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

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

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

Maid in India

I can’t do without her. Nor can we live in harmony. She knows the place she holds in my life. And she uses it to her benefit. So when this noble lady tells me, “Pocha kal” I obey at once with a respectful nod.

Today she reports nearly three hours later than her scheduled time, but I say nothing because being present on the job is an even bigger quality than punctuality, isn’t it? She is reporting after 50 hours, which is fine because little breaks from work helps keep her mind fresh and active. Besides, it gives me and the mister a chance to do some house chores as a break from our very humdrum life of blogging.

indian-home-maid-servant-naukrani-funny-cartoon

Last December, right after my back injury, I knew I couldn’t avoid this anymore. To give up washing our utensils, to give up on sweeping and mopping our one-bedroom home office, to give up on my freedom to do whatever I want with my home was something very tough for me. We had shifted home just a couple of months back and hired the maid who claimed to be the most ‘in demand’ in our housing society. We had no choice but to believe her and depute her. Soon after the transfer of power, a familiar feeling began to overpower us.

Our endeavour to keep our home clean had failed again. This maid hardly turned up. And God forbid, if she ever did turn up, she also made sure to leave within ten minutes. So quick and efficient was she, that all the utensils self-washed themselves, all the dust vanished from the floors before they got magically moped with glassfuls of Lizol. It took me a week to decode her modus operandi.

She transferred dirt to nooks and crannies that are invisible to the human eye. Though, these were visible to the pests that lived with us and often laughed at our ignorance. How I got rid of the pests is an altogether different story that needs to be told as well. Living in rented homes teaches you a lot about human behaviour, I tell you!

I had questioned this lady holding in my palm a portion of evidence although it was ‘dirty’ – dust, hair, a few pulses, some shedded skin too I guess. She was deeply hurt that someone could question her integrity like this. She left at once and promised to never come again. She came the next day to collect her salary for the days she deceived us though.

So 2013 began with this new maid who came with recommendations from the neighbours. This time I got smarter to not rely on self- proclamations. She takes her time at the kitchen sink. Then she carefully sweeps away dust (hair and all) from all nooks and crannies too. Then she mops the floor with a corkful of Lizol and leaves a fragrant home for the two of us.

But, she hardly reports to work.

Sometimes, her daughter is sick or at times she takes a week-long sojourn to her native land. That way she prefers to keep away from the dim of city life and rejuvenate through all the greenery in the countryside.

She works at nearly seven homes everyday, thus earning our empathy. So when she does report to work, she finds herself with more than a day’s dirt to wash, sweep or mop. She made sure it wasn’t too hard on her. So the invariable response was ‘Pocha kal’ which meant ‘mopping tomorrow as today there is too much work load’. Also, ‘you guys don’t seem to mind not having a squeaky clean floor anyways’!

Every thing including her absenteeism was going fine up until I saw her leaving a neighbour’s home after finishing their chores, and leaving on the sly. And, she has been doing this for the whole of this year, right under our nose!

Out of the 350 days she took salary for, she must have reported for only 280 as every month sees her sickness, her daughter’s sickness, or her wish to take a breath of fresh air from her countryside.

She is a good worker who knows her value and her employers very well. This November, I gifted her a saree along with Diwali bonus, although me and the mister did all the pre-festive deep cleaning. She was apprehensive in taking it then. Unlike other maids who rejoice over getting gifts over Diwali, or blackmail into getting them, she seemed a tad bit guilty. Her uninformed absence for the next 11 days gave me the answer.

Well, this is my maid. My very own ‘Maid in India!’ I am hoping you have your very own maid stories to share too 🙂

The Avian Invasion of 2013!

The Mayans were wrong. The world had not ended after all and the happy new year was peeping in all its false glory. But, my world had certainly reached a dead end and good thing was I didn’t know it then. Struck by a back injury, I could barely sit or stand, let alone shoo away that pair of pigeons whose 2013 resolution was to spend some ‘cozy’ time in our kitchen attic.

If any of you ever happen to be in my city and walk past a bus depot near Kothrud, don’t forget to ask for the smelly house. You will be led to our apartment unfailingly. That’s how bad the scene was back then.

The mister was already juggling with cleaning, cooking, laundry, and keeping a check on me all round the clock, lest I make superheroic stunts like jump on a trampoline or something. The doctor had advised for a complete bed rest, but I managed to keep my ears open. My hunch was right – we were going to be invaded soon and how!

cozy pigeonsOne day sometime on a cold February afternoon, we heard the flapping of many wings and were quite taken aback to find two dusky grey pigeons making themselves at home, in our kitchen attic. The mister tried shooing them away but his pleas fell on deaf ears. These two smart fellows had also built a nice little nest complete with dried twigs and a chocolate brown rope. At once I realised the handles of my designer paper bag were not really stolen after all. What a relief!

