Brisbane, April 2014, airport – conference venue, 45 minutes.
Driver: Indian, Hindu, mid-twenties.
I was in big hurry as my plane was delayed. The conference was about to start and I still had not left the airport. I was lucky to grab a taxi straight away, but the traffic was bad. So this trip took twice as long. However, I was delighted to have a nice chat with this driver.
He was from Amritsar, Punjab. Came to Australia to study hospitality seven years ago and decided to stay. His whole family was in India, so he was quite lonely. He visited them once a year, because he wanted to save money, which was understandable.
He was not married and did not have a girlfriend here or in India. His attitude was negative towards love marriage. He wanted to wait until his parents would find him someone. When I asked if he would consider an Australian girl, his response was very quick and negative. Apparently local girls didn’t dress right; their behaviour was disgusting and he could not imagine living with one. The proper girls speak very quiet, don’t talk back, dress very conservative and MUST obey the husband. When his parents decide that it’s right time for him to marry someone, it would be a Punjabi girl with good reputation from small village. They would live here for a while, but as soon as they got enough (?) money, they would go back to settle and have kids. He was absolutely adamant that Australia is not the right place to raise children. He was very defensive and aggressive, so I decided to keep it low. I got an impression that he was trying to convince himself more than me.
I was very surprised that seven years in Australia did nothing to his attitude. I got an impression that he resisted any changes and would fight with tooth and nail to preserve his views and traditions. I understand that not everyone can adapt easy or wants to assimilate into new life, but he basically robbed himself of new opportunities and possibilities. And I am sure that nobody would hold him back if he decided to return to India.