Maid 2.0

Uborka-2

My bai woes are unending. This year we shifted our home-office to a new place in the same locality, an extra room with an additional balcony meant more space between the Mister and me. Life had become so peaceful that I almost began to worry, remember the Universe’s first law of Happiness – “This too shall pass”. Now picturise a happy sun saying this to you.

Little did I know that my inner peace would be ruffled soon by the new maid. Her name means ‘Poetry’ and just like they say, “There is magic in poetry”, there was magic in her, or rather her work. Dust vanished into thin air, as she walked into every room. Things sorted themselves as if by divine reconfiguration. The Mister and me lived like the King and the Queen in their squeaky clean apartment…until.

She came. She saw. She conquered.

The day we set foot in our house after all the packing and the moving and then the unpacking, we saw a quaint figure watching us from a distance. The next day, a lady deliberately crossed paths with the Mister and ordered him to employ her as our maid. He placed the ball in my court. She came to me the next day and pleaded for the job.

Maids and me have always been in an abusive relationship. They set the rules and I quietly abide by them. Do read “Maid in India” and “My maid and her newfound efficiency” for an accurate context.

The new home ushered new hopes, so I decided to let go of past trauma. I told her to come from the next week, but she started that very day. She sweeped and she mopped, then she mopped some more and left me a happy soul.

Days went by and just as the Mister and me were getting newly accustomed to our clean home, and hassle-free maid, things took an ugly turn.

It started with her reporting time that swayed anywhere from pre-breakfast to lunch-making time. Some days she came even before I could open my eyes fully. When I complained, “It’s too early”, she’d say, “I have to go out.”

Some days she comes in when I’m preparing lunch and offers no explanation whatsoever. When it turned into a daily habit, I asked her, of course in a feeble voice, as to what is the matter in her life. Is she going through some mid-life crisis? Does she need a break?

She said, “I got more houses to clean now.” I kept mum.

Then came the holidays. One time she went on a vacation for ten days, of which only four were informed ones. I didn’t dare to ask her this time!

Dust can be neither cleaned nor be destroyed, but it transfers from one place to another.

Dust is transferred from one place to another, just like the law of conservation of energy that states – Energy can be neither created nor be destroyed, but it transforms from one form to another. The dust law applies to all maids.

My house is as much clean as it is dusty!

This month, she has set a new rule, well two actually – one we cannot ‘not be present’ at home whenever she comes, and second, we need to inform her in advance if we will ‘not be present’ at home whenever she comes.

The Mister booked Sunday tickets for ‘Mad Max Fury Road’ on a Saturday evening. I had to have them cancelled, as we hadn’t taken requisite permission from The Maid.

Life has come a full circle when it comes to maids. It’s almost poetic. She says she has a very tiny child (this is a new story) who acts as per his whims and fancies (look who’s talking).

I have almost given up in my hunt for the perfect maid. They say, “Life is finding love in the imperfections” and it is true. We don’t look eye to eye anymore, and I don’t dare occupy the bathroom…whenever she comes.

Image credit: Vectors 4 all

quilted thoughts

of scattered feelings,
and quilted thoughts
a little here,
and a little there

sewed together
with a broken thread, and
leftovers from a time gone by

of little whimpers and many whys
of little joys and many sighs

once ethereal, beyond dare
now lethal, full of scare

let me go, her muted screams
stained the silence
of strangers nearby

pierced, shattered
but quilted with care

her thoughts lay strewn
within the crease –
of the bare

they laid the quilt
over waters welling by
the brook stood still –
but, she floated by

of scattered feelings,
and quilted thoughts

now neither here, nor there!

Handmade Quilling Jhumkas

Midlife crisis had set in bad, but it left me good. This year has been one of learning and discovering the little joys of life. Now I know what the wise ones meant when they said, “When life gives you scraps, make a quilt!”.

When life gives you scraps, make a quilt!

So here I am making little pieces of craft from M-seal and now quilling paper strips. I started first with learning to make a paper rose and then one thing led to another and I ended up learning more types of flowers and 3-d quilling too. Quilling is a simple paper craft technique with many applications.

Here a few pictures of the jhumkas I made in the last few months:

quilled jhumkasHow to make them and useful links:

For the jhumkas, I referred to this video tutorial on YouTube.

