More surprises

Lovely ladiesIn my last blog post, I wrote about seeing familiar places in a new way. Today, I not only went to an unfamiliar part of Singapore, I saw something that was so strange to me that it has made me re-think what I thought I already knew.

I once commented that the difference between visiting and living in a place is that you will run into people you know in a place where you live.  That happened to me today at lunch.  I went to United Square for the first time to meet the new treasurer for the Association of Professional Trainers (Singapore). After our meeting, I went into a restaurant for lunch where I received the sort of warm greeting one would give to an old friend.  The woman greeting me used to work at a restaurant in my neighbourhood and we had not seen each other for many months.

Upon arrival back in my neighbourhood, I witnessed something that still has my head reeling.  Many, many people who come to work in Singapore have only Sundays off and they earn, what to me seems, a very small salary.  These people impress me with their ability to have a social life in spite of these limitations.  They gather in public places with picnic lunches and thus meet and make new friends while avoiding the prohibitively high cost of restaurants  etc.

Recently, a friend of mine was visiting me and I was pontificating about what I perceived as a misunderstanding regarding Muslim women and their choice of clothing.  I told my friend that I know several strong, independent Muslim women, some of whom do not cover their hair, and some of whom chose to cover their hair later in life. I saw it as being entirely up to them.  My friend said she thought there were cultural/familial/social pressures brought to bear which strongly influenced their choices.

Today in the open, public area outside the mass rail transit station, I saw a women putting on her hajib in front of two men.  Her arms and shoulders were bare.  Clearly, she does not cover up because she wants to.  She must live with and /or work for someone who expects it of her.  On her day off she dresses as she pleases but in preparation for returning, she must resume the facade that they demand.  I guess my friend was correct; not all Muslim women cover up because they choose.

3 Responses to “More surprises”
  1. yaamatullah says:

    Or maybe she was going to a mosque or another area to pray? Muslim women almost 100% cover their heads to pray, even the ones who do not cover in normal situations.

    Unless you went up to her and asked her specifically why she was putting on her hijab, you do not know.


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