‘Maid’ for Each Other – My Elusive Search for the ‘Dream Girl’

You know I remember a time in the not so distant past when I was carefree. Those were the days, when my first thought after waking up was NOT whether the maid will come. I would wake up with happy thoughts of the lovely day ahead. AAh, the beauty and innocence of those days.

We were a Double Income No Kids (DINKS) couple then. A cook and a cleaner were more than enough and who cared if they didn’t turn up! A good opportunity to eat out and the house could wait another day before getting mopped! All that changed with our first baby. The first few months of the maternity leave were heavenly, and the two of us were enough for the baby’s needs. But we did realise that we will ultimately need some help. A year later, my parents moved in with us, and our needs increased. However, with a regular turnover of part time help and a crèche for my son, we managed. And then all hell broke loose, when I produced two more babies!! My battered body, older parents, hapless husband were no match for two demanding babies!! All the king’s horses and all the king’s men were not enough! (mind you, it is not simple maths with twins – the effort is not doubled it is probably quadrupled, or quintupled or maybe hundred-tupled – whatever).

What we needed was some good, solid household help. But in a country of more than a billion people, it seems like an elusive search. The twins are 19 months now and we have still not found our dream girl(s)! But so what – we might not have found HER, but what we do have is some priceless experience from the last few years.

We have of course learnt a lot about hiring part time maids – we figured it is better to hire two cooks – one for morning and one for evening (chances of both maids taking an off the same day are lesser and so at least one meal is ensured), split the other household work also in the same logic, hoping at least someone would turn up. If you have fixed with them to come at 11 a.m., try not to panic if they haven’t turned up by 1, because you see, time management is clearly not an appreciated value here. But of course be prepared, that 6 to 8 days a month, they actually might not turn up. And even if you do have 6 by 6 vision, it is best to turn a blind eye to that dirty spot behind the door or under the refrigerator door. Better to wait for the weekends and get it done in front of your eyes – though be prepared, that they may also decide to have the weekend off.

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There was a time when agencies were cheap and honest (well at least some of them). Our first experience with an agency about ten years ago, led us to believe that this is a workable model. We realized our folly when one of the helps we hired left us on the pretext of a wedding exactly halfway through his contract (I realized later that this was one of the common scams); while another one literally ran away, because apparently she felt too hot in our house (we had only 1 A.C in our bedroom at that time – I assume it would have been a bit odd to invite her to sleep in our bedroom). After those fiascos, we decided to hire locally.

Once we hired this well dressed, bespectacled, seemingly respectable lady. We were fairly happy with her work (and thanking our stars) till we discovered Mr. Hyde behind Dr. Jekyll. We found out she had money disputes with her family and were horrified to hear her screaming matches on phone. Even our neighbours started to wonder what was wrong with us! We still managed for a year, till we discovered that she had falsely accused her husband of her own murder! We decided it was just safer to have a break up with her!

Oh and then there was this Mr. Perfect! A very highly efficient guy, who came home at dot 6 a.m. and did everything perfectly. We thought God is so kind till we discovered that he loved to take weekends off (which is when instead of resting, I ended up doing household chores). The last straw was when he cut his finger a bit and refused to turn up for about two weeks.

We also tried the straight from the village types, thinking they may be easier to mould and train (also cheaper) – but gave up quite quickly after realizing that training them was no piece of cake. Right from teaching them how to stand straight (and not lean on every wall), how not to clean dirty hands on the nearest curtain, how to sit on the western toilet, how to close the refrigerator properly and of course how to do the tasks they were hired for, we realized it is probably less stressful to do the work ourselves.

More recently we hired a Bengali lady (barely knows hindi as well as most of the housework) who also eats niramish (strictly vegetarian and no onion garlic) and that also became pretty nightmarish. Between having to explain multiple times to her what we wanted to get done, her slow speed and the three times separate cooking, we realized nothing was getting done. My mother was ending up looking after both the babies! We realized soon enough that this relationship was also not going to last.

And finally, I recently thought, I had found the ONE! A young girl, very pleasant, very nice with the babies, fairly efficient – what more could I ask for! This one was definitely a keeper! But god had something else in mind. My dream run lasted till I discovered that she had been robbing me behind my back! (chhann se jo toota koi sapna….)

And we are back to square one. But believe me when I say I am not promiscuous. I just haven’t found my dream girl. And I am not the only one. When a colleague told me that she went through some 20 to 30 maids in the last one year – I realized I am not alone. And I got strength. And I got hope. And I decided to restart my search with vigour.

And while you get some strength and inspiration from my words let me just go and clean my drawing room. You see another prospective “match” is coming to see (meet) me – please wish me luck that this time I get my dream.

Do like and share this post and tell me your stories too!

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Puddles and Rainbows, Reliving a Childhood

Looks like the monsoons have finally reached Delhi and we have some respite from this heat. Unfortunately though, monsoons seem to have become a double edged sword nowadays. Along with the rains and the cool breeze, come traffic jams, water logged roads, clogged drains, dengue and malaria.

