As Jennifer Bagelman observed in research with the Glasgow City of Sanctuary, sanctuary measures such as employment programs and social events, all aimed at a future that is still in abeyance, can simply feel like ‘dependency, uselessness, and invisibility’ for people who have no other choice but to rely on the self-congratulatory services of the sanctuary city, all while having no certainty about whether a life without the need for sanctuary will ever be possible.
In the pilot episode of Feud, Joan Crawford’s beautician says, scathingly, ‘Men age, they get character. Women age, they get lost.’
In many obvious ways the pros of being employed outweigh the negatives, though employment in the form of two or more casual jobs brings no greater feeling of security than the dole. Neither does being employed in a job you aren’t all that great at. The depression eases when the bills are being paid, but the relief is only temporary. For me, all the standing in line, all the being spoken down to all amounted to nothing more than the freedom to not have to report my income.
I was a fan of the 45. Initially this was due to financial constraints – albums were more expensive, and my pocket money was capped at $2.50 a week. But I grew to like the portability, the surprise of the B-side. I even liked the physical action of having to get up to turn the disc over. With a single, I could have a three-minute vacation in one feeling, and then move on to another. A single was like flirting, an album was commitment.
From my position as an Indian immigrant in Australia, a writer and scholar, Questions of Travel provided a selfie of a country that I and people like me could retweet and circulate, contributing to the flow of the literary selfie. In this book I saw a Sri Lankan Australian author writing about Sri Lanka, Australia and our larger world: a self enacting self. A text saying ‘see me showing you me’. Not through autobiography, but through the work that only fiction can do.