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31 July, 2006

Ode to the outcasts

We are the boys in blue
We work here, and we live here too
We build your villas, we lay your roads
We wash your cars, and haul your loads

We work long hours, for miserly pay
We earn in a month what you earn in a day
We have no rights and we have no say
You shut us out and you turn us away

You say we're dirty, you say we stare
You say we're shabby, whatever we wear
You throw us out of your shopping malls
You don't want to look at us at all

But you wouldn't like it, one little bit
If we weren't around to shovel your shit
Deny it, but you know it's true
Because we are the boys in blue

Labels: ,

85 Comments:

Anonymous Hennessy & Ingalls said...

When do you have the time to come up with this stuff?

Not that its not good but its excellent.

At least someone out there has a heart.

Keep up the good work.

31 July, 2006 08:27  
Blogger nzm said...

True and sad.

31 July, 2006 10:29  
Blogger Earthbound Misfit said...

Brilliant - once again.

the condition of our Boys in Blue seems to be stuck in a time warp ( 18th century bonded labour).

To everyone out there (especially the tourists).

Forget the Burj, Visit Sonapur Labour Camps. See the shit for yourself. Tell the people back home.

31 July, 2006 10:49  
Blogger A world of Symphony said...

Tonight and every night, as I lay my head to sleep, I pray to our Lord to watch over them.

Amen.

31 July, 2006 10:59  
Blogger Woke said...

Discrimination in the name of targeted marketing is quite common in the UAE. I have come across many marketing managers openly suggesting such moves for 'product positioning'.

The chairman of a reputed company where I used to work said during a a marketing meeting
"I want {product name} to be upmarket. I want the message to go across that this is not for Indians or Pakistanis. And I dont care how you do it."

31 July, 2006 11:30  
Blogger silentmode_v2 said...

true. true. and it's sad...

31 July, 2006 12:02  
Blogger ReginaFilangee said...

being of Paki origin, i found it very difficult hearing the poor boys in blue banging away until early hours of the morning.

31 July, 2006 12:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post SD as usual. But at 4.04 am ? Do u ever sleep?

I was moved by this post as I've always felt this about the poor people working hard to bring up this country. Can you throw some light on recent rumours that 60% of the work force will be thrown out of the country once the bubbly dubai comes near completion of its ambitious projects.

The layout of your blog was better before. Just like the one appears when we post a comment.

-Vin.

31 July, 2006 13:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was it a wrong link SD? (for we are the boys in blue)
-Vin

31 July, 2006 13:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah Yes, another lament for our poor Asian friends. Unlike us, they are incapable of making rational decisions. They're far too uneducated/gullible/stupid (not that we would ever expressly use these words when talking about these poor souls) to decide rationally (like we have done) to come to the UAE in order to make more money then we would back home. Only we are capable of making such adult decisions. They, well, they were kidnapped by giant slave ships plying the coasts of the Indian Ocean or they sprung up here like mushrooms or perhaps they have always been here, a self propagating all male slave race. But to think that they came here on their own volition, as adults, understanding the consequences of their decision, based on a comparison of the economic choices available for them in their own countries and those available for them here, God, that would mean we have to think of them as adults human beings. What will we do with our pity and condesension: more stray dog stories in 7 Days perhaps.

31 July, 2006 13:28  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Vin - it was an expired link, thanks for spotting it! I've amended it to the (hopefully permanent) archive link version).

31 July, 2006 13:34  
Anonymous hennessy & ingalls said...

Anonymous said...31 July, 2006 13:28

You sound familiar, what's your point?

31 July, 2006 13:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very nice and true, but at least they got some work , in their countries they wont....

31 July, 2006 14:08  
Anonymous hennessy & ingalls said...

Anonymous said...31 July, 2006 14:08

Gotcha. So, how about treating them with a teenie-weenie bit of dignity & respect? You can do that can't you?

31 July, 2006 14:19  
Blogger Earthbound Misfit said...

Hey Anonymous,

In their countries they can atleast protest if they are not paid, made to work in inhumane conditions and made to live like cattle.

The have the right to speak up.

What is the most annoying bit is how we keep hearing about their (this countries) values and cultures and humanitarion principles but none of these are applied to the boys in blue.

31 July, 2006 14:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My point is that this all to common type of saccrine reaction to the lives of Asian workers in the UAE is demeaning.

It is demeaning to the workers themselves because it avoids the question of why they've decided to come here in the first place. It doesn't give them credit for knowing that their life here was going to be difficult. It doesn't give them credit for understanding the trade-off between the benefits of being here vs. the benefits of staying at home. All adults deserve to have decisions about leaving their homeland for better work elsewhere respected. And unless there is evidence that shows they were lied to as what they should expect here, we should assume that these adults, like us, are capable of making rational decisions.

To pity someone who has made a rational decision based on the best available information available to him is deplorable. These men deserve to be treated in the manner and paid the amounts they were promised. To the extent they are not, SD can versify away. But to get weepy because these men undertake arduous work and are then not ever feted at Trilogy suggests we think we are somehow smarter than they are. That we know there are other benefits they should be getting but are not because they are too weak or stupid to ask for them. I don't think these men deserve that from us.

31 July, 2006 14:36  
Anonymous hennessy & ingalls said...

Anonymous said...31 July, 2006 14:36

You sound educated, yet you're not. Make of it what you can if you're smart.

