The picture of Hong Kong conjures tall glassy buildings, well-lit and maintained roads, smooth traffic, endless shopping by tourists and a business day that is busy with well dressed men and women. It is the financial capital of the East and has done everything to polish that image.
Things quite change on a Sunday. There are hundreds of thousands of domestic helpers – from the Philippines, Thailand, and few other South East Asia countries who come out of their homes where they do domestic chores for hours together during the week, and then get together during the weekend to chill out.
You can see the groups at the airport, malls, park.. anywhere where they can relax for the day. It is a fascinating sight to see these young women sing, dance, and do many other artistic activities. By education, they are mostly graduates but unfortunately the Philippine economy doesn’t offer them enough opportunities.
We used to take the double decker bus to an Indian restaurant every Sunday and we felt bad for these women – who have left their husbands and kids to be in Hong Kong and earn money. We also had a domestic help at home.
Then something changed.
The girls are allowed to take leave of 15 days per year and 6 years back our help came back and said with an abashed face – I am pregnant. We were overjoyed but also saddened that she will need to get back to the Philippines as the local laws don’t allow helps to keep kids.
But we made a decision. We told her to stay with us till the baby was born.
Finally it happened. A chubby, curly baby boy was born and stayed with us till he turned one-and-a-half. We immediately fell in love with him. He was baptized as Nathan, but his cheeks were so chubby and cute that we decided that he should have a traditional “good name” and a “nick name” – as we do for all Indians. We looked at his chubby cheeks, at each other, and decided it would be Laddu. I added a bit more color and said that it should be Laddu Singh.
Laddu Singh is a part of our family now. We are proud and blessed to have him. Laddu is 5 years old and lives in a small place called Iloilo in the Philippines, but our aim is to get Laddu an education in Stanford so that he can add value to his country, bring back many moms from Hong Kong, so that there are many more Laddus…and Philipinos get chubbier!!!