31 October 2012

The Tissue Sellers

Amongst the madness of Singapore there is sadness. You can see it. Even with one eye closed. If you choose to look. This is a vibrant and affluent country and Singaporeans should be rightfully proud of its status as a global economic power house.

It is affluent. 


It sparkles and gleans with wealth and prosperity. 

See the Ferraris, the Rollers and the BMW's parked at the Fullarton Hotel. Watch the gamblers throw down $1000 chips at the Marina Bay Sands. They throw these chips like confetti at a wedding.

Singapore is however not a welfare state. Nothing is for free. No work no pay. Poverty exists but it is hidden in the cracks. It is the moss on the rock. It is the elephant in the room. Peek up occasionally when sipping your champagne. Pause when shucking those oysters. Have a respite from spreading that foie gras. 

On brioche.

You might get a glimpse of some tired and often elderly locals and immigrants shuffling between tables at our favorite eateries and bars. Thrusting small packages of tissues your way. 

Not begging. 

Never begging. 

They are humbly offering their wares with their last shreds of dignity. Trying to earn a couple of dollars to pay for a days meal or for some shelter for the night. They are down but not out. 

Spare them your sympathy. 

It's not what they are after. Reach instead into your Versace wallets. Open your Prada purses. Give them a little cash. 

It won't hurt you a bit.

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