Race relations

Mr Thati arrived in Melbourne as an international student, and worked hard to finish a Master's degree before setting up a thriving restaurant business. Photos: Aun Ngo

Mr Thati arrived in Melbourne as an international student, and worked hard to finish a Master's degree before setting up a thriving restaurant business. Photos: Aun Ngo

SHIVA Thati is a busy man.

The 29-year-old, who co-owns the quaint Indian eatery Namaste on the corner block of Lygon St in Carlton, is usually on his feet, taking meal orders, and dishing out steaming curries to his patrons.

And on Wednesday, Mr Thati was especially busy, as call after call came in, with people wanting to make bookings for dinner as part of the Vindaloo Against Violence Campaign.

But he did pause for a minute, to talk about race relations in Melbourne.

Mr Thati left his hometown of Hyderabab, south-east of India, in 2004.

He had come as an international student, to complete a Master’s degree in Information and Technology at RMIT University.

Upon graduation, he got himself a job at Optus.

“I worked hard and became a sales manager, but I was looking to start my own business,” he said.

So when the opportunity arose, the enterprising young man left his managerial position at Optus to pursue his dream.

He set up Namaste with a mate he met while schooling, and business has been thriving.

Mr Thati acknowledges he has done well for himself, but he knows he is not immune to racism in the city he has lived in for six years.

“I’ve noticed it in the way some people talk, the way they look at you,” he said.

And it’s more common when he catches the public transport, he said.

“The other day I was on Nicholson Street, and it was raining heavily. I saw this Indian girl running in the rain to catch the tram.

“She was right in front of the tram door as the door was closing, but the tram driver just drove off. He could have stopped for just two seconds.

“I don’t see this happening with Aussie students, or students of any other nationality.”

But he figured it only took a few people to behave inconsiderately to give Indians a bad name – and the negative perceptions may have caused some to respond more aggressively.

But the situation is not as serious as the media – both local and overseas – has made it out to be, Mr Thati said.

“Obviously, if you show your money, opportunists will just grab it,” he said.

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Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

Many international students live in or around the city because of the proximity to their colleges and universities, and that was where we decided to focus our efforts first. Many of us live, work and study locally too. Our editorial team is made of both local and international students, and it has worked to our advantage in providing local content in every sense of the word.

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