Saturday, 3 April 2010

Reflections on the weekend

There are some things that I find hard to accept in this place. There is a huge difference in the salaries of the expats who live here. There are layers of poverty and wealth amongst these groups, layers of long hours and families they only get to see once a year and shorter, more family friendly working conditions. I'm lucky, I fall into the more wealthy strata.

I get weekends off, except when I have work to catch up on; I work a reasonable day meaning I can go to the gym and pool after work; I have the disposable income to be able to do that and to get the beauty treatments provided at the salons. I go to my local salon across the road for a pedicure and to get my hair done. The ladies know me well, they do a good job so I keep returning.

It's important for them that we do. Important that they can earn enough in tips to cover the costs of living in this place. It's not a cheap place to live, most of these ladies share very small apartments. Many have children back in their home country looked after by relatives. They manage to send money home on their meagre salaries.

Coming from a minimum wage, egalitarian society, I struggle with these inequalities. After all it's just an accident of birth that prevents me and my family from being in the same position. I look at the young men from Nepal and India who work on the roads and in the construction industry. I see them, at least when they are new to this place, stare in wonder at the variety of shops and people. Just as I stared in wonder at the way the Nepali people live when I was there.

It's Saturday afternoon and I have that Sunday afternoon feeling, not many more hours until I have to go to work. The weekends pass too quickly. Yesterday Nina and Martin invited us to a bbq at their place, a family home I love to visit and get my kid fix. There were others there as well as this kiwi, a Canadian, South Africans, Australians and some from the UK and Scotland. A good mix, excellent company.

Some of us ended up at the rugby club watching the UAE Barbarians playing another UAE team. Debbie, Mary-Anne and I ended up watching from inside with our drinks and food and holding court with those who came to the bar. So many kiwis there, kids out playing small games of rugby on the sidelines, mums nattering and dads standing around talking, could have been a rugby club anywhere in New Zealand. Surprising just how many people we knew in the crowd.

Nina and Martin and the girls joined us, the photo is of Nina and Mary-Anne. Note the pounamu (greenstone) necklace MA's wearing. It was a gift from Anne, recently departed back to NZ. It's a special gift, the gift of friendship. We had a drink for you Anne, missing your dry humor and telling Anne stories in this very kiwi place.

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