31 July, 2006 14:50  
Anonymous UAE Blows said...

I would say that if India and Pakistan don't care about their citizens then why should I.
A lot of these workers would be on the streets in their own countries passed over by a government based on social class rather than ability.
A lot of them rot in UAE jails because their ambassidor couldn't give a damn.

Feeling sorry for them does not help, do something about it or leave the UAE, I prefer to leave and will be doing so at the earliest opportunity.

31 July, 2006 16:33  
Blogger Earthbound Misfit said...

Anonymous,

How many labourers do you know??

I recommend you ask a few about how they were lied to, to get them here. How they hate their living conditions, how they cannot even leave the camps during the evening, how they can't leave the country as their passports are held...

And you would be surprised to know that many want to return, and many actually return and never come back.


Anonymous, There is a lot of money floating around Dubai and a lot of people getting very rich. Is it wrong to demand that the less privileged get some better treatment.

Is it wrong to demand that these people should be treated better (whether they care or not)? Is it right to keep exploiting people just cos they are in a bad situation??

31 July, 2006 16:36  
Blogger unJane said...

There is no doubt that many of these laborers came to Dubai for a better opportunity. That does not give anyone the right to exploit them. Construction companies enjoy a very hefty profit margin. They could povide decent living conditions and a better wage without all of the bogus deductions. This would bring much-deserved dignity to the Boys in
Blue who can be seen every day working their asses off to help create this giant sand castle. If they were respected for their efforts by the people who employ them, that respect might well trickle down through the rest of this society and allow them some freedom on a Friday to walk the malls. I don't know any other country to restrict the entry of people into malls. Do you?

31 July, 2006 17:26  
Anonymous hennessy & ingalls said...

UAE Blows,

Maybe you've made your buck and can afford to leave but not everybody is as lucky as you.

So why should you care?

Doing something about it or for that matter leaving is easier said than done.

Who knows maybe you've been privileged at their expense?

31 July, 2006 17:28  
Blogger anonymous lurker said...

SD:

don't know if you intended this to be ironic or not but shk mo's high falutin horseracing team are called 'the boys in blue' by the racing press .

you gotta admit that it is kinda funny that the lowly laborers and his hand pick team of abject failures are called the same thing.

31 July, 2006 19:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read most of the posts by secret Dubai over the past 1 year (an excuse to get away from my WORK) and all I can see are people that have nothing better to do than worry over the "Boys in Blue" or the WONDERFUL world of KT, Gulf news and 7 Days. Why waste all this time sitting in your cozy chairs at home or in the office writing crap about the all the injustice in Dubai.

Have any of you tried helping the "Boys in Blue"? Have you ever thought about NOT reading the UAE papers or better yet take the first flight home. IS THAT SO HARD? Y'all seem frustrated and bored with your lives. Maybe a good sheesha and Mint Tea should get you back in your senses.

Secret Dubai - your creative talents are admirable, but this blog is no excuse for insomnia. Why don’t you go out side, smell the construction dust, pat your dog, cuddle your cat and hug a loved one. You talk about racism and all the injustice in the Dubai as if it does not exist in the world. Maybe you should just step outside and smell the crap!!! Dubai has the money and can do anything they damn well please, just like any city / country in the world. Having traveled to most so called developed countries I have seen that Dubai is not an anomaly in the world it’s just following the leader. SD close the shop and go home, its time for your prayers and besides the plane home leaves twice a day every day, so that should not stop you!!!

31 July, 2006 19:32  
Blogger secretdubai said...

anon lurker - I had no idea. I wonder which set of boys-in-blue gets the best pay?

31 July, 2006 19:32  
Blogger i, Bobo said...

"an excuse to get away from my WORK"
+
"better yet take the first flight home"
=
Local

31 July, 2006 21:37  
Blogger Mise said...

Complaints from our staff (major oil company) to management about the pay and conditions of our contracted workers helped get them a significant salary increase and two tickets a year instead of one every two years.

The workers are pretty happy about that, and so are we.

So a bit of activism does work here sometimes.

31 July, 2006 21:38  
Anonymous Sub-con scum float like cream said...

My point is that this all to common type of saccrine reaction to the lives of Asian workers in the UAE is demeaning.

You know, I do think this anon has a point. (I hope he's not the same anon who started on getting flights back home - that line is just tired and pointless.) However, there is a certain sanctimonius condescension that comes with all this pity for labourers and promising to pray for them every night etc etc.

It's the same when I read SD's frequent admission that many non-native speakers probably speak English better than she does. The right things are being said... but there's something so slightly condescending about the way it's put.

I'm a lurker on this site, I've rarely commented, and certainly never trolled. But over several months of reading this blog, I think SD isn't as democratic and catholic a thinker as she'd like to be. And what's wrong with that? Nothing - this is her blog. But I don't like the way anybody who has a point that is contrary to a "another brilliant post SD!" is treated like a troller - ignored or mobbed away. Why not welcome all sides - okay it's sad that the detractors are often rude and stupid - but even the ones who have a point, and put it well are just dismissed as bigoted/uneducated/trolling and so on.

31 July, 2006 21:42  
Blogger secretdubai said...

It's the same when I read SD's frequent admission that many non-native speakers probably speak English better than she does.

