Monday, September 28, 2009

Not My Post

The front page of today’s New York Times had an article about how families in Jakarta with servants handle the end of Ramadan, when all the servants go home to be with their families for two weeks.

Most of you know about Robert’s childhood in Indonesia (and Singapore, Malaysia and Guam.) What you may not know is that when he lived in Jakarta, his family had seven servants--- although, as he says, three of them were guards.

It’s misleading to stop at that point. So many families in that area rely on servants that it made the front page of the NY Times. Robert’s friend and driver, Sujarno, was considered to have an excellent position and his family thrived on the salary. As Robert put it, there is no middle class there. If you had the kind of work where you could grow your fingernails (right hand only, of course) then you were doing well.

This breakfast conversation fit with my recent thoughts on modern social stratification. We really are becoming a global society, with the castes separated not as much by geography as by ideology. Corporate conglomerates transcend national boundaries, sadly often becoming laws unto themselves. (This is as close to politics as I’m willing to skate.) When I think of my friends on Twitter, who reside in at least four different countries and whose ages span as many decades, the globalization theme continues.

None of this matters, of course. And it’s Robert’s childhood, not mine, which is why I said from the beginning that this isn’t my post. It’s the one he should have written. I guess I should close with “Never mind, then.”

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