The Problem with Assimilation

The Problem with Assimilation

The problem with Muslims is that they don’t assimilate, announced the Australian owner of a Balinese sports-bar. The red-nosed sexagenarian was drunk on his own stock and the admiration of his fellows, swinging off a barstool in the joint he’d made his own. They don’t assimilate and they don’t respect our way of life, he continued, that’s why I got out of there a long time ago. Didn’t want to see the place go to the dogs, mate.

His bar boasted SPORTS! And BIG SCREENS! And COLD BEERS! And for 20 hours a day would loop sports live and on repeat from Australia and the world. The man had been holding court on the relative merits of this AFL great or that, before he turned to the problems of a multicultural Australia, swilling beer from green Bintang bottles that were dutifully replaced by his wife, who was Indonesian, much younger, and alone at a separate table.

His bar was like any of the Australian-owned sports bars here, draped in the memorabilia of whichever team from whatever code the proprietor fanaticises about; this one was the West Coast Eagles, and there are bars that scream Brisbane Broncos, but none that even mention Bali Devata F.C. The menu hawked Western and westernised Indonesian fare, its borders adorned with witticism about wives and fishing written in comic sans; the speakers belched Cold Chisel and Midnight Oil and other misappropriated anthems of patriotic pride. The staff was entirely local, absolutely polite and at least superficially subservient, yielding to the belligerent slurring of orders and grotesque flirtation that was thrown at them unrelentingly in thickly accented Australian English.

Around the bar slumped toadish men with knock-off singlets hanging from their saggy, hairy tits, matched with short shorts that threatened to produce an inelastic ball bag. This chafe of diabetics comprised of men who looked like dried out dumplings, covered in ashen pubes and undulating folds of skin, sitting staring into the middle distance immersed in deep thoughtlessness, chiming in when some indignation about Australian sports would pull them from this waking nightmare. Sometimes these antique scrotums were doted on by a beautiful Indonesian callgirl who was doubtlessly negotiated down to the last dime; they were always drunk.

The proprietor was the alpha amongst these thetas, holding court because he’d been there the longest, literally welded to that stool. Dissent was quashed under a barrage of “get fuckeds”, begun by him and concluded by his pals who ravaged their weak fellows like Jack London’s sled dogs, savaging those who showed a moment of vulnerability to ascend one spot closer to the top. Not that there was any dissent regarding that statement about the Islamic inability to assimilate. Fucken oath, they agreed as they continued to morph into their own useless testicles, sticking their proboscises into another beer, shaking their jowls in indignation while Indonesia unfolded mere meters from their enclave.

Ex-editor of Australia’s Surfing Life, current producer and host of 50 Fiestas, Barcelona resident and drinker of all the wine, every last drop of it.