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A Singapore Story from the eyes of a cleaner, someone I came across while walking on the streets of Singapore..

I live in Singapore- the city of dreams. People from all over the world come here for different reasons. They always seem to have a lot on their minds. Perhaps wrapping up a business deal or catching the next train to make it in time for a party. Its a good place to live. Infrastructure works all the time. Everyone is efficient. And the city is spick and span. In fact, I am responsible for it being so clean. I am a cleaner. I pick up trash on the roads, I make sure that the roads are clean, parks neat and everything looks nice.

I was born in Singapore couple of decades back to Malay-Chinese parents. And like most other kids I grew up learning mathematics and science, something which I find myself having no interest in whatsoever. I was always a kid interested in painting. And in politics. But given my family background, my parents did not really encourage me to follow either. So here I am. Going through the lowest rungs in school, I eventually dropped out from poly. I was a failure, maybe I am a failure as far as what the society thinks of me. But I am smart. I read whatever news I find in the scrap newspapers on the road, I overhear people speaking. Thankfully I am fluent in Malay and Chinese and I can manage English decently as well. It helps.

My locations to clean the public areas are mostly Brasbasah and Dhoby Ghaut, which also happen to be the places where all the museums are. Usually I cant really afford to go in, but I try to sneak in whenever there are Open Houses. I got an idea to write this when I overheard someone talking about writing an autobiography. I think I was in the park right in front of Singapore Art Museum that time, picking up a trash can of coke.

Singapore is a good place to live. But its expensive. But I am still happy, because I can make enough to eat rice in hawker centers and get a bed. I have rented a room with three other fellow cleaners and we all take up bunk beds. Since I cant afford to buy an iPhone or an iPad, I cant stare at that screen when I am free. So, I just walk. I go to Orchard, Somerset, Little India, Chinatown and the rest. Singapore is really beautiful. As for the other cleaners, they dont like to talk to me. They think I act too smart or something. I dont want to talk to them anyways, they barely have an opinion on anything. All they talk about is girls, food and holidays.

One thing I have noticed in Singapore is that people sometimes look too depressed. I happen to pass condos in Orchard and Serangoon sometimes, and all I see is people who are either too busy or too depressed to smile to each other. I wonder if I would be the same if I were in that situation. Seeing them coming out of their BMWs looking all sad makes me sad. I mean getting into those BMWs is what we all are fighting for right?

Another thing about Singapore is that people work hard. They work from day to night and night to day. One thing that I would like to see more is people coming out and walking on the streets laughing, playing, doing something. I guess everyone is too busy with their iPhones. Thank god I dont have one. Would I be like them if I had one? I wonder what is so special about iPhones, it has made people forget that people exist!

You will be wondering as to why I am not talking about myself. You see there is nothing interesting about me. I haven’t had any girlfriends. So I dont have much to say about girls. You see, the problem is that I like smart girls. But they don’t seem to like me. They want more sophisticated guys, and my position as a cleaner does not help. The girls I meet are usually working in someone else’s houses and all they care about is their looks, food and holidays. They keep on harping about things which frankly do not interest me. Ah I am getting tired of them!

Hmm, what else? Singaporeans are well-educated. Most of them. Even though I would love to talk to them about the current issues in the society, my position as a cleaner does not help. Is being a cleaner so bad? I mean I am responsible for keeping the country clean, something which every Singaporean is proud of! I feel bad sometimes. I hope I get some credit some day. Perhaps, someone will read this story one day.

You might be wondering what is my name. But, again like my existence, my name does not matter. I am just one of the millions which inhabit this lovely country. I am a Singaporean. Perhaps if you happen to be near the museums one of these days and if you happen to throw scrap around, I might be the one picking it up. See you then!

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