i have always wondered how some people can be so narrow minded, even to the point of being discriminatory. have we not have enough people say not to judge books by their covers and give others the benefit of the doubt to actually follow them? for truly, despite having these very familiar sayings, you still encounter individuals who are too quick to pass judgment just because settling with their ignorance is far more comforting.
i was chatting online with a friend of mine last night. we first met at the gym, both of us being regular patrons. we eventually became gym buds until he left for singapore to find work. i have always found it admirable with people doing gung-ho things like packing up and braving it out in another country. my friend (itago na lang natin sya sa ngalang ADONIS... how xerex) was pretty street smart and was rather adventurous. from my brief encounters with him during our workouts, i got to learn more about his free spirited ways and have often wished i was as brave as he.
while he was in singapore, we kept in touch through email, friendster and YM. he would update me regularly of his experiences there: about getting a scholarship from a technical school; about finding a job at a fitness center; about being approached by modeling agents wanting to hire him; about living in a flat with other people of different nationalities; about befriending europeans; about clubbing in the hippest bars in town. he sounded like he was living the ultimate expat life while he was at his prime. he however came back after a month. homesickness was the reason.
he hasn't been that regular anymore at the gym and i would only encounter him online nowadays. our chats would often revolve around how the other regular patrons are doing (our gang) as well as if there are any fresh bodies in need of notice. for a straight guy, i have always found it strange how interested he is with the looks of other men. he would then ask how i was was doing, to which i always answer "same same". this would be the cue for him to start talking about his dreams again, about how he would like to leave the country and fly back to singapore.
he would retell story after story, the same he has been telling about how much fun he had while he was there. he also then mentioned wanting to go to guam since he heard from his relatives how nice it was there as well. wanting to pick his brain, i asked if he would consider other countries, maybe like dubai since he's into IT and also likes the cosmopolitan scene. his answer however made my eyebrow hike up a notch (or two) and had them stay there throughout our conversation.
YUCK! was his initial reaction. yuck? i wondered. i worked there myself and went through some nightmares along the way but never have i been that repulsed of the place that i'd say YUCK at first go. it was definitely not the answer i was expecting from him since he has been to dubai before to visit and i have also heard of his stories of the fun he had while being there.
wanting to elaborate further, he then went on to say, much to my utter disappointment as my eyebrows now brushed the soles of God, that he hates dubai because he hates the indians, the pakistanis, the palestinians and the afghans. he said that they grossed him out and that he is frightened of them. he said it half jokingly, hoping i guess for me to ride along with his very stereotypical insults. my sentiments however were no where near finding anything that he said funny.
i was deeply, deeply bothered. my peace, suddenly displaced. besides practically marginalizing all the nationalities that made the city the mega development it is now, he also did it out of the most shallow (for me) of reasons and in the most derogatory of manners. sure, hate a country, hate a place and the possible opportunities it can offer, just because you are afraid of an unfamiliar smell and an alien lifestyle? no, no, never mind that these people practically risked life and limb (they actually do), probably even buried their entire families in debt just so that they could afford a plane trip to dubai to earn a better living. never mind that these people live in inhospitable environments, jam packed in minute quarters, almost sleeping one on top of the other, working under scorching heat and in dangerous situations just so they can send a few dollars home to their families. never mind that some of these people come from war torn lands, their homes ravaged by the greed and yes, even the same narrow mindedness and near sightedness you exhibited when you dismissed the fact that these people deserve dignity. never mind that despite the terrible conditions, these people still greet you with a smile when you enter into the cab they drive. they still say good morning to you even if you muddied the floor they just waxed. they still talk to you with enthusiasm even if you know they are struggling to speak in english. never mind all of these.. cause they live in filthy habitats and smell? that because of this, they are frightening and not worthy of your attention?
it was lucky he had to run and we ended our chat with him rushing out to grab something to eat while i sat in front of my monitor, close to hyperventilating.
funny how i now find myself defending the place that had caused me so much hurt not too long ago.