Cerebral Shangrila

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Of Languages, Racism and Road

By any standards, I am a lucky bloke. Within two months of arriving in Australia, my work has already taken me to Melbourne, Perth, Auckland and Wellington with weekends thrown in between for sight-seeing.

I returned back to Sydney yesterday after more than a month on the road traveling to Melbourne, Perth, Bali, Auckland and Wellington. With nothing much to do during the weekend, I headed to the local library to borrow some books. Library memberships are free in most libraries in Australia (they better be for the amount of tax that I pay!). I walked to the reception and stated that I wanted to become a member.

Receptionist : Hi, Welcome to our library. May I have your name and address?

I handed the proof of address letter that I had bought. What she asked me next caught me by surprise.

Receptionist : Do you speak/ read any other language than English?

Me : Yes, I do. Why do you ask?

Receptionist: We are trying to build our overseas books collection and would like to serve our customers by buying books in their mother tongue. What languages do you speak/read?

Me : My mother tongue is Tamil and I can read/speak Hindi as well.

Receptionist : Do you want to suggest some books in Tamil?

Me : Yeah, Sure.

Then I went ahead and gave her a list of books that I would like to read ( primarily works of Kalki, Devan, Bharathiyar, Kannadasan and Jayakanthan).

This isn't an unusual conversation in most developed countries that are striving to encourage diversity. However, for a country that is being accused of racism, I wondered if all those remarks made in the media were nothing but sensationalism. In the past month, I have spoken at conferences in Melbourne, Perth, Auckland and Wellington. Everywhere I found people to be extremely warm and friendly to me. Despite my accent , most attendees were effusive in their praise for my content and knowledge of the subject ( Whatever little I know).

Is Australia racial ? Perhaps, but I haven't seen that yet.

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  • Hi Arun,
    Happy to know about ur travel to the big cities in Ausse land.Its a interesting thing to know about the library.Do write about ur personal experiences....it will be interesting for us.thanks for the update.Happy times.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:54 PM  

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