Rajaman shows the way!
Rajaman’s Guide To Australia – (A Practical Information Book for Students &
Migrants), by G.K.
“Please no photographs,” states G.K. Samarakoon when we visit her to find out about her book Rajaman’s Guide to Australia, which will be launched on November 23 at the Kandy Club, Malabar Street, Kandy at 1 p.m.
Ms Samarakoon wrote the guide as she felt there was a need for Sri Lankans to be aware of many facts and aspects about the country. “Many Sri Lankans sell their land to go to Australia and other countries to study and also to find jobs. But they go there blindly without much knowledge about the society and have to learn the basic things from scratch.”
“It was the same with me,” she explains adding that there was no book to explain how day-to-day things such as budgets, accommodation, rentals, food, getting jobs, health care etc are done. “This book will close that gap and give students and others knowledge as to how the system works there,” she added.
A simple how-to-do book filled with lots of helpful information and a few laughs – is how the Editor, Art House- Publishing describes it in the foreword.
Ms.Samarakoon had her early education at Girls’ High School and Hillwood College Kandy and went to Australia seven years ago as a student of Curtin University, Western Australia. She moved to Melbourne for her postgraduate studies in education at the Monash University. “In Australia, I mixed with many students, lived and worked with them and I know the problems they face as I myself had to sort of grope in the dark and find my way.”
With this experience, she volunteered as a Migrant Counsellor in Melbourne. “Almost all the South Asians whom I assisted had the same kind of questions about food, lodging, bus timetables and how to get about their day-to-day work. It was these little things that worried them.”
A recent survey conducted by the Migration Resource Centre in Melbourne revealed that 80% of the migrants from South Asian countries such as Sri Lanka and India take at least four years to get a full grasp of Australian society and ‘get a feel of the new country’. This was in contrast to immigrants from Eastern Europe who although lacking proficiency in English were quick to integrate into society. “We find it amazing that South Asians coming to Australia for the first time have a clear understanding of the ‘bigger issues’ like what’s happening in politics, visa matters, registration on the net but it is the little day-to-day things that they take a while to grasp” stated Susan Bingley, the Migrant Counsellor conducting the in-house survey.
Ms. Samarakoon worked as a teacher in six schools in New South Wales and Victoria. She has also worked her way at restaurants, and as a sub-editor and journalist in the Northern Star, Dawn and also as a free lance journalist.“I had a sad experience when a Sri Lankan friend committed suicide. All these and my own personal experience made me write this guide. My first novel was Rebecca Unravelling which was inspired by a true story of a country girl.”
Rajaman’s Guide explains things people should know when visiting Australia – how to find lodging, type of food stores, where one can get good bargains, how the transport system works, how to get PR visas, transportation, clothing, where to look for jobs etc. It also covers many other topics from a tourist angle - what the country can offer to the visitor – sight seeing and places of interest.
So who is Rajaman? “He is Gajaman’s brother, a comic character,” smiles Ms. Samarakoon. The book is written in a ‘fun way’ but with all the relevant information, well researched. The book ‘speaks’ through Rajaman.“I am what you call a crossbreed. That is a person who has grown up in one country and crossed over to another and living in the new country for 15 years, namely from Sri Lanka to Australia,” Rajaman says in the book.
Under the heading -Be aware of the distance from anywhere - is this passage. “Frequently, I have friends saying “Machang, I have friends everywhere, so I shall cover 4 states in two weeks and I don’t mind roughing out so I’ll bus it.”
Samarakoon writes “But this is sooooo impractical. Because unlike in Sri Lanka Australia is a vast country and as such there’s a large distance between each state.
“So when you plan be mindful of the distance because it can be a 10-hour long trip from one state to the other.”
This book will no doubt, be very useful to students who have just completed their A’level examinations and are planning to join Universities in Australia.