Australians copped plenty of bad press in India after a spate of attacks on Indian students in Melbourne in 2009. It prompted many to conclude we were a nation of violent, dumb, drunk and racist people.
Punjabi law student Amer Singh had hoped to study here but, like many, changed his plans, delivering a blow to the education sector.
"My mother, being an over-protective Indian mother, didn't feel very comfortable with me going there," Singh said by phone last week.
"She didn't really say 'No going there', but said she'd feel more comfortable if I didn't go. So I gave that up."
Singh did get to Australia earlier this year as one of the four Indian professionals recruited to be part of the television series Dumb, Drunk and Racist.
Over six episodes Singh, education counsellor Radhika Budhwar, newsreader Gurmeet Chaudhary and call centre worker Mahima Bhardwaj join journalist Joe Hildebrand on an eye-opening and often humorous road trip to explore Australia's attitudes towards foreigners.
In tonight's first episode the visitors are whisked from picture postcard locales such as Bondi Beach to multicultural Newtown where a controversial street art mural depicting "say no to burqas" has caused debate, protests and inspired graffiti attacks.
In the second episode they visit Cronulla, where footage of the 2005 riots reduced Singh to tears.
"As a human not as an Indian on a show just as a normal human, I did find the video disturbing and the things that were being portrayed," he said.
The series also takes the visitors to Brisbane, Melbourne and to Alice Springs to explore indigenous living conditions. At Alice Springs some of the film crew were attacked, although Singh said his group never felt in danger.
At one point he actually experienced "reverse racism" in Melbourne when a group of party goers he had befriended were refused service by Indian fast-food workers because Australian youths so often came in drunk and abusive.
So, what was Singh's overall impression of Australia? Are we dumb, drunk and racist?
"I can't give that away, you have to watch the show," he laughed.
"We met a lot of people. We certainly met a lot of drunk people; I think I became one for a bit. We met our fair share of dumb people and we met smart people too.
"We did find racists but you have to see the show to find out."
Singh said he had learned a lot and would definitely come back to Australia and has been telling his friends they should all go to a B & S ball.
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