Pic courtesy: Freedigitalphotos.net

I just had to write about my dearest enemy and the most important person in my life today. No, I have no hard feelings for her. Remember, I just wrote about forgiveness being divine in my previous post. And, so it shall be when I welcome her with open arms when she walks in whenever she feels like without bothering to explain her long absence. Oh yes, I was talking about my household help or the common housemaid.

Sometimes, I have these out-of-body experiences when I watch myself, poor me, hoping against hope that she will turn up. Please God, let her come especially today, as I have so much work. And, 9 out of 10 times, we have this uncanny reverse telepathy that she will choose the exact same day to bunk. In the honor of her delightful excuses, I have already written a post about being maid for each other. So, I won’t go there in depth. But I know for sure that anything from an earthquake to grievous injury or death can cause her to vanish suddenly only after remembering to switch off her cellphone.

And you know what, in keeping with our culture, I keep my infinite misery of dependence on maids hidden within the four walls of my home. Outside of that, I am fiercely independent and strong, but inside of it, I am her slave. She can take leaves, as many and when she wants. Who am I to stop her? The only condition I have is that she informs me, but come hell or high water, she just would not bother to.

And then there is this situation with guests. Yes, you have been dusting, cleaning, cooking and preparing lovingly for some near and dear ones to come live with you. One day before their arrival, you request, almost beg her to please not take leaves over the next few days. Please! You promise to pay her more. “Don’t forget,” you say putting on your most enchanting smile that even your husband does not have the good fortune of seeing while bidding her goodbye.

Next day, the guests arrive. And guess what, you have confirmed that she has arrived and is working in another house. Your heart does a merry dance, as you dive in the laughter, cheer and chatter. Half an hour later, she calls saying that someone had an accident, and she has to rush to her village. She is not sure if she is coming the next day either. That completely deflates your spirits. Suddenly, you see the remnants of a big breakfast (dirty dishes) laughing at your face, and plans of a hearty lunch begin to give you acidity only because you start counting the associated cleaning chores. So, you take stock of the situation. Everyone pitches in including the dear guests. After all “Hum Saath Saath Hain” is all about doing dishes together. The older kids pitch in with vacuuming and cleaning the table. This is just what they must have envisaged as their idea of fun on a vacation. Apologetically, you do your share and also ensure that you keep doing the dishes the rest of the day so that there is no backlog in the morning.

Well! What do you know? She turns up the next morning, fresh as a daisy, no explanations offered! You had almost done all the work by then expecting her not to come. She obviously could not have gone to the village and come back in one day. But then both of us know, “Who were we kidding?” She continues on like the Queen mother coming home.

Maybe, I am dense or something, but how come these folks run for every single disease or death to their village. We, poor employed people, have to inform our employers and cajole our clients for months before we can take even a weekend off. Apparently the only rules for vacations or unannounced leaves that our maids follow are ‘Their Rules.’

Alas, this is a never ending saga!

I leave you with a true incident. A friend of mine was frantically looking to hire a maid. She interviewed one high-profile maid who quoted an astronomical sum for couple of hours of basic work. She also explained her long list of demands. My friend listened patiently and retorted, “If you find such a household, let me know; I will go and work there!” (Aisa ghar mile toh mujhe bol, main pakad leti hoon).

Have a great weekend, folks :)!

64 Thoughts on “Maiden adventures!

  1. Hahaha…seriously this is the case with everyone I think. The Mumbai maids are indeed queens of the household lol! And I love that snippet in the very end.

  2. Same story, here, Rachna!! Actually, they know very well that we are dependent on them and hence these tantrums. LOL @ your friend’s answer. But such households do exist, where every single work in the house is done by the maids and yes they are paid exorbitantly too!! 😐

    • I am surprised at how much money they ask for these days. In my house also, I do all the dusting, folding of clothes, clothes are washed in the machine etc. My maid does the basic work and yet I pay her well with bonuses and paid leaves, and yet she behaves in this manner. Makes me so mad!

  3. Kahan ghar ghar ki :):)

  4. Catching a rate glimpse of your humor, Rachna. You should do more of humor in life posts.

  5. Arey baap re… a whole post dedicated to her 😛 but seriously it is the same story everywhere.

  6. Hehehe 🙂 You already know my maid woes… other than vessels whenever I ask her about the sweeping she either says the broom is too old or too new depending on the situation! 😛 It’s only going to get worse I guess.

    • hehe Yes, I am always asked to buy a new broom that is thicker. And within a week, the new broom has shed everything. I wonder what she does with it. I am already doing so much work around the house, Seeta that any more just becomes a nightmare.

  7. Talk about maid woes! I guess, attrition and turnover applies more to maids rather than IT companies. I had 4 cooks in the last two months, and am hoping the latest one sticks! Honestly, money doesn’t matter. Only their whims and fancies do.

