This post was started a while back but not sure why it didn’t see the light of day till now.
Weeell…that was a rather lame attempt at a pun but it’s a bitter fact of life amongst the upwardly mobile in urban India these days. It’s no longer a case of ‘the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world‘ but one which has dramatically become a situation of ‘the hand that wields the mop‘ ruling it instead. Feel free to substitute mop with broom, spin mop, duster or what have you! We’re an equal-opportunity oppressed demographics.
For those of my readers who aren’t familiar with how things work in India; it’s quite simple- if you can afford it, you get a maid. Usually someone who is in dire need of money. You meet, size each other up with the lady in question peeking into the house and mentally calculating the surface area before asking you to part with an amount that’s sure to make you go google-eyed for a bit.
You haggle, you dicker while each one talks about the cost of living. Now this is a pattern from where we don’t stray at all!
The potential employer downplays the amount of work that’s likely to be accrued every day while the potential hire talks about the number of rooms+the number of people+the number of utensils they generate multiplied by the article of clothing they’re likely to shed everyday and then she firmly comes up with an equation that’s mind boggling not say nothing of one that’ll put mathematicians to shame; so great is the length and breadth of the calculations that she does mentally. They are the true forecasters, such is the elan with which they predict things which will play out!
Finally a deal is struck for them to come in and sweep, mop, wash dishes, dry them, dust, clean the loos and if the Galatic Ameba is truly merciful, they turn up after taking the first month’s salary in advance citing some financial trouble that they are carrying around for time immemorial.
If the Galactic Ameba is feeling mischievous, the new hire suddenly has to go to her native place to care for a relative who fell ill at the stroke of midnight and she keeps telling you that she’ll be back in a few days. Note: No one ever knows how many days equal “a few” btw.
These women who are hired aren’t always helping out working women who have little or no time to get things done around the house. It’s pretty much a norm to have a maid who helps out whether you’re a home maker or an executive who wears power suits and jets around for her work.
Over a point of time the link between the maids and their employers can change its nature from symbiotic to parasitic. There are employers who seldom grant leaves; working the maids to the bone and essentially expecting them to do all the things that make for a modern-day Cinderalla story.
But don’t start feeling sorry for the maids yet…they strike back. And how! They don’t turn up on time, get affected by mysterious ailments which only crop up on the day there are mountains of dishes to be cleaned or the day when the relatives arrive and the lady of the house would prefer to entertain rather than slave away in the kitchen.
Maids can be workhorses or divas in their own right. Some will scrub and buff and mop till the house shines and while others find a way to leave it dirtier than they found it. Whatever be the case, we are all happy when they grace our doors. And I like to think they are happy to see us as well, even if we pretty much point them at the dust and dirt and say, “Have at it!” from the word hello.
I do know this…when searching for maid pictures, it’s best to specify Indian maids or house maids else results of French-maid attired images pop up all over Google! Sigh…