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First blog post

Anyone having stayed in an Indian house for even a week would know what trials and tribulations an Indian woman goes through juggling between multiple roles hoping and praying to one day achieve a constant in her continuously changing maid universe.

Indian women have abundance of maid stories, which happen to be their favorite gossip topic in Indian households and workplaces. Its a daily struggle! Each woman has her own treasure box of the learnings that each new maid has given her.

I have always found it amusing how these girls and women who are employed for making our lives easier, create a complexity in our lives that we wouldn’t have thought of! Even when dealing with the biggest challenges with maids, I have found myself distancing myself from the situation and having a good laugh at what emotions and strategies are at play.

So one day I decided to start jotting down some of these experiences and the associated emotions enveloping the same. With an almost 18 hr back breaking daily schedule of office and home responsibilities, I lost the enthusiasm quite early on. My brother in law, Rajat, jumped in to write some of their own experiences. Suddenly we realized that between the two of us, we have written quite an interesting set of anecdotes.

I have started this blog to share these with the Indian populace. I am sure every Indian woman; even men, the married ones at least, would relate to this quite poignantly. Its all about my (every Indian woman’s) day to day maid troubles

Keep reading for a good laugh…..

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Book Launch

If you liked the posts till now, lookout for my book  Maid(less) in India, at onlinegatha.com that is to be launched shortly

The Missing Address

Since, my mother in law’s household and temper too were heavily dependent on ready availability of good maids, my father in law used to keep collecting information on maid agencies, which could be dipped into in the hour of need. This definitely was that hour for me.

He gave me a visiting card of a maid agency in the heart of the city that had been dropped at their gate a few days back. Very professional looking card; this got me excited that maybe this one would have some good smart girls who could fill the void in my life. Let me try this approach.

So I made the call.

“Yes, Ma’am; we will have all types of maids available; trained, semi trained, untrained & they are all expected to come in a week’s time”

Wow! I thought

What time I could come & pick one up. 

I would be visiting your area with one maid that I am providing to another household the coming Sunday, so I can bring one for you as well, will that work for you Madam?

Sure, I mean, yes, will definitely work, please come on Sunday

In my joy, I forgot to ask about the money and other details. I was thrilled. I immediately called up Sameer to share with him this exhilarating news!!

Sameer, being his typical level headed practical Taurean, stated we would pick the girl up ourselves so that we can see the whereabouts of the agency as well be in a position to take a pick from the maids available. Anyways, we were going to that part of the city coming Saturday so we decided we will check with the agency & see if we can pick the girl up.

The ensuing week was a week of exhilaration! Everyone around me was happy with the buzz that I generated. My colleagues, my family, my friends; all commented how cheerful and happy I looked. Umpteen times I was caught daydreaming, I was about to graduate from a part time maid to a full time one, I was about to climb the ladder of success, what a feeling I couldn’t stop myself form visualizing the luxury of having someone at my service when I reached home dead tired after an eventful meeting; the luxury of getting up at 6:30 instead of 5 AM as there would be someone preparing the meals; what a bliss!!

Saturday came &we had to get ready to go this friend. I have never been more excited. “Hmm…., someone is eager to go”, Sameer commented, “Surprise! you seem to be the first one to get ready for this occasion; a rare occurrence.” No guesses for the reason behind it!!

Once we reached the party, I could hardly wait for the party to end. I kept watching Sameer’s drink which today seemed to be a never ending affair!! And on top of it he was busy chatting with the hostess, I was getting restless. Meanwhile, when the banter was over, ladies were back to discussing their favorite topic, maids. I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable as I was without one, and though I was on the verge of getting one, the wait was getting painful and unbearable by the minute. I pulled Sameer in a corner & CLEARLY INSTRUCTED him that as soon as we could excuse ourselves without being rude I would like to move out, so he had better have his food before that.

He sobered down immediately, quickly gobbled in his food and drink & we were out on the road. Such excitement! The search for the address began. First finding the apartments was the challenge; & then the apartment number seemed to have become invisible. After going around helter-skelter for over an hour, we finally found the address in the small by lanes.

With great anticipation, Sameer & I climbed the stairs to the fourth floor & rang the bell. The lady who opened the door looked really tired and unhappy. Feeling sorry for her I asked in a polite tone;

“Hello, is Mahesh available right now?”

 “Who Mahesh, there is no one by that name”

Isn’t this the “Mangalam Placement Agency”

 “What Agency? This is no agency. So many times I’ve told people this is my house; humble house but mine. Someone should complain about this Mahesh, whoever he is. Why has he given my number! If I get my hands on him I’ll bash him up ……” exclaimed the lady! And she slammed the door on our face.

For a fraction of a second there was darkness all around me, thought I was fainting. But then Sameer nudged me & brought me back into consciousness. We rang the bell again and apologized to the lady and with a heavy heart started climbing down.

