Tag Archives: Afghans in Australia

A Shared Ramadan Experience

We are only two Muslims in our company, but every Ramadan almost everyone else fasts one day to share the Ramadan experience with us. Our work organises a dinner for those who fast. This year, one of our colleagues emailed us the following and with her permission I decided to post it here.

Iftar
Iftar at Lazzat Kadah

When we were first approached and invited to be a part of Ramadan we all thought that it would be a breeze, a lot of us are constantly forgetting to eat lunch anyway, skipping dinner or breakfast because we are too busy too.

What we realised as we inched closer and closer to the day (Tuesday this week) was that there wouldn’t be a cup of tea on arrival at the office in the morning. No afternoon coffee and banana. No glass of water to sip on to keep us refreshed throughout the day. What we all also didn’t realise is that we would have to wake up before the crack of dawn to eat. I know that was my plan, but at 5.30 in the morning just didn’t happen for some reason šŸ˜‰ zzzzzzzz

So, at 8.30am when I arrived at the office I was already hungry. Mainly because I knew there was 8 hours and 6 minutes until anything was going in my mouth. I know I wasn’t the only one on the countdown to 5.36pm.

I think the biggest struggle throughout the office was not having a comforting, refreshing cup of tea or coffee and having some kind of fruit or snack to get us through the afternoon slowdown.

Anyway, all 12 of us made it as far as I am aware (unless someone did a sneaky). 8 of us then made the journey, which seemed to take forever on an empty tummy, to Lazzat Kadah, a Pakistani Restaurant in Coburg for our well deserved Iftar.

I know that I will be taking part in Ramadan fasting next year and I hope that others will continue to do so. It wasn’t only my first time taking part in fasting (I don’t count the 40 hour famine when I was 8, I had 2 packets of barley sugars and a carton of just juice) it was the first time for a few others in the office too. I have heard that the first time is the hardest, and that it gets easier. I hope this is true. I guess we will all find out next year šŸ™‚

Thanks for organising this great experience. I really, really really appreciated my tea this morning.

The Afghan Bazaar or Boat Bazaar?

Dandenong is home of great diversity in Melbourne. Like other parts, there are people from different backgrounds living in this heavily multicultural suburb. Rightly so, it is known as the most culturally diverse suburb in Victoria.

Afghan Bazaar, Dandenong
Afghan Bazaar, Dandenong

Afghan businesses have flourished in DandenongĀ for the past 10 years or so. Specially, Thomas StreetĀ is home to many Afghan businesses including restaurants and takeaways, Afghan carpet and rugs stores, Afghan groceries and more. In 2009 after the successful precinct branding of Little India, the Afghan traders advocated for the development of a recognisable brand for Thomas Street. The project was implemented by the City of Greater Dandenong in 2009 and later on the Afghan Bazaar Tour was developed for tourists to have a taste of Afghan culture in the heart of Victoria.

Recently the City of Greater DandenongĀ has undertaken Afghan Bazaar Streetscape Enhancement Project in Thomas Street Dandenong. Many members of the community have shown interest in this project. There has been face-to-face meetings and workshops, and the City of Greater Dandenong has welcomed opinions from all member of Afghan community.

Some days ago, I received an SMS from a friend suggesting that some members of Afghan community are advocating for changing the name of Afghan Bazaar to something that is either more specific to one ethnic group or strangely enough “Boat Bazaar”. Initially I thought it was just a rumour but this was confirmed by other more active members of the community.

Afghans have been part of the diverse Australian community for over 200 years since the arrival of the cameleers. Contribution of Afghan community is not a new trend that started after arrival of “boat people” but it is well-documented in Australian history. As a matter of fact the rebrandingĀ of Thomas Street as Afghan Bazaar was to recognise the contribution of Afghans from the time of theĀ cameleers to dateĀ and not that of a particular ethnic group. This is visible from the branding logo.

It will be a sad day for Afghan community in Melbourne to lose this

Afghan Bazaar, Dandenong Photo by: Star Community

recognition to a particular group of people who are trying to score political point. Besides, entertaining the idea of rebranding Afghan Bazaar to “Boat Bazaar” is unethical. This will encourage the arrival of illegal migrants that has caused a lot of issues in the country whether due to unfortunate deaths of boat people or political controversies.

I have always voiced my concern about arrival of illegal migrants and the fact that many people undeservingly used the prosecution of certain ethnic groups in Afghanistan in their advantage to get residency status in Australia. I am not suggesting that all those people were lying about their situation in Afghanistan, but I know for a fact that many people arrived to Australia from Middle East or Pakistan who have used their background to gain sympathy from Australian government and now they are promoting a dangerous and ethnocentric ideology. No matter what ethnic group we belong to, we came to this country as Afghan migrants and anyone denying this fact has a personalised and political agenda.

I do not believe the City of Greater Dandenong will agree to changing the name, however to know that there are people in Australia who would promote such ideas is a cause for concern.

Images fromĀ  the City of Greater Dandenong