There’s a lot of cheap rental flats along Anzac Highway and so consequently my morning bus ride is shared with a lot of people just starting out their climb on the great Australian ladder. Some of these are white folk who have had bad luck or made bad choices, but a whole lot more of them are recent immigrants from Africa, Central Asia and the sub-continent. There are stacks of them. The African thing was getting into swing when we left but the Central Asian thing is newer and really noticebable upon our return.
This recent survey document from the ABS shows a sharp rise in the number of people coming here from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Bangladesh. In terms of Africa the big winner is the Sudan but other places are rising too. Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone – they are all here. And the biggest single contribution? India. They outstrip every other country by at least 4 to 1 at present.
And these new (or newer) characters have a fresh new look. My traditional migrant images (quiet Chinese student who will one day rule the IT world, cheeky Japanese girl with impossibly sexy legs, Mediterranean male with a future in the food industry, etc.) are badly in need of review. Those types are all still there but they are fading into the background compared to:
- Beautiful, shining African women with braided hair, unbelievably funky dress, baby in arms, talking on mobile phone in unknown tongue.
- Slender, angry-looking Sikh boys with beards and turbans set off by cowboy shirts, jeans, and lots of silver jewelery.
- Worried-looking Central Asian family in perfect casual wear and smart accessories who argue with the driver and refuse to fold up their brand new jumbo pram before boarding the bus.
- Very overweight Central Asian boys (Iraqi? Afghan?) in jeans and black t-shirts with terrible BO who sit about up the back and have loud arguments no-one else can understand.
- Very stylish, naughty-looking black African teenagers who look like they have arrived via Los Angeles and walk all over everyone else in terms of urban style.
Our local corner store is run by Indians now. I go in there to buy bus tickets and I feel like I am on The Bill.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s all on.