Thursday, February 4, 2016

We Will Take Action

This afternoon a couple of friends and I took the short taxi ride into the town of Port Dickson to do some light shopping and to have a coffee at the local Starbucks.....It is a small simple town and a big American coffee shop really stands out.  At the time we went in for coffee and snacks it wasn't very busy.

After spending several lazy hours discussing everything that was significantly unimportant, we left and then went to a local super market where one of my friends bought some bananas.

I was interested in the signs on some of the carts outside in the market.

In my eyes there was nothing to see, nor was I interested in holding any of the items.  Now I am not even sure if I even noticed what was on the cart.

The next sign had this very serious message. It started me thinking a little bit more about security and safety in what appears to be a very safe country.  

We took a taxi back to the hotel. As always, when you enter the grounds you are greeted by hotel security.  They, like all the staff, greet you by taking their right hands and touching their own hearts. Always a smile and a hello.

I hadn't real thought much about the vigilant guards up until then. Though you can't help but notice them as they wander about the grounds night and day in their rather smart uniforms.  
They are all Gurkha's which means they come from Nepal.  The Gurkha's are famous for being professional soldiers, starting with the early colonial days when they worked for the British army.  They were famous for their bravery and discipline.

 Out on the end of the pier I decided to talk to one of them who looked more than a little bored and lonely.  This man's name is Shyam.  He spells it very carefully because at first I cannot understand his thick accent.

At first we talk about the fish trap hanging off the end of the pier.  It is a simple wire basket, which by my best guess is used to catch crabs.  But there is no bait in it, and it is not clear who watches over it.

Shyam tells me that he has been working here at the hotel now for only 3 weeks.  This is just the beginning of a long stay.  He will not go home for 3 years, that is unless he pays his own way which is very very expensive. Whatever he earns it is not very much.  When I asked, he averted his eyes embarrassed. 

He tells me he works 12 hours a day from 7a.m. to 7 p.m.. This is 7 days a week.  He has short breaks for meals and using the bathroom.  Every month his schedule shifts from the day to night and so on.  By his side he carries a stick which he tells me he has never used.  He also wears a walkie talkie to call if he needs help. 

The only problems Shyam has had in the few weeks that he has worked is small boats coming too close to the hotel to fish.  He has to yell at them to go away.  Other than that he just keeps watch. 

Shyam tells me that when he came the security agency he works for spent 4 hours training him.  Though I might have it wrong.  Perhaps it is 4 days.   He lives in a compound close by.  Overall he seemed happy to talk to me as he doesn't have much real interaction with anyone all day during his shift.

Being from Nepal I asked him about the earthquake that happened there a few years ago.  He said his village is 3 hours from Katmandu and nearly everything in his village came tumbling down.  25 people from his small community were killed.  His wife and son survived.

When he talks about home his face grows dark.  I have made him sad.

 He says until the time of the earthquake he had been a school teacher of young children in his village.  

His life in the last few years has changed dramatically.  How it came to pass that he changed from being a school teacher in a small village to being a security guard in Port Dickson Malaysia cannot be learned in a short conversation on a clean bright pier. 

Each questions that I asked seemed to bring more sadness to his eyes.  I realized that I was being a little too curious about the life of a lonely man far from home.  

He calls his wife when he can which isn't often.  He must be luckier than most of those in his village who are still trying to rebuild even now after 3 years. 
 I could not help but feel how lucky I am.  I sleep in a fancy hotel room while Shyam and a lot of other lonely Nepalese men watches out for me and a hotel full of guests. 

Every day standing guard at the end of the pier, and all along the paths that lead to this hotel. Soon I will return home but they will not.

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