Published in The Tribune on 30th April 2011
Indian cities are witness to a revolution of a very different kind these days. The maids are taking over!
Schedules, appointments, wake-up times, meals, birthday parties, vacations, and even weddings are dependant these days on the convenience of the all-important family maid. Make no mistake, she has veto rights of the kind that no Head of State enjoys anywhere in the world.
If the maid of the house says she has a toothache, no food will be cooked in the yuppie household that day. And God-forbid, if the maid decides that she should visit her grandmother for a week, the man of the house may have to take time off from work to help out at home.
These formidable ladies need no training and no tutoring. They are immensely more talented and capable than their employers. They know how to cook, make beds, take messages, iron clothes, and provide beauty-treatment to their lady-bosses.
At birthday parties, maid-power is at its most evident. Since the practice nowadays is to invite only the kids and not the parents, such occasions are witness to large scale maid re-unions. Sometimes two maids accompany each child and the hosts have to arrange many boxes to cater to these hungry guests.
At a recent party, however, the poor hostess was in a real quandary. What happened was that the maids refused to eat from the ‘maid-boxes’ and demanded plates and seats like the guests. They did not wait for formal approval from anyone and walked up to the table to dig in to the ‘apple-turnovers’ and ‘blueberry pies’. So compelling was the hunger from within and so large the number of maids that the food on the table vanished in no time.
It is anybody’s guess as to who had to eat from the ‘maid-boxes’ in the end.
My sister-in-law has her priorities in perfect order. She has identified the specialist maid who would chaperon her second baby and has booked her in advance even though the said woman is working elsewhere nowadays.
The only thing that remains to be decided is whether and when she is to have the second baby.
In my own home there is a very old and very imposing looking maid who is like someone out of the history books, but who works more effectively than any maid of the modern era. My wife goes out of her way to look after her, and we all call her ‘Mataji’.
I must also confess to being a little afraid of her; so intimidating is she. She bosses me around whenever I’m around and often asks me to move away from the room that she’s busy cleaning.
She is quite a born leader it seems. In fact I hear that she might soon take over as the President of the All India Maids Association. The whole country had better watch out!