The materials you will require from the craft shop, apart from quilling strips, are: fevicol, quilling/paper varnish, eye pins, jewellery pins, earring hooks, beads, stick-on beads, pearls, stick-on pearls. You will also require a plier and a wire cutter to attach your handmade jhumkas with the hooks, these may be available at the craft shop or you can easily find these at a hardware shop near you.

Match paper colours with the outfit you will be pairing it up with. Experiment with the number of strips and add different colours to create 2-coloured or 3-coloured jhumkas. Add a nice shine by brushing it on with the paper varnish, this also makes your jhumkas water-proof and strong, apart from adding the finishing touch. Decide what you want to create and make a list before you enter the craft shop. Or else you can just have fun. Like I did!

Here are some variations, because what’s life without some masti! Here I stuck on some craft rope on the jhumkas with fevicol, and another white one is covered with the off-white stick-on pearls. My nieces are calling these party wear jhumkas!

quilled jhumkas

When life gives you quilling strips, make a jhumka!

Quilling or paper filigree is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. The paper is rolled, looped, curled, twisted and otherwise manipulated to create shapes which make up designs to decorate greetings cards, pictures, boxes, eggs, and to make models, jewellery, mobiles etc.

 

Quilling miniature paper flowers in a vase

I just loved the experience of quilling miniature roses; it is quick, fun and happily satisfying. I explored further into making miniature flowers using quilling paper and tried to make a vase instead of a pot this time. Now there are quite a few little flower pots and vases in my home!

Here are some pictures of the miniature flower vases, with the leaves and some fancy variations: from up close, a little far and on the table.

quilled flowers

How to make them and useful links:

To make the quilling flowers, I referred to this basic quilling YouTube tutorial.

For the vase, I made two hollow pieces, the top one with a hole like a doughnut and then pulled it up longer. In the bottom pot, I put a tiny pebble so that it can balance all that weight. Then I filled both the pieces with little rounded thermocol bits and stuck them together using fevicol. For the stems, I used a thin metal wire I’d bought from the craft shop earlier and attached it to the flower with fevicol.

When things have all dried and your vase is balancing well, you can add a nice shine to the flower vase by painting on some quilling varnish. You will get this bottle from any craft shop; it makes your paper water-proof and strong, apart from adding the finishing touch!

Good luck and happy quilling!

Quilling miniature paper roses and a vase!

The Saturday has been particularly uninteresting, but I have gone back to an old interest of mine – pencil sketching! A few Saturdays back, I wanted to dabble into some paper quilling, but didn’t know how to go about it. What paper, tools, and skills go into making a nice piece of paper quilled art? Will it take too much of my time and more importantly, will it be worth learning?

But then, I said, “Let me just have fun!”

So, here are two tiny little pots with roses in them, created entirely by quilling paper. All you need is quilling paper, a little block of thermocol, some paper pins and fevicol, and you are good to go!
Quilling_rose

quilling_rose_orange

miniature_quilling_roses

Some helpful links:

To make the pot, I used the jhumka making technique and then flattened the bottom. Here’s the YouTube tutorial for it.

To make the roses, I referred to this YouTube tutorial.

Quilling: Quilling or paper filigree is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. The paper is rolled, looped, curled, twisted and otherwise manipulated to create shapes which make up designs to decorate greetings cards, pictures, boxes, eggs, and to make models, jewellery, mobiles etc.

My personal tip: Use thinner paper especially for roses as it is very difficult to keep folding reverse with thick paper, as you can see in my roses. Also, it is better to buy the mixed quilling sheets costing Rs. 30, these usually have pink, red, yellow, peach, green and more in the same packet.

All the best and have fun!

Some art & craft to the rescue!

It’s been ages since I visited this space last. The thought that I have reached the middle ages and yet not found contentment in my life or the meaning of this existence, was too overwhelming and left me with a scary feeling. But, like they say, courage need not roar and so, I made feeble attempts to face the clear and now present. “If not now, then when?”, I said to myself, almost feeling like the last warrior fighting the lonely battle all by himself!

And, again, like they say, ‘art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life’, I surrendered to my creative pursuit in art and crafts. I can admit it’s true; art indeed is a very fulfilling activity and apart from helping you while away your wasteful hours, it charges up your worried and scared grey cells with new positive energy. You end up using your brain for what it is meant to be used for – creation.

