#MyGrationStory RISING GLOBAL INDIANS OF OFFBEAT HARRIS PARK- SECRET OF SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA!

RISING GLOBAL INDIANS OF OFFBEAT HARRIS PARK- SECRET OF SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

This blog is about my stay in one of the Indian homes in Harris Park in Sydney, Australia. The area of Harris Park, Parramatta and Wigram Street, all within walking distance from each other is also known as Little India. Rosella Park is where you will see all Indians grandparents and grand kids congregate. Much like Nana Nani parks of Mumbai. Harris park and Parramatta is a great place to enjoy vegan, vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian cuisine from many states of India. One can also shop for authentic Indians garments, FMCG products, spices, groceries, condiments, sweets, the works! 

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Of Salwar Kameez, Sherwani and Shah Rukh Khan. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

I am a cliché – How Indians Shop Abroad!

“Should I buy that samosa or not? It is for INR 250 (Aud 5) for 2. In India, it would cost me just INR 20 (approx 0.40 AUD). I will anyhow be in India just afew hours later.” I had just discovered the ‘Little India’ of Harris Park and these thoughts engulfed me.

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‘Happy Birthday Samarth’, reads the poster. An Indian family is celebrating birthday at Haveli, Indian fine dine restaurant. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

I salivated profusely as the shopkeeper inside Shri Refreshment Bar poured chutney over samosa and served to other customers. ‘Keep calm and eat a paan’, the poster outside the shop said. I would have eaten the paan (betel leaf based mouth freshener), but that would have been more dollars wasted.

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Thanks to Shri Refreshment bar, I got my samosa fix. They also sell paan, chats and sugarcane juice. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

After 10 days of solo travel across Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, I was craving for my samosa fix. My friend Poornendu Tyagi (we had studied together in Institute of Hotel Management, Lucknow) and his wife Akansha did feed me a lot of Indian food (Masala Dosa, Chola Chawal) in Melbourne just a few days back. It was my last day in Sydney and Australia. After walking to and fro, much like a frustrated tiger in a zoo enclosure, I finally gave into the temptation!

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Taj Bhawan and other Indian restaurants. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

The Gujarati man in his 40s took away my dollars and handed over the samosas with a smile and courtesy typical of white nations. I am not sure if he would retain the same smile if he handled one of the Gujarati farsan shops of the chaotic Kalbadevi in Mumbai. Both Mumbai and Sydney are megacities. And both attract large numbers of students, young professionals, dreamers!

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Of Bollywood, Sonu Nigam, Alka Yagnik and Deepavali fair. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

As I sat next to a South Indian man, satisfying my soul with bites of samosa, I couldn’t help but observe the ‘Little India’ that the Indian community had built for themselves in this faraway nation.

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Harris Park Metro Station. You will see only Indians here. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

Harris Park- Indians Students and professionals call it home in Sydney!

Not only Harris Park but everywhere I went in Sydney, it surprised me with its huge Chinese and Indian populations. So many Indians, I realized call Sydney home.

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An Indian waiting for metro train at Harris Park Metro Station. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

They come here in search of a better job, better pay, better lifestyle and perhaps emptier roads. Away from their family and friends in India, they work hard to live their dream life. The wiser ones opt for Student Travel Insurance. As we all know medical expenses in developed world often burn a hole in the pocket.

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Indian shops- Parampara and Duggal Photography’s Longman Studio. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

I met many youth from India who work multiple shifts to fund their study in Sydney. Some work in security, many prefer working in Coles (Supermarket chain of Australia) and fast food chains like Mc Donalds etc. It was heartening to see the students working really hard to make ends meet and not entirely depend upon their parents to fund their study.

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Houses of Harris Park. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

Many Indians rely only on other Indians for emotional and cultural comfort. I realized, it makes sense for those students to buy Overseas Travel Insurance India. No matter how much support they get from the community, one should always be prepared for medical emergencies. Not only such plans protect them from unforeseen expenses but also safeguard them in medical emergencies.

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Indian grandparents and grandkid at Harris Park on a morning walk. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

My experience of staying with Indian students in Harris Park, Sydney.

Poornendu who now lives in Melbourne arranged for my stay at one of his former roommate’s place, Varun who had moved to Sydney. I am thankful to him for arranging this last minute accommodation. Not only did it save me money, it also exposed me to the life Indian students live in Harris Park.

