Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Two Souls

The Arab manning the hotel souvenir shop invited us to come in out of the cold, no purchase necessary. After learning we were from Singapore, he said his name was the equivalent of Peter, as in St Peter. Not exactly something one would shout from the top of the roof in a 99.9 percent Muslim country.

Peter said business throughout Egypt was in the doldrums, following the departure of Mubarak. Would he consider Mubarak a good guy? Yes, said Peter, he was a strongman, but he was getting old (in the head). The new set of leaders are wimps by comparison, and have yet to earn the confidence of the people. Uh uh, we know the feeling, but discretion kept our opinions to ourselves.

Raul the bellhop was from Mumbai. He heard from friends Sentosa World Resort was hiring. Where are the Dubai nationals, we asked him. From the waiters in the coffee shop to the guy in charge of the internet kiosk, everyone was from the Philippines. Only the drivers for the shuttle buses to the city shopping center were not speaking in Tagalog. And practically all the sales staff at the shops were filipinas. One of them said she recognised our "Singapore accent" - maybe she was a former domestic who relocated for the higher pay in Dubai. One up for our distinctive "national identity".

Raul said the drivers were likely from Pakistan or similar. There was the odd bearded guy with a burkha draped missus (or two) in tow. Maybe our hotel was not in the same class as the ones Thaksin hangs out at. Maybe there are more local born and bred there. Maybe.