Friday, 28 August 2009

They put on their best shirts and pants

They stacked up bricks after bricks with bare hands, they helped to build low and high rise buildings, shaping the Dubai city skylines. They returned to their cramped labour camps at the end of the day.

Friday was off day. They put on their best shirts & pants. They went to the beach. After walking & enjoying the sea breeze for a while, somebody called out to them, ”Ooi! OOi! Bangla...BANGLA, come here!!” They were summoned to the police guard watch tower on the beach. Loud voices were heard and I could sense they were being ‘lectured’ and scolded, there were loud banging sound on the table.

The 3 men left the tower after quite some time, heads down.

In the past, some beachgoers especially ladies in swim suits complained of being ogled or stared at, sometimes photographed on the beaches, by unknown fully clothed strangers, usually it was claimed, were foreign labourers. So, the authority tried to keep the beaches free from such people.

On that Friday, there’re not many people on the beach and there’re no ladies in swimming suits on the beach, the three men were just walking on the beach. Unfortunately, nowadays, any men who look like hard labourers are being observed and sometimes shooed away from the beaches.

Too free not to imagine, so I imagined, if these three men (who are also expatriate workers, theoretically) took off their shirts & jogged or walked on the beach, like those super duper muscular men on the movie ‘Baywatch’, they would probably get to stay on the beach, as they will then blend in easily with the rest of the expatriates. But they could not, because they usually earned very little, and ate not enough or just enough daily, so they usually appeared skinny. If they do that, they would probably be suspected as illegal immigrants instead, coming in from the sea...

They were not welcomed in some other places too, some were told not to go to some of the well known malls at all, even if they managed to put on their best shirts, pants & shoes, and combed their hair shiny.

Their best shirts & pants usually gave them away easily...because their best shirts & pants are usually bought at places like hypermarket or discounted stores. They tried to look their best, but most of the time not enough. Sometimes, a mall they can frequent will suddenly ban them if someone complained, they're simple people, they felt happy when the mall lifted the ban later.

Expatriates here in the desert, are not created equal after all.

It’s said that beaches are for beachgoers. And they said you have to look like one, otherwise you have no reason to be there...

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