families. Well the Indians in Sydney have transplanted such little India’s’ for themselves in Sydney without any apologies!

Tailpiece: An example of the Aussie way of working:  At 4.00 pm on a Friday Evening the RJ on the radio was reminding her listeners, every ten minutes, that “Folks, Weekend is an hour away ! “  Wow …… can we imagine that in India?

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