She comes in all shapes and sizes; she speaks many languages; she breaks my heart, touches me, saddens me, makes me happy and also frustrates me. The most important woman in my life! You got that right – my maid! Since the time I came back to India and set up my home, she has been a part and parcel of my existence, the maker or breaker of my happiness and the single-handed source of my greatest sorrows. And every time, one goes, I look on yearningly to finally find that elusive one who will be hooked by my goodness to stick around in my home and perhaps would think of it as her second home. Alas, the search continues…

Maids and leaves are inseparable. As the experience of my decade long journey with this partner tells me, the excuses to get leaves become more bizarre with each passing day. Here are some jewels for your consumption.

  • Disease: Have fever, typhoid, and jaundice depending upon the duration of the leave demanded. Sometimes the diseases change midway. It was fever but then the doctor said it was appendicitis. Or the leg sprain became stomach trouble. And there is a word they use here – “gastric.” It could mean anything from flatulence to stomach upset to constipation and food poisoning! Damn the biology I studied way back is not very helpful in deciphering their medical conditions!
  • Have phone, will keep it switched off: The maid has not turned up, so I try calling her. I already have a sinking feeling that it will be turned off, and it is! It ran out of battery or was left at a neighbor’s is almost always the excuse. Magically it gets turned on by afternoon.
  • When you get her on phone: Sometimes, it may ring forever and then a neighbor, daughter, son, aunt, sister, father in law will pick up. They will promptly say that she fell down the stairs, had a quarrel with the husband, had an accident, a family member had an accident, had food poisoning and all roads inevitably lead to a hospital. Can I speak to her please? No, she is admitted in the hospital/ accompanying someone to the hospital. Strange that personally I only go to the hospital rarely and the last time I got admitted was years ago! Of course, different dynamics apply to them, or perhaps they take their vacations in hospitals.
  • Death: Her brother/sister/ aunt /uncle/mother-in-law/father-in-law/ mother/father is dead. She needs to take at least a week off and is not sure when she can come back. Rajaa beku (need a holiday) — when I hear those dreaded words, I almost start lapsing into coma. The rate at which their relatives die, our population should get self-regulated. Sometimes, people are popping off in simultaneous weeks.
  • Visit to devasthanam/ temple: I have had the most faithful maids over the years that are always running to habbas on festivals and temples even otherwise. Just my bad luck that all good temples are out-of-state. Really terrible of me that I just go to the temple in the neighborhood once in many years.

I had a maid who made up 3 different excuses for 3 different employers all of whom talked to each other. It fails me why someone would lie to this extent to take leave. Anyway, they take leave; we have to give it! We all know who the boss here is. So they can demand these truthfully. When I employ a maid, the only favor I ask is that she informs me when she takes an off.  But, it is the toughest thing for them to do upsetting my already crazy routine regularly. So my quest continues.

Just today morning, my newly appointed maid came back after a leave yesterday. Oh, her brother had died in TN. She did the visiting and mourning all in the space of one day. I didn’t care; I was happy to see her back and prudently did not mention anything about her leave. Hubby, however, interjected why she had to make someone die to take a leave. I threw him a venomous look that told him exactly what the repercussions of his act will be if she does the vanishing act tomorrow. And with a sweet smile I went to make coffee for her!

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91 Thoughts on “Maid for each other!

  1. Hmmmm. Nodding and smiling. All of us have the same grouse: “Please inform when you want to take leave.” I have seen my mother wait for hours before we start doing the chores by ourselves. Domestics are the same, everywhere. Glad that yours came, Rachna.

    Joy always,
    Susan

    • It was my light- hearted attempt at sharing my angst, Susan :). I don’t wait hours. I just wait an hour and so and get on with my work. And others do pitch in sometimes as well. It does upset my working schedule though.

  2. I have seen my mother go through the very same struggles you have with your maid. 😛

  3. LOL on the ‘hooked to my goodness’ Rachna.
    Atleast you can have the luxury of a maid. Here I am the maid, the bait everything 🙂
    And now I am so used to doing everything that when we go to India I hate it when we have to wait for the maid. Most of the time me and the s-i-l do all the work before she arrives.
    Now that it is July she must be eagerly awaiting me. 😀

    • No one seems to care about my good character and kindness, I tell you :). Yes, we have that benefit surely. And, I do like the time and energy I save in doing housework which I don’t enjoy anyway. I do cook and there are 10,000 other things around the house that we have to anyway do.