Once inside the car it struck me; “Oh my God!! We had been fooled!! If Sameer hadn’t had the foresight to go and fetch the maid on our own, we would have been duped!!” I recalled, how some of my friends who had taken maids from agencies could not locate the agency after the maid ran away. In fact in some cases, they had personally gone to the agency to pick up the maids but when they had tried locate these agents after a few months, they were absconding. I was furious! I had to get this guy caught. I told Sameer that we should report this to the police. I mean, not every woman has such a wise husband!

So many of women in agony would be getting duped and distressed because of such unscrupulous characters. The least I would do was expose the ones I encounter. But again my practical husband brought me back to my senses. “Look Dear, you do have limited time. What would you prefer to utilize it in; getting these goondas caught or finding your maid?”  I realized I needed to prioritize. So I gave up the idea of lodging an immediate FIR & went back home, empty handed and momentarily defeated….

Disaster Strikes

Rashi – Main protagonist, Sameer – Husband, Vikas – Boss, Amrita – secretary,  Mehak– elder daughter, Muskan –younger kid

My world fell apart….I could not believe it! She had just walked out on me……..How could she, how could she do this to me! We had shared some of the most beautiful moments of our lives together. She had been at my side through good times and bad times…..Always my closest friend and confidant. Oh! Why was this happening to me! I can’t bear the pain and the desolation!

The day had begun beautifully, though as I reminisce, I do remember a weird feeling in the morning that sort of warned me of impending disaster, but such is life and its travails.

It had felt like a very good morning, the breeze was gentle and I could hear the chirping of the birds in my balcony. I had felt rejuvenated by the warm sun rays, filtered by the leaves of the nearby tree, not too warm, not too cold just right, brushing my skin as it seem to climb about, slowly increasing its intensity for the day. I could see the sky was clear. Oh what a day, I had wondered and maybe we can get a few more of these!

If only I could get a cup of chai, I thought! But not to worry, later I would get it surely for sure, in peace, once I have finished my daily routine, but it was not meant to be as I had just found out.

As usual, I was packing our lunches for the office, when I noticed that a frightfully expensive cake that I had bought for today’s dinner was missing. All I did was to ask her if she knew what happened with it. That’s all, a simple question. All hell broke loose thereafter.

Mehak, my 14 year old, mentioned she had seen Kantabai helping herself and polishing off a wholesome piece. Before I could say anything Kantabai started shouting & crying, stating that we always accuse her for anything that goes missing, she cannot live with this kind of distrust.

So what if I have taken a piece of the cake,am I not part of the family, everyone is entitled to some benefits and rights, don’t you think so?

And before I could utter a word she dropped her bomb

“Bhabhiji, I’m leaving, am going and packing my stuff right away, please keep my wages ready!”& she walked into her room slamming the doors.

I kept trying to plead with her to at least have a dialogue; but couldn’t get a word through in between her continuous rambling. I knew from past experience that there is no going back, she would not stay. Yet, hoping against hope I pleaded with her, I promised to increase her wages but she was adamant,

“No, Bhabhiji, enough is enough, I cannot take this kind of insult. How can this little chit of a girl (pointing to Mehak) spy over me!!”

I looked at Mehak pleadingly; conveying my distress with my eyes beseeching her to apologize to Kantabai, but that indeed was too much to expect; a teenager apologizing to a maid because the she had caught the maid red handed!

I tried to hold on to her under another camouflage;

You still owed me 1000 rupees from the last advance over and above this month’s wages so I am not giving you a penny. You’ll have to return the 1000 Rs before I can let you go.

She promptly took that money out & gave it to me. I was aghast, all my tricks were turning out to be ineffective. Interestingly just last night she had pleaded with me that she desperately needed 200 bucks as she had to buy some clothes and she had send all her money home!

Anyways, no point in bringing that up now, it wouldn’t make her stay back! So, I had to let her go then. The catastrophe had struck. I knew I should not give in to despair as I veered around to the no maid scenario.

I looked around, the house was a mess. Muskan, my 7 year old, had left all her paintings strewn all over the place. The paint marks all over the ground did not make it any better, and a sense of despondency started to creep in. I had almost started breaking down. But then I realized its past 7 am, & my kids van would be coming in any moment now. Before attending to the vibrant landscape I needed to send my kids to school. Quickly I packed them off and sat down to gather my breath, or what was left of it.

That’s when it hit me! Oh my God!! I am without a maid. No one is going to clean my house for me, no one is going to make tea for me when I come from office, no one to attend to my kids when they come home. Oh my God!! I have to go through this all over again; the hunt for a suitable maid needs to start RIGHT NOW! & then I howled. I howled as if my heart will burst open, I cried as if this is the end of the world for me; which in a way it was.

I remembered a mail chain that I had read a few days back & laughed at “Women in India die of two things; one if they have – AIDS, one if they do not have – MAIDS” but this time I could not laugh at this.

I howled even more loudly. Sameer knew trying to console me would lead to BIG quarrels. Nothing he could say, nothing whatsoever, would comfort me. He knew its best for him to keep out of it at this moment. Maybe after a couple of days when I was a little more amenable to listen will he come up with suggestions. Till then, the best way to comfort me, he knew, was to start finishing some of the tasks left unattended, quietly in other room(s) and kitchen.

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