Too many Asians?

It’s 6am and I’m rolling out of bed, throwing a bucket of water over my car to melt the coat of ice it has collected overnight and driving through dark streets to the train station.

Spending the week in the city has made me realise how much I miss urban Melbourne. There’s a unique energy generated by the bustle of people weaving and pushing in both directions down the sidewalks. I like walking down Swanston Street and seeing which shops have transformed since I last passed by. I enjoy the multiple personalities of the city: Chinatown for the commoner, the Collins St malls for the elite and cardigan-wearing, Flinders Lane and the alleyways for the hipster, the Universities for the unassuming student.

Nowadays when I walk around the CBD I estimate that the crowds must be at least 80% Asian. Unfortunately for some, we really are everywhere. I’m not proud to say that I used to regard these recent migrants as nothing more than a nuisance (as though my family were some sort pioneer of the migration wave). They all looked and sounded alike to me, I didn’t understand them, they dressed funny, and why did they have to band together in chattering flocks and blatantly refuse to adopt a shred of Australian culture?

But I suppose I was looking through a set of blinkers–not looking properly, the way I would look at a friend. With clearer vision I can see now that they are as individual as you and me. In fact there is no they and us. There are only Melbournians; people who walk around the city. You may return to your home country after a period, but you’re a Melbournian for the time that you stay here, be it 6 months or fifteen years.

I think it’s important not to be immediately judgemental of something or someone different. A different thing can be just as interesting or attractive–maybe even more so than the usual. The long-legged, sun-bronzed blonde with messy tresses and loud laugh is miles apart (especially in upbringing) from the quiet, pale-skinned Oriental girl with big shiny eyes like a doll and imperturbably straight hair. But both are beautiful and ordinary in their own ways, if you look close enough.

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2 comments

  1. When I first moved to Melbourne in 2007, I was living at International House, where almost all my friends were Malaysian. I fell in love with one who was here for Uni (although not staying at my college), just the length of her med course. So I married her.

    For our honeymoon I got the chance to be that nuisance in Malaysia and Singapore :). It was lovely :).

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  2. That is lovely! Belated congratulations to both of you, heehee ;D I sometimes still marvel at the influx of Asians into Melbourne, not only in the city but to the outer suburbs now. I wonder how most Caucasian Australians feel about this “multiculturalism”!

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