I started with M-seal knowing fully well that my first and supposedly last project with the epoxy resin from Pidilite, was a disaster. Still, it left me with two vital lessons – a) mix small quantities so you can work on it before it gets hard, b) Break the form into little areas that are manageable, beforehand.

M-seal art

I bought the small packet for ten rupees at the local hardware store; now that’s not too much of an investment for a scared beginner like me!

The big question was, what do I make of it? Little people with varied expressions? Miniature forms of the seven wonders? Cute dolls or grotesque monsters? Dropping all these ideas, I chose something simple, something which I could do with confidence, some topic that always fascinates and cheers me up – flowers. I decided to make little roses out of them and stick them onto some thing – but what?

A few days back, we had ordered a ‘Handi Biryani’ from the speciality North Indian takeaway nearby. The Biryani was average but the pot it came in, was very ‘handy’!! I cleaned it up and voila, it was all ready to be painted and decorated with golden roses. Now you get the picture?!

m-seal art

Liking what I saw, I looked for more things to decorate. There was a square, wooden box with four little square compartments inside. Those had mini cupcakes in it once, a Diwali gift. The box was painted a dark brown and instantly decorated with the m-seal roses and then sprayed with some antique gold dust.

m-seal craft

By then, the contents of the ten rupees packet were over, and I felt so much contentment in this simple creation. Time to move over to some other craft, quilling maybe 😉

My maid helped me rediscover my passion for life

Time and again I get questioned on why I don’t blog here more frequently. That’s like asking my maid why she turns up at my place so few times of the year. It’s just that she has a ton of household chores to deal with in her home already. Like I have a ton of posts to write about at the Lighthouse blog – the blog we run from our home-office. So no big deal really. But, all this was in the past. It’s a new story altogether. Read on…

Yesterday I had this uncanny feeling that she is watching over me, smiling away to herself. Why am I day dreaming about her, you ask? That is because she has gifted me with her “indefinite absenteeism”, ever since the morning of my birthday last month. It was a crazy working Friday and I was looking forward to her making it to my house, so we (the Mister & me) could enjoy a clean home at least for the one special day that comes once a year.

goodbyeAlas she dashed our hopes! This despite saving more than a quarter piece from the Monginis Swiss chocolate cake for her. This despite wishing for her to visit us when I blew upon my birthday candles. This despite praying from the bottom of my heart.

In fact, she dashed our hopes the day after that and the day after that day too. She seems to have taken an oath to never visit us forever. I still await the day I catch a glimpse of her somewhere – you know I owe her 3 days of last month’s pay, if we were to ignore the 100 days she hasn’t turned up in the last year.

Somehow, she must have stumbled upon these blog posts I write about her. The first signs started showing right after I described my encounter with an assortment of maids and finally ending up with the best of the lot in ‘Maid in India’. Soon after I had complained about her frequent absenteeism, of course in my blog, she started showing up more frequently until she reported every single day. This I described in my blog post ‘My maid and her newfound efficiency’. But, alas she has chosen to desert me.

And maybe it is for good.

Now my weekends are more clogged with the laundry, the basin and sink, the floors, the bathroom, the cooking range, my weekly head champi, along with my lost-and-found love for art and crafts. Yes, the entire time I had all these weekends, I never did a thing except stare at beautiful and incredible pieces of artwork I explored on the internet. But, now after my maid has abandoned me, I have finally re-discovered my sole purpose for living – my passion for the arts. I have been busy in the weekends doing some kind of art, and of course the house chores.

There’s a silver lining at the end of dark clouds, they say. For me, it has been my maid’s uninformed disappearance for close to two months now. And I hope it remains that way.

Image credit: Photobucket/Vicki Berson

Just another day in my life…

It was a beautiful morning two weeks back. Despite being awakened by the rooster on my mobile phone alarm, I lay on my bed wondering about the mystery of life. Why are we born? This led to more meanderings of an idle mind – Who are we? Where do we come from? Where do we go to? Is there any meaning to our collective existence? Would the world be any different if any of us just vanished into thin air? This was followed by deeper mulling on whether mankind can ever find its collective soul and live in harmony with nature and so on.

Just then a stray thought entered and I realised it was my birthday; the shock of mid-life crisis had set in. Suddenly I did not want to wake up and face the day or do anything at all. What if I could just vanish into neverland and come back another day as if the birthday had never really come. What if I could turn back the clock and return to middle age when I was more equipped to handle it?