  4. I just wonder, just a question 🙂
    Is domestic help really required?
    During my childhood days, my mom was doing the work, everything and she wanted to do it all by herself alright! :-p
    Then I started to help her and later my brother. My father in his later days used to help her by preparing strong filter coffee (:-D)
    Only now she has a domestic help as she has heath problems and my brother do not have time (he helps in kitchen whenever he can).
    For me here, there is absolutely no help like that :-p We do our work all by ourselves,,
    So sometimes I wonder why we need a domestic help at all?

    • Oh yes, she is! I have enough of slogging to do in my home anyway. I cook, take care of two kids and a dog and work professionally, so yes I do like some help in some form even if it is paid help. I would prefer to use the time saved in housework in other activities that I immensely enjoy like reading or writing. I think it is every woman’s prerogative about what she desires. Your mom was happy doing everything by herself. I did that too when I lived in the US. But I prefer to hire a maid where I can.

  5. hahaha Rachna! Oh our ‘Maid’-en adventures! I nod my head vigorously to everything you have written.. All my wrath gets diverted towards my husband whenever the maid decides to vanish…I promise myself to reprimand her when she visits next but I eventually go make a cup of tea for her instead 😉

  6. Thankfully, we don’t have a maid – do the daily stuff ourselves including the vacuuming and mopping and then have someone come once a week – based on mutual convenience to do the the focused cleaning. 🙂 I can’t be bothered waiting and then discovering they’re not coming! You forgot to mention the pretend cough on the day after to say they were truly not well! 😛

    • Happy for you, Corinne! I do need my maid. I would completely lose it if I had to do all the housework on top of my already high work load :). I know the toughest part is in not knowing. Though I don’t wait much. An hour over time and I begin the cleaning. Oh yes, absolutely, how did I forget the pretend cough :).

  7. My husband says I save my sweetest smile for the maid. With the amount of dust in Gurgaon, I can’t do without the one who sweeps and mops for me.

    • I am at my patient best and do use maximum tact with my maid. My husband often dreams of becoming the maid ;-). Yaar, I am not one who extolls slogging. Pehle se itna kaam hai so help is definitely welcome from maids.

  8. Same here, Faridabad is a dust bowl. Cant do without a maid, and she waits until I drive off to work to come home. The son can’t supervise. She has it really easy. Unsurprisingly, she misses work mostly on a Sunday.

    • And that must be such a pain for you. For me, I work from home so my work gets affected since I prefer to work when the kids are in school. The morning hours are truly precious for me.

  9. As we witness in most offices,maids too fall under different categories;lazy,shirkers,cantankerous, clumsy,hungry,grumbling,griping, sick,malingering and adamant.A few are reasonably good.Getting a good maid is a matter of luck like getting a good husband.You can throw the former out!!

  10. poonam on July 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm said:

    That was a good one.. loved reading yr ‘maid- en woes’.. sent me nostalgic.. yupp .. used to do that way back when I was in India.. sometimes if the lady didn’t turn up for couple of days, my dishes would keep piling waiting for her.. but here in the US, like everyone, I do it myself and hv realized that it isn’t a big issue afterall when you know it beforehand that you have to do it yrself.. I wont say I love doing it, but don’t mind doing it now.. learnt thru a hard way..lol!!

    • Cleaning was easier when I was in the US. Here one has to sweep and mop daily. And yes, if one knows then the work can be planned. The wait is so bugging. And really, I prefer to have help in housework. I absolutely detest it :).

  11. Ha ha ha…I have handled 12 different maids in 7 years…and can very well relate to your situation. A question I have asked all of them but with no solid reasoning behind the lies….I had one young girl who got married on one trip and a week after said, her boy had to be admitted to school. 😀

  12. Hello Rachna, followed u through Susan’s post. Your post has it all. loved reading and wish we were sitting close by to share our angst.
    i grew up in a bureaucratic home surrounded by all kinds of help. Now so many yrs later and having this done that i have become just too sentimental about the word MAID. Can u go through this long post of mine about one that i had and miss terribly?
    Similar in ur angst my story might give u some valuable insights…i hope u get something at least…from my own Shamu kaka my Vasanti Amma.
    Catch the long story at http://shivanidiwani64.blogspot.in/2010/03/my-own-shamu-kaka-vasanti-amma.html
    Feels good to visit ur page…will be back soon. 🙂

    • Thanks Shivani for all your kind words. Yep, I grew up in a bureaucratic setup as well. Life before and after marriage has been so different :). I will surely get to your post tomorrow. And yes, I have had some really good ones in my childhood. And even one here who was with me for 5 years. But since then it has been downhill.

