George Rasic is not your average pensioner – behind those steel-rimmed glasses is a sprightly 78-year-old St Albans resident who is a rock star of the Serbian publishing world.
Born in a little village in the former Yugoslavia called Skodinovac, George – or Djordje, as he is known in Serbian – came to Australia 20 years ago.
“I came to Australia in 1997 as I fled a war-torn country,” Mr Rasic said in his native Serbian language through his grandson, Uros Rasic.
“My wish was that my family is safe from war and uncertainty and to reconnect with my family, as one son was in Australia and the other still in Serbia.
“All I wanted was to have my family safe in Australia – away from the mess happening in my home country.”
Mr Rasic, a law graduate in his homeland, began to write about his bitter-sweet migration experience.
Twenty years on, he has published three Serbian language books – one of poetry, another about his life-long work as a criminal inspector and his most recent, an autobiography.
“I started to write pretty much as soon as I arrived to Australia,” he said.
“I started to write out of nostalgic feelings I had towards my birth place, not thinking I would ever publish any books, but rather just express my emotions.
“I want people to gain knowledge from my writing – both about my profession and my emotions as an author, especially about suffering through the separation of my homeland and family,” Mr Rasic said.
When he’s not writing, he takes comfort in nature, including beekeeping and going on long walks.
“I enjoy beekeeping – it’s been a lifelong hobby,” he said.
Mr Rasic started beekeeping aged 30 when he crossed paths with an “old-school’ beekeeper named Stanoja.
Beekeeping was a hobby for Mr Rasic, but during war in Yugoslavian in 1990, he turned to his hobby for survival.
“The beekeeping gave me the ability to successfully put food on the table in the unfortunate war zone where many were starving and had limited or no options,” he said.
He says he hopes his life story and achievements inspire others – and he has particular advice for older residents.
“They should embrace their lives with pride and joy rather than any regret.”