Saturday, July 05, 2008
From left to right: Jasmin Patel, Anu Gupta, Avinesh Gupta and Ashok Kumar
I had come to Singapore on vacation after graduation from the University of Alberta. Brother Kee Yong was then living in Singapore, and I wanted to spend some time with him and family. At the same time, I had applied for a managerial post in a cleaning company. However at that time, Canada had quite a high unemployment, and the Canadian Authorities wanted me to wait for 6 months....unless no one took up the position, I could have the job. My employer, Mrs. Anne Cooper was confident I would get the job as it was difficult for her to find someone who who could speak English, French, Mandarin and Hokkien. She had a few Chinese and Vietnamese cleaners working for her.
Being the restless type, I found it boring not to be gainfully employed. Hence I decided to teach in the Regional English Language Centre, and also applied to join the then Institute of Education. Since then I have been "stuck" in Singapore for the past 25 years! As a civil servant, I was granted Singapore Citizenship when I started teaching in my first year. I enjoyed teaching and was quite creative and innovative in my teaching techniques. Due to chronic problems with my throat, I decided to quit teaching and try something different - restaurant work and real estate. Hence, once upon a time, I could also be considered "a foreign talent".
Today, more and more foreign talents are coming into Singapore and making great contributions to our little nation. I am glad to have met many of them in a more personal way, when some of them became my tenants. All these 26 years, I have never occupied a whole flat. I enjoying renting out the remaining rooms to tenants, and when the rooms were not occupied, to open my doors to visiting missionaries and pastors. I believe that it is good stewardship for us to make the most of all that we have been blessed with.
Recently I decided to rent out a room on a short term basis, so that I could have more options in changing plans. A computer company rented the room for their staff, Ashok Kumar. Since then, his good friend, Jasmin Patel, has joined him temporarily before they move again, this time, taking a whole flat as Ashok's family will be joining him. Their colleague, Avinesh has also recently joined the company. As my tenants want Avinesh and his wife to live near them, they are now renting a room from my neighbour, Irin. Ashok is a graduate in Physics, while Jasmin's strength is in Mathematics. It is amazing how they have equipped themselves with tremendous computer knowledge, all self-taught.!
As a property agent, I work at my own pace. There are times when I could be extremely busy and there are times when I could be quite relaxed. Hence I have almost forgotten about the long hours involved, even in office work. My tenants would leave at about 8.30 a.m. and often arrive home 12 to 13 hours later. Sometimes they would continue their work at home!!!
Ashok made an interesting comment which I thought was quite profound. He said that the reason why Singapore is so progressive and prosperous today - it is all thanks to the country's adoption of foreign talents.! I remember that one of my students' father had commented that the Malaysians in Singapore are the cream of Malaysia's crop!
Having enjoyed great Canadian hospitality when I was a student in Alberta, I now want to extend my hospitality to my tenants. I want them to feel at home in my flat as well as in my country of adoption! :-) I would also encourage all those who have never opened their doors to foreigners. It is amazing how much we can learn from one another. My tenants help me with the computer and also teach me some Hindi. I share with them about toastmasters' activities and whatever little I know. When I interact with others, my world becomes less small and I do not waste time worrying about trivial things. Indeed, life becomes more colorful when we look out for others.
Posted by The Oriental Express at 9:54 am