Talking about handles, I had tyres now, also laugh lines, a greying mane, a stretch of beard and a double chin to boot!

Goodbye teddy

Whoa! I am something to reckon with. But then, I remembered the mister and me having celebrated my brave entry into the terrible mid-ages, with a chocolate cake at midnight. It hadn’t seemed that terrifying then.

Why was it so scary now? I began to think – what if I live another three decades at the most and still feel the same? I couldn’t risk feeling this way forever. One has to somehow face the moment of truth and take it as it comes. And so, I make it out of bed and into the balcony to look at my plants. They are so freshly green and as happy as the morning. They only asked me for water, knowing fully well they had to prepare their own food using the water and sunlight.

I watered the plants realising that I have to prepare my own food for my own soul. Life will provide the ingredients but I was responsible for making something nutritious for my soul.

I listened to the many birds atop the trees. They were excited about the day, and chirping about as if there was no tomorrow. They seemed to be living for the moment – no mid-life crisis for them.

I looked at some birthday wishes on WhatsApp. These were the mandatory ones aided by smartphones; birthday reminders set up by friends from over the globe. It’s just that it happened to be my birthday too with many others. The day will move along and it will be like just any other spring day. The cake pictures on Instagram brought a few more wishes by virtual friends. A blogger uncle’s egreeting cheered me up – a dancing elephant clutching flowers in his trunk. That was it.

It was a working Friday and I had a dozen chores to do and age had nothing to do with it. I knew the day was going to be a good one, because age did not matter any more. It was my soul I needed to nourish.

Kangana shines in ‘Queen’

Bollywood dishes out such stereotypical and superficial movies that one just ends up watching one if they have nothing better to do. But this is changing and how. I watched ‘Queen’ starring Kangana Ranaut and I must say I’m quite blown with the level of film making Bollywood has been experimenting with lately. ‘Queen’ lingers on in your entire being much after you leave the theatre.

QuenmovieposterIf a movie can do that to you, it’s a must-watch, isn’t it? Never mind what some critics say…they are best ignored and also forgiven for they know not what they say! A simple girl’s discovery of her self, her strengths, her dreams, her aspirations, unfurls layer by layer to finally see her blossom into a confident, self-realised being of substance.

Though the protagonist sets off on a honeymoon all by herself after her fiancé cancels off the wedding a few days before, the storyline is almost believable because Kangana is a sheer powerhouse of talent. She carries you with her throughout, scene by scene, so much so that you feel a little alone when the movie is over, but, nevertheless so happy for her.

It starts off the loud Punjabi wedding way, where the bride-to-be ‘Rani Mehra’ from Rajouri Garden Delhi is seen imagining all sorts of things a simple, middle-class, over-protected girl thinks about before her one special day. You see her dancing away to glory with her equally excited family, relatives and a best friend at the sangeet. I want to describe each and every scene from here on but that wouldn’t be fair.

Let me just break the coming-of-age film into portions that are neatly beaded together on a string. You see her on a smooth path of transformation, almost surreal but never dramatic. One moment Rani is crying helplessly, right after her fiancé, Vijay Dingra (played excellently by Rajkummar Rao of Kites and Shahid fame) calls off the wedding because she hasn’t ‘changed’ unlike him who went to the UK and is now officially ‘modern’. The next moment you see her forge ahead with her dream to explore Paris and Amsterdam on her own, and you say “Whoa girl!”

queen-movie1

Flashbacks of Vijay wooing her since her student days hover around her, but she channelizes all of this into self determination, and not self-pity.

Rani lands in Paris, the city of love, dressed in a short kurti and jeans with a big suitcase. She does all the predictable things a girl from Rajouri would do in Paris. She calls loudly for a taxi for starters!

Then begins her journey in a foreign world – the culture shock of seeing people greet with a kiss, eating stuffed fish, her chance encounter and bonding with a half-Indian hotel maid, her getting sloshed and dancing away at the stage, her getting almost mugged but fighting tooth and nail for her bag, her living in a shared hostel room with three boys (a black Frenchman, a Spanish artist and a cute Japanese), her friendship and city tours with them, her encounter with a pole dancer from India, her selling and making money off feeding spicy “Queen’s Golgappas” to the French at a food fair and even a lip-kiss with an Italian hunk to prove to him that Indians are the best in everything including kissing! But nothing ever gets into an overtly Bollywood style, thankfully!