These guys had long been following a modus operandi of sorts. They had been sneaking in twigs one at a time, when it was ‘all-clear’ in our kitchen – the long interval between breakfast and lunch and the few hours before tea time. The braver of the two made his/her way in through the window and stayed vigilant for some time. With a bunch of little twigs in his/her beak, he/she ensured we were where they wanted us to be, and nodded to the other one waiting at the window sill.

This guy would set the twig and fly out while the other got in and set his/her twig. The twigs that fell off their beaks and onto our floor was promptly picked up and set in place. Their operations were so smooth, little did we get an inkling of what’s happening in our kitchen. In this way, perhaps a thousand tos and fros later, their nest had been built on the sly, while I was sleeping…quite literally!

But, I swear I did hear some sounds, some very low frequency squeaks like pigeon whispers or something. But then I imagined these sounds as part of my wild imagination and let it go. However, I also did smell a faint poultry-like odour in the house, and blamed it on my strong sense of imagination.

By mid-March, I was able to walk around. Despite our pleading and shooing and then pleading again, this duo did not bother to move an inch, giving rise to our deepest fears – what if they have laid eggs? How long will the eggs take to hatch? What if the eggs fall down before hatching? In case, the baby pigeons do hatch, what if they fall down and we are held responsible. And worse, the place will get even more smelly. These stupid stupid pigeons!

Then came a day when they were gone. Yes, vanished before one could say ‘Shoo!’ after having a good time in our home for nearly two months. I managed to climb on top of the kitchen platform and investigate upon the smelly mess they had left behind.

But, what I saw was a couple of tiny little pale white eggs lying cuddled beside each other. “These two would surely hatch a very close-knit sibling love,” I thought to myself with a melting heart. All disgust vanished; I named them changu-mangu and immediately called out to the mister to supply me with some maize for the new parents.

pigeon eggs

Ever since then, our home was full of smiles and happiness, all four of us waited anxiously for the new members. The eggs hatched and what came out of them was ‘not so cute’ to look at, but an amazing act of nature, nevertheless. Never before had we been so happy with an invasion on our territory.

These dark ash balls covered with pale yellow hair and really long beaks were breathing away quite rapidly, while sleeping most of the time. It was a fascinating sight; one that deserved to be captured forever. Here is a video I managed to shoot of changu-mangu, balancing myself atop the kitchen platform, with one hand holding the attic base and the other holding a nearly-SLR Olympus camera recording from a safe distance.

The babies grew up so fast and flew away, leaving us with smelly memories and this smiley video.

P.S: This is my entry for Ambipur’s ‘From smelly to smiley“. When I took these pictures and the video, little did I know they would play a vital role one day.

Of gardening lessons and life…

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We had almost given up on this one and even tried consulting the nursery we bought this from. “Only shade, no watering every day,” an experienced advice came our way. We did that but no luck. The poor beauty was dying away and that was sad news for another reason too.

I had bought this red beauty on our second marriage anniversary this May; I wanted something that would mark the miraculous milestone. Me and the Mister had survived two years of marriage or lets just say we had tolerated each other successfully for 730 days! Now that was something, wasn’t it?  So, I went to the neighboring nursery in the peak summer heat, with the intention to buy a marigold plant.

You see marigolds are bright, cheerful and resembling the sun; these flowers can really brighten up your day. In fact, a little search on the internet tells me – Marigolds are known as the “Herb of the Sun” and are symbolic of passion and creativity. The Welsh believed that if marigolds were not open early in the morning, then a storm was on the way. Marigolds have been used as love charms and incorporated into wedding garlands. Yes, we had many marigolds adorn our wedding garlands two years back. In fact, marigolds also dominated our wedding ‘mandap‘ decorations with an assortment of other flowers including red roses. So, it was these culprit marigolds that saved us, but let me not digress.

I visited the nursery dreaming of the bright saffron marigolds that would soon grace my balcony garden and brighten up our life. But, my eyes fell on these red blossoms instead. A little shrub with many branches that ended up with a flaming red flower each. It was love at first sight. Then I examined the flowers quite closely and was delighted to find the velvety texture. I touched the petals to confirm. Yes, they were soft and velvety to the core and I was now truly, madly, deeply in love. I bought it in a jiffy.