Where did I say that?

What I do recognise is that most non-native English speakers are fluent in far more languages than I am. I don't remember saying the above, perhaps it was in a specific context?

31 July, 2006 21:49  
Blogger i, Bobo said...

I think the question comes down to whether or not you believe that these workers are exploited when they come to the UAE.

I do. I've met people from Pakistan, India, China, Nepal -- most of whom feel that they were sold a false bill of goods in relation to the amount of money they make, their ability to quit and leave if they wanted, and their living conditions.

We've all read the stories -- barely livable labor camp conditions, illegal holding of passports, a backwards ass labor law that prevents switching jobs (thereby ensuring low wages), and crass mindsets among the middle class -- I can't believe that somebody earlier was actually arguing RATIONALITY of all things. How rational a decision can an illiterate worker from a rural village make? How informed could their choice actually be?

And finally, what kind of whores are we when we reject any sense of compassion or basic human dignity in relation to the accumulation of personal wealth? Because THAT'S what's going on here: a complete and total loss of perspective with regard to the well being and rights of other people.

31 July, 2006 22:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a thought: What is the competitive advantage of Dubai ?

Isn't it cheap labour (apart from the absence of taxes) - cheap workforce buidling all these buildings. And who benefits from this cheap labour? Most probably influential local businessmen, who then in turn create companies - for which they hire western expats for good salaries...

To put it in a nutshell, we are part of the system and most probably benefit from the appalling living conditions of the "labourers" in blue...

...this does not mean we should be afraid to change it but...

31 July, 2006 22:58  
Blogger BuJ said...

wow, this is a fantastic poem.. i thought shit.. she's busting the police's balls.. but then it was a much more serious matter..

i am seriously against this ban.. even if they smell a mile off they are humans.. in my job i have to be with them everyday and to be honest i prefer their honesty to the sly behavour of a highly paid YSL-wearer who think's he's God because he's got a Monte Blanc pen.

as for your war on etisalat.. i think u gotta be a bit careful SD.. i would still see ur blog but many people won't.. a more subtle approach is perhaps something to consider?

31 July, 2006 23:11  
Blogger BuJ said...

urjane:

if i might add.. i worked for construction companies in the UAE (and UK) and trust me when I say that in the UAE they do NOT operate on huge margins. They operate very very tight budgets which is why they have to do that sometimes to the labour.

i disagree totally with the way labour is treated here but the fact is that 95% of the companies need to really squeeze every dirham if they were to survive in construction.

only the few very large contractors can make good money.

what kinda boss will not like to see his labour force happy if he can afford to make them happy?

31 July, 2006 23:16  
Blogger secretdubai said...

she's busting the police

They're boys in green here!

Thanks for your caution about my "war". I am surprised I haven't already had a lawyer's letter demanding I to cease and desist using their logo.

If I am blocked - well, been there done that. There are now a myriad of ways of accessing this content (or any blog) without coming to the front page:

1. Bloglines (with its useful archive)
2. RSS readers in general
3. Email subscription
4. Mirrors, Google cache

And in terms of me posting, even if I lost Media City access I can post-by-email. There are plenty of people outside the country who could help out as well.

I think the point is that you can't gag people anymore. Not in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia or the UAE. Suppress it, and people only want it more.

So if they have any sense, they'll leave me well alone. (For the record, Etishite lawyers, I have no money you can take, no expensive car, no loans, no property, here or overseas. I've been here five years and if I get deported, so be it, and as for prison, it would just be extremely fertile blogging material. So short of actual physical torture, which I probably would cave to, you really can't "get" to me in anyway. I hope this makes you feel suitably impotent).

31 July, 2006 23:26  
Blogger mashael alhajeri said...

check out my blog..might find it interesting..:)

31 July, 2006 23:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hahaha. From GN:
A lawyer is fighting for his life after being allegedly stabbed 30 times in the early hours of Wednesday morning, a CID source said.

Allegedly stabbed 30 times? They can't confirm that he was stabbed? What did he do instead, run repeatedly into a doorknob?

01 August, 2006 00:44  
Blogger BrainSyke said...

das daymn good SD!

01 August, 2006 01:30  
Blogger SIN said...

Here Here SD!

01 August, 2006 09:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

unJane, yes there is country that block certain ppl from entering the mall,its Qatar. few years ago i went to Doha and they'v got a CityCenter mall, similar to dubai's. on its front gate there were sign says ' Family only on weekends' or something like that.

I feel sorry for the boys in blue like u all do. but when they visit a mall they dont shop, they stare. i dont feel comfortable when im in a mall and surrounded by them and be stared at. I'd choose not to visit. I guess this is the major reason Ibn Battuta made that policy.

Dubai should develope recreation facilities for them, thats the solution.

01 August, 2006 10:03  
Blogger marwan said...

Dubai should develope(sic) recreation facilities for them, thats the solution.

Like camps? Summer camps, perhaps?

01 August, 2006 14:12  
Blogger al-republican said...

Hahaha Etishite!

