MELBOURNE: Lonsdale Heights is one of the high rise apartments in the city where the Dongaokars, who have recently moved from India, are adjusting to closed door neighbours and the quietness of life. They have been here for a little over seven months but despite the anonymity of settling in in a new place, there is an appreciable tone in their voices as they talk about how welcoming Melbourne has been to them.
In January, Sishir Dongaonkar and his wife Piyusha, both young IT professionals from Wipro, an Indian multinational IT consulting and business process services company, arrived in Melbourne to work on a project. It was the first time that the company posted the couple in the same country for a project and it was their first visit to Australia.
“This is such a polite country, very nice people to work with and they consider all your problems and issues. I have been to the US and other countries but it is different here,” says Sishir who is already considering applying for permanent residency. “That will sum up how much I like this place.”
After a month of their arrival, Sishir invited his parents based in Nagpur for two reasons. One, since he and his wife have been travelling quite often on work assignments they had not spent much time with their aging parents. Two, they could spend time with their toddler child who was used to having people around back in India. “We didn’t have time to spend together and we wanted them to explore new places like us,” stresses Sishir.
Sishir’s parents – Hemant and Hemangi – are retired government teachers having served their fields with distinction. With little chance to travel, this has been a fascinating experience. Affable and active, they gurgle with laughter talking about how they are the products of a love marriage, something their son has also carried forward. “I am glad I got parents like this. We don’t believe in caste and class system. Now India is changing from what it was 100 years ago, it has to change definitely,” says Sishir.
Hemant, a retired physical education teacher met Hemangi who was a blind school teacher with a lot of credentials to her name. Hemangi retired in 2010 inspiring many blind children for which she was awarded the prestigious Adult Teacher Adarsh Sikhsa Purashkar in 1998 by the National Association for the Blind and the Sumatibai Sukalikar Award in 2007, to name a few.
With their affable and easy-going nature, they have made many friends. And if they meet any fellow Indian on the street, they always break the ice. “My parents are talkative so it is easy for them to make friends,” says Sishir, adding, “Now everybody knows mom and dad in the building.Nobody knows us because we go to work at 8:30 and come home at 7:30.”
Asked about life in Melbourne, Hemangi says, “The environment and atmosphere is very good, only difference is that when we were in India our doors were always opened, you knew who was next door. When we first came we felt a bit strange but otherwise everything is good but very expensive.”
The other advantage of living in the city is the amount of parks and places they can go to for their walks. Hemant has found his peer group. “I enjoy 10-12 km walk every morning with a group,” he says. Hemangi says she used to enjoy the same when the weather was good and having been a sportsperson too all her life is used to activities but now because of the chill, she is taking a break.
Piyusha finds the city very convenient. “I have been to other countries but Melbourne is really good in terms of public transport. The city is much more planned.” Having her in laws she says are a great support. “If they were not here I wouldn’t know what we would have done. But now I am working in a relaxed atmosphere knowing someone is taking care of my child, I hardly call up home. Evreything has been taken care of. I come home and finish a bit of cooking, it’s all balanced.”
They say in unison that this is a very nice country:“People are so nice”. The Dongaonkars are just a mirror to the changing face of Australia with their easy integration and appreciation for change.And they are committed to the family and to certain values.