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Maid for each other: is it a myth?

I slide open the kitchen drawer. The metal clanks as I hurriedly look for the steel lid to cover the soaked lentils ready to be cooked inside the cooker. As I pull out the specific lid, I'm disgusted with how the edges still bear the food stains from the previous day. I quickly reach for a cleaner one, place the dirty one on the clean counter like a carefully collected crime evidence; my mind picturing myself giving an earful to the errant maid.

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This is not unusual. I regularly collect such proofs of disinterest and lack of sincerity on the part of my domestic helper. It happens, not too rarely, that I stand shoulder to shoulder with a friendly spider that's crawling rapidly down in its intricately woven web right above my desk in the study. I frequently notice effects of neglect on the corners and wall edges; like the fall colours, they go from a clean white to yellow to finally a dull brown. Only that these are rather ugly and not even half as romantic as fall colours. Even as I repeat the warnings to the lady responsible and vow to myself to replace her at the first chance or even pray she quits of her own, I know I'm blessed to have her as my maid. Sounds strange? Allow me to explain.

I live in an apartment complex. And, with that, I'm also a part of the ladies WhatsApp group. It's like that freebie that no one wants but still accepts because maybe someday you might put it to use. To be honest, for all its faults, the group is the most resourceful unit you can have when it comes to a crisis situation. A crisis could be anything: from a last-minute sourcing of a porcupine costume for your nursery going kid to getting candidates for a vacant position in your company; the group rises to the occasion almost always. Well, I digress. The point is a crisis situation concerning maids can be only one: they not turning up for work. This is when I'm truly thankful for the group because I usually find a substitute within minutes of posting the distress Ad for one.

Those were the days when anger against my own maid was fresh and I was looking for an opportunity to replace her. Contrary to being upset on being ditched at the last minute, I took it as an opportunity to find possible replacements. And, therein began my journey of eating humble pie.

Once a maid duly sent in by my thoughtful neighbour sauntered inside. She towered over me, her hefty figure adding to her menacing attitude. Even as I meekly laid out the work for her, she stated pointedly, "you have four balconies!" "Err..yes," said I, unsure. Would she rather have me detach them from the rest of the house? I wondered. I was glad to see the back of her as she finished the work, in a seemingly patronizing manner, for that day.

Another time, I encountered a middle-aged professional who seemed to know exactly how this entire business of being a house-help worked. I couldn't decide if her pan-stained teeth worried me more or her off-handed approach to the work. "Hand me the mop broom" she demanded. "Oh, we don't use a broom for mopping in my house. Here take the cloth," I offered. "What, no broom?!" I don't work with cloth. My back aches!," she glowered. I respectfully ushered her out and shut the door tight behind her.

In yet another instance, a pleasant looking person turned up to fit into my maid's shoes for a day. She seemed affable to talk to too. And, wonders of wonder, she even got my approval in the quality department. I was beyond myself with joy at having found a perfect maid and mustered up all my hiring skills. I enumerated the work while she smiled benignly. As soon as I finished, she put on an air of supreme importance and announced,

"3.5k per month ma, non-negotiable. Just vessels, sweeping and mopping; dusting maybe once a week. Also, I don't clean bathrooms."
Did she just think I had a money tree growing in my backyard? Hell, I don't even own a garden!

This is when my maid's good qualities took gigantic proportions to put me to shame. How could I think of replacing her? At least, she doesn't talk back, hasn't asked for a raise in the last one and half years, and even agrees to work on her faults when pointed out. Yes, perhaps we are also made for each other.

Do you have that perfect maid?


  1. Maids are like an itch. We don't want them but we are satisfied with having them. My maid just returned from a 40 day grand mother maternity leave. Frankly I realised, I realised I can manage now with only a cook. But then, they do make life easier.

    1. Haha. What a comparison, Lata but oh, so true! But I cannot imagine doing all the work they on a daily basis. So, however the quality, I'm grateful :-)

  2. I hear you, sister!
    I have had similar maid-issues. But thankfully, most have been very well-behaved, not the inquisitive sort, or the ones who make demands leaving me to wonder who's the employer! Most of the maids I have had are Bangladeshi women who work really hard and sincerely, so that leaves me with no scope for complaining. Touchwood.
    I also used to belong to the Whatsapp group of my apartment complex ladies - i had joined the group for maid-purposes, but soon found out that it was one more group that shared inane jokes ONLY. So, I quit that group and heaved a sigh of relief. ;P You are lucky your group helps out in times of need, though.
    I just remembered , years ago, mom hired a domestic help after doing the chores herself. On the second day of her arrival, mom requested her to sweep from behind the sofa as she couldn't reach that part because of her back ache. The next instant, the maid threw away the broom and announced irately that she DID NOT do all these kind of things and left in a huff never to return. Me and mom stood rooted to the spot for almost five minutes, trying to understand what just happened! :))

    1. I deal with the Bangladeshi lot too, Shilpa and I've to agree about the obedience part. As with the WhatsApp group, I've been on the brink of quitting very often but I stay for this very reason-maids ;-) And, oh my God, look at that maid's attitude! Phew, we are better off without such high-strung people.

  3. Aaah! It's the same story everywhere. I have had some really great house helps but the current one is not meeting my expectations. Earlier, I was very quality conscious and would point out the missed corner or the glaring stain, but now I do that on my own once she leaves. Because repeated reminders irk her and she just doesnt want to improve. I am glad that at least the work gets done for the day on time. SIGH

    1. Before this house, I've always had the grace of good maids but looks like I ran out of luck when it came to my own house. I so hear you on the last part- at least the work gets done!

  4. Does there even exist a perfect maid? I have pretty low expectations these days - just that she she should be honest and should inform me if she's not coming in, period. Even that much seems a dream sometimes.

    1. Perfect maid is a myth. I'm with you, Tulika :-)

  5. Uma you know I have done a complete series called Bai-saga on my blog! You can't imagine how uncanny it felt to read your thoughts on the maid troubles! Yes, you guessed right, I have had trying times with maids myself! Blessed are those with good ones, but wait a sec, are they even for real? Good maid=mthical being according to me ;) Loved this post!


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