01 August, 2006 14:36  
Blogger ironcurtain24 said...

to anonymus:

u said just "boys in blue" stare... common man.. where do you live? take a sidelook on locals and then u will understand and see the real meaning of the verb "to stare"... if its the reason why they should be let in, then that rule should be also valid and imposed on locals too.. Ok,.. the boys in blue they stare at shops (coz they cant afford to buy the stuffs) but they have right to look and stare if they cant afford... but the locals stare at women, at westerners, at to many to them "unusual objects" they have never seen before... soo.. everybody has right to live, so let the people live... and let us be (humans) be equal.... rgds....

01 August, 2006 14:40  
Anonymous UAE Blows said...

hennessy & ingalls,

Your right, I have made my cash and I am now going to be moving along, sorry you have to stay.

So I don't care about the UAE, Boys in blue, shitty road system, corrupt cops, insane land cruisers, the weather, the long work week, Etisicrap and the fact that nothing seems to work here the way it is supposed to, I am just going to leave and forget this place existed.

I have not been privileged at their expense or anyones, I have worked hard, made my money and I am now going home in the next couple of months.

hennessy & ingalls said...
UAE Blows,

Maybe you've made your buck and can afford to leave but not everybody is as lucky as you.

So why should you care?

Doing something about it or for that matter leaving is easier said than done.

Who knows maybe you've been privileged at their expense?

31 July, 2006 17:28

01 August, 2006 15:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to Marwan - Im glad u r not the advisor for Municipality. Cos there are things can be done to entertain them, a cheap or free ticket cinema for bollywood movies, some sports facility etc.

to ironcurtain24 -
Im a female so i guess i may know better on the 'stare' thing. I dont say locals dont stare, but nothing compare with the boys in blue. and i havnt observe locals stare that much as u said, i guess its due to nothing they havnt seen. besides,Im only uncomfortable with them stare at me, not at the shops.
yes, live and let live, and i have the right not to be stared at. so if a mall has that many boys in blue, i just chose not to go. Everyone can just talk about the 'we are all equal' theory, and theoretically i m all for that, but Im just not comfortable among them.

anyone down here has enjoyed to be among them? when was the last time someone spend some recreation time with them?

01 August, 2006 15:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come to Rolla, and u guys will know what staring means...and i should add that i am male with pale skin...thank god i have a height adavantage on them. but on fridays, rolla feels like home...i can assure you, come by, you will never feel alone again.

01 August, 2006 17:54  
Blogger Earthbound Misfit said...

3 guesses why they stare...

if you guessed it is because they are not allowed to bring their family here and on their salaries that is the only pastime they have then you have won the grand prize.

And anonymous, I do socialise with some of the guys who work on the block I stay at, and you would be surprised that they are like you and me... same hopes, same dreams, just stuck in a bad situation and exploited thanks to the accident of birth.

And an open question to all the women here...

Have you been harassed more by locals or by the boys in blue??

01 August, 2006 18:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, staring is a subcon thing. The urban, educated have learned not to do it (for the most part), but the villagers do it all the time. Guys, don't forget, most of the boys in blue are from very poor parts of India. Most of them would not have had running water at home and it's likely they wouldn't have had electricity. Most would never have seen a white person in their lives until they came to Dubai.

01 August, 2006 19:30  
Anonymous Hennessy & Ingalls said...

Seems like most of the anonymous that have posted here are chicks that prefer being harassed by locals but when it comes to staring by 'b-i-b', it becomes a subcon 'complex' thing.

It's okay to be harrassed though, yes?

Friggin hippocrates you all are!

01 August, 2006 20:04  
Blogger rummyjohn said...

To anonymous 01 Aug 2006, 19:30
Also, staring is a subcon thing. The urban, educated have learned not to do it (for the most part), but the villagers do it all the time. Guys, don't forget, most of the boys in blue are from very poor parts of India. Most of them would not have had running water at home and it's likely they wouldn't have had electricity. Most would never have seen a white person in their lives until they came to Dubai.

Ordinarily I'd try to give an urbane, unprejudiced rebuttal to an offending point of view. But in this case I'm sure SD will forgive me for using her blog to tell you you're a fucking moron

01 August, 2006 20:21  
Blogger nativeinformant said...

I don't think there is a condescending tone in SD's posts at all. Remember we are talking about a system in which there is very little room for exploited laborers to speak up for themselves. If I was in Dubai right now I would let Ibn Battuta know that they will no longer have my business as long as this policy is in effect. If we hit them where it hurts, their wallets, things may change.

Anyway, I also have issues about this idea that laborers choose to come here and can just go back if they don't like it. I've posted about the problem of the rhetoric of choice on my blog:
http://nativeinformant.livejournal.com/1429.html

And actually, with India's economy booming right now, we will see if people keep coming in the numbers they are now. I think the lure of the Gulf is definitely subsiding somewhat.

01 August, 2006 22:31  
Blogger BreastImplants said...

And an open question to all the women here...

Have you been harassed more by locals or by the boys in blue??


Uh huh....I've lived in the UAE for almost 3 decades and I've had more local men hit on me, ask for my number, follow me "discreetly" around in their massive, blacked out SUVs than any other nationality.

Not fun when you're a ten year old.

And it was everyone else I knew too....including my male friends.

Anon 15:58
Why hassle the boys in blue? Because they don't fit your generic stereotype of the hunky western construction worker?

If they were pretty, I bet you wouldn't complain.

