Mary's View of S'pore - Vol 2

Mary's View of S'pore - Vol 2

Here is the long awaited Mary's view of S'pore #2. I lied. I'm not going to write about cockroaches. That's boring. We've only had 3 anyway. Big ones - but only three. Yes, they climb all the way up to the 7th floor. All 3 are dead. So, there.

About maids. This is one aspect of life in S'pore that is troublesome to me. It is hard for me to accept. It is the accepted practice here to have a maid - even if there are the 2 of you. If you only have a maid come in once or twice a week to clean, then I suppose one could look on her as a cleaning lady and that I could live with. However, it's the live-in maids that are hard to handle.

Most large apartments have a separate maids room. The practice is that prevalent. All nationalities have them. Most maids are either Filipino or Indonesian. The newspaper is filled with ads for agencies to help you find the perfect maid. For example: "We give the pick of the crops - Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, India, Catholic, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Atheist". These are all offered by the "Apple" agency. Another one, actually a flyer put in our mailbox:

        Dear Expats,

        You have more important and urgent matters
        to attend.  You need more than 24 hours per
        day!  We definitely can help."
These young women have left their countries because of economic hardship. What they are paid here is better than what they would get at home. So, this is , of course, the rational - That the employers are doing them a service by hiring them. Quite often these young women leave their own children behind to take care of someone else's children. It is very sad and disconcerting. I am having a hard time relating to most expats when they talk about their maids.

Maids are treated with varying degrees of humanity. Shortly after we arrived there were articles in the paper about a court case concerning maid abuse. This involved a teenage boy and his mother. Their maid accused them of forcing her to eat dog feces and being hit with tennis racket. THe judge did not believe all the charges, so some were dropped. However, some charges were brought and fines were imposed.

Some maids are not allowed "out" by themselves for fear of them running away. Our friend's maid is allowed out and therefore does a lot shopping for her friends.

Our complex has quite a few maids. There is no sign posted - but I have never seen a maid swimming in the pool.

Subject #2 Hari Raya Hagi

It's interesting living in a culture with 3 major ethnic/cultural groups. Public holidays accommodate all three groups: Chinese, Muslim, and Christian. This week there are 2 public holidays - Hari Raya Hagi (Muslim) and Good Friday (Christian).

Hari Raya Hagi is when the Muslim celebrate making the pilgrimage to Mecca. This should be accomplished at least once in a person's lifetime - if possible. After one has made the pilgrimage one can wear a white cap so everyone knows you've done it. People save for years in order to do this.

For those making the pilgrimage preparations begin weeks in advance. They are instructed in how to properly do the homage in Mecca. There are certain rituals to be followed. There are many thousands doing this pilgrimage in Mecca.

For those who stay behind or who have already done it, there is the ritual animal sacrifice at the local mosque. This was describe to me by an expat who went to watch.

There were 120 sheep in a pen at the mosque. This is the limit that could be handled in one day and also the number of families who wanted do it.

There were "handlers" who calmed the sheep by talking to them and touching them. One by one they were lead away. The paying families keep some of the meat, but most of it is given away to the poor. It is a community affair that lasts all day.

Hari Raya Hagi ends when the Pilgrimage goers are met at the airport by the entire family is celebration. They are greeted with music and presents.

Fascinating world we live in. More next time. Mary