    • Yes, on the one hand there are monsters who exploit them, abuse them and beat them. On the other hand, there are those shana characters who are only out there to make a quick buck. Trust, loyalty, caring is beyond them. Their whims and fancies often makes them lose good employers.

  8. Sulekha on January 10, 2014 at 6:12 pm said:

    My maid does the phone switching off too 🙂 or she says she forgot to charge the phone…hilarious post.

  9. Yeah, they come up with all innovating reasons for not coming. Mine takes leave on every festival. And on this new year day it was no different. Sigh! I can imagine how the whole year is going to be.

  10. Ha ha ha 🙂 Still laughing …..

  11. hahaha…well what can I say I know your pain! Here we don’t have sufficient leaves and might even have to work on festivals but it’s holidays everywhere for them!

    Can’t live with them or without them!

  12. Based on your status update today, I was secretly hoping that you’d do a post on the “Dusting Queen” of your household. And you did not disappoint Rachna. Whilst I’m vaguely conscious that I might be the only man who might be commenting about having similar experiences with our maid, I’m not going to let that stop me 🙂 Everything you’ve said is spot on. I sometimes wonder if I made a mistake pursuing all those educational degrees and trying to climb up the corporate ladder. They seem to be making almost as much as (if not more) money than the average working class Indian. And the perks are much better than even a Government job. And yes, a rare and pleasant glimpse in to the humorous side of Rachna – thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • haha Sid! I tell you and this is no joke, my maid makes more than a school teacher. No, I am all for dignity of labor. But some maids are so quirky, what to do. And, where I stay, a maid just drops you like a hot potato and finds another house. What gets on to me is that despite all the understanding behavior, bonuses and leaves, she still does not have the courtesy to at least inform in advance that she is not coming. I guess, interaction with maids tickles my funny bone. You may want to read my previous post on excuses that maids make for leaves. Something tell me, you may enjoy reading that one too :). Thanks for reading as always!

  13. The sign of a terrific post is that even the comments are great. Like this one. About the household help, there must a murphy’s law. 😀

  14. I have to agree The Fool’s comments Rachna, you have a wonderful flair for “the humor in everyday life” genre.

    No, I am not laughing at your plight, but then given that everybody in the comments section has the same issues, I don’t have a choice but to laugh at your plight….at least until the next time the maid decides to have a day off and I have to clean the house myself 😀

  15. I am baffled that, on the lines of the AAP, there is no Aam Aurat Party that is willing to take up the cause of the Maid Menace sweeping our nation!
    I am positive that you asked Gurdev to pour you a stiff drink after you finished pouring your feelings on to this post!

    • Yes, I wish there were an AAP that could take up their cause as well as ours to provide a fair and non-exploitative working environment for both. Yes, I am sure he needed one after all the work plus wife’s foul mood!

  16. Wow, this is the story across householdds!! We once had a maid who ran to her hometown every time anyone there died – really, ANYONE!!! She always had some association or the other with the deceased person which made her presence at the funeral mandatory!! Well written post, Rachna!!

  17. Ha..ha..ha..! Hilarious:) You’re wonderful in this genre too, Rachna!

  18. My maid doesn’t have a phone Rachna. Once, under duress, she gave me her husband’s cell number. The first time I called on that number, he curtly told me that he doesn’t know whether she would be coming or not and that I must never call on that number again.

    The woman still works in my house. I’ll let you compute my rage.

    • Oh Gosh! Imagine the things we have to tolerate to put up with them and their tantrums! I had a wonderful maid for 5 years, Dagny! I loved her a lot. I went to her house to visit her recently. She had health problems and had quit working. She treats my kids as her own. Alas, since she left, I have never been able to find a maid I could have a connection with :(.

  19. Very nice post and yes every family has to deal with housemaid tantrums no matter what they do for them. I think its time to have an “Agreement” signed at the time of employing a housemaid so she knows clearly what she gets and what she loses just like an employee knows his rights, duties, his salary, perks and also the reasons for various deductions. A standard format should solve many a problems.

    • I wish, they would pass the “Domestic Workers Bill.” Hopefully that will ensure that both parties get fair and just treatment. Thanks for reading!

  20. I have a feeling, given a choice, most women will choose their maid over their husbands.

  21. It was the end which actually finally got me to laugh a lot. All through I was actually silently suffering those things all over again. Sort of a deja vu. But the last bit about your friend was really funny 😀 I actually wonder if such places exist and we can all go and work. Like honestly. Imagine I chit chat with my maid, have a special gulak sort where I keep ten bucks change just in case she is in a foul mood and I can give her an odd daily bonus to lighten up things *Sigh*

  22. hahaa.. so precisely you have described the adventures with your maid..

