The Indian community in Australia has a fascinating history. A new Punjabi book aims to explore, understand and cherish the shared history of earlier migration of the Indian community and its successful integration in Australian society. Listen to our conversation with the author, Harkirat Singh Sandhar for more information…
Sydney-based Punjabi writer and journalist Harkirat Singh Sandhar has presented what he claims his five years of research work, in the form of a book ‘Jadon Ture See’ (Destination Australia).
Mr Sandhar says his book with a title which literally means ‘When We Started’ may serve as a source of information on the immigration history and successful integration of Indians in the Australian society.
The book was launched in the NSW Parliament in Sydney on Tuesday 17 September.
In an interview with SBS Punjabi, Mr Sandhar mentioned that his book consists of 80 different articles covered in about 160 pages.
“It is a coffee table book which is easy to read and is supported with relevant images,” he said.
“I must mention that it is not my book, it’s our book. It’s about our ancestors, how they reached Australia, faced challenges and successfully established themselves in the Australian society.
Mr Sandhar said he has also covered stories of Indian hawkers and farm labourers.
“That is the most interesting part of this book. I also had a focus on the early Indian settlements in the NSW town of Woolgoolga and Tallee in North Qld, he said.
A special book chapter aims to explore different street names with a focus on Punjabi, Sikh and Indian significance.
“There are many interesting names which are part of Australian road maps – like, Malwa Lane, Punjab Place, Amritsar Glade, Ludhiana Glade, Singh Road, Singh Street, Singh Lane and many more,” he says.
Mr Sandhar has dedicated one chapter on how spices [masala] shaped India’s trade with Australia in older times.
“I wanted to investigate why sometimes our kids are being teased in school, calling them ‘curry munchers’,” he said. “I have found some of the Indian spices references dating back to 1940s in an Australian magazine Women’s weekly.”
Mr Sandhar said that he does not consider himself as a ‘historian but a mere information-collector’.
“It is a tough call to be called a historian. History is a tough subject where things do change based on the sources from where you take references,” he added.
“For this work, I have also spoken to about 25 families who have four-five generations successfully living here in Australia. It was quite astonishing to listen to their stories as their ancestors moved to Australia in 1880-90s.”
The author states that the book is free of cost with around 2000 copies available for the general public from its first edition.