Thanksgiving in Singapore: in appreciation of Indian laborers

Two western traditions or, celebrations if you like, that have seized the imagination of many people here, particularly the young, are Halloween and Valentine’s Day.However, one that has not caught on with the same frenzy is Thanksgiving.

To the Americans especially, it’s a day to reflect and give thanks and be grateful for the blessings they have received. I think it’s a very meaningful tradition as most of us are so preoccupied with life’s daily challenges that we take many things for granted.

Don’t worry I am not about to launch into any sermon or homilies. In Singapore, there are many things we should be grateful for (ok, ok, I see arched eyebrows already). There is one thing I’d like to dwell on, and that’s the contributions of an oft-seen but ironically invisible to many, and that is the Indian laborers.

Mostly employed on road works projects, they toil at their back-breaking jobs under the hot sun for hourly wages that come up merely to what you pay for a simple no-frills hamburger. To supplement their meager income, they take on overtime work and work on public holidays and over the weekend.

So, on Thanksgiving Day today, I’d like to reflect on an appreciation of these Indian workers, mostly from Chennai.
Two Tamil words that are guaranteed to elicit a smile are “vanakkam” (hello, hi) and “nandri” (thank you). If you have the opportunity, chat with them; it’ll offer a glimpse of the tough lives they lead so that they can feed their families back home in India.

Vanakkam. Nandri.

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2 Responses to “Thanksgiving in Singapore: in appreciation of Indian laborers”

  1. A very nice gesture indeed. Yes, there are many who do manual work who should be appreciated more. Just one point though – we tend to lump them together but there are actually Indians of various races (not just Tamils but mainly so) as well as Bangladeshis. Some may not understand Tamil.

  2. agreed 🙂


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