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One of the pretty houses of Harris Park. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

As I arrived early in the morning at the Harris Park metro Station, I was surprised to see large number of Indians. Most of them were young, well dressed and hurrying seemingly to their office or college. Except the two white ladies who handled the tiny ticket counter, every other person I saw was Indian or of an Asian descent. I stopped a South Indian man in his 20s to ask direction to Varun’s place. Despite being in a hurry, he pulled out his cell phone, opened his GPS and gave me directions. I took a picture of the map which he showed me on his cell phone.

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One of the pretty house of Harris Park. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

The Rosella Park, Harris Park- Grandparents Club

I passed many apartments, the balconies of which had Indian dresses hanging on the rails. The dustbins on the roadside pavements contained empty packets of ready-to-eat Indian food. I entered the Rosella Park which seemed like a socializing and ‘hanging out’ adda for the grandparents and grandkids of young Indians who populated Harris Park.

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Rosella park is favourite amongst Indian grand parents and grand kids. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

A small unimpressive park surrounded by apartment blocks, it had some swings, rope climbing tower, slides and signboards in Asian languages, including Hindi. I crossed Rosella Park many times during my stay in Sydney and every time I saw only grand-parents with their grand kids. They would either push their grand kids on swings, or walk the pram or just indulge in some idle talk with other senior citizens.

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A Sikh grandparents talking his grand kid on a pram walk at Rosella park. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

Life moved in slow motion in Rosella Park. The youth, however, was almost always on the move, always in a rush! The young Indians I met were very Un-Indian in character. They were soft spoken, smiled a lot less, perhaps looked a little lost in an alien country and mostly lonely. The pastel colors of Australia had rubbed on to them.

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Sign board in Hindi and different languages at Rosella park indicate the races which call Harris Park home. Though I found Indians the dominant race here. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

Racial Discrimination in Australia?

While the elders of the family spent most of the time socializing with other Indian grandparents, the youth was busy chasing dreams and making a career, leaving them with little time to stop and smell the roses. During my stay in Australia, I would see the young Indians commuting mostly solo through the city. They were expressionless and mostly kept to themselves.

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Abandoned furniture outside Rosella Park. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

I hardly saw Indians, Chinese and whites communicating with each other. Everyone had formed a community and stuck to their comfort zones. When I asked Indians if there was any racial discrimination they have had to face? None of the Indians had any racial discrimination incident to share. In fact, they were all praise for the Whites. Going by my personal experience in Australia, even I was amazed by the exceptional hospitality extended by the Australians to me at every turn. No query was too small for them.

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3 generations of Indians. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

However, I was told that Australian men fancy Chinese women. I did observe many White-American couples during my visit. That said, I did not observe any hostility amongst the 3 dominant races in Australia. Vietnamese, Sri Lankan, Filipinos and Aboriginals also form integral part of the minority. I even interacted with an Italian lady in metro who was planning to move back to Italy soon.

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The doorbell that scared me. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

My first nervous moment while on my first solo international trip!

I was excited to arrive at the apartment block of Varun, without a Sim Card or Internet in my phone. (People functioned even in the 90s, didn’t they?) I was puzzled, however when I could not locate an entrance to his flat. Turned out, all the apartments in that block had a common entrance. The guest needs to ring the door bell against the apartment number on a switch board next to the common gate.

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A lonely Indian waiting for metro train at Harris Park Metro Station. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

I pressed against it many times but there was no response. Nervous, as it was my first solo trip internationally and I had limited money and time to see Sydney, I walked towards the main road again. An Indian lady was hanging out in her balcony on the adjoining apartment block.

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Teekhazz had great tasting and cheap vada paos and masala french fries. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

I confirmed with her in Hindi if I was doing the right thing by pressing the doorbell on the switch board. I stopped another Indian looking man and requested him to allow me to make a call to Varun on his cell phone. I made a call but no one picked up.

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Inside the bachelor’s pad I stayed. Notice the Indians Gods and Indian products such as parachute coconut oil. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

The Indian looked in a hurry and I let him go, cursing him in my mind for not going out of his way to help another Indian. But who knows.. I comforted myself with a desperate cigarette session. I once again rang the door bell and this time a voice responded on the speaker. Within a few seconds, Varun appeared, groggy eyed thanks to his night shift. He was catching up on his sleep and prepared himself for another shift.

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I stayed on the ground floor bachelor’s pad. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

In between he found time to do his hour long Yoga sessions and to catch up on his friends who visited him with box of Indian sweets. 3 other Indians shared the 2 BHK flat he rented. All of them studied in Sydney and funded their lifestyle with multiple jobs. They all belonged to well to do families of North India and had a strong connection with other Indians living in the area. Their house had Indian products such as garam masala, Dettol soaps, Parachute hair oils etc. The 4 bachelors worshiped posters and idols of Hindu Gods in one corner.