  13. All I can say is, we are sailing in the same boat. I just cannot fathom why them cannot stick on to one place for long. When we were young, we had generations of maid working for the same family. Since I shifted to Mumbai, I had 2 maids who worked for 5 years each. Can’t find anyone like them anymore.

    • I cannot understand that either, Janu. I am a good employer, and I say that with complete objectivity. I had one maid who was with me for 5 years. She had to quit due to health reasons. And since then it has been such a struggle.

  14. I’d written on the subject a couple of years back ‘Life is maid’. Oh yes, I relate to every word of it. I’m so dependent on my maid that I can’t imagine my life without her. She’s the better of the lot, but yes she has her share of endless problems (most of it honest) and her absence has me cribbing through the day, that I have to do all the dirty work!

    • RGB, do share the link of your post. I know they have far worse problems. And all of us are not monsters. We have a heart too if only they would reach out. All the lying and deception gets my goat.

  15. Smita on July 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm said:

    ha ha ha ha!!!! I won’t write much here because u have given me an idea and when a girl has to write for 31 days she better stores the idea 😉

    Good luck to you may your maid make your day 2moro otherwise Husbandji ki to…:D

  16. Hehhehh…The scariest 4 words in Hindi language as far as our household is concerned are – Mujhe gaon jana hai. When uttered, our world comes crashing down instantly.

  17. My maid is awesome – never takes an off! Sometimes she even offers to come on days she is not suppose to come.
    I must have done something good to be blessed like this 🙂

  18. So, they truly are the “Domestic” Goddess! My mom never hired a maid so far, and she’s managing things herself. I’ve heard all these complaints from M-i-l though. Never had an experience of hiring a maid, but it sure looks challenging. Even challenging is sustaining them, Ha!

    • As you rightly pointed out, Anu, it is more challenging retaining them these days. We live in a community of 300 homes. No matter how well you keep them, they will drop you and run at the drop of a hat. Sigh!

  19. Well execuses for absence is kind normal behavior. As long as you have reasonablly honest person, you are fine. Your article is funny though )

    • Yep, honesty is the first pre-requesite. But this constant lying and unreliable behavior gets on to me. Thanks for appreciating the humor :).

  20. One thing we want and that they can’t do. Inform when you are not coming. I bet, we don’t wait for anyone like we do for them.

  21. Good one! I totally agree with each and every word!

  22. hi…this was hilarious but very true too…i could relate to it so easily….my mom’s temper flares up everytime our maid does not turn up :))

  23. Teehee!! You know what? I now have a Mexican lady who comes in to clean every two weeks. Touch wood, she hasn’t yet given me these excuses, possibly because I pay her per visit instead of monthly!

    • Even threats of deducting money for leaves don’t work. They know and we know that we can’t make good that threat :). They will leave and go besides I do have a tender heart ;-). I find it very tough to chop off money.

  24. Look at the bright side. The days she does manage to turn up, you manage to live like a Memsahib, while she does all the scouring and cleaning. Unlike me who is now the Kanta,Shanta,Reena of the house :/

    • That’s the high point that makes me put up with all the lies and tantrums. That we can still afford maids is one of the highlights of living in this chaotic country.

  25. Some of these don’t sound all that different from the excuses I’ve heard in the IT industry in India 🙂 Funny 🙂

  26. I liked your lighthearted take on the subject. I hope this maid sticks around, so you wouldn’t have to hunt for more. 🙂

    • Thank you DC :). I don’t know if she will stick around or not. We will take it one day at a time. She has already told me that she ain’t coming next Sunday, but at least she has told me.

  27. Dagny on July 3, 2013 at 11:18 am said:

    I had to read this today. My maid is absconding without information again today. Sigh.

  28. You made coffee for her?! I can’t believe it.

  29. hahahaha… superb post Rachana… I like the death one… did you know sometimes their relatives die twice too O_O.. and when you question then the first one or the second one becomes a ‘cousin uncle’ or ‘cousin aunt’ … don’t ask!!!

  30. Maids rule our lives, don’t they? I thank my stars for mine who takes 15 days off a year, at a stretch. But you can set the clock by her arrival on all other days.

