Indian Hospitality in Australia

As soon as I posted the news of Australian visa, Anandkumar Anand sent me text saying that he has a friend named Sakthivel Nanjundan in Perth-Australia and he may help you. During Manipur travel, Anand had given me a reference of Kaja who helped me to cross India – Myanmar land border and start my international tour. Initially, I was reluctant to be in touch with Sakthivel because one of my Indian friends had told me that Australian-Indians are busy in printing dollars. One has to take appointment to meet them, so I didn’t call either of them. When I reached Perth, Rajesh’s friend Vishnu booked a bed for me in a hostel for four nights. On the third day, I got panic, what to do and where to go next.


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Sakthivel,  Jagatheswary and little Saindhavi


Hostels are very expensive in Perth. Rent is 26$ (Rs1300) per bed per night, in eight-bed-dorm. Meanwhile – Anandkumar called me saying that I can stay at his friend Sakthivel’s house. I was reluctant but thought to take a chance. Sakthivel called me a day in advance and I gave him my address. Next day, it was unusually raining even though it was supposed to be spring in Australia. 20 minutes before the schedule time, Sakthivel called saying that he is on the way. On the way to home, he said he has a small house and I can stay with them as long as required. For a Mumbaikar small house means one room kitchen. I prepared my mind to sleep in kitchen or in his vehicle. To my surprise, it was 3BKH bungalow. Later he explained, in the Australian standards it is a small house. He showed a bed room for me. He showed me house and then introduced the kitchen. He showed me where is sugar, tea, milk, bread, ready to eat food. By the time, his wife Jagatheswary Namebeley (fondly called Jaga) prepared food. After long time I had home food. Jagatheswary is incredible cook. She cooks Indian as well as Malaysian dishes. She is Indian origin but born and brought up in Malaysia. They too have a love story. It is very simple and has no lot of twists.


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Before to leave, we Sakthivel and I planted an orange tree as ‘living and loving memory’ in his backyard.

Both are working. They bought big house. Post construction, they did everything on their own. They decorated house on their own. After office hours, they painted the house themselves with a theme instead of giving it for contract. Everything is carefully selected and handpicked. Even the wooden frame of Buddha in the garden is assembled and put by them. Naturally, the house is very warm and pleasant.  On the first night, I had stomach-full food. I was feeling sleepy so went to bed. I couldn’t sleep till midnight because the bed was too soft for me. After long hours of struggling, I got tired and slept. Next morning, Jagatheswary prepared delicious breakfast. I ate and went to library to read about Australian roads, cultural, religion and history.  Another day, there was a call from Jagatheswary ‘s parents. They had some function in Malaysia. Before to go, she taught me basics of cooking particularly rice. Next week, Sakthivel and I was at home. Then I realized, he is also fabulous cook. He taught me Dossa. Sakthivel is one of the few patience and compassionate person I met. One day, while making Dossa, gas developed a technical snag. Gas was coming out but there was no flame. Dossa got sticky. Within a moment, he realized it. He put off the gas and opened windows. I was upset thinking that he might get angry or upset. Once the air cleared, he said, “Come on man, let’s make another Dossa.” I bust into laughter. During the short ride around city, they asked what is my favourite food? I said that I like chapati but I didn’t eat it since last six months so not sure I can digest it. I like rice, milk and dry fruits. Next morning, three packets of dry fruits and big milk pack kept on kitchen counter. Jagatheswary cooked several dishes of different varieties of rice particularly South Indian and Malaysian. No need to say, I had put on 2kgs in two weeks.  Ahhh! I forgot to tell you about my little friend: Saindhavi. She celebrated her second birthday, two days before I meet them. She is like her father, keep herself engaged, with dolls and toys. I never listened she crying.  Sakthivel always keep himself engaged. He and his friends are part of the Tamil Association in Perth. They have lot of cultural events and festival celebrations throughout the year. The couple is also a good dancer. Sakthi also guides new migrants in Australia, till they settle. Normally I don’t stay at one place for more than four nights but this was like exception. I felt as if I was at home. Both of them treated me as their younger sibling. Thank you Sakthivel and Jagatheswary for all your kindness and hospitality. And of course, thanks for a sleeping bag. It gives me comfortable and peaceful sleep in rough and unplanned trip…




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