I asked what they intend to do once their study is complete. None of them was sure of the course their life will take after the college finishes. I am sure many of them would prefer staying back in Australia like their predecessors.

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The Indian lady at one of the balconies helped me when I was stuck outside. This was the adjoining building to where I stayed. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

Rising Global Indians of Australia!

‘Happy Birthday Samarth’, said a poster outside an Indian restaurant as I walked leisurely around Harris Park after a busy day at the Sydney Harbour. Two young Indian couples wearing traditional attire, talked in a sophisticated manner in Hindi. 3-4 men walked past me. I overheard one of them saying, “Have you read the book Rising Global Indians. It also mentions the Indians living in Australia!”

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Few whites who also live in the area also hang out at al fresco Indian dining spaces. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

I noted the name immediately for a later read. An online search later gave me zero results. But I am sure more and more Indians are making their presence felt in powerful developed nations. Talent, never say die attitude, hard work and intellect are some of the factors which are helping Indians expand their wings across the globe and climb the upper echelons of different sectors (Business, medicine, IT, the works!). However, many are content in just running garment and grocery stores.

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An abandoned house. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

The Angry Chinese baker of Harris Park

A lone Chinese shop sold Chinese snacks and groceries. She looked unhappy as if she was forced to become the lone Chinese vendor in a pre dominantly Indian location. I bought spinach and cheese pasties (AUD 2.80) from her. It was the only vegetarian and cheap savoury snack she was selling apart from cakes and pastries.

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The cheap spinach and cheese pasties. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

Harris park- Paradise for Curry lovers and Indian cuisine!

A pani-puri counter opposite the Chinese shop claimed to be the first one in Sydney to offer multiple flavours. Priced outrageously (by Indian standards), I skipped it. Shops selling Indian groceries, sweets, salwar-kameez and saris (Shop name- Parampara), sherwanis and what-nots dotted all the streets upto Parramatta, the next Metro station.

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I wrote the article on Canberra for Lonely Planet Magazine India, November issue sitting on this kitchen desk. Inside the bachelor’s pad I stayed at. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

I even came across an Indian photo studio called Longman studios – Duggal Photography run by some Monty Duggal. It could have been a shop in Chandni Chowk. The poster of Alka Yagnik and Sonu Nigam, famous playback singers of Bollywood adorned one of the fences of a masala dosa joint called Dosa Hut. A little ahead another poster enticed the Indians to attend the live concert by Punjabi heartthrob Satinder Sartaaj who was on a Black Prince Tour around the world. And there was a ‘free entry’ for an upcoming Little India Deepawali fair in Wigram Street, claimed another poster.

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Of Deepavali fair, Satinder Sartaaj and Black Prince Tour. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

Needless to say, Harris Park was a kaleidoscope of all the major regions of India. I even had a vada pao in one of the shops. Be it South India, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh or New Delhi, you name it, you will get a slice of it in Harris Park! Most of the Indian shops are concentrated around Wigram Street. You can also find some Lebanese shops in the area, thanks to the Lebanese population who also calls it home.

Heritage walk around Harris Park and Parramatta:

Many whites and foreigners also frequent Harris Park when they need their India or curry fix. I strolled around whenever I had some spare time and discovered many pretty houses around Harris Park Metro Station where whites also lived, so it’s not an entirely Indian town. A suburb of Parramatta, Harris Park is also known for its heritage walks and important buildings. Some of the places of historical and architectural importance in and around Harris Park are:

Elizabeth Farm Cottage: One of the oldest surviving European homes in Australia.

Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Church: It has unique circular architecture and was opened in 1978.

You must also not miss Hambledon Cottage,Queens Wharf and Experiment Farm

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Chat menu at Shri refreshment Bar. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

Places to eat at Harris Park-

Sai Refreshment Bar: This is a small snacks joint. You can buy paan, sugarcane juice, kachori chat, mirchi vada, samosa etc. (See picture for prices; starts at AUD 2.50). It is one of the cheapest places to eat in Harris Park.

Not Just Curries for vegetarian thalis.

Nautanki- Fine Indian dining

Taj Indian Sweets and Restaurants: 100 % vegetarian, they claimed!

Teekhazz: It was decorated for a birthday party when I visited. They have one of the largest dining spaces in Harris Park. I tried their Masala French Fries and Vada Pao. It was nice. Pav Bhaji, Naan Choley, Paneer Tikka, Lassi also available. (See menu)

Other nice Indian places to eat in Harris Park are: Ginger, Mayabazaar,Haveli, Billu’s

Note: It is a part of a series which I run on my blog.

