Tuesday, February 28

Outburst of an NRI Women

I was doing reasonably well at my place of work in India. We were happy in our little flat in noisy, polluted Mumbai. The three-hour journey, to and fro from work, did not faze us. Then, my husband got this irresistible job offer from Dubai! I joined him eight months ago, bang in the middle of Dubai's terribly long summer. I just knew I would land a challenging job within a month. After all, I was this competent high achiever! Besides, life would be better there if not at par with India. After all, Dubai is 'phoren' and the land of no income tax.
Today, I am grappling with the distasteful task of job-hunting in the Middle East. One of the popular ways of doing this is through the famous Gulf Appointments. It was here that I first came across advertisements like 'Wanted HR Manager -- US/UK/SA/EUR/NZL Only.' I was shocked. Why not just say: 'Wanted HR Manager -- No Asians Please. We only want to hire white-skinned people'. I spent the first two months receiving calls from agents who offered jobs with meagre salaries. Wake up and smell the coffee, I was told -- Asians come cheap.
There is a clear disparity in wages and perks given to people of different nationalities doing the same job. A friend of mine works for one of the finest hotels in the world. She is Asian, so she stays in a campus built for Asian employees in an industrial area. White employees doing the same job are entitled to accommodation in the city. My husband was the only person I could vent my frustrations on. The poor man was subjected to constant tirades on how this was the most humiliating experience of my life and how shocked I was at this blatant display of racism. I wondered about the future of organizations that, even today, hire on the basis of colour instead of competence. To advertise in this manner in a national newspaper was, I thought, a blatant slap on the face. This attitude was not limited to the labour market. Take entertainment. My husband and I enjoy going out. What we did not initially know was that certain nightclubs and bars here are 'strictly white.’ In our ignorance, we once took a German friend to a club where a Nigerian at the door asked us for our identification. We were then asked to pay AED 200 (Rs 2,400) per head to just enter the place! Even as all this was happening, white folk were walking in without being stopped or asked any questions. It was our first experience of this kind and we were deeply humiliated. Our German friend was visibly upset and could not look us in the eye for the rest of the evening.
No one talks about this kind of segregation, even though it has been going on for ages. A quick glance at the newspapers and magazines here will reveal many articles on lifestyle and shopping, but hardly anything on serious social issues. Asians, meanwhile, avoid these places to save themselves the humiliation. I try to rationalise what is happening, but cannot come up with a reasonable answer. Asians have lived in Dubai for more than 40 years. They've built some of its finest buildings and hotels. They've been loyal to their employers and respectful to its citizens. The West has only noticed Dubai recently. Yet, white-skinned people exert a huge influence here and their perceived superiority supersedes logic. I eventually found a temporary job in a predominantly Asian environment. Though the going has been good, I am painfully aware of the experience that awaits me once my term here is complete. Yet, there is hope. I believe Indians are second to none in the world.
Secondly, every business looks at the profit line. Any good business will always explore ways to get more for less. I may come cheaper not because I offer more for less but because my expectations are realistic and match what organizations can afford to pay. Today, most organizations here pay far more for far less. Sooner or later, they will be forced to realize that brains and hard work matter more than the colour of one's skin. Besides, not all organizations and people are discriminatory. I have interacted with organizations that possess a great deal of cross-cultural sensitivity and can truly be called equal opportunity employers. I have been fortunate enough to make friends with people from all nationalities and have found them to respectful and tolerant of each other. I can hardly blame the bouncers I encounter because employees simply do what they are told. Where there is demand, there will be supply. When regulars at clubs express a desire for a place that caters to 'their kind,' when locals listen to words coming out of a Westerner's mouth with rapt attention but disregard an Asian saying the same thing, establishments will toe the line.
Why am I still in Dubai? Well, I left my family and friends, sold my belongings and moved here to make a better living and get some international exposure. To go back now would be to admit defeat. I may crib endlessly about how we are disadvantaged, but these experiences have made me stronger. I am determined to show the world what I am capable of without having to lose my identity as an Indian. I do, however, expect a greater degree of government intervention where such issues are concerned. This kind of behavior should be punishable by law. It is time they make the UAE more than a great place to shop and be entertained in; it should also become a melting pot for all cultures and societies. I also expect Indians who are working in influential positions to stop being passive observers and perpetuators of the system. I don't expect to be told by an Indian GM or manager that I will have to settle for less because I am Indian. There is nothing sadder than that.
Compiled by Sapna Anu B.George sapna_george@hotmail.com


കലേഷ്‌ കുമാര്‍ said...

