Anyhoo, I went down because I wanted to buy Steve some prayer beads for his birthday. Steve often speaks of his time in Yemen, working for an oil company out in the desert, always with some prayer beads to hand. He found them very soothing and wishes he’d kept them.
Most of the shops were still setting up when I arrived, but I walked around a corner and there was this tiny stall selling a bunch of Muslim accoutrements, but most importantly, they had prayer beads. I asked the lady if they had anything finer, and she asked her Dad to give us a hand. So this lovely, smiley, gorgeous old man comes along and hands me a set of beautiful and delicate wooden “worry” beads, and that was it, I had what I’d come for. My mission was achieved with time to spare.
But the magic was in the moment. The daughter was really delightful, but the old man was adorable. He asked me where I was from, expecting me to be a tourist, and then I asked him. He was originally from Indonesia. How long have you been in Singapore? Me almost seven years, him 55 years. Wow 55 years. You were here before independence? Can you imagine the changes he has seen?
It was nothing, really, just two people having a chat, but the whole experience was delightful. I walked away from the experience feeling happy. It actually made me feel happier all day – funny that. Kindness is definitely a free and powerful gift. A mate of mine from my childhood (Melissa) posted up a happy experience she had the other day on Facebook – she walked past a building site in Australia and the workers said “hey, show us your tits” – as they do – so she lifted her shirt. They were ecstatic and it made her smile all day. See it’s all in the giving right? Slightly different, but it made us both smile.
I truly wish all human interactions between races/cultures/religions could be like that – happy, light and free. I’ve been in parts of the world, Indonesia included, where I’ve been called an American whore, or hissed at, or jeered at – and it’s all because I’m being linked to some bigger political bullshit that I want nothing to do with. I have found it extremely disturbing on occasions and sad on others, because the people doing the hissing and the jeering are as brainwashed and ignorant as the ones leading the charge.
I hate this aspect of life today. There are places you cannot go without risk to your life because you are white. Being white links you to everything bad that the “West” is involved in today. It doesn’t matter that you do not agree with any of it – your face and your hair colour is enough for you to know you’re not welcome. It’s like we’re all being punished for the ignorance of our leaders… and I just want to explore this beautiful world. It pisses me off.
I hope this hatred doesn’t get any worse (even though it has been getting worse since I started my travels 20 years ago) because if we can all meet people from other cultures and races, if we can start trying to understand where we’re all coming from by talking and listening to each other, and if we can try not to judge others for their values especially as we often don’t understand them anyway – well we’ve got an opportunity to heal and move forward in a happier way right?
We constantly see it in the movies – the world is faced with annihilation, so we all come together and pray. Do we have to wait for that day? Can’t we just work at doing it now?
I don’t liked getting hissed at and I’m certainly not an American whore. When I was called that, I didn’t even defend myself and say hey, I’m not even American, let alone a whore! Why? Because an American woman wouldn’t have deserved it either. The person who said this didn’t know, because he’s never sat down with an American woman and asked her what her life is all about, and she hasn’t done that with him either.
Communication and listening both ways… that’s what it’s all about right? Are we ever going to learn? Because it’s so great when we do. I’ve found people from different backgrounds have mind-blowing perspectives on life, the sort that shift the earth beneath you when you hear them. I love having friends from all corners of the globe with different ways of looking at life – it truly has made my life richer and more interesting.
So please, never be racist to me. I hate racism, in all its forms. I hate how people bunch a whole group of people up and describe them as one negative thing collectively. I hate how people listen to other people who’ve never been exposed to other races and take on their views. I hate seeing great people being hurt by racism. I hate what racism does to people – it makes them uglier inside and closes them off to new opportunities. Racism has no place in our world. It limits everyone it touches. It hurts too many people. It serves no purpose, other than encouraging ignorance. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone looked for the beauty within a person, no matter where they were from, how much money they had or what they looked like? That’s a world I want to see and I remain ever hopeful.
In the meantime, I had a lovely time getting Steve the prayer beads and he was stoked.
Yours, without the bollocks