Monday, 30 May 2011

And that's all they had to eat....

At a food court one day, I was having brunch at about 11.45am. As it was still early, the lunch time crowd has not arrived. I was sitting at a deserted corner of the huge food court.

I noticed in front of me at the next table, there were 2 girls and 2 guys gathering around a table. The girls were in uniform. I guess they were staff working in the food court. The other 2 guys were in casual clothes (afterwards I were to find out they were also staff working there). I think they were all Indonesians.

I gather they were having their early lunch before they were to get busy during lunch peak hour. One of the guys had bought a packet of food in a plastic bag. He went inside the kitchen or staff room and took out an empty bowl. He then split half of whatever that was inside the packet of food into the bowl, and passed to one of the girls. They were sharing the packet of food. The second girl also went into the staff room and after about 10 minutes, emerged with a bowl of hot water and a packet of instant noodles. She emptied the instant noodles into the hot water. She was having instant noodles for lunch. The other guy went off somewhere to one of the stalls in the food court. He came back shortly with a plate of plain steamed rice. The entire plate of rice was drenched with what looked like curry gravy, but there were no dishes at all. They waited for each other before beginning their meal together and chit chatting happily.

Their simple meal humbled me. Obviously, they could not afford to spend even on food in the food court. Or maybe they were just struggling to scrimp and save a penny or two, with our higher standard of living in Singapore. I guess many foreign workers are also in the same situation, especially those with lesser qualifications and education, in the lower rungs of society. Not all foreign workers had it easy when they left their homeland to work here, away from their loved ones. In fact, I would think all of them had to go through certain hardship even though they earn more here than in their own countries. Although most Singaporeans (including myself) are generally not very receptive to some of these foreign workers from China, the Philippines, Myanmar, India.... we need to constantly remind ourselves that they are also the same as us, human beings trying to make a living. We have to be mindful of our own unnecessary excesses (and excuses!), and ultimately try to be more gracious towards our foreign counterparts.

Witnessing this scene that day made me guilty of my "simple" bowl of Ban Mian (soup noodles), 2 pieces of Kueh Pie Tee and a can of soft drink.


  1. That's heartbreaking and we have ppl wasting food everyday.

  2. The thing is these foreign workers work so much harder than the lazy locals over here in Malaysia!


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