First Day in Perth, Part 2

Originally posted on another server on October 30, 2017

8 February 1979. At Haywin House on Irwin Street, Perth, Western Australia that evening I was informed that we were going to be taken to a Malaysian’s house. We went down to the street level, and true enough, a few cars were there waiting for us.

It was a chilly evening, and I felt the biting cold despite the acrylic turtleneck sweater and denim jacket I brought from Malaysia.

We got ourselves into the cars and were driven away into the night.

I did not know exactly where we were going, to whose place or who were the people that drove the cars.

I had a stomach-turning feeling that we might be taken to some other place and not to the Malaysian’s house. The word kidnapped came to my mind. So I started observing landmarks around us. The most prominent landmark in Perth city that night was a slow-pulsing big red signboard on top of a tall building – LOMBARD.

A reproduction of the blinking red Lombard signboard on top of a Perth city building in February 1979.

So I surreptitiously tracked the location of the car in relation to the LOMBARD building.

Just in case I needed to jump out of the car and find my way back to Haywin House in the city.

My apprehension about the trip evaporated when we arrived at the destination. It turned out to be the South Perth residence of Mr Abdul Rahman Haron, the Malaysian Consul in Perth. Mr Rahman lived at the house with his wife Ita and child son Hafiz.

Mr Rahman expected us and had prepared for us a Malaysian dinner – rice, and the normal things that came with it.

What a joy. There was rice in Australia. Rice. Hope. I might yet survive the next five years in Perth after all !!!

I had earlier thought that we were simply dumped at Haywin House and had to fend for ourselves. But pleasantly no, the Malaysian Consul was looking after us. As were the senior Malaysian students who picked us at Haywin House and drove the cars.

And last but not least the officers from the Australian Government agency ADAB, Australian Development Assistance Bureau, who waited for us to arrive at the airport, put us into taxis to Haywin House, gave us, at their city office, a comprehensive briefing on life in Perth two days later, booked us into apartments in Leederville, arranged for our placements at the Leederville Technical College and organised a summer camp for us several weeks later.

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