|Country of Origin||India|
|Date of Birth||3/5/1965|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1971|
|Submitted by||Manar Ahmad|
My father had a PhD scholarship with University of Sydney which he took up. I was five years old and followed him to Australia with my mother and siblings.
I have very few and disjointed memories of my homeland – we lived in Srinagar, Kashmir (where I was born) for most of my life till then. I remember in Kashmir we lived next to a strawberry field and across the field was an Australian family. I remember having ice cream with them. We also had servants who used to look after us when we were young. In my memory Kashmir was a beautiful place with lots of flowers and fields and mountains and lakes.
I also have memories of Aligarh, Mohammadabad and Delhi where we used to go to during winter and also where we lived after leaving Kashmir and before leaving for Australia. There is a family photo of us after my father had left and before we followed him. We look very sad in this photo.
The earliest memory of our departure was leaving some place by train and saying goodbye to friends and family. Leaving India I remember that there were warplanes in the sky around that time and there was some risk leaving by air. I remember travelling by BOAC (precursor of British Airways) to Australia.
I don’t remember the actual day of landing except a picture of the plane. We initially lived in a terrace home in Darlinghurst which I think had three bedrooms. In one bedroom was my mother and father, another had my three older sisters and the last had my two older brothers and me.
Later we bought and moved to a house in South Hurstville. It was a nice large white house and I started going to the local primary school. I remember the first day of school when I walked in during assembly and was introduced to the school – I was very nervous.
Now we have a very large established family here in Australia with uncles, aunties, cousins, children and in some cases grandchildren. I am married to Sumaiya who also migrated here with her family and we have five children. We have moved to Canberra but have frequent contact and get together with our extended families in Sydney. Recently we took our kids (who consider themselves Australians more than anything else) back to India so they could connect with their heritage.