Pick any street in Hong Kong and you will see one or more Filipino maids doing the school run or helping a pensioner walk, depending on the time of day. In the evening she walks canines instead. If she was really bad in her previous life her job description would include all three. They tend […]
Category Archives: Domestic help
Several times a week I have to go through the ‘border’ control didviding the haves and have nots; in my case it is only a matter of a few hundred yards. I have to produce my identity card and the details are duely noted. I have to state which residence I am visiting and their name and this is checked against the data stored on the computer. But the guards aren’t armed and not stationed at Lo Wo or Shenzhen. Even they don’t ask you where you are going.
This sentry is stationed at the gateway to prosperity, mansions and posh cars, namely my neighbouring gated community. Every time I crossed that line and pass the interrogation I am struck by the instant difference between my habitat and theirs. It really is us and them.
The streets are immaculate, yet there are sweepers virtually on every corner brushing the odd leave. Not much of a sense of job satisfaction, I shouldn’t think. I joked with one that she should come to my village, lots of rubbish there, her services would be highly appreciated. She laughed and thought it was a joke. I guess with the obsene management fees charged they’ll have to at least keep the streets clean.
The same with wealth, I thought. Those in need don’t get any extra yet the filthy rich get wealthier and wealthier.
Behind the hallowed gates everyone is cleaning. Well not eveyone, just the Filipino and Indonesian maids and the chauffeurs. Some are washing the cars, others are watering the plants. Saving water and recycling don’t seem to be an issue. Almost tempted to rush back to my hovel, get a bucket and collect the wasted water.
Yes it would be nice to live somewhere clean, devoid of litter, dog poo, ignorant neighbours and roaming dogs who won’t let your repair man in. Probably lovely to live in those huge houses and being waited hand and foot. No mundane household chores to roughen your hands or ruffle your hair. The outdoor swimming pool where you can have a quick dip in the unforgiving humid sun is particularly tempting. And of course the posh car you can parade round in denoting status, all the better if you are chauffeured around. I note that the proud owners always seem smug when they drive by staring at me trudging up the hill laden with rucksack or even a trolley at times. They must think I am the hired help and I am, we just perform different roles and I don’t get the full board.
In spite of all that I don’t find myself plagued with envy, wishing to trade places. I’d rather live with the ‘commom’ people and experience what it is like for the vast majority. Similarly I’d rather be on the noisy ward than secluded in a private room.
I guess the divide isn’t that invisible.