02 August, 2006 00:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dear urbane RummyJohn, being a subcon myself, I stand by what I said about staring being a subcon thing. Have you ever travelled to India? People stare all the time - it's something they do. For you to interpret this as offensive only shows how hard you are working at being urbane and unprejudiced. And yes, hen & in, harassment is harassment, but my point is that staring isn't necessarily harassment, because it's something subcons do - without being aware that it's rude.

So rummyjohn, don't, like so many on this forum, make such a big show of being an urbane lover of all humanity. Stop and try and see what I'm saying before getting carried away.

02 August, 2006 00:58  
Anonymous rummyjohn pay attention said...

An interesting post from the Thorn Tree on Lonely Planet:

Some comments and experiences on the subject of staring in India

Having travelled through India a number of times my wife and I are used to people staring. You simply ignor it. Don't get offended, it's a cultural thing. Just smile and carry on with whatever your are doing.

However, it's not so easy for some people to do this, especially young children.

When travelling with our five year old daughter a few years back in a remote part of India, we were surrounded by maybe 100 staring onlookers who crowded around us while we waited at a bus station. We had a number of hours to wait with no place to escape to and could see that our daughter was really uncomfortable. We tried explaining that all the faces were kind and smiling but she just wanted them to go away. So we invented a game. We picked one staring face and both looked back into his eyes without flinching and the first person to turn away was the looser. Always the onlooker would continue to stare at us but slowly became confused when he realised that he was the center of attention and eventually averted his eyes and smiled. Then we laughed and chose another onlooker. This became a game which the crowd gleefully participated in and we all ended up laughing at each other and enjoying the game. It was really amaising how shy the crowd really was. Ever since my daughter has enjoyed staring crowds and, provided there is no malice intended, it always works.

02 August, 2006 01:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For you to interpret this as offensive only shows how hard you are working at being urbane and unprejudiced.

To clarify: For you to interpret my saying this as offensive...

02 August, 2006 01:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember we are talking about a system in which there is very little room for exploited laborers to speak up for themselves.

But writing ditties and posting comments on a blog does little for them, so let's not pretend we're speaking up for anybody here. We're having fun and often have a good discussion - but that's all. That's fine, but going by some of the posts here, you'd think the posters gave birth to the Boys in Blue - they're so touchy about them.

02 August, 2006 02:43  
Blogger samuraisam said...

wrong 02 August, 2006 02:43; it's bringing international media attention to their plight.

Codeine tracy had international media attention, she got released.
Crack sniffing Dallas Austin got international media attention, he got released.
Dubai ports trying to buy out P&O got international media attention and that fucked it up big time.
Child-slave camel jockeys (yes, in dubai) got international media attention, and now they don't exist anymore (sent "back home")
Prostitution got international media attention and its at least been acknowledged by the police and gov't.

International media attention works.

02 August, 2006 05:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Point taken Samuraisam. I still stand by: but going by some of the posts here, you'd think the posters gave birth to the Boys in Blue - they're so touchy about them.

Bloggers have done a lot. But some commenters (in blogs everywhere) take themselves and their roles a bit bloody seriously.

02 August, 2006 07:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And also, how many of the stories you mention were broken by a blogger? I'm not challenging you, I really want to know. I don't think any of them did.

02 August, 2006 07:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Were.

02 August, 2006 07:56  
Blogger rummyjohn said...

OK anonymous, now that we've established their staring isn't malicious, shall we let them back into the malls?

And yes, I did socialize with them. I even grew up amongst them. Though that was in Oman. I must admit in Oman it was easier to get the message of what was locally acceptable across to them (and others for that matter) - stronger local population, long-term expats, fewer transients.

02 August, 2006 08:53  
Anonymous Anon Effing Moron said...

Socialised with them? Even grew up amongst them? It was easier to get the message of what was locally acceptable across to them?

Wow Rummyjohn, what a hard childhood you must have had.

02 August, 2006 09:24  
Blogger BuJ said...

Dear SD

I really respect your stance and your vigor with which you are prepared to defend your rights with.

Keep it up, I think there are many there who share your mentality and opinions.

As for the boys in blue/green. Oh dear, I have been away for so long I forgot the colour of the police uniform. Unfortunately it's not all the same colours in all emirates. Also not all construction workers dress in blue (unless u mean blue-collar).

Here in Berkshire we've had to dress up our workers in white because it was too hot in July and many of them refused to work. Obviously if they refuse then we suffer and not them.

02 August, 2006 10:53  
Blogger rummyjohn said...

Anon Effing Moron said...
"Socialised with them? Even grew up amongst them? "

I'm sorry if my use of pronouns offends you. I'd use their names, but the collective will suffice for the purpose of my posts. Besides, YOU italicized THEM. Try not to put words in my mouth (or intonations on my keyboard)

Did I come across as a martyr for socializing with them as a child? Not my intention. I was the only male kid on the compound we lived in, and many of them had sons my age that they had left behind in their own countries. When I was little they'd pick me up when I'd fall off my bike, give me fruits they picked from the gardens; as I grew older they taught me to play cricket and football and volleyball; they taught me to drive and to ride a motorcycle; I smoked my first sheesha with them (my first cigarette was with a high school teacher, but thats another story).

They watched me get older, as I did them. And eventually they'd watch me come back on holidays, to visit my parents, each time a little different, but never forgetting the days they'd carry me on their shoulder, and would oft laughingly remind me of the fact , saying "now you can carry me".

