It is early morning – sunrise, prayer time in in thirty minutes, the sky is beginning to brighten. My morning routine has been disturbed as my coffee maker has the day off – his first in fifteen and, goodness knows, when the next shall be as this place is over run with Christmas Celebrants. The Entrepreneurs leave today apparently but their ranks shall be filled by those who believe in Santa Claus. One could describe the working conditions of those in these resorts as slave labor – their days off are infrequent and they have virtually no employment rights. They have left their countries of origin as there is no work, come to live here in the UAE temporarily to earn money – often sending money home to support their parents. But it is an enormous sacrifice. Living accommodation is provided but it is communal, living with other employees in ‘company’ housing – sometimes on the premises but usually not. There is no semblance of permanence as one can never become a citizen in the United Arab Emirates. It is easy, extremely easy, to get a working visa – just get a job but then the emigre is totally dependent on the employer who often wields tyrannical power.
Some other Middle East countries make citizenship possible, at some point in time. Qatar offers citizenship if one has worked there for twenty years and the individual has behaved his or herself. Oman has recently also offered a program of citizenship. But there is no sign of relief in the UAE – it is EXTREMELY unlikely that Dubai would ever consent to such a proposal, should anyone dare propose it.
Even beneficent employers can be overly demanding and inhumane as controls are left to managers with little or no supervision and no underlying fair and equitable employment policy that the workers can rely upon. My sympathies, my heart goes out to these people – they are so hard working, so industrious and so brave but are used and abused by extremely wealthy people and systems of government. It is not pretty.
It suddenly seemed to me that I, unlike them, exist in a never-never land, that phrase suddenly came to mind and is totally applicable. Never-never land is an imaginary place where everything is perfect and no-one has any problems. Well, it would be a never-never land if I were a typical tourist, but fortunately, or unfortunately, I am not. By the way, Never-Never land is a real place though. The name was first recorded in the late 19th century, describing the uninhabited regions of Australia – then just called ‘The Never-Never’. The more remote outback regions of the Northern Territory and Queensland are still known by that name.”
At the moment in my existence everything is perfect and I have no problems. But I am surrounded by those that do have problems. Problems missing their families, problems with inhuman working conditions, problems encountering rude, dehumanizing tourists, financial woes – you name it – they’ve got it. Many look to me for solace and I do give it to them, in a small way. Wikipedia is most eloquent when speaking of consolation. “Consolation, and solace are terms referring to psychological comfort given to someone who has suffered severe, upsetting loss, such as the death of a loved one. It is typically provided by expressing shared regret for that loss and highlighting the hope for positive events in the future. Consolation is an important topic arising in history, the arts, philosophy, and psychology….person’s promise not to abandon another. Consolation may render loss more bearable by inviting some shift in belief about the point of living a life that includes suffering. Thus consolation implies a period of transition: a preparation for a time when the present suffering will have turned. Consolation promises that turning. In some contexts, particularly in religious terminology, consolation is described as the opposite or counterpart to the experience of “desolation”, or complete loss. “
Wikipedia goes on to discuss the history of consolation: “The desire to console others is an expression of empathy, and appears to be instinctual in primates. Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal has observed acts of consolation occurring among non-human primates such as chimpanzees. The formal concept of consolation as a social practice has existed since ancient times. For example, as an examination of letters from ancient Rome indicates of that culture:
To console the bereaved was an important responsibility. The person offering consolation and the bereaved person were both expected to behave in certain ways and to s
Although “[t]he most frequent occasion for consolation was death”, ancient consolation literature addressed other causes for consolation, including “exile, poverty, political failure, illness, shipwreck, and old age”.
Wikipedia touches upon the ‘use’ of religion to offer consolation to followers during times of greif, citing examples from the Hindu religion. Then Wikipedia speaks of the solace found in the Christian faith. “In Christianity, one of the iconic Stations of the Cross is sometimes titled, “Jesus consoles the daughters of Jerusalem” A substantial body of Christian literature exists exhorting followers to take consolation in their faith for the various ills that befall them in life. One branch of Christianity, Catharism, practiced a sacrament called consolamentum, which required consolation for the inevitable regret of living in order to move nearer to God or to approach heaven. No mention is made however, of the Islamic faith in Wikipedia and the superb solace that is found with Allah and the promise of an afterlife, Paradise if you are a believer, the other Hell, if you are a believer or a hypocrite. This topic will be discussed in a later blog, but back to the topic of immigration
This has been a most reflective morning. Happened upon an article from my beloved New Yorker written by a woman from China , she and her mother were considered villains by the ‘popular’ Chinese press. The title: How My Mother and I Became Chinese Propaganda, here is the link to the tale. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/09/14/how-my-mother-and-i-became-chinese-propaganda?utm_source=onsite-share&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=onsite-share&utm_brand=the-new-yorkewho She and her mother became villains, criminals. What was the crime? She “turned her back on her motherland, it is one I had been taught to revile since I was two, when my father left for America. It was 1986, and he had been selected to study biology at Harvard, as one in the first wave of visiting scholars in the USA. She describes eloquently the United States of the time – so incredibly powerful, seemingly invincible. However, ‘although our government had sent my father to the U.S. his presence there made him suspect.
The father was sent without his family, his industrious wife was determined to join him and secured passage, bringing her only child, her daughter with her. However, the father had an affair, divorced the mother. In determined fashion the mother remained, educating her daughter, knowing education was the only way. This sentence is so compelling, it speaks of the author’s ‘betrayal’ of the country of her birth. “For what is an immigrant but a mind mired in contradictions and doublings, stranded in unresolved splits of the self? That sentence brings chills, as it describes the situation so perfectly. The alienation of immigration because you never feel you belong anywhere – not in the land of your birth but neither your adopted land. I felt that way during my adult life . I cannot fathom how these hard working people deal with this situation as my immigration was the easiest imaginable – from Canada to the USA at the age of 24. It did not begin as an intended immigration, it was to be only for a year said husband #1 and myself at the time but I stayed on. For me, there was nothing to go home to as I was not blessed with a loving, supportive family.
The author speaks of the condemning Chinese press. “Sometimes, I have wondered if these people knew something about Jiayang Fan that always had eluded me. For them, there is not an ounce of doubt, whereas uncertainty is the country where I must belong.
Does that not describe the plight of the immigrant? “ Uncertainty is the country where I must belong.”
This story of the plight of some of the industrious UAE workers shall be continued in subsequent. blogs. Plight is a dangerous, difficult, or otherwise unfortunate situation. The synonyms are most descriptive: unfortunate/difficult situation, sorry condition, sad state, trouble, difficulty, mess, dire straits, extremity, bind; circumstances, situation, condition, case, state; dilemma, tight corner/spot, hole, pickle, jam, fix, scrape.
The computer accompanied me to breakfast this morning, a first. Portions of this blog were typed there. It was a jolly morning. My waiter, whose nickname is The Prophet said:
He: You are here! You are the Sunshine of my morning, of my life.
Me: That is a fantastic thing for you to say. I will put my hands around my head, and you can take my picture and I will put it on by blog.
But several things blocked this plan. Several texts with Grandsons checking up on me.
Sent a text to the Pakistani grandson with a photo of my breakfast. .
Me:My breakfast. A doa from India
He: okay great.
Me: dI got my favorite emojis from you and it still morning!
He had actually sent my favorite emojis and two unicorn stickers, one with hearts for eyes. I was joyous. Sometimes I can be most easy to please.
My other Grandson was a bit more difficult to please.
He: Good morning. Finish breakfast.
Me: I am having a doa from India
He: It is Indian food. It’s called a dosha
Me; I just got the wrong. See I said it was from India. I am a smart Grandmother.
He: Yes. You are . We will meet tomorrow morning.
This a secret. I always, always take my shoes off when sitting down. I stood up to talk to someone and looked at my feet. A photograph showing what I saw will be included/ I had put my shoes on the wrong feet. It was SO funny, everyone laughed, the staff, other guests and me. However, it illicit a coughing fit which did not stop. All were concerned, staff rushed to bring me water. Slowly, with deep breathing I recovered. I felt so cared for, the kindness so heavily administered. I remembered a time in the USA when I coughed and coughed and no one, not one person did anything to help. Many encounters and moments caused me to leave that country. That was one of them.