A week passed by and the flaming red flowers stayed on. Another week passed by and the new buds began to harden instead of opening up; the existing flowers shriveled slowly and then fell off eventually. I got it diagnosed by the nursery guy – he may be semi-literate but he knows his plants in and out. ‘Only shade, no watering every day,’ he said with an all-knowing smile. He even taught me the ‘finger-test’ where one presses the index finger against the soil to judge its moisture level. Then there was a practical training session where I had to press the soil in the various pots at the nursery, while he explained the significance of moisture in each of the plant’s life.

However, two weeks later the plant was all leaves, barely resembling its former glory and the sad part was that some of the branches had paled at the bottom. My love was dying and I stood watching helplessly. The finger test had failed. I tried changing places so that the sun does not catch it, but in vain. Finally, I surrendered to the almighty, in an almost hopeless situation.

A miracle happened…and it happened in the form of rain!

The first drops of rains coincided with the beginning of the new month on the 1st of June. Monsoons had banished the sun and the weather was a pleasant cool. My love started breathing again – quite literally. A few days later the leaves and branches grew with renewed vigor. Next came the buds and this time they blossomed. The soft, red, velvety petals are a delight to experience. And, if you look closely, you can actually feel them talking to you.

Nature teaches you so much about life and the spiritual pillars on which it stands. Man cannot heal everything, no matter however scientific his methods may be. Nature knows what each of her beings need, indeed!

My chicken pox woes and related stories

Courtesy: kidzworld.com

It was an innocent looking Sunday. What started off as a little red bump on my forehead and glanced at me like a regular heat boil would, turned out to be much more surreptitious than that.  I actually saw it wink at me or maybe I was hallucinating with the fever. Yeah, I woke up with a slight fever and joint pain, both of whom are cousins who come visiting me together ever so often. I planned to have something to chill my system like maybe some coconut water or a glass of lassi and perhaps a paracetamol for the fever germs.  But the divine providence had a lot in store for me.

It must have been sevenish when I saw the clock and little did I know what the number signified then. Not talking about numerology here but just the magnitude of its impact to be seen later. My hunch was that something was devastatingly wrong with me but none of my eyes were twitching. You see my eyes are hard coded to twitch whenever something weird is in the cards. But this time they deceived me. A Hindu proverb translated as ‘In bad times, even the best of minds falter’ can be described for my eyes that kept mum that day.

I decided to skip my morning exercise or rather skip my daily excuse to avoid it – I was sick. Period.  After a little nap, I woke up to see if I had rejuvenated. But hell no! The bump winked back, now even bigger in size. Remember someone wise had said that ‘sleep is the best healer after laughter’ but that someone didn’t know that party poopers are stubborn little things. They are wired into your karma.

After a little while of time, I gave up trying to feel better and resigned much like Gulliver letting himself be tied up by the Lilliputians. Only my Lilliputians were teeny-weeny and invisible. The Mister promptly took me to the doctor, who with just a cursory glance announced the verdict ‘Its Chicken pox!’ I thought my days were numbered since I hadn’t heard about chicken pox for the longest time now. So I mistook it for H1N1 or maybe some strange rapidly growing contagious things implanted by aliens. Remember I was out the previous day and felt for certain that a UFO was trailing me.

But then I recollected – my mum used to always say that I am the only child who didn’t get chicken pox. Like that was a health introduction to the listener and in some ways a proud moment for my little mind. As I grew up, I had almost forgotten about it until this – the doctor inquired whether I had chicken pox as a kid. So I proudly said ‘NO!’ And he said ‘So, it’s confirmed!’ and happily prescribed medicines that would last a fortnight and upset my household budget. He said it will take seven days and I remembered my Chinese clock struck at seven. If this was not enough, he also said that the medicines will not heal the chicken pox; they were just meant to be taken to keep away other infections that the pox might cause!

We returned  in pin-drop silence. Then life took up a new routine – pill at 8 – breakfast – pill at 10 – sleep – lunch – pill at 2 – sleep – pill at 8 – dinner – pill at 10 – sleep…  The bumps grew right in front of my eyes; every time I saw the mirror I swear I could see them put on weight joyfully. The Mister obviously couldn’t see what I could so he locked me up in the bedroom with water and a warm cozy blanket, with no mirrors anywhere nearby.

It must have been seven days or so, I can’t really say – the itching and the burning was all I felt. The Mister’s neem sponge bath was a real saviour and I would definitely recommend it to anybody even without the pox. In fact, you should drink a glass of neem juice every time you go for that convenient coconut water or lassi.

Another seven days later, the bumps were off leaving their dirty footprints all over me. And my mum can proudly say that I’m not the odd one out. Chicken pox has been kind enough to visit me too!