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(Sad) Seen At Changi T3

6:40am in the carpark of Changi Airport’s Terminal 3.

I saw a group–about sixteen–newly arrived China nationals with their luggage. They were all men wearing suits and a few of them had ties on. Most looked in their mid twenties to mid-thirties; a couple older and a couple younger. They had smooth fair complexions suggesting northern non-urban origins and spoke at least three different dialects that I heard but Mandarin to the local Chinese driver giving them instructions.

As I passed some were expressing confusion at being told to load their suitcases on the (open) backs of two small (and dinghy looking) pick-up trucks parked side by side.

I heard him say, Where don’t have place to sit? You sit on the bags top!

Some of them were climbing onto the trucks. Others were standing around looking confused yet still eager to please and hopeful and excited; their intention to make the most of this time in Singapore was clear, an armour against disillusionment.

The bags on the back of the pick-ups: big coloured haversacks, plastic bags, cloth bags tied up with string.

I also saw three briefcases. These were being carried, not piled on with the rest of the luggage. One briefcase carrying man was telling others around him there must be a mistake; he was supposed to be working for a medical company.

Them: Wearing black, brown, dark blue, beige suits over shirts, t-shirts and shoes. Cheap new suits and good but old suits. Hair carefully parted and smoothed down. They looked like men who had made great effort to look presentable, for their first introduction to the new jobs, new companies they might have been promised by some agent they or their families might have sold land or borrowed money to pay.

And some probably paid extra for their new suits, to make a good impression on their new bosses.

I am afraid no matter what they were promised or how much they paid the agents who got them the permits into Singapore, these hopeful men are going to end up working as cleaners or construction workers or remain unemployed if not selected for some other form of menial labour.

Last night during a (great vegetarian) dinner with a friend she told me to remember I wasn’t “responsible for the whole world”.

Well–yes and no.

We are on the same page when it comes to food–eg if we’re not willing to raise and kill chickens/cows/pigs we won’t eat chicken/beef/pork. This is not to say I have to kill/grow everything I eat any more than I want to process my own sewage or purify my own drinking water–but I have to acknowledge these things are taken care of by people running systems it’s part of my responsibility (as part of the human community) to see they are taken care of.

(Trying not to go too far off on a rant here about people who deliberately shut their eyes/ears to info on how chickens are reared/terrified pigs are killed/meat production is draining our planet resources so they can go on raving about they are sensitive people who love babies, animals,  chicken curry and bak kut teh. Okay, okay I’ll stop here.)

I know that we need ‘cheap’ labour to create and clean the buildings that make up our city. I’m not against that. But can’t we find a way to get the labour without humiliating the people who provide it? Workers should know they are coming to be workers and they should have jobs to come to, not arrive to find the work they were promised doesn’t exist & the contracts they signed don’t count.

Getting upset doesn’t solve anything and I couldn’t think of anything I could do for those men I saw this morning. And all the other men & women of course. But like T says, I can’t take responsibility for everything.

I can’t shut my eyes to it–I can write about what I see and if/when the opportunity presents I will do what I can.

Till then–pray protection & blessings over them and do my best to live my best life.

Because making myself miserable over what I can’t change (now) isn’t going to do any good but making myself strong may get me into a position where I can do something concrete.

There–got it off my chest.

Life has been very good and very packed. I may cut down blogging to once a week; not because I don’t have time but because keeping up with my writing targets leaves the writing part of my brain limp. There’s so much I want to write about my practice discoveries, my ‘sitting’ time and the great new organic shop I’ve discovered (it’s been there for some time apparently but I’m slow…) a few doors away from Original Sin at Holland Village with incredible array of beans, herbs, teas, premade vegetarian soups and fantastic maple syrup… I know where it is, just can’t remember the name. And the huge & empty (of crowds & queues) supermarket at the new Fusionpolis.

But I’m too sleepy now–& I want to go reply to Kirsten before I drift off…

4 Responses

  1. I feel sorry for the men. Why are there such greedy and unscrupulous agents around? And why are the government from both countries allowing such acts to take place? But I’m also surprised people are still getting cheated today, what with all the Internet and other information sharing means around. Don’t they have fellow villagers, or friends, or relatives that have gone through the same to warn them from these agents? Sigh.

  2. sigh. i get your drift babe.

  3. awfully awfully awfully expensive… which is why all I got was some barn eggs (from nz–everybody take note ‘kampong’ eggs & chickens are NOT free range!) but I so loved being in the shop.
    If/when I get rich I’m going to shop there every week…

  4. I know that organic food shop – but isn’t it awfully expensive?

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