Life's Like That

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

About a maid..

I have come to realize that my maid is the most important person in my life. The day that the maid does not show up at 7 a.m is...well its a tragedy. I am depressed, irritable, and prone to tears. I usually wake up at 6.30 a.m and worry about whether she will show up or not. Ah! The joy I feel when the bell rings. The bounce in my step when I go to open the door, the smile on my face when I see her..you have to see it to believe it. The presence of easily available domestic help in India is probably the strongest argument I can present to never ever moving abroad.

After I moved into my own apartment I employed a maid. Who drank. Like the proverbial fish. Though I did not realize this till much later..I merely thought the rather strong smell that always entered the house with the maid, came from outside through the door when I opened it for her. It never once occured to me that the advance money she took from me every second week was spent on alcohol. Till Rahul complained that she smelt like a distillery. And she did you know. Strongly. Disgustingly. Horribly. Till that moment I had never once connected the red eyes, the occassionally swaying gait to alcohol. I didnt fire her though. Good maids who dont bunk are hard to find. And as long as she was not stealing my alcohol there was no reason for me to fire her.

After my drunkard maid, I moved to my present house. And hired two maids. One to cook and the other to clean. The cook seems normal. Doesnt seem to drink. Though I think shes been eating my biscuits. The empty packet was lying in the box, and neither the boy nor I have eaten them. Again, Im faced with a dilemma...she is a damn good cook. Should I just sack her over something as trivial as a few biscuits? I can always buy more biscuits. In fact, now that I think about it, I dont even like biscuits that much.

The cleaning maid...she was another matter altogether. She was this plump pleasant faced woman named Jayamma who didnt speak a word of Hindi or Tamil ( The boy speaks Tamil fluently, having grown up in Chennai, very useful accomplishment). She spoke Kannada only.And while I can understand Kannada when it is spoken slowly I cannot follow a superfast giggly conversation and I cannot speak the language. Also, she seemed to be mentally deficient. She smiled and giggled ALL THE TIME!! Glad though I am to see my maids,I do not appreciate voluble incomprehensible monologues accompanied by loud giggles and beatific smiles at 7 a.m. She didnt seem to understand even the simplest of instructions in the most basic Hindi :

Me: Yeh jhadu se idhar saaf karo...(accompanied by sweepeing arm gestures)
Maid: Giggle giggle....Lot of incomprehensible Kannada words...giggle giggle.
Me: Jhadu (brandish broom) - se- saaf (sweeping movements)
Maid: (postively hysterical) GIGGLEGIGGLEGIGGLE
Me: (firmly hand broom to her): karo (sweeping movements yet again)
Maid: (broom in hand) Broad smile.
Me: Kya hua? Saaf karo...jhadu se ( point to broom and sweeping motions again. Very tiring for the arms)
Maid: Giggle. More incomprehensible Kannada.
Me: ( take broom back and start sweeping floor)

This continued for a few days; not just sweeping, but mopping and washing utensils as well. Then I just refused to get out of bed and open the door. Rahul let her in, and she went about doing what I suppose she thought was cleaning. Except that when I did get up I would find dust and dirt everywhere, and redo everything myself. This routine was followed on the days when she actually came to work. Most days she didnt. So I decided to save myself 800 bucks a month and just sack her. At that point I had grand notions of doing all the housework myself. I told myself and anybody else who would listen that this would be good exercise and would help me stay fit, lose weight etc. Within a week I was begging all and sundry to find me a maid. The biggest reason for my dramatic change of heart was the fact that I live with a boy with amazingly dirty feet. Also that I employ a cook who likes to use an average of 16 utensils while making one dish.

Then I found Basanti, who is terribly posh. We converse in English because she doesnt speak Hindi. Only Kannada and English. She does not call me Amma or Bhaabi, she calls me Madam. She politely refused to come on Sundays. When I offered to pay her extra to come on Sundays she firmly told me "Its not about money Madam. I need one day for myself." Which is a valid point. Its just that I have never heard an Indian maid put it that way. She does not giggle or smile(thank god). In fact she hardly ever says anything. To be honest, Im quite intimidated by her. When I want ther to do something I usually think thrice before actually putting it in words.And I say it as politely as I can..."errr.. I was just wondering, if you are done with the utensils..maybe you could dust on top of the fridge??" I have all these old clothes to give away, I would normally have given them to the maids, but I am scared to ask Basanti if she wants them. What if I offend her? What if she never comes back to my house again? Would I ever find a English speaking maid again?

Such, dear Reader (those of you who have made it till here) is my life. I could tell you more, but now I have to go and purchase a Vim bar for Basanti and ginger paste for my cook. I think while Im at it, I shall buy a packet of biscuits for both of them. Cant hurt to keep them happy right?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Its all about the money honey

I went to this optical solutions store today. Which is a fancy way of saying spectacle/contact lens showroom. One of my clients. While I was there, I saw this woman buying a pair of Mont Blanc spectacle frames. Worth Rs. 25,000. No you did not misread the number of zeros in that. She bought a pair of spectacle frames for twenty five thousand rupees. And thats just the cost of the frames. The lenses were another Rs. 12-15000. What I am not able to understand is :

A) Why does anyone need designer branded spectacle frames? Would other people even notice that you are wearing designer branded spectacles? Do any of you notice other peoples' spectacles to see which brand they are?

B) For someone to be able to afford that kind of money on spectacles, what kind of money would they be earning?

C) Am I cheap when it comes to spectacles? Coz I generally look for the cheapest frames, and moderately good quality lenses. How much would any of you spend on spectacles? Not sunglasses. Spectacles. Prescription eyewear. Choshma.

D) Why don't I make that kind of money?

E) Will I ever make the kind of money that will allow me to even consider buying spectacles /sunglasses of this kind?

Life is just not fair!! 25000 on spectacles!!!! God!!That kind of spending should be banned!! It makes stupefied bystanders like myself feel very bad about themselves.