But I also realized that while I would always be welcome to eat or smoke or play with my friends, the recently-arrived workers would never understand what a "child of privilege" was doing trying to join in their game of cricket. They would say so aloud in urudu/hindi, unawares I could understand them perfectly, and my friends would embarrassedly look away.

To the question: Are we all equal? Unfortunately, my answer would be No. And is it just the privileged that are responsible for the distinction in classes? Again, the answer would be No.

I learnt that people are bonded by shared experiences: that those shared, positive experiences are the source of our ability to empathize with our fellow beings. With empathy came the realization that the issue of equality arises only when an indvidual's virtues are pre-ordained by society.

Perhaps childhood is the only human condition that can transcend our artificial barriers of class, wealth, privilege, education and religion. It pains me to realize that now, as an adult, I may no longer be able to communicate with people free of the social constraints that exist in our collective conciousness.

So anon, do you still think I've had a terrible childhood? I think it was the best part of my life.

02 August, 2006 14:00  
Blogger ReginaFilangee said...

"SD close the shop and go home, its time for your prayers and besides the plane home leaves twice a day every day, so that should not stop you!!! "

Bravo, how original - if you don't like what you read, then go read the KT or Gulf News!

You obviously think what's going on around you quite acceptable.

When 800 odd boys in blue protested on shk z rd 2 years ago - do you really think they were paid up every dirham they were owed? Or do you think they were sent on the first plane back home with new recruits sent on the return flight?

Dubai is in a colonial time warp, infested by disillusioned scum with a gold rush mentality. All they do is try and keep up with the Jones' with far too much emphasis on materialism.

Those who live there and come visit their home lands during their summer vacations do nothing but brag about how many handbags they have purchased, their maids, SUVs, name drop and VIP clubs entrances.
Sad, pathetic and meaningless.

02 August, 2006 15:21  
Blogger LadyOnTheTop said...

Earthbound Misfit

sure locals stare, but does that make boys in blue's stare acceptable??? I dont think so.

and guys, i been india but only to New Dheli, hey surprise ! no one stared till the last day, i was diging something out of my bag at the gate of an historical tomb ( sorry name forget), then when i turned man i experienced the most intense staring in my whole life, 3 labour who were there working on some sort of road fixing formed a semi circle ( had there been more of them i guess i'd be surrounded in a full circle like the kind of street performers), and they stared and stared ! and i could tell they were not native New Dheli's, they r, like most of labours here, from somewhere south of india.

so this staring thing maybe a sub continent thing, ( never been to africa, dont know if they stare), but its more of a rurual thing.

i do hope they get better treated here, better accomadation better salary etc. but i m not feeling comfortable among them and i wont be eating in their resturant or go to a mall where there a lot of them. sorry, thats reality.

02 August, 2006 16:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is the person who threatened you im very sorry i thought you were posting for americans but this was very true we indians and pakis suffer really bad this poem should be shown to everyone. i feel sorry for i what i did earlier and i will never do it again. great poem deserves an award

02 August, 2006 17:03  
Anonymous Yusuf said...

im the same guy who posted above. Atleast the situation in UAE is better than Saudi Arabia. I m a former saudi resident when I went there and saw not even a single Non-Saudi, no labourers... In the end I found that they deported the labourers and cancelled their visas... But in UAE you can't do that haha only 20% emaratis you can't deport us otherwise everything will be finished... why r we here by the way? we shud all leave toghether and they will then beg us to comeback and lower the rents...

02 August, 2006 17:13  
Blogger BreastImplants said...

and i could tell they were not native New Dheli's, they r, like most of labours here, from somewhere south of india.

And what do "native New Dheli's" look like, if I may ask?

What makes you think most of the labourers here are from "somewhere south of India"? Such an expert you are. I'm a subcon and I can't even tell the difference at times.

so this staring thing maybe a sub continent thing, ( never been to africa, dont know if they stare), but its more of a rurual thing.

Ahahahaha...Indians and Africans, the staring scum of the universe. No wait, you're not sure if the Africans stare, because you've never BEEN there. But that didn't stop you from making a "calculated" guess, did it? You watch way too much TV.

sure locals stare, but does that make boys in blue's stare acceptable??? I dont think so.

No, it doesn't. No one is making excuses for them. If you're uncomfortable with the boys in blue "staring" at you, deal with it. They have every right to be here as much as you do.

02 August, 2006 17:21  
Anonymous Iskander the Conqeror said...

This is completely off-topic, but...

Ever wonder what the real temperature is in our beloved Dubai? I think this site gives a much more honest reading than the typical weather sites:
http://www.flightstats.com/go/Airport/airportDetails.do?airportCode=DXB

...it's also pretty handy to see if your flight's going to be delayed.

02 August, 2006 17:48  
Anonymous Iskander said...

Hrm. Let's try that again... Cut and paste by hand:
http://www.flightstats.com/go/Airport
/airportDetails.do?airportCode=DXB

02 August, 2006 17:49  
Blogger Minkey Chief said...

Oh man. Why do you make mummy clean up after you so much? :)

Flightstats.com

02 August, 2006 18:47  
Anonymous Breathe Islam said...

Cool blog
Please take a look at mine and link it up here, thanks

02 August, 2006 19:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SD – Another wonderful post. I’m a subcon, and reading comments here: wow.