It’s a pity though. We seem to have forgotten the enjoyment and romance of the rains. Sitting in our AC offices or cars, living in flats with only small balconies to substitute for a terrace or garden, we don’t remember how it was to feel the rain on our faces, the happiness in our being and the fragrance in our mind. Ooh I just love the sondhi mitti ki khushboo! (FACT ALERT: did you know by the way that the fragrance is caused by the bacteria residing under the soil)

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As I idle with my cup of steaming chai with some hot pakori, my mind drifts to the days when rains were awaited with eagerness. I remember a particular day , a Sunday I think, when the family was similarly enjoying chai pakoda in our verandah, and the rains and breeze washed over us. I can still remember the coolness of the breeze, the slight chill from the damp clothes, and the warmth of the family sitting around. I think I had a cold so was not allowed to go dance in the rain and had to satisfy myself with dipping my feet a little in the running water!

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Another Sunday, lovely weather after morning rains, an impromptu picnic is planned. Papa, mummy, Aditi and I. We pack some quick food in a basket, pick some sheets and off we go! After a pleasant lunch in some park, we gaze at the clean and recently washed sky, hoping for a rainbow to break out. It doesn’t. We come back home, get on the terrace and a beautiful rainbow stretched across the Aravalis smiles at us! And then we notice a lighter one, just behind it!

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Yet another memory comes unannounced. I am four, maybe five, in Delhi and my cousin and I decide to race on the road, still wet after a sudden bout of rain. Perhaps we were impatient after being coddled inside home for long. We both run, I am trailing my cousin, and crash!, I fall. Crash again, and he falls as well!! Both of us return home, with scraped knees, a little limp and a smile on our faces. But I am jealous when I see his mother put some red paint on the bruised knee, while my mother proceeds to put some boring white antiseptic on me!

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Paper boats! Oh how can one not think of them while talking about rains. I think it dredges a special kind of nostalgia in all of us. After all, Paper Boat, a big brand now, has developed their entire marketing strategy around the nostalgia of our childhood! Renu, a friend from school, beautifully describes those days as young, dreamy and naive. She fondly remembers racing boats with her brothers and imagining the adventures her boat would have once it disappeared down the manhole! Little did she know that manholes in Jaipur never reach the sea. 🙂

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I am reminded of days when it rained during school hours. Getting wet, squelchy shoes and socks – both disgusting and exciting at the same time, sitting barefoot in class, examining swollen and wrinkled feet and fingers (still don’t what is so attractive about those), wet bag and hopefully dry books inside, my pink raincoat (not very effective in heavy rains) and red gumboots (I simply loved them!).

There is something about the cool breeze, the damp skin and young hearts, that makes monsoons the most romantic of seasons! I remember in the first year of our dating, Kapil and I were sitting on the porch of his college and it suddenly started to pour. Before I could react, he ran out in the rain like a little boy, feeling the rain on his face, getting drenched. I fell in love with him all over again. (Though in those days, anything could make me fall in love with him again and again!)

A more recent memory, perhaps when we were still innocent and carefree. They were Arnav’s first monsoons. The three of us spent a lazy day at Dilli Haat, which ended with a sudden shower. Totally unprepared we ran for cover, but by then Arnav was all wet. But that didn’t deter us from enjoying the day! (It is another matter that Arnav got his first high fever the next day!!).

But it’s been a while since I enjoyed the rains, really enjoyed them I mean. A cousin after reading my last blog told me to chill. And I think it is a good time to take her advice. Listing some of the fun things I could plan to do these monsoons. And so could you.

  • get drenched, (like isn’t it the first obvious thing to do?) and dance (ahem, that I definitely can’t do – you can try if you want)
  • play in the mud, make some mud pies and don’t forget to get dirty (hmm, I think I am going to like that…. need to find a park though!)
  • don’t forget the boat! make lots of boats, decorate them, make some rafts out of ice cream sticks…
  • go for a nature walk. bring out the gumboots (well I will have to buy some – the red ones won’t fit anymore) and go for a walk. bring back some earthworms and toads 😀
  • And carry the camera (or the phone)! everything looks lovely after a rainshower and one might be rewarded by a beautiful rainbow!
  • Jump in the puddles! you know I was such a goodie goodie – I have NEVER done that! Ya really. SO I must, I must, I must do this.
  • Find a nice monument or a beach or some cafe and just sit… and talk…and listen to the rain
  • Enjoy a wet kiss in the rain (mmmmm… sounds nice!!! DAMN, need to convince the stuffy husband for that)
  • if not that, at least convince him for a walk hand in hand!! (Ya I know, I wrote a long blog about our romance – but you must realise it has been 13 years since we got married AND more importantly I have a boring husband!)
  • end the day with some hot hot tea and piping hot pakoras!!

And when you think about chai pakora – think of getting this awesome tea set designed by Kapil (Sorry, I know I am shamelessly promoting him – but isn’t that what a good wife should do?)

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Have a great monsoon and do tell me what you are planning to do!