Re­tiree Joe Singh


The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - INSIDE THIS WEEK - ELISSA LAWRENCE

In 1967, I ar­rived in Bris­bane on Aus­tralia Day from Fiji to study avi­a­tion elec­tron­ics on a Colombo Plan schol­ar­ship. It was the first time I had left home and I had just $40 in my pocket. I’m the el­dest of seven sib­lings and my mum [Pan, 85] and dad [Ram, who died five years ago, aged 89] and all my brothers and sis­ters later em­i­grated to ei­ther Canada or the United States. I’m the only one in Aus­tralia.

The last thing my dad said to me as he gave me a hug at the air­port in Fiji was not to fail my ex­ams. My mum begged me not to marry a white girl. The in­ten­tion was that I go back to Fiji af­ter my stud­ies but I did fall in love with an Aus­tralian girl [Ju­dith, 69] and we mar­ried in 1970 – with my fam­ily’s bless­ing – and have three kids [An­thony, 43, Jaswan, 41, Rena, 37]. I’ve been an Aus­tralian ci­ti­zen since 1971.

Af­ter five years of study, I started out clean­ing floors and ended up as se­nior elec­tron­ics plan­ner for Air Ser­vices Aus­tralia. At the be­gin­ning of our mar­riage, it was very dif­fi­cult fi­nan­cially. We lived with Ju­dith’s mother for about two years so we could save for our own place. When we got a house, it was very ba­sic. We ate sit­ting down on the floor and we scrounged fur­ni­ture from peo­ple giv­ing things away. When we fi­nally could af­ford to get the phone on, we were the only Singh listed in the phone book. Now there are pages of them.

In 2012, I re­tired and I’ve been busy work­ing around the house. I’m pretty handy, and I love gar­den­ing and look­ing af­ter my grand­kids [Ethan, 5, Priya, 3]. I cook In­dian food but I have a go at any­thing. I get most re­quests for my chicken curry. Four times a week I go to the PCYC at Arana Hills [north-west Bris­bane] be­cause I like to stay fit.

My life here has been fan­tas­tic. On Aus­tralia Day, I re­flect on the life I’ve had and ev­ery An­zac Day I go to the dawn ser­vice to give my thanks to the coun­try that gave me ev­ery­thing I have.

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