The discrimination is everywhere. We Asians are second to none!
I hope someday the mindset will change!

BTW are you still in Dubai?

Anonymous said...


i found this experience when i tried to take a job in dubai, in the end i decided to come back to Europe, and i think the indians themself are to blame, because for one self worthy indian there is 10 who is willing to sell himself cheaper!!

sad but true.....

Amooma said...

hope the mindset changes

peter ivan said...

Its an excellant article and also shows the sort of hypocrisy which is been practised by asians,mainly this can after burners of feudalis.But on a much closer picture are we also who claim to be living in a post modern society should avoid such feudalistic elements from our thought.I was particularly disturbed by a pharase in authors profile terming thats she came from an "aristrocatic family".
Is nt this also a part of that legacy which English left us

wayanadan said...

really wonderful one
Not the content but the style of compiling it attracted me more
you r a good journalist than poet I feel
Write more in English

Anonymous said...

"Dreams" really sweet..........
i just had thru it for few moments....
i hav to spend little time to have it full.....
shall do it this evening and come back again.....
in the meantime,wish u all the best\\\\


Anonymous said...

You seem well educated. I am surprised you are even expressing anger and frustration at such discrimination in Dubai. Did you not know in advance that Dubai is not a democracy, it is a medieval state run by medieval laws. Modernity does not lie in shopping malls. Modernity lies in ideals. Dubai's kings and princes and queens are too stupid to figure this out.

India is this major democracy, major military power, major economy. Dubai is like a page from the Arabian nights. You decided to give up freedom to save income tax! Your short sightedness has landed you in this soup.

And please do not make us laugh by telling us how you will prove that Indians are second to none. As though India has something to prove to Dubai. To Dubai? Dubai is not even a civilized country. It is a vacation spot where we can go at times to watch people living under kings and queens, just like we would go to see a circus.

You thought joining those freaks would be a good idea? You are certainly not a smart Indian then.

MKERALAM said...

"...greater degree of government intervention where such issues are concerned"

hellow what kind of an intervention are you expecting from the Indian government against the alleged racism that you are experiencing in Dubai. If I say there are no people in this world more racist than Indians will you question that. If you question, i presume it is because you are on the other side of the Indian discrimination.

When the natives, the rightful owners of India eligible for everything like anybody else, suffer day light discrimination in the name of birth, where were you ? Did you make calls to fellow beings to act against it?:)

Now when the situation does not suit you, you get irritated that your human right as an Indian/an individual is violated in Dubai.

well I am not saying that I support the Dubai discrimination

However it is a mistake that only the Whites from the countries that enjoys preferential treatment get employed in dubai. I know a whole lot of Indians from RSA working there. In my understanding,the employers you mentioned are looking for candidates educated in a system that promotes human values, mutual respect, original thinking, risk taking, and above all create visionaries. How many universities in India strive for that? Yes there are Indians who are intelligent, no doubt. but..

Yes go to an Indian office, public or private, check out what kind of a service you get there. Unless a wad full of money is dropped in front of the officer in charge or to his pimp you will not get even a stinking signatures of him/her who takes a salary for doing his job.

And no Indian is concerned about that. Ok start from the very Indian embassies, just try a telephone conversation and enjoy the 'professionalism' you get from them. And then call the embassies of the countries you mentioned in the list.

Don't be under the impression that as an Indian ,I enjoy writing this, but no escape from truth. Let the indians first learn the meaning of human dignity before crying for it.

കുതിരവട്ടന്‍ :: kuthiravattan said...

"'Wanted HR Manager -- US/UK/SA/EUR/NZL Only.' I was shocked. Why not just say: 'Wanted HR Manager -- No Asians Please.."

Apartheid, Shocking...

The funny thing is bouncer himself is a nigerian, he or his people can not go inside.

Similar Indian bouncers are doing good work in blogs.