You can follow the hashtag #MyGration story on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter too. (Links below). To read other migration stories on my blog, pls see the tab ‘MyGration Story’ under ‘Don’t Miss These’.

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Menu of Teekhazz. Cheap Indian fast food joint. Harris Park and Parramatta is Little India of Sydney, Australia

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19 thoughts on “#MyGrationStory RISING GLOBAL INDIANS OF OFFBEAT HARRIS PARK- SECRET OF SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA!

  1. These are some very interesting impressions from your time in Australia. Pity, I havent made it yet to Down Under but also your post confirms, that there is so much to discover. Very interesting to see also parts and stories apart from the main tourist spots, I had no idea, that Sydney has quite a big Indian community. Since I love Indian food, I would definitely try out the Teekhazz, cos it seem to have quite a good range of different good Indian dishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always love to visit the little pockets of other people within a country that I’m visiting. It allows me insight into new cultures and people that I haven’t visited yet. Plus you get to eat delicious food. What fun insights of the Indian and Asian pockets in Syndey.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post! My husband is Chinese and when we travel with his family, we always have to walk through Chinatown and taste their Chinese food. It’s amazing how it differs from country to country!

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  4. I’ve never been to Sydney but now I know of Harris Park and the Indian community. This area sounds good for Indian tourists who are craving some Indian food whilst away from home. It’s interesting to read about the Indian community and good to know there is no discrimination against them. It must be a positive experience to study and work in Australia.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh wow man, I didnt know this! I lived in Sydney for 5 months and never knew about little India to be honest. I just Googled where exactly this is and when I think about it yes there were many Indian restaurants and stuff clustered there. Sydney is a great city to live, sadly extremely expensive even the Indian food sometimes! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your first impressions on Australia seem positive and that makes me feel a little relieved. I ‘m Vietnamese and my friend is going to settle in Australia permanently from next year. I hope she could find her own community in Australia and have a fulfilling life there.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your first impressions on Australia seem positive and that makes me feel a little relieved. I ‘m Vietnamese and my friend is going to settle in Australia permanently from next year. I hope she could find her own community in Australia and have a fulfilling life there.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am originally from Melbourne Australia but have been living in London UK for 14years now. It is always interesting to see Australia from another person perspective. I have not heard of Harris Park before and next time that I am in Sndney would definitely like to go there and explore, as I am huge fan of Indian culture especially the colourful clothes and food.

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  9. Harris Park in Sydney, Australia seems actually like mini India but I only hope they are not lonely a depicted in your post and picture. The Samosa craving is totally understandable as I get Parantha craving when I travel abroad. Its shocking to see the headline on loneliness but post reading I am glad the people are supportive as I heard its good opportunity for all.

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  10. Quite an interesting post! Harris Park completely justifies its name ‘little India’. The photos don’t give an impression of Australia at all. The samosa chaat, the paan shop, the nana nani park, garment shops, street posters – everything is so Indian about this place. I never knew a little India existed in Sydney. Love the beautifully decorated houses of Harris Park. Great place for Indians to relish some Indian flavours in a foreign country.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lovely reflection of that homeliness when travelling overseas – we always need that comfort food which we have grown up eating even when savouring local fare! It’s comforting to see how a community can bond together so cohesively in a foreign land, brought together by that common sense of identity and the same roots.

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  13. It’s really an interesting read. And it’s so amusing to see how Indians have formed a little India in different parts of the world. I have a close friend moving to Sydney soon to settle there, I guess I should forward this link to her. Also, can’t leave without mentioning your Samosa incidence which brought back memories from Mount Titlis in Switzerland where we saw Samosas selling for INR 250 per piece 🙂 and we had very similar thought as yours..

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  14. It is fascinating to read about the life of Indians as migrants in another country. Harris Park is really a little India, the pictures look straight out of any North Indian city. Young Indians with stars in their eyes and dreams in their hearts migrate to the west, but are they really happy ultimately is a big question mark.

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  15. Pingback: FROM BEING FIRED FOR TRAVELING TOO MUCH TO BEING ONE OF THE TOP TRAVEL BLOGGERS OF INDIA- THE JOURNEY OF NOT QUITTING! | A Soul Window - Top Travel Blog from India!

  16. What an interesting post! I knew that there’s a large Chinese community in Australia, and I have seen that there is a new flow of middle-class Indians going to Australian / American universities, instead of in the UK, but I’ve never heard of Harris Park. And why not?

    When living abroad, we all flock to the familiar in order to get a taste of home.

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