  23. arey mein India wapas aayi tho, pakka maid ka job dhoondongi….esp for the leaves part….:D Just came back from working on the wknd and relaxing reading your maiden story 🙂 …every time, our boss asks, “Please let me know who all can work on the wknd?” This time, he said, who all cannot work, come and see me in my office 😛 On a serious note, haven’t you thought about fixing a dishwasher? It could at least help in emergencies. A friend of mine in Bangalore was saying he bought one and it is soooo good. But, I know what the maid leaves frustration is…

    • haha Latha! Arre yaar, I want to get a dishwasher yaar but the kitchen design and space does not permit me to. But the flip part is that already I do so much work around the house like cooking, dusting, folding clothes, making beds, putting clothes for wash etc. that every extra bit is just so strenuous :(.

  24. Hilarious Rachna. We can yell at our family but not on our maids. They are rightfully royal.

  25. My husband feels I reserve my best smile for the maid. Nothing can bet the joy of seeing her in the morning after a party. I was fortunate to have a good one when I was in Bangalore. She was a Tamilian lady living in JP Nagar. Miss her.

    • haha Alka! Absolutely, I can visualize your smile too ;-). I had a wonderful one who worked in my house for 5 years. It is not as if she did not take leaves, but she was reliable, would not lie and would inform me sincerely. Alas, she left when health issues did not permit her to work. I still visit her home to meet her. She is so dear to me. But after her, I just have not been able to find anyone similar. The current one is honest but lies blatantly, a quality I abhor and is so unreliable.

  26. This is one issue that worries all families in the urban areas. Yes, gone are those good old family retainers. Till 10 years back, we could have one, but now it is cash and clock.One eye on the clock and one on the salary.
    They give us B.P. most of the time, but not turning up or turning up late. They also want us to treat them well, but they have no such ethics. In my area, some of them take up jobs, and will not do a good cleaning or wash well. But , you are the loser, if you sack her. She will not let others work in your house, and you will be branded “bad amma”.

    Treat your domestic helps well you say? That too is a old concept. Now we are at their mercy!

    • haha Pattu! Every thing you say is correct. Even here, if a maid blacklists you, you are done for! No one will work in your house, no matter what you pay them. Yes, treating well should be a two-way street. I never hassle my maids or follow her or trouble her. Yet the bare minimum ethics are not followed. They lie so blatantly and that makes me really mad. Yes, we also get exploited. Most people just don’t understand that.

  27. Afshan Shaik on January 12, 2014 at 9:13 pm said:

    I had a similar experience like ur friend. When we first came to Bangalore in jan2013 watch man demanded 3k for just bartan and jhadu poocha and it was just for 2 of us. Most of the days its just nominal or no work. I said same to him to let me know if anyone gives him same amount. After all not even all freelancers pay that much 😛 🙁 I felt disgusting !
    Later he came back to his senses

    Every where maids follow the same style of not informing but in Bangalore their salary demands r too heavy

  28. Satyavachan, this is kahani ghar ghar ki! And oh, that switching off of the phone, grrrrrrrrrrrr, I could really kill for that one!

    But as you say, we are mere putty in their hands, we, the liberated, independent women! Sigh!

    • hehe Vinita! Either the phone is switched off or there is call forwarding which just forwards your call to nothingness. Sigh indeed! They know their hold on us and milk it well. I miss my dear maid who was with me for 5 years. She was so dear to me but had to leave due to health reasons. Since then, I’ve been struggling. I tell you finding a good maid is the most difficult task on this earth.

  29. hahaha the maid saga. It is a problem so indigenous to India. I am the maid and driver and cook in the US so I don’t really wait up for anyone. Just do it all myself.

    • I know, Shefali! I used to as well when I was in the US. But, with our kind of dust etc., we can’t survive with once in a week vacuuming. Besides with 2 growing boys, I already do a lot of cooking and some help in the dishes department and cleaning is much appreciated. The worst part is despite paying them well, they are so unreliable. Thanks for reading!

  30. This is so true. Mom always asks our maid to inform her before she goes on a flying visit so that some other arrangements can be made instead of just waiting eternally for them to turn up and getting grumpy every delayed minute. At work, we are made to feel guilty even if we ask leave for a genuine reason and these people arent actually bothered (to some extent) about what would happen if they did not turn up without notice.


    • And here even if we try it is very hard to find replacements for a few days. I don’t know why they lie so much. They anyway take the leaves they have to take. Why make it so hard on us? Really sad!

  31. Rachna, you must thank god that you do not have a maid like Sangeeta Richards:)

  32. Oh dear so much for the maid!! Sometimes I wonder if they enjoy more privileges than salaried person 😛
    hahaha I totally loved your friend’s answer 😀

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