June 7, 2009 5:27:41 am
Jitendra Kulkarni,a city based IT professional,an NRI from Singapore is proud to show his family album,not because it shows generations together or beauty of foreign land,but because it features the three highly popular Indian hotel doormen in Singapore.
In the country that boasts the tagline- uniquely Singapore,there is something even more unique. Not many know that that the icons of this harmonious and culturally diverse little dynamo of Southeast Asia are three Sikh Indian doormen.
Against the backdrop of illuminated five star ambiance of The Raffles Hotel,Singapore,it is impossible to overlook the doorman dressed in traditional Sikh attire. But what is fascinating about the six plus feet tall doormen at the Raffles Hotel is the fact that they are one of the most photographed icons of Singapore.
Overwhelmed by the mark that the three have created,Kulkarni says,”I go to Singapore after every three months. And every time I have an Indian guest coming to my place,I make it a point to take them to Raffles and click pictures with them. Today,the Sardars’ photographs are a part of my family album that I show to everyone.”
Narajan Singh,Sarjit Singh and Swaran Pal Singh are three doormen at the Raffles Hotel,who have been a part of the hotel staff since 1990. Dressed in their immaculate white Grieves and Hawks uniforms,these doormen are an irreplaceable part of the travel albums of countless visitors of Singapore. “The hotel has many memorabilia and the doorman plush is one of them. We have consciously promoted the doormen to the current status that they have achieved. The visitors love to take pictures with our doormen,and they are one of the most photographed icons in Singapore,” says Annie Choy,director,marketing communications,The Raffles Hotel.
“I am born in Singapore but have spent my formative years in Punjab,India in the ancestral home of my Sikh parents. The second of four children,I eventually returned to Singapore to live and work. For many years,I worked in security,before joining Raffles Hotel as doorman,” says 53-year-old Narajan Singh.
The hotel management has also created dolls that are the replicas of these doormen and the visitors take home the dolls as a memory of these iconic doormen. “In fact we also have the doormen fridge magnets and similar other items available at the Raffles Hotel shops,” says Choy.
Happy to be the icons doing their jobs with great pride,the work profile of these doormen extends much beyond the commonly perceived tasks of a doorman. In fact,when the hotel wins international awards,the doorman,together with the hotel’s general manager,attend the award ceremonies to receive the awards. “It is a wonderful feeling. I lacked any experience in the hotel industry when I decided to take up the job but soon after my joining,I was given lots of training to be a representative of the hospitality industry. And today,I have traveled the entire world accompanying the managers and senior staff members of the hotel for receiving the awards. In fact some of the memorable moments have also been serving the heads of the state,dignitaries and celebrities. It has been a wonderful journey,” says Singh.
After years of work,today,their dignified service epitomises hospitality. Swaran Pal Singh remembers his most memorable moments and puts them in words saying,”I even made a cameo appearance in the 1994 film- Paradise Road,the story of a group of women during World War II directed by Bruce Beresford,appearing alongside Glenn Close,Cate Blanchett,Jean Simmons,Jennifer Ehle,Elizabeth Spriggs and Julianna Marguiles.”
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