Friday, March 26, 2010

Maid in India !

I am so tired …of hearing these.cliched statements.

“you must keep them in their place”

“ They are so greedy”

“ How much ever you give them they are not happy”

“They refuse to eat –old stuff … whereas I eat”

“ I give them so old sarees, salwars, can never satisfy them”

“ My god, you must see the way she dresses up …even we don’t have such a good collection”

“They take so much leave”

“ They demand a bonus every year”

Well, I don’t think anyone lets them sit inside he house,  yes they are no exception when it comes to greed and contentment, eating cooked –refrigerated food is your deal...Is it not plain simple audacity to expect them to eat your leftovers just because  they work for you and are economically backward??
You give your old saris, torn faded salvars and broken toys ...and expect them to dedicate their life to you in return as a mark of gratitude. What a display of arrogance  - this dry humour of comparing their grooming to yours …why should financial standing decide the way one grooms oneself ??? Why, weekends and chilling out are only your birthright is it? Aren’t they working like you in an office? Don’t you get a raise and bonus at Office??? If you are selling your service thru your intellect – they are selling their physical labor …

By now you must have guessed that I am talking about the much talked about, much in demand, much hated, much loved, specie in the Indian sub-continent –MAIDS!

Thos who have lived abroad would know how labour class is treated there …It is sad that we have to learn a few things about that from the west.

We had.before, the British Raj such a beautiful system where the labour class co-existed and were part of the household …Children from both the households played together …there was lot of respect …mutually …

I would blame the babu culture on the Britishers to a large extent ..…Infact we all have a servile  attitude towards foreigners and bend ourselves backwards to please them or try to ape them …All becos of the insecurities brought in by the Britishers …I can go on and on about the negative effects the British Raj has had on our social, cultural behavior as a nation.

Back to maids. I think left is right ..Here I am a born communist

…My maid in particular …my first maid Hemavathi - lasted me 4 years.was very regular and even now calls me up to say Hi. We shifted home ..the next maid lasted me 6 years …Rajamma …she had this weakness for fotographs, still have her foto posing with my children …we shifted again ….Now I have Kala.  A young girl,.who is so affectionate and never once forgets to ask me if I had my cup of tea when I give her...when ever she goes on leave she gives me a set of advice – akka – don’t get angry with the children.don’t fold or wash clothes akka ..I will come back and clear the backlog…truly affectionate.

Indeed god has been kind to me where maids are concerned …I thank god for giving me a mom and dad who are role models in treating domestic helps with a lot of respect . My mom has always been a very good friend and full of compassion to them …she taught me to wink at certain not-so- good cleaning days …it is an investment …I realise now ..

I thank god for giving me the sense to offer to open bank accounts for my maids. Rajamma saved up 10k! And looking at her updated passbook became her favorite past time …

I never made a big issue of giving old clothes and never expected anything in return for that – neither better service nor life –long gratitude …Anyway it would have been donated and was of no use to me. And that in the true sense of the term is anyway not charity ….The closest synonym would be “spring cleaning”. May be?

I never grudge her taking leave ...on the contrary feel guilty for not giving her weekly off…Atleast once a week I want to give them off and be a role model  Feel ashamed and embarrassed that I am not able to do so till now.

Whenever I sense her being unwell give her off and also give her the choice to do whatever work she can if she has already reported to work…

Raise their salary whenever we get a pay raise. (She gets a raise even in the years when we don’t get! wish I could convey this to our employers!) .and give a months bonus very year at any time she chooses …
Of talking about insurance.but cant seem to make her understand …

Inwardly I never suspect or mistrust her intentions to do the job well. If something is not done well I always tell her about it the next day.another pearl of wisdom I learnt from my mom …

I ‘ve reached somewhere ..Where my maids are concerned. …Would be doubly happy even if I achieve half of this where my children are concerned.



Jaya said...

I feel the same way too. A lot of returned NRI's treat their "helpers" better because we've done all these jobs - driver, maid, cook abroad, and can empathize a lot on the physical labor. I agree 100% about your observations on the Raj legacy...we've to change a lot with that servile attitude and sticking to a pecking order. And, yes, it's "Spring cleaning" and not charity :-))

renu said...

i agree with how we treat our maid but cant blame it on British,class and caste were there even before -in many stories of even mahabharat and ramayana,to say helpers were treated well and were very happy in olden days may not be true as most books were written by those who had helpers.You should read 'The White Tiger' book by Arvind Adiga closely depicts how servants are treated by our own landlords.

jula said...



ranjani.sathish said...

Enjoyed reading your thoughts...very valid. Do keep your posts coming up...would love to hear your thoughts
on various issues

Hema said...

Very valid thoughts. It particularly irritates me when people reserve things (read old food) only to be given to their maids. Thankfully I too have had good relationships with the two maids that we've employed till date. Guess I am only getting back what I gave them!