Tuesday 6 December 2011

Living amongst foreigners

While YK was in the MRT train last week, his nose started bleeding. He tried using his cloth bag to stem the flow of blood but a worker from Bangladesh quickly offered him pack of tissues. YK was very impressed and grateful.

Last week, my friend Amy commended a worker from Bangladesh for his gracious service during her visit to a local flower shop. I patronise this nursery regularly and he is always there to greet me with a smile.

At our parent's farm, our workers from India and Bangladesh are polite and respectful. The Indian has been with us for 20 years and is like a part of our family. He squirrels away most of his income for his two daughters' dowry so they could marry off well in India.

Even amongst our friends, Hakim from Bangladesh stands out as one of the more compassionate ones. He always entertains us with funny and interesting stories about life in Bangladesh. As you can see here, even our dogs adore him. Behind his youthful energy is a man with ambition. He wants to be his own boss one day.

I'm lucky to have close contact with many foreigners living here. I'm friends with Coral, the Filipina maid living downstairs. We chat almost daily while she's out walking the 3 dogs. Her kids are about the same age as mine, but she rarely sees them. On days when the going gets tough, she misses them terribly.

My best friend's maid, Nor, showed me her children's photo recently. She's mostly stoic but when she talked about her kids that day, it was the first time I had seen her face soften and light up like that. Only a mother would understand the kind of pride one has for her offsprings.

In my neighbourhood, almost every family employs a maid to tackle the household chores and take care of the kids, elderly and dogs. Just across my kitchen window, I often witness the lady owner screaming at the maid for shoddy work. There is a difference between reprimanding and yelling. Even if her work is not up to mark, she doesn't deserve to be shouted at like that, until everyone in the block could hear. It makes me mad to see that happen.

Sadly, many Singaporeans are afraid of being too nice to their workers for fear of being taken advantage of. Some turn into outright bullies. Come on, given a choice, you think your maid would put up with all that crap? Who doesn't want to be home living a comfortable life with the family?

Or could it be that Singaporeans just don't know how to show compassion and appreciation? When I was cheering and clapping for the runners at the marathon last weekend, most of the runners just ran by like I was invisible. When I take part in races, I try my best to wave back to supporters. I can understand that at the 29km mark, most were exhausted beyond words but this Chinese National was the best.

He reciprocated with the biggest smile and waved his hands high up in the air. I must say he made my day!Link


mooiness said...

Awesome story. I sometimes do wonder about the nasty types and the way they treat their maids. And then they leave their kids alone with them. Yeah doesn't make sense.

You'd want the maid to be in the best place emotionally when caring for your kids, no?

Blur Ting said...

Precisely! These employers are asking for too much. Many couples here complain that they cannot handle their own kids during the weekend when the maid is not around, yet when they happily trot off to work, they leave one single maid to handle the kids, housework and everything else.

Amel said...

This kind of topic is really close to heart...I've always been a "foreigner" all my life. Even in Indo I'm considered a non-native...but that actually helps me a lot when I moved to Finland, because that's who I've always been all my life. :-)

Blur Ting said...

Amel - I didn't realise that in Indonesia, you're considered a minority. But you have a happy ending!!

Malar said...

Very tough to discuss subject! I feel both employer and maid have mistake in them......

Blur Ting said...

Malar - It is never easy dealing with other human beings but sometimes I think people don't even bother to try.

Wen-ai said...

Oh, If I were running, I would have definitely given u a High-Five! I remembered when I was running my 1st half-marathon, at the 18km mark when I thought I was about to die, there was this lady, cheering and giving high-fives to runners. I was so motivated by her cheers and high-fives that I managed to pull thru the marathon w/o walking. And yah, you were right, some Sporeans were giving her the "eh, crazy woman" look. But I was very very grateful and impressed by her loud cheers and enthusiasm!

Blur Ting said...

Wen-ai - Heh, I wasn't cheering loudly. Just clapping and waving the sign. And opening trash cans for people to throw their rubbish in. :-)