Shri Sankar Chatterjee

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Shri Sankar Chatterjee

I left my homeland to work in Australia

I was born in Calcutta in 1938. My name is Sankar Kumar Chatterjee – son of Radharaman and Pankajbala Chatterjee.

On September 3, 1964 I got up about 5am to catch a plane from Dum Dum Airport in Calcutta. I remember my nephew Deb Kumar came straight to the customs area where no one was usually allowed. The officers laughed as he was a little boy of 8.

I was also feeling sad about leaving friends and relatives. Moreover, I was going to miss my Mohun Bagan Athletic Club – the National Club of India. I used to go to the Club quite often. I was going to miss the atmosphere and the friends in the Club. As I walked towards the aircraft I realized that I won’t be able to come back for a while.

I was also apprehensive about the White Australia Policy.

The reason of my journey to Australia was to work in a metallurgical firm by the name Bradford Kendall Ltd – a steel foundry in Sydney. I wrote to the Company’s Managing Director Mr. William Kendall requesting a job. Mr. Warren Tully – the Acting Company Controller at that time came to the airport to receive me. He started speaking very slowly after realizing that I was not following his Aussie accent very well. I started feeling more and more comfortable with him as the day rolled on. The company was only a fifteen minutes drive from the airport.  Warren asked me to fill one form and gave me an advance of Ten Australian Pounds as I did not have enough money. He took me for lunch.  And would you believe it was for the first time in my life –fish and chips, and a cup of tea. At the end of the day Warren took me to his home for dinner – roast lamb and vegetables, also a first time in my life. I stayed the next two days as his guest. Julie (Warren’s wife) and Warren took me round Sydney the next two days. It might come as a surprise to many that AMP building was the tallest building in Sydney CBD at that time. The Opera House was being built and the Sydney Harbour Bridge looked magnificent. On Sunday afternoon Julie and Warren took me to the place where I was going to stay. Mr. and Mrs. William and Hazel Smith lived in Phillip Bay about fifteen minutes drive to Alexandria where I was going to work. Mr. and Mrs. Smith really looked after me well. They had ten children – eight daughters and two sons. All but two were married. The daughters dropped in almost every weekend. So the weekends were always really enjoyable to the Smiths. I felt very homely with them. After a few weeks I thought about White Australia Policy again. I could not find any trace of that when I was among my colleagues or at home with the Smiths. The whole neighborhood was very friendly.  My work colleagues used to invite me to their homes for lunch or dinner. They also used to take me to their holiday homes to get away from Sydney for the weekend.

I started working on 7 September 1964. I enjoyed my work very much for the next four and a half years with Bradford, Kendall Ltd. People were very friendly. Soon I became the “melting Metallurgist” in the steel making division. It was a great responsibility and I believe I graduated with honors.

I returned to India in February 1969 and got married. After my marriage with Amita – daughter of Kalidas and Sisirkana Chatterjee we went to Austria and worked there for 20 months. I was not very happy with the working conditions in Austria and Warren Tully suggested that I returned to Bradford, Kendall. Amita and I agreed. Warren arranged a job for me in Dunedin, New Zealand. The name of the company was Wilkinson Callon Ltd. It was a wholly owned subsidiary of Bradford Kendall. I worked there for five and a half years. In 1977 I returned to Australia to work for Bradford Kendall in Perth. Since then I have been living in Australia.

In Perth I did a degree course in Economics with Murdoch University as an external student and in 1986 I got a job with the Australian Government in the Department of Industry, Technology and Commerce. Later I moved to Australian Bureau of Statistics in the National Accounts Division and retired in 2003.

I have two sons – Taposh and Swarup. Taposh is a medical doctor – an anaesthetist. He graduated from the Flinders University of South Australia. My other son Swarup did his PhD in Chemistry from the Australian National University. Amita worked for the Canberra Institute of Technology. She is also retired now. Taposh met Tanya Casey in Launceston Tasmania and got married in 2004. Tanya is also a medical doctor. Taposh and Tanya are proud parents of Marley and Lily and that also makes us their proud grandparents. Swarup works for the ACT Government in the Health Protection Services mainly dealing with Air Quality and Asbestos.

Australia has been good to us.