A Sunday Morning in Asia.

Souvenirs, Souvenirs...

If you are a careful reader of this blog you are certainly aware that before my mountain dweller feet led me to the Thames Valley, I have wandered in South East Asia amongst other areas. And on this sunny Sunday, maybe inspired by the sudden burst of temperature (sic!), I remember two awkward experiences which happened to me back then under the Tropics. These two experiences took place on two different Sundays and are extremely relevant to this blog editorial line as they denote of cultural disparities induced by expatriation...

As a matter of fact, both surprises relied on the same trigger: globalisation has forced crowds to emigrate in order to find better-paid jobs, and to offer a better living to their families, families who most of the time stayed in the home country. I am sure that I don't teach you anything here about the drivers to people migrations. But it is one thing to read it and another to see it, en masse.

HK: the woman invasion.

Imagine. This is Sunday morning in Hong Kong, due to the time difference you get up early, at dawn and decide to make your way from Kowloon to the business district. You have probably read everything about the former English colony, but to be fair, nothing has prepared you to what you are about to experience. As you walk, a first group of darker-skinned women start to walk along. And then another one, and another one... To my French eyes, this looks very much like the preparation of a strike. Except that instead of revolutionary songs, the demonstrators are chanting gospels ; instead of baseball bats, they carry guitars...Hong Kong Invaded by WomenIn fact, who are these hordes of women? They are no strikers, but happen to be Philippine maids who have left their islands to come and work in the booming financial city of HK. They work here all year long and send their wages back to Manilla where their children and husband continue their life without them. Sunday is their day off and like any employee they leave their workplace for the day. Except that their workspace happens to be their home too. So what would you do if you were forced to go out, and had no where else to go. In the UK, you would probably head to a pub, but these Philippinas will decide to turn the streets into a fantastic social gathering.

Here seated on mere plastic tarpaulins they join in cheerful prayers and songs, they swap books, exchange about their lives and the difficulty they face to be separated from their beloved ones. The streets are literally paved with these working-class women and only women on Sunday.

Singapore, HK's negative.

Singapore, a male hint of IndiaInteresting enough, thousands miles South-West from Hong Kong, Singapore offers on week-ends the exact opposite vision in its own popular district. In this other rising country, the working class is nowadays mainly "imported" from abroad. The entrepreneurial structure in Singapore is the following: the top executives are mostly expatriates from Europe or the States, the middle management is handled by the locals whilst the work force of the country lays in the hand of men coming from the Indian Peninsula.

As a result, if you decide to hang around in the so-called Little India on week-ends, by entering the district, you actually travel from South East Asia to a Bombay street in no time. But not a street like others, one strolled only by males. Not a single woman in sari to be seen. Just like in the maids in Hong Kong, the Singaporean workforce is unisex, and far from home.

Same symptoms, same effects, different gender. This was my thought of the day, a Sunday on Earth. Have a nice week.

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