  31. Maids, I have always avoided them. Living bachelor and with roommates for all these, I have always been asked to keep a maid. But, no, I never submitted to those requests. I am happy cooking, washing, cleaning on my own 🙂

  32. Every time you move on a posting…you move with your finger crossed not so much for the good house but for a good maid.

  33. it is the same story everwhere.We have it in NCR.
    When in Bangalore with my son,I see this mess,story every morning.
    But,time is not very far when we will have to accept to live life wiothout maids.

  34. Rachna, I think the maid have an all India association ..!! My mum would has so agreed when I narrated your post to her in Hindi .. as I knew she had almost every line to relate to 😀 Her biggest demand .. Bol ke Chutti lena .. and this fails with every BOSS she hires 😀 No maid will ever forecast the leave date(s) … take it or leave it ..
    they eye on how many guests added up to your house and would warn you against increasing number washing dishes 😀
    So are the true Masters of bluffing .. beat this .. the recent lady at my place who is above 45 .. says her husband does not allow a mobile phone .. he doubts her ! What a lame excuse ! And the other house she works in the same building of ours know a different story-her son lost his hence took mum’s phone 😀
    The fact is .. the maids and the callcenter employees .. they are the two most unsatisfied workers on earth .. no matter whatever they get .. lot more than the municipality cleaners .. these two kinds are similar ..
    Incidentally,I recently left the call center industry an year back 😀 and i know .. we are as good as maid when it comes to giving lame excuses to avoid night shifts . 😀
    Oh Mum says – bohot accha likha hai .. half credit goes to me .. for translating it to her 😉

    • pehle toh dhanyavaad, mummyji ko sunane ki liye. Yes, the maids indeed have an invisible thread tying them to each other in how they make excuses :). I worked in a BPO too for a year and truly hated it. They make you slog like a donkey. And, you are very right! They are the true bosses, these maids :)! Thank you for reading! And thanks to aunty for the compliment even though you deserve more credit for it :).

  35. Hi Rachna

    We live in a country where the there is a huge socio economic difference amongst different classes in society. There are poor uneducated people and hence we succeed in getting maids. If there is a stage where most are educated and not in dire need of money we all would have to do our chores ourselves. Also think from their side. We all get off from work on weekends, if not both atleast Sundays off. They have to come all days unless they have a solid reason like the lies you mentioned to take off. What would they do? I know I am giving a really serious comment on a light hearted post 🙂 Just sharing my views here. 🙂

    • Completely understand and agree with your point, Jaish! I know they live in very tough circumstances. I have no issues giving them holidays. This new maid is taking Sundays off. I guess each employer is different, and there are some mean ones out there. But I know I am a good employer who is fair and reasonable. And as you know, this was written in a light-hearted vein not intended at making fun of them. But yes, their excuses are really silly :).

  36. Haha, those pointers made me laugh! But I also feel sorry for you! I can imagine how annoying It can get when they take leave without informing or calling before hand! I have gone through those days. I think they take advantage of us BECAUSE they know how indispensable they are to the harmonious functioning of our households.

    Hope your maid woes end soon, Rachna! Good luck 🙂

  37. This strikes a chord with every homemaker.They are indispensable & so crucial for our peace of mind.

  38. shilpakgarg on July 6, 2013 at 4:19 pm said:

    God! This is the story of every woman! Agree completely with all the points you have mentioned. One of my maid was absent for 4 days! Her husband has a phone and he leaves early for work and comes home late. So whenever I speak to him, he says, she is unwell. So, when she came back after 4 days, I asked her about her health. She said, “I am fine, it was just that I didn’t feel like working!” I really didn’t know whether to be thankful that she is back or should have fired her!! 😐

    • 4 days leave without notifying, I would have surely fired her. I don’t know why they do this. So much lying. If they just say they need 4 days’ leave, it would just be easier on all of us.

  39. I have seen my household going into utter chaos when we are maidless. I don’t even want to remember those days.

  40. Loved it!! We all sail in the same boat!

  41. Anuradha on August 7, 2013 at 10:04 pm said:

    Mast… Ekdum sach! That neighbour picking the call and reply she fell off the stairs is so common!!

  42. luckily, mine is a lovely girl. if she’s taking it off she’ll let me know….spares me a lot of pulled out hair and frayed out nerves! but the previous one i had was testimonial to all the above excuses!

  43. Ha ha ha….don’t know I got here, but what a timing! My maid announced three days leave including the weekend this very morning. And I could only thank her for the advance information. Crazy excuses indeed make my blood boil. But then as you say, they are the boss.
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