October 26, 2014

Cleaning up Male's streets

Male City Council should perhaps let loose some "Gluttons" onto the cluttered streets of Male to do the job of its daily clean up.  Let the Lady Cleaners now sweeping the streets use this facility and save their backaches and help them get their work done faster. Surely this would be our tax money well spent. But please supplement this with concerted efforts of attitude change of our populace also.

October 22, 2014

The worth of a guest worker

Since our nation is now one fourth crowded with guest workers, this is worth telling. The worth of a guest worker is fabricated in our own mind. If you want to believe they are needed, then we need them but if you think they are dispensable that would also be not far from the truth. Our minds conjure up a list of needs as we go through life. Modern media, internet and business adverts all push us to increase that list. And as we become more affluent or think we are, this list keeps on growing. Yes, a figment of our imagination. It is in the eyes and mind of the beholder.

Take for example the use of the household helper that we employ. The retort would be that we need them to take care of the chores of cooking cleaning and washing. That is true and we can convince ourselves to spend half our meager income to employ the foreign worker and then invite into our midst, as many have, the agony of managing them, for it’s a given that these workers would also tend to maximize their utility by doing the least they can do. Gone are the days of sincere and dedicated live-ins who had become part of the family. The result of today’s changed circumstance is that it is not too long before we are so exasperated that we decide to pack him or her off with ticket, three month pay, etc. and say also goodbye to all the cost paraphernalia that the State requires us to pay or forfeit. Then there is the tedious process again of getting another person to fill the vacancy as if that will solve our problem! 

And the cycle goes on. Yet, if we look at modernization -- something we all seem to want to take part in -- there are ways for us to make our lives much easier. The washing machine, the stove-top cooking, the packaged and ready to use ingredients on the shop shelf, and the vacuum cleaner or the easy to use mops all are there if we can only push down our ego a notch and begin using these ourselves rather than have a foreign worker to turn the knobs or push the buttons on these technological wonders. Throw in a dishwasher and the washing up chores also can be eliminated 90 per cent. So as they say if there is a will there is a way, but our ego comes in the way. Not to speak of the perhaps half a billion dollars or so foreign exchange that is annually taking flight out of our nation. But that is another story that merits dedicated telling.

October 19, 2014

The street trash still linger

The trash bin project promoted now by the Male City Council is a step in the right direction. But it must entail much more than merely placing trash bins in a few places in Male. It must include creating awareness in our urban mass on the need to keep our city clean. I know everything cannot happen all at once, given that we have been sliding down the path of indolence after the dawn of democracy in our country half a decade or so ago now; its a curious contradiction really.  

On the positive front, I now see local ladies busy sweeping swathes of our water front early in the morning. I ask one of them if they were of Council employ and she says yes. I see visible indications of tidiness at some of the tree-bases lining our seaside avenue of Male and ask again " so the tree-bases are much cleaner now?!" I exclaim.

"Yes, it would be, because we pick up all that too with our sweep and fill the trash bins," was the response. So I was quite mistaken after all to think that our sanitary habits have changed! By the end of the day, Male streets are still the dump it is becoming. Our populace seems quite oblivious to wanting to see our island as our "home" it appears, -- I lament. And yes, when I glance along the stretch of the tree-bases that stretch from the BML to the HSBC --I call it the bank stretch -- these ferry mooring beach side tree-spaces seem increasingly filled with all kinds of trash people want to dispose of -- not just the careless discards of an irresponsible pedestrian -- an empty pet bottle, energy drink or an empty cigarette carton -- but sizable cardboard boxes, trash from broken concrete and side-walk slabs, shreds of wooden boards and plastic containers, and in one location, even a sizable log – certainly not left there for sitting on.  And stretching right in front of me is Male’s inner harbor, also laden with similar floating trash. During the day, I now even see tourists and our guest workers too, carelessly tossing discards and spitting onto our streets with no qualms. And, why not?!-- when even our nationals don't care! (The plight of our sidewalks along our streets is another story of how our civic leaders have disdained us).

But something should be done I say to myself, for if not, soon we will be deeply grounded in a condition of national indolence from which it would be very hard to get out. While we may have made fun of some of our neighbors for being in that situation until very recently, we see them purposefully lifting themselves out of the morass while we, ensconced in our wealth consciousness seem to be blind to what we are becoming socially. We seem also blind to our Lord's calling -- all so comprehensively recorded in our good Book. So where does out development lead us? Do we want to, in our pride and arrogance and separateness and competitiveness, drown in our wealth or become more humble and become aware of our connection with each other as a nation and begin to celebrate our oneness with love and sharing. Become the stewards of this beautiful land Allah has given us in our sojourn in this world and show the example by which the youth of our present can create a better future for themselves and their posterity.

Our leaders have that moral responsibility to make our land more peaceful and caring. If that is not their job they have no role in leadership. What separates us as individuals is not our individually amassed wealth but the goodness that we instill in ourselves as God's creation. What we can take with us when we part with this world of form is only our goodness, not even an atom of the wealth we amass. Our leaders must focus on this moral aspect of our lives as they lead us -- not go gung-ho only on creating wealth that really does not trickle down to the masses as they might profess it would. Our national character is built on how we embellish the goodness of our insides rather than the adornment of our outside. This is the ultimate test of our human essence.