Results & Trends VI: Life in the Gulf – good, bad, ambivalent?
3 periods of Kerala fieldwork over 2 years. 84 respondents. Mixed ages, provenance, community and class, different migration destinations.
Here’s some quotes from interviews in which respondents explained or justified their evaluation of Gulf life as positive, negative or ambivalent and often compared it to life in Kerala.
‘There’s no communal problem in the Gulf. I’m the only Hindu in my team, but we all get on and we never feel a problem. Even in Ramadan we don’t feel a problem.’
‘Here in India there is too much inequality. Very very very rich people; very very very poor people. Some live in luxury, many are starving; India will never come up until they fix that.’
‘In Kerala, there is too much drink, drugs and illicit sex, all under cover. For me, personally, that’s a temptation, and I like to be in a place where it’s not the culture’.
‘You can’t have a drink or enjoy your life in the Gulf.’
‘When you see India, you will see the worst corruption of Indian culture, young people in India are full on in using drugs and drink, but here, not so!’
‘My dad has been a cook in a restaurant for twenty years in the Gulf, I’m amazed how he can stick it. ‘Even Gulf migrants are saying, “don’t dream of coming to this place” ‘
‘I would have enjoyed Gulf if my family were there, but still Kerala is better’
‘Kerala is not India, Kerala culture is very nice.’
‘In Kerala, they carry migrant workers in a pick-up truck like sand or stones, and in UAE people are not allowed to be carried in a pick-up truck’ ‘In Gulf labour camps there are minimum standards for living conditions – I’ve lived in a labour camp and they even have flush toilets – in Kerala we give migrant labourers a bucket and nobody cares about them’
‘Kerala’s communal harmony has deteriorated and ghettos have grown (ie. ethnic enclaves) but thank God the flood brought people back together’
‘Our country is best, so long as we have a job and a house’
‘Here is a very very important point. Anyone who stays for 5 years (in the Gulf) will never come back. You get used to the Gulf life. Clean, orderly, peaceful and easy’.
‘My reference point is Europe or USA, not Turkey or Qatar. There is a quality gap in Gulf’.