Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Stateside With Rosalea: I, Immigrant

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

I, Immigrant

I keep postponing writing about Diwali and Eid--Hindu and Muslim festivals celebrated at the same time a couple of weeks ago. The gist of my musings is that, while a much publicised and failed attempt to have Indians and Pakistanis meet peacefully at the demarkation line in Kashmir and pass on humanitarian aid to earthquake survivors was going on, in my workplace a fasting Pakistani girl was creating beautiful henna tattoos on the hands of my Indian boss in celebration of Diwali.

I have this Pollyannish hope that it is at the person-to-person level that political and religious tensions stand the best chance of being resolved, but we all have experience of that not being the case. The same Indian boss--Fijian Indian--was quick to point out to my fellow workmates when Vijay Singh was in town recently, that he wasn't allowed to play golf on the course reserved for Australians and New Zealanders. Turning me into the scion of a racist nation in one fell swoop. And I was in no position to argue really, knowing someone whose family refused to allow her to marry the Fijian Indian labourer she fell in love with when he worked on their farm in the Sixties.

Being the only immigrant in our little workgroup of eight who is not in a position of authority--the three most senior people are from Fiji, Argentina, and Central America--it seems to fall on my shoulders to bear the brunt of everyone's disgruntlement about everything. I swear I am argued with for argument's sake, although it is equally possible that I still haven't acculturated myself to the pointless politeness that passes for discussion here in the States. Making my point strongly is mistaken for picking an argument.

My most vivid experience of a political divide in a workplace was when I worked as a dishwasher in a cafe beneath the newly built tower in Sydney. It was an extremely confined and hot space, presided over by a Czechoslovakian chef whose assistant was a White Russian cook. Both were middle-aged women, refugees from their respective countries, and they hated what each other stood for with a passion.

Despite my characterisation of eucalypts as "Aussie-bastard Trees" and other sundry put-downs of my near-neighbours--who would do me the same honour in return, no doubt--I don't know that I'd ever end up throwing a knife across a kitchen at an Aussie co-worker. But all that might change in the next decade as China becomes the more dominant partner in the Western Pacific, and the US--with whom Australia has well-and-truly thrown in its lot--exerts its considerable influence to have the little kid on the block tag along.

*************

rosalea.barker@gmail.com

--PEACE--

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Veronika Meduna: The Kaikoura Rebuild

A Scoop Foundation Investigation The South Island’s main transport corridor will be open to traffic again, more than a year after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake mangled bridges and tunnels, twisted rail tracks and buried sections of the road under massive landslides. More>>

Charlotte Graham: Empowering Communities To Act In A Disaster
The year of record-breaking natural disasters means that in the US, as in New Zealand, there’s a conversation happening about how best to run the emergency management sector... More>>

ALSO:

Jan Rivers: The New Zealanders Involved In Brexit

There are a number who have strong connections to New Zealand making significant running on either side of the contested and divisive decision to leave the European Union. More>>

Rawiri Taonui: The Rise, Fall And Future Of The Independent Māori Parties

Earlier this month the Māori Party and Mana Movement reflected on the shock loss of their last parliamentary seat in this year’s election. It is timely to consider their future. More>>

Don Rennie: Is It Time To Take ACC Back To First Principles?

The word “investing” has played a major part in the operations of the ACC since 1998... More>>

Using Scoop Professionally? Introducing ScoopPro

ScoopPro is a new offering aimed at ensuring professional users get the most out of Scoop and support us to continue improving it so that Scoop continues to exist as a public service for all New Zealanders. More>>

ALSO: