In our little country we have many friends from neighboring countries. I always think about them and encounter them when I go for my frequent coffee or tea or breakfast at the various cafes, kadas and hotaas and restaurants. Most of the time, I see them in ‘hotaas’ (cafe/eatery).
It is not a surprise when you think about why there is such an influx of legal and illegal immigrant workers, and the reasons they come to Maldives
Discrimination towards certain types of manual jobs such as rubbish collection and construction labor, and a young population with no interest in such work, is one reason perhaps. But also the greedy business people who can save their pennies easily by getting cheap labor may be another cause.
No matter whether they are illegal or legal, or whichever nationality, they are in desperate conditions. They do donkey days of work and get only one holiday in the week, which of course is evident when we walk around Male’ on a Friday evening.
Whenever I enter a hotaa they usually come and ask what I need. Sometimes when I tell them cool water in Dhivehi they bring normal water and vice versa. I am not sure whether it is because they don’t understand the Dhivehi language or because they have a motive of getting satisfaction by being irritating and assertive.
Some customers talk to them in a raised voice, with threatening vulgar Dhivehi words, and treat them in a more unethical manner which is inhumane.
No wonder why many of us Maldivians find it irritating to be polite and thankful to people who serve us.
Maybe Maldivians have become such arrogant and impolite people because they may feel disgusting to thank a dirty manual laborer.
Some even avoid these friends out of consideration for hygiene. It is of no surprise that such tough men, who work like donkeys without any breaks to refresh themselves, will of course smell like goats. Moreover, not being wealthy enough to afford deodorant or good quality soap with their earnings is another reason. Or perhaps not being provided with enough freshwater to cleanse their body in their traditional bathing style in rivers, as their employers don’t like to see a fat water bill.
Strangely nobody bothers about what goes on in the kitchen of the hotaa, except when an occasional hair in a bajiyaa or a piece of boakibaa is evident while savoring the hot and spicy delicacies. Many such kitchens are infested by roaches and rodent aliens as well, and our friends never bother to kill or chase them.
Maybe they feel empathy towards such aliens in their surroundings and want to show others it is inhumane to victimise God’s creations.
Well it’s of no surprise as the hotaa is both bedroom and bathroom, as well as hotaa. In the night our friends who are not given places to sleep put tables in the hotaa together and spread a sheet on them and sleep on these tables.
Sometimes their washed clothes, including their undies, may be seen hanging on a rope in the corner of kitchen.
Well, still they are happy and continue to enjoy the day’s heat and occasional rain and the tropical climate. Maldives of course is paradise to a person who only enjoys the physical environment – but the social environment, especially in Male’, is devastatingly unsuitable for living.
My dear bondhus and bhais and machaas and mahathiyaas, without your ways and your life and your labour, how could we ever live in this Paradise?
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