I’m a child of the 70’s. Born in 1969 in Karachi, my parents dragged me kicking and screaming to Sydney.
My parents bought me a bike when I was 7 years old, and I was only allowed to ride it up and down my short street. I rode past the guys and gals standing next to their Sandman panel van with the surfboard on top. “Howya goin”, one of the girls would say. I was too shy to respond. Plus mum told me how bad “gori larkiyan” (white girls) were.
In fact, within our small South Asian community (consisting of Indians, Pakistanis and Fiji-Indians of all religions), the consensus among the parents was that white kids just didn’t know how to behave. Why was this the case? Apparently, their parents were always getting divorced or sleeping with each other. At that age, I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. So what if people sleep in the same bed?
The Anglo world was a complete mystery. My Fiji-Indo-Pak uncles and aunties didn’t feel discriminated against. If anything, they saw the gora folk as inferior, a people with no culture, no sense of family, always drinking and never disciplining their children.
I wish those uncles and aunties were with me the other day when I was sitting in the cinema watching the latest Australian comedy film Swinging Safari.
Set in a beachside town, the film depicts the lives of three allegedly typical white Aussie families. Its stellar cast includes superstar Kylie Minogue and a host of other big names of the small and big screens. Minogue plays an alcoholic mum and wife who cannot keep her hands off the tablets. She and her husband are one of three couples who fit exactly the stereotype of ‘70’s loud hippy disco white Aussies, the kind of people my mum would describe as being “too modern”.
But forget about the prejudices of my parents’ generation (which, believe it or not, were shared by mum’s many hard-core Catholic Maltese and Italian friends). What will strike many viewers are the excessive sideburns and brill cream the fathers sported. And those God-awful tight-fitting outfits the mums wore.
The kids were also wild, largely because their parents were busy pretending to be young. But not all of them. The main character, a young lad given a hand-held camera by his father, was too busy making amateur films. At times he also recorded the goings-on of the elders and wondered what on earth they were doing and why.
If this film proved anything in my mind, it’s that my Indian, Pakistani, Fiji-Indian, Maltese, Italian, Greek, Muslim, Catholic, Anglican, Hindu, Sikh etc elders were right about the gora folk. I could finally get a look into what I was forbidden to see as a kid. And I found it hilarious.
If you consider yourself too devout to watch the kind of stuff teenagers watch these days on TV or smaller screens, I’d probably not see Swinging Safari.