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22nd April

Life as a Lego game

On Orchard Road in Singapore, I saw a group of Filipina domestic workers take pictures of each other in front of the Gucci shop windows. They posed as if they were models and some of the glamour rubbed off on them just by standing there.


It made me think of the Nissan car I saw in Mexico a month earlier where the owner had put a Mercedes star on the hood. He laid back in the car smoking a cigarette, his eyes slightly squinted with his arm hung nonchalantly out the window, the way James Dean did in “Rebel Without a Cause”.


With a small token they pretended that their dreams had become reality. I thought back to the games of childhood, of blocks and Lego—where the world could be built through imagination and simple shapes. What you build depends on how adroit you are with the different blocks.


From time to time, I wonder if I do the same.


I do feel particularly confident when I wear a certain jacket that I bought twenty years ago. It’s a tailored model made of red suede with broad shoulders and a slim waist. It fits like a glove and feels like a piece of armour. I wear it only on very special occasions, so that its magic power does not fade.


But I walked into a Gucci store twenty years ago to buy this jacket. I know I have privileges others do not.


Still, I’d like to think that despite living in greatly different circumstances the Filipina women, the proud Mercedes-Nissan owner and I do have something in common. Certain props make us feel better about ourselves and our lives, if only for a moment.   

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