Queen-Movie

Lisa Haydon as the hotel maid, Vijaylakshmi is a short but significant contribution to the story. She helps Rani break out of her shell and learn to have fun in a foreign land, accepting her the way she is. The three boys and Rani make for a wonderful combination of comedy with their language limitations. But what is endearing is that despite the limitations, the foursome bond through the language of the heart. A scene at a church and one in the hostel room is particularly moving.

Meanwhile, having realised his folly, Vijay lands up in Paris and then to Amsterdam to apologize and regain her trust, but Rani makes a wonderful choice. Watch it to believe it.

Back in India after a journey of a lifetime, her suitcase replaced with a smart backpack, Rani is seen walking triumphant and confident in the choices she has made. You are sure to clap loudly as she walks away in that last scene.

The film has been directed by Vikas Bahl (of Chillar Party fame) and produced by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane. The editing and choice of costumes is perfect. Rani never leaves her Rajouri Garden simplicity even in her pretty dresses from Paris and Amsterdam. The music is handpicked to perfection for the scenes. Don’t miss this one for anything!

Happy 2014 to all you movie buffs!

Image credits: Wikipedia for movie poster, MovieShoovie, Koimoi.

My maid and her newfound efficiency

indian-maidMy bai has stopped giving me the cold shoulder. Ever since I wrote this post called “Maid in India” describing how we (the Mister & me) are the hostages in this employment contract, she has been acting strangely. The first quarter of this year is round the corner and I still haven’t been able to figure out why.

I am scared, very scared to write this post; I have an uncanny feeling she knows about this blog therapy I follow. Perhaps through some extra sensory perception, she knows what I think about her.

In fact, she demanded a raise right after the post, leaving me feeling quite stupid for having written that. Anyways, we had to concede to her demands if we wanted peace at home and some cleanliness if you may!

But lately I’ve been noticing a peculiar work ethos in my maid. She has transformed into an efficient worker since the two weeks of March. I fear a massive uprising is on the cards soon…but no!

For starters, the utensils are squeaky clean and you can see your face in it. Seen the vessels in the VIM washing bar ad, which the brand new daughter-in-law is brandishing away at her sceptical mother-in-law? My maid is washing the vessels like that, can you beat that?

The deep bottomed kadai might not come out squeaky clean, but there is no trace of any oil on it, not even on the handles, like it used to be before. Spoons, ladles, the butter knife, every little thing is washed both sides. There was a time when the holding side had traces of what I had cooked earlier. Now, I don’t feel like cooking in these vessels anymore, why dirty them again?!

Earlier, there used to be a puddle of water on the platform where she dumped all the vessels. Now it is dry and vessels are placed intelligently so that all sides of the vessel dry up faster. She should be awarded a ‘Kaizen’ for finally bringing up a continuous improvement approach to her work!

She isn’t stopping at that. The kitchen sink is brushed hard at all the edges too. Washing the sink was never in her to-do list. All she did was merely pour tons of water on all sides and let drain it on its own. She even gave me a big surprise two days back. She washed up the cooking range squeaky clean, without me telling her to do it, which is the case usually. As a matter of fact, I remember a time until a month ago where I was begging her to do it.

To add to this, my home is immaculately clean. The floors are swept with a vengeance like never before. She mops away in a beautiful rhythmic pattern; replace the mop and water with a paintbrush and colours, this would create a masterpiece for keeps.

She was a good worker, she came with neighbour recommendation a year ago. That was the time, when a few maids had taken us on a royal ride. My next door neighbour suggested this lady, and added that she works in and around a few homes in the same wing. This lady, however, took too many leaves without informing us. One time her daughter was sick, the other time her brother was on a visit to her place, and at other times she would even get rashes!

Now she hasn’t skipped a single day except for one day, the next day she looked frail but happy to report to work.

Her soaring performance deserves a ‘best performance’ award, her efficiency is a welcome change, her full attendance is inspirational, but I’m breaking my head to know why. A few days ago, I’ve been seeing new maids at the homes she used to work at. Maybe there is a clue there. I would be more than happy to write a new post with all the masala!

Image courtesy: Times Crest