I work for a really, really monstrous company here, and given the rat race, can’t say its bad. Like most companies of our size, the top brass is almost all British: and we do have a lot of subcons in middle-level management and supervisory slots; what we call “the buffer zone”. You know, its transparency beats Chinese Wall. Nothing goes up. It’s no secret that we love it when a Brit chances into the Buffer Zone: approach changes into qualitative, than quantitative; and we heave collective sighs of relief and work better.

I guess some of you do sit in decision-making chairs. You guys can make a difference, you know. Reach down, ‘ze poor fellas aren’t going to reach up to you. Too bad this can’t be full-scale revolution here: where do we have expats outmobbing locals almost 8:2? Given that stat, UAE is far, far less racist than much of Europe or US. Injustice would stay, I guess, but the difference-making got to happen micro scale. Why don’t we start with our places of work? (And spread concern when you guys get together for drinks or something?)

Okay, being a subcon ex-man-of-blue, do I stare? Yeah, I do! I stare at beautiful women. I guess men always did that, and in some parts of this world, it is called “admiring”, or whatever. Common, we all love to be admired: but, guess what? We love getting admired by people of our choice.

Cheers!
Muhammed.

02 August, 2006 20:25  
Blogger Al Sinjab said...

I hate being 'admired' by anyone - I don't care if he looks like a Sasquatch or Orlando Bloom.

And an open question to all the women here...

Have you been harassed more by locals or by the boys in blue??


Everyone stares, and that's ok because you can ignore it. But Emiratis not only stare, and drive past you six times, they also yell at you.

03 August, 2006 00:13  
Blogger waterboy said...

To anonymous, 31 July, 2006 13:28:

Yet another round of hiding behind the facade of 'homus economicus' to justify your utter lack of understanding or empathy for the plight of those less fortunate than you. How lucky we are to have such a sophisticated, well-sounding excuse to bury our heads in the sand when we do not want to have to make the effort of feeling strongly about things that we might find disconcerting or distressing!

There is, of course, an element of truth in the excuse. Sub-continental labourers did indeed make an economic choice to leave their homes and their families in search of better pay and greater opportunities. But the costs are not always apparent to them - what professional economists (rather than the cod-economists who lurk in Dubai) might call an 'information assymmetry'. Do they know that the people who profess to be helping to secure their passage and employment might be fleecing them? Do they know that on their arrival, their passports will be retained, making their only tool of economic leverage - market exit - unavailable? Do they know that the rule of law is so tenuous, so biased, that their efforts to seek restitution for breaches of contract (which may amount to months of unpaid wages) will take long months to come to fruition, if at all?

How lucky we are to have the warm blanket of cod-economics!

03 August, 2006 02:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to add my 2 fils to the 'staring' debate...Most well-travelled people will know that staring is not considered rude in all societies. It also depends on your definition of 'harassment.' Personally, I find staring MUCH more welcome than touching and stalking. Has anyone been to Egypt? Morocco? FFS, grabbing, touching, masturbating in public, flashing, drive-by boob-slapping, even painful groping is COMMONPLACE. Give me an innocuous 'stare' from a local, subcon or paleface anyday over the above!!

03 August, 2006 10:28  
Blogger BD said...

Do they know that the people who profess to be helping to secure their passage and employment might be fleecing them? Do they know that on their arrival, their passports will be retained, making their only tool of economic leverage - market exit - unavailable? Do they know that the rule of law is so tenuous, so biased, that their efforts to seek restitution for breaches of contract (which may amount to months of unpaid wages) will take long months to come to fruition, if at all?

Great questions. But I would say that sadly the answer in many cases is "Yes." Many do know what they are going into--why wouldn't they? Coming to the UAE or Middle East to work as laborers is not a new thing from their part of the world. They already have fathers, brothers, cousins, neighbors--in in the case of housemaids, sisters and mothers--working here.

They come because everyone wants to believe that theirs will be one of those few cases when all works out and they return to their country rich and admired. It is sort of like a lottery. No matter how much you hear about the odds against you, that voice in your head says, "You could be lucky."

Of course, the point being made here is not that they shouldn't come, but that they shouldn't be ill-treated. I don't think any poster here would disagree with that.

What seems to bother some of the posters here is that people who are not in their shoes, bemoan the issues these workers face. They see a degree of hypocracy in those more well-off professing concern for their workers while at the same time benefiting from them by just being part of the system.

Well, it never hurts for anyone to complain or express concern for the plight of another. It's one more voice, and that can only help. It would be great to see it move to the next level--to action, perhaps in charitable or political activity.

But the point is, we're bloggers, this is a blog and so we blog. What else is SD or anyone else to do on their blog.

Regardless, I'm all for this debate, and at the same time would like to see it taken to the next level--charitable acts, political activity, whatever. That sort of thing might just come about as more and more people speak up about it in their blogs.

Way to go SD.

...and on the staring, just last night I happened to be in an Al Quoz eatery with a friend who lives in one of the nearby staff accommodations. It was a large eatery with delicious hot curry dishes--and all laborer clientale. While my friend and ate, not a single stare--not a one did I notice. I think I was the only one staring! And no one asked me to leave because of it.

