(I use my time in the taxi to practise my interview techniques. In so doing I suddenly realised I was uncovering some remarkable stories. Some are captured on my blog under the Taxi Story collection – click on link in right hand bar to see some of them).
Hey, you know my son is very upset. He is in Japan!
In Japan? Not in Tokyo I hope.
Yes in Tokyo. He was supposed to be in one of the areas struck by the tsunami but his tour was delayed.He is very shaken up (laughs) not from the earthquake but by the thought of how close he came to dying. He wants to come home but cannot find a way to fly out.
Home is here?
Yes. He was born in Shanghai twenty one years ago but he is an Aussie.
A Chinese Aussie in Japan eh?
(laughing) Yes, yes, a Chinese student speaking Japanese with an Aussie accent. He came out with his mother after I had come to Australia four years beforehand.You know China was a bad country then and I wanted to live somewhere else. So many of my friends were leaving so I thought I would leave as well.
I was born and raised in Shanghai and was fortunate to get a good education.I was a carpenter and a mechanic and a panel beater so there were lots of jobs I could do. I earned about twenty dollars a month and it took a long time to save up enough money to come to Australia. When I finally purchased my fare I was left with very little. I had a fortune in Chinese terms but when I landed in Sydney I discovered the sixty dollars I had in my pocket was not going to get me very far.
It was a shock. It was all I had. That and the clothes I stood up in and a wife and child back in Shanghai.I had to work out what to do first. I decided I had to learn English, even before I tried to get a job or a roof over my head. If I could not speak I could not do anything else. So on the very first day I was in Sydney I found some English classes.
The other students were very kind and when they heard that I did not have any accommodation I was offered many places to stay. I am still friends with many of those people all these years later, even though we all move around a bit. Then those people helped me find work and very quickly I was able to get work as a labourer, as a carpenter, panel beater and mechanic.
It was good to get well paid for that work but those first years in Australia were very hard. I did not know anyone. My wife and child were in Shanghai. My parents stayed in China. And so did my closest friends. I had to start making new friends here.
My wife loves Australia. She loves that we all have new opportunities here and a good life. She loves that our daughter goes to a very elite private school and that her brother can learn at University and spend a year studying in Japan too.We are very lucky people.
But those first few years. Oh, they were so hard.
49,636 total views, 27 views today