Sunday, April 22, 2007

How Do Your Treat Your Maid?

It's that talk again on how foreign maids are treated in S'pore, splashing across the local papers. I don't have a maid in S'pore but I employed 4 while I was in Indonesia about 9 years ago.

The first maid was recommended by a neighbour. It's always easy to find maids in Indonesia. They are usually from the village. This first maid, she's about 18 years old. She was quite, hardly speaks. Anyway, I was speaking broken Bahasa Indonesia, so communication was sometimes through sign language or dictionary. She had her own room and personal space. I would do the shopping for food and would tell her what to cook for lunch/dinner. What was cooked, she would had a share, that means, what we ate, she's eating the same. Don't you think she's lucky? Most employer would only buy instant noodles and vegetables for them. I allowed her to cook what she wants to eat for breakfast, which usually would be bread. She didn't like it so I bought eggs for her to go with her noodles. When I told my husband collegue, he told me I was too kind to give her the luxury, especially the egg. To me, it's important to fed her well inorder she can carry her daily chore well. A hungry person is also an angry and emotional person. I don't want to be a victim, probably murder by my maid for so call ill treating her. A few cases of this happened. Sometimes, no matter how well you treat a person, that person may not appreciate. That's what happened to her. One fine day, she told me that she need to go out to develop a film. I allowed her an off-day on Saturday on alternate week. Well, she was out on Sat. and the next day, she was telling she needed to go out again. She showed me a roll of film, so I agreed since the shop is just about 5 mins walk from the house. She was wearing a long sleeve blouse and a long skirt when she left the house. I waited an hour, 2 hours and she did not come back. I told husband when he woke up and since we had arrangements to meet up some friends at the golf club, we left. The maid had no keys to the house (never allow them to hold any keys) and if she came back, she would have to wait till we come back which is in the evening. Throughout the whole day at the club, I was worrying if she would be sitting outside the gate waiting for us to return, the poor girl would be under the hot sun. When we reached home, no sight of her. Immediately my husband told me if she were to come back the next day or the next few days, do not allow her into the house, I wouls have to call him in the office. We waited for 2 days and no news of her. We were worried if she had met an accident or sometime happened. So we informed the person who recommended her to us. Then on Friday night, a couple came in a motobike and said the maid was with them. She was not feeling well and stayed at their place. This couple claimed they were her "kaka" ("kaka" means sister and it also means some sort of relative and they always call each other using this word). My husband told them that it's our responsibility to take care of her if she is sick and they should have took her back to us on that day she left. The couple could not really explain and we took them to take her back when she's feeling better. Two days later, she came back with the couple in the evening. I had a discussion with my husband that I would not take her back as she had no intentions to work with us. It was later that I found out how she fooled me with her words. I was surprised that she was wearing another set of clothes. That means when she left the house that day, she had wore another set of clothes under the long blouse/skirt. Well, that really fooled me too. I asked her to pack her things and we gave her an additional month's pay. The couple was begging us to take her back but we had to shut our doors. I found out from a friend the meaning of "tidak usa" which the maid always use whenever I told her to do something and the meaning was "not necessary." I don't check on her if she did her chore! So you see, this was how she repay me for the kindness we gave. I was a little disappointed and I told my husband I don't think I would want another maid. In Indonesia, the weather is so dry, the dust is really a problem. I used to mop the floor twice and the water in the pail is always black. Here you mop and within a few minutes, you'll feel the powdery dust on your feet. You need to keep the place clean, you'll have to employ maids in Indonesia. Their salary is low so most big household would employ at least two. After a month, I was so back strained that I had to ask for help again, employ another maid.... tbc

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Where have the wind gone?

A few nights ago, I was sitting in the hall writing Jin Jin's blog. Through the windows, came the nice cooling breeze, blowing quite strongly. The feeling was good. Immediately, came the subject about life. I felt contented with what I have currently. I wouldn't know if I would feel differently next. I questioned "the wind." Why does this special wind gives me that feeling. When you are angry, didn't someone would say "cool it." Have you ever have the same feeling as me? At the seaside, the breeze would blow away all the problems/frustration that may have accumulated some days/weeks/years ago, at least for a while. Don't we all like to be at a place where there is wind/breeze blowing and the feeling is always good. If you are standing at the top of a mountain, don't you feel good with the wind blowing at your face/hair while you take in the breathe taking view in front of you. You are lost at that moment, forgetting all the true facts of life. Who doesn't like the gentle breeze during a hot day or even when we are preparing meals in the kitchen. It's hot facing the stove/oven, or running around doing our errands(not shopping ok). Isn't it wonderful what the wind can do? It can give you a good feeling or it can also destroy your life. Destroy your life, like Hurrican Katherina.... Which would you choose? I prefer to have my wind gentle, giving some breathing space from the daily chore. Thank you WIND!