03 August, 2006 10:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An Indian worker in Bahrain was allegedly attacked by two men soon after he attended a funeral service of the 17 Indian workers killed in Sunday's labour-camp fire in Manama.

Rengaswamy Pushparaj was allegedly beaten up when he resisted efforts by two men, to drag him into a car soon after he left the funeral service of the fire victims who included his brother.

Later, one of the attackers returned with a Bahraini who claimed to be Pushparaj's original sponsor.

The man, identified as Hilal by the Bahrain Tribune newspaper, reportedly had an altercation with officials of the Indian embassy in Bahrain who had arrived at the scene of the scuffle.

"He is my property because he ran away while working for me and I have the complete right to take him if I want to, even if he does not like it," the Gulf Daily News quoted the Bahraini as saying. He said he wanted to deport Pushparaj back to India.

Boys in Blue the “new property” on the block. Watch out for Slave City soon.

Complete family fun and excitement. Experience being served by real slaves. Coming soon all over the Gulf! Don't forget to buy your souvenir whips and shackles.

03 August, 2006 19:02  
Anonymous AngryNight said...

Very well done, I used to live in Abu Dhabi and I was always sickened by it.
Has anyone read That Other Place by Ibrahim Abdel Meguid. In arabic Al-bald Al-Akhar? A book about the same kind of thing in the KSA.

04 August, 2006 10:21  
Blogger Shaykhspeara Sha'ira said...

Fantastic poem. Applies to more than the boys in blue in the UAE, but in general all kinds of societies where race is rule.

04 August, 2006 18:43  
Anonymous roista said...

http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/-dark-side-dubai-dark-side-dubai-/2006/04/21/1596267.htm

I don't know if you guys have read this article... but have a look..

05 August, 2006 13:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my god, thats really horrible *points at article above* ...
*sigh* kudos for the wonderful poem. it is really a work of art, i wish it could get more coverage, but we all know that is unfortunately impossible...

we ourselves have tried to do what we can to alleviate the plight of 'the boys in blue' but our administration at our university came down on us, i only wish those in authoritive positions had some sort of empathy. for thats whats Really lacking here- empathy...

06 August, 2006 01:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trust me people, there is a generation in our country that refuses the horrible working conditions that the construction and services workers work under. It is a new country, and it takes time for the people to learn how to protets and let their voices heard. I just doubt that no one among the UAE people has feelings towards these workers!

09 August, 2006 14:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

confused as usual, lets admit "most"( not even debatable) of us coming to middle east have been less successful in respective countries..chasing the rainbow, MIB are the same...situations are different.

13 August, 2006 23:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi All, I am an ex UAE resident, currently living in Europe and a sub-con to boot. May I just say that while my heart goes out to the boys in blue, I know that they have a MUCH better deal in the UAE than back home. In India, even graduates work as drivers and gardners. They have to take a crap out on the road, have no sanitary conditions whatsoever and large families to support.

This is the state of the nation. If it wont take care of its own people, why should some other country be held responsible? Its not like they are helpless 13 year old Eastern European girls being kidnapped and sold into prostitution.

Yes, they live five in a room and yes, they're passports are not with them and yes, they may not be allowed access to all malls. But hey, inspite of having the freedom to move around in India, you think the snobby Rotary Clubs there allow them entry? In their own country? Give me a break.

As for the staring, I am appalled at the way they gawp at women. I am subcon and I get gawped at too. It doesnt bother me but their BO certainly does. They have bathrooms and running water and soap. And they have lived sufficiently long in the UAE to know what hygiene is.

Like I said, my heart goes out to them.... but they ARE, inspite of some peoples reservations of the fact, adults with minds of their own. Those who want to go back to India most certainly should. There's a whole horde of others ready to replace them in a jiffy.

And all that talk about Indian culture n stuff.....all that is just tripe. The day they stop killing baby girls and burning brides for dowry money, then they can talk about the men being exploited in Gulf countries. Till then...

Best regards ya'll!

14 August, 2006 17:48  
Blogger Cazza said...

About the men in blue staring... you know what? I just look right back at them into their deep brown eyes which tell of another place, far away from here which has grass and trees and oceans and seas and laughing children in the streets, and I engage their stare and I smile.

And you know what? Suddenly the stare isn't a stare - it's an invitation for human communication - and they smile back. They don't leer, they don't lust, they don't harrass - they smile back with a light in their eyes.

I think its a sad, pitiful state of western logic that we don't understand the profound form of communication with eyes.

Have you heard that expression 'can you look someone in the eyes?'

thats because to look someone in the eyes and not turn away means you have nothing to hide. You are open, honest, genuine and BRAVE - yes BRAVE enough to look at someone and look into their soul and let them see into yours.

The fact that so few westerners (and as an ex-Londoner I know this very, very well)can look into someone's eyes - even their own 'kind' - and hold a gaze for any siginificant amount of time is very telling.

To me it tells of dishonesty, discontent, competition, guarded self-defensiveness. Why?

What have you all got to hide in your souls? Greed? Selfishness? Immorality? Superficaility? Falseness?

Why is it that a stare from another human being upsets and disconcerts you so much?

Next time look back into those eyes that are reaching out to you. you will be surprised what you learn about yourself.

04 June, 2007 14:52  

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