Mine Host recently had occassion to visit Kuala Terengganu, a city with a population of almost 300,000.
Though the place had nothing like the metropolitan feel or hustle & bustle of Queensland coastal cities with populations less than one third the size.
The place had a sleepy feel and a bustle which would have matched a population of 20,000 or less.
These houses could do with a coat of paint, but note the impeccable condition of the rooftops, in particular the superior valley guttering. These houses are well maintained. This is a place which gets rain.
A couple from Mine Host's town have retired here. (er.. not to one of the houses above, those are not typical of Kuala Terengganu) Happy as larry with their choice, they feel at home here.
An uncommon choice of location for retirement, especially for people whose umpteen generations in Queensland had been spent in the same town.
Perhaps they felt like a fish out of water in Qld. Even the largest established muslim population in Qld isn't all that large. (Newer, immigrant, 2nd generation or convert populations in the big smoke are a different kettle of fish)
In an event remniscent of the catholic/protestant divide of years gone by, the wife of the couple had been prevented from marrying "outside the faith".
In a smallish town there was no escaping what her parents forbade to her. Her beloved from the years of her youth operated a shop directly across the road from the business where she was employed. For the 40+ years of her working life she could see accross, and he back. Her employer of later years would occassionally send her accross to the shop on an errand....
....Without any hint of a late deviation from the path and ultimate destination forced upon them in their youth, one could still see the spark, alive in two people now each a grandparent, the spark of what both their parents had forbidden. He forbidden to marry outside his race, she from marrying outside her faith.
If only their parents could have seen that by the time their children were grandparents the religion/race mixing taboo, unthinkable in the 1950's, would be an irrelevance, that their great-grandchildren intermarry between chinese, malay, ceylonese, japanese and arab without any concept of the frantic social taboo which would have once overshadowed even the suggestion of kids "walking out" together.
The husband of the retired couple, surprisingly for an umpteenth generation Australian, suffered no discrimination or anything for an act which would in another time have had him killed by firing squad. Even in other parts of Australia it would have seen him if not jailed, at the very least shunned by many, sent to Coventry for life.
For in his youth he had journeyed from Australia to Indonesia and joined a "foreign legion" of fighters to oppose Australian and Commonwealth troops during the Konfrontasi.
The "Claret" incursions of the Konfrontasi were grim enough. One can only imagine the outcome if Australian troops, fighting to keep Sabah and Sarawak as Malay territory, had in the aftermath of a contact, made the discovery that one of their opponents, instead of a javanese conscript, was a turncoat white Australian (complete with a Scots name) who had paid his own passage and voluteered to take them on.
Immigration to a new land, with no family ties or reception at the destination, a new way of life, and new language, never to return to where your family has lived for generations, is a step not usually taken in the twilight of one's life.