As I’ve mentioned previously, people often ask my why I’ve chosen to life in India rather than Australia. Or they suggest that we leave India and move to Australia.
Although Australia has a high standard of living, does this mean that it’s the best country for me though? Would I feel happier there (when I’m already happy here)? I really don’t think so.
This feeling is reinforced by the experience of my friend Ruth, who returned to Australia a couple of years ago with her Indian husband and children. She spent 15 years in India, and of course went through the usual ups and downs. Yet, she was very content with her life there. However, her husband had a stressful job, and they thought it would be much healthier to live in Australia. He’s now retired and has settled in well there. Unfortunately, she hasn’t. She’s been experiencing severe reverse culture shock, and wants to return to India.
One of the worst things she’s felt is a sense of isolation, disconnection, and loss. She’s found it hard to wipe the slate of her “awesome past” but has to because no one in Australia is interested in it. To her, western suburban life is bland and social connections shallow.
One of her main forms of support has been this online support group.
Some of her observations have been really interesting, and she’s kindly agreed to let me share them here. Yes, they are overly negative about Australia. Yet, they are very real for some people, including my friend. And to be honest, the thought of the blandness of life in Australia after I’ve grown and learned so much quite terrifies me too!
“As Sam in the group mentioned, he like many, yearn to live in Australia as it’s touted as some kind of heaven, a lucky country. It is very clean, beautiful, and feels pristine. Despite this, many people migrate to Australia and soon realise that they are very, very far away. Australia is an island at the bottom of the world. It’s culturally one dimensional, and limited in aspirations and options. Yes, parts are multicultural. However, very little has been allowed to seep out other than food, and I still meet many who are afraid to taste and are chili-shy of my husband’s Indian delicacies.
Australia is also so tightly controlled that to do anything other than take up a 9 to 5 job is impossible. Creativity and possibilities are stifled, entire industries squashed with legislation and the high expense of everything.
I have met many news Australians through my work but I feel there is heaviness, here an inability to really DO. There is a lack of dynamism. When I first arrived, in comparison to India, Australia feels like a dictatorship with all perfect little sheep following the rules. Australians are naïve, allowing laws to chip away at any stirrings of culture and dynamism. Laws presented in the guise of safety are unquestioned, and make life less and less interesting every day, without thinking of what is being lost in the process or questioning the relevance.
Australians love their country and promote it like mad but that’s because we are an island at the bottom of the world. We’re out of touch and don’t know what anything else is like. That’s the problem with leaving — you get to see what you like and don’t like about your own home. I have re-connected with old school friends. However, I’ve found that compared to the social life and extensive friendship circles I had in India, they still seem to only know each other and their worlds have altered very little.
I like the environment in Australia but the people are empty and exhausted. As they try to keep up with the Australian dream of a house and car, they think of nothing else. Give me an apartment any day in a vibrant city so I can get on with living, a weekend of home beautification and keeping out the weeds seems such a waste. There are bland endless suburbs which all look the same, all void of culture and life except barbecues, school sausage sizzles, and a neighbourliness which does not move much beyond good morning. Life revolves around school, sport, church and not much else. People are warm and friendly but I soon meet with an impasse with any interaction.
I feel that I am an alien. I broadened my horizons and I no longer fit in here. In India, I blossomed. I had felt the need to leave Australia, and go out in the world so that I could become me.
Unlike the UK, as Susan described, Australia does not have a grand cultural or historical significance like much of the world. We do have an awesome aboriginal culture which one does not see or feel in the south. It is a decimated culture, swept under the carpet and in many areas suffering horribly — I feel their loss of culture and country and I deeply understand.
There is nothing to see in Australia unless you live for beaches and bush walking. I missed the beaches so much when I left but personally now they all look the same to me. I now miss my walks past old Portuguese fishing villages and 400 year old churches in dynamic Mumbai. A walk in Australia is just so boring.
Australia is a dumb blond — good to look at but lacking substance.
Ahhh, I have become so critical of the country of my birth. I envy those who love it and cannot imagine being anywhere else. It does not feel like home and I only want to be somewhere else. For me living in India every day felt like “schools out for summer” — inspiring and inexhaustible possibilities of life. Here I wake up and think, “oh god this can’t be for real, how on earth did I end up back here?”. It’s another day void of connection with anyone other than my family. I miss the deep connections I made.
I know of four Indian families who came to Australia because of the hype, and they all returned as they felt lonely, sad and depressed. I know many who came out from the UK also returned.
There is something exotic about Australia though. It has an island feel, and I am trying to put it into words as I feel it will make me feel better. I know that when I leave I will miss the peace and quiet but I’m not ready for it yet — that’s for old people. Hmmm as I think about it…. Australia feels to me like is a big retirement village and a great play ground for children. My kids and older retired husband are happy here.
I am working towards leaving again.”
Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer.