Once not too long ago, I had a Nigerian colleague who told me that I am very lucky. Really ? Why?? I asked him. You were born in the ‘right‘ country and you carry the ‘right‘ passport, he said. People with your citizenship and passport are wanted anywhere in the world. Unlike me, he said.
Now really. Maybe there are some truth in it. Anywhere but ironically… ( ok stop it here, girl ! ).
This morning, I did some shopping. Because of our prudence these days, the word ‘shopping’ has been redefined into grocery shopping. Today, I decided to treat myself to some Ramadan goodies after months of sheer hard work. I think I deserve it, no ?
I got myself a pair of mary jane Crocs, as my Bata version of it, bought for AUD$12 at Gold Coast Habour Town during Ramadan 2006, is giving way to holes this Ramadan. It lasted that long for such heavy usage and for AUD$12, it was like what the peribahasa said, ‘ Alah membeli, Menang memakai‘… worth every cent of it. So I treated myself to the real thing, which the logo said US Patented, but when I turned the label around, it was Made In China. Oh well !
Then I got myself 2 sets of baju kurung. Before this, I have ransacked my wardrobe and taken out all the baju kurungs that can no longer fit jackfruit me. Embarrassingly, the giveaway loot turned out to be quite a lot. Which means, the wake up call to do some weight management is getting louder. 😦 Tomorrow I can give them to the cleaners who can actually use them for this year’s Eid.
Then off to Cold Storage to get some groceries. Feeling a little bit indulgent, I gave Tesco a miss and did groceries at Cold Storage instead for a wider variety of imported goods.
So with my hands laden with my shopping bags like a tai tai wannabe, I got into a cab. The cab driver, a local Chinese asked where I wanted to go and I named my neighbourhood. Oblivious to the shopping bags sprawled all over the back seat and the fact that I asked him to send me to where I live, in an elite neighbourhood at it, he looked at me through the rear view mirror, then turned a bit and asked, in a not so friendly manner ‘ Awak Indo ke ?’ ( Are you Indo ? ). In a tone that suggested I am an Indonesian domestic helper. I said no, ‘Saya Melayu. Orang sini.’ ( ok that was a white lie during Ramadan BUT, I am Malay and I am staying here now. Forget what is stated in my race and nationality segment of my pink ID ). BUT he just had to continue, ‘ Tapi muka awak Indo lah!’ If it is not Ramadan, I would have asked him what has my Indo look got to do anything with me being in his cab and paying him to send me home ??? I gave him THE LOOK. After that he didn’t talk to me, at all. Which was fine with me…
This was not the first time. I don’t drive and I have to homeschool a boy in the morning at his place. So with my haversack full of teaching materials, I walk to the boy’s house about 1 km away if the husband couldn’t send me.
One morning, this was just after the announcement that the government is cleaning up illegal workers in Malaysia and they will be deported back to Indonesia and other 3rd world neighbouring countries. I was having a nice morning walk to the boy’s home when 2 policemen cycled up from behind me and cornered me. After that came a series of questioning on who am I and why I was here, where I was walking blah blah blah, which left me agitated because I was treated like a criminal suspect. Harlow… I know you are doing your job but really, Indonesian ( and illegal ) maids do not walk around in spunky sports slippers, bright green sports haversack full of teaching materials and yes, a couple of English Grammar books too! In the words of the tv icon Phua Chu Kang, ‘Use your brain! Use your brain !!!’
There were many other instances where, mistaking me of coming from Indonesia, I have gotten some 2nd class treatments or even ignorant rudeness. Once in the old house before this current one, the newspaper man wanted to collect newspaper subscription bills. He had seen my mother in law from far in the garden but I was the one who answered the gate for him. He asked me, ‘ Can I see your ma’am? ‘ … Sure, I snapped, I AM the MA’AM !!! ( hehee ) To which he said ‘…sorry .. sorry lah.. aiyoyo saya ingat itu awak punya majikan lah.. saya banyak sorry lah !!! He automatically assumed that a white minahsalleh blond blue eyes makcik in that same house is my employer while I had to be the Indonesian maid in the house.
I told my Nigerian friend … I feel for you dude. I know how it feels. EXACTLY. Red passport/pink ID aside, sometimes look DOES matter. In this case, having a Javanese dad doesn’t help one bit.