The ignominy of the burger

A couple of days ago a mother from the Brat’s old school called me up to invite me for her child’s birthday party. I told her I’d be a little late because it was a working day and I have certain commitments.

Oh no, she said – it’s perfectly alright to send the maid with your son. That’s what all the working moms do.

I laughed and told her that the reason I get paid half of what I deserve is because I work flexi time and I’ll be damned if the maid took my son to a party. It’s either the OA or me. As luck would have it, neither of us was free so he didn’t go to the party. And being the Brat he neither remembered nor cared! I apologised and sent in a gift later.

And then yet another birthday party on a working day. (Explanation – sections in school are according to age which is why the Brat’s entire class has birthdays around this time) And this being the Brat’s old school I really wanted him to attend and meet his old friends. So I rushed through work, organised myself to be able to work through the night and reached the party not too late.

And then it happened. As I stood there feeding my kids, the birthday boy’s maid came up to me and handed me a burger and a juice box. I absentmindedly smiled and nodded thanks. And then I wondered – we were in Pizza Hut. Not McDonalds. Where did the burger come from?

And then it struck me. This was the maid dinner!!! Yes – Delhi has this amazing and amusing system of giving the maids packets of food (good food no doubt) but packed because they’re not expected to eat at the venue – they’re supposed to be chasing their wards, not feeding their faces. So a generous reward is packed and delivered to them.

So where was I? ah yes – I was being handed the maid dinner. I looked around in shock. To the maid’s credit, she did sort of look at me in an unsure way, but then she figured it was better to play it safe and she handed me the packet anyway.

I looked down at my outfit in horror. Was I really looking maid-ish? Sexy new camel corduroys, a sleeveless fuschia top with a Chinese collar. A lovely pure leather handbag. Kohl and gloss. Surely not!?

And then I realised what it was – I was standing at the kiddie table feeding my kids with the other maids. While the other mothers were at another table quaffing ice tea and putting away pasta.

I started to shake with laughter. And soon I soon had to sit down to catch my breath To think feeding my own child at a party relegated me to being household help!! As a friend in the US pointed out – we live in different worlds babe. Only help take the kids to parties and feed children in India anymore!

The birthday boy’s mother rushed to me, ‘share the joke’ she said. I wordlessly pointed to the burger.

She was mortified and looked at me like I’d lost my head. How could I laugh at such an insult? She looked for her  maid in the crowd and I stopped her with a hand. I was still choking on my laughter. To think I rush home from work to take my kids out to give them a social life, work odd hours to make it up and kill myself in the bargain only to be mistaken for the help!!

Other mothers arrived to see what the commotion was about. And she was so apologetic while I was still giggling that I feel I’ve lost all credibility! What kind of mother finds it funny to be mistaken for the help?!

Kind friends give other reasons – Maybe it’s because the kids are fairer than I am, maybe it’s standing at the kiddy table, maybe I should wear more makeup! I don’t know and I don’t care. The OA is pink and white fair, the Brat is slightly darker, while the Bean is darker than the Brat, bridging the gap between us so that we’re all various shades. And that’s it? My kids are too fair to be mine?!

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What touched me most was the maids’ reaction when I got home and told them. Dark eyes flashed  – ‘What didi? How dare they think you’re a maid! Do they think you look like us?’

I was so torn. My maids are clean and well dressed and polite. And warm. People who might visit for the first time are often zapped by the older lady who opens the door because she is in clean, ironed cotton sarees. The younger maid wears all my Fabindia stuff and even what I pick up for her is in pure cotton and to my taste, so it’s never garish. I wouldn’t take it as an insult to be mistaken for one of them. And I was in a funny way, rather upset that she felt herself to be so far below me. Goes back to my untouchability argument – what are maids supposed to look like?

On the other hand – her loyalty touched me. Dark eyes flashing in rage she went on – ‘tell me which one it is. I’ll see her at school and ask her how she could think my madam was a maid..’

Let it go, I laughed. It just means you look very pretty and I should wear more makeup and higher heels!

*wipes tears and then promptly dissolves into giggles over the whole brouhaha again*


107 thoughts on “The ignominy of the burger

  1. So how are the maids or rather mothers supposed to look like MM?

    Me: LOL! Like me apparently!?

    Why do people have stereotyped images of maids / mothers / grandmas etc …
    Its nice that you pick not so garish clothes for your maids … but if other maids picked the same themselves, whats wrong with that? (you know they might get influenced from some high fashion lady like you who they work for) Why do we expect to always see maids in garish clothes?

    Me: I have no idea. Perhaps that is our stereotype. I know I give away anything that the bean is gifted if it is too shiny and my maids get mad at me for giving away what they think is the best. for them – if i am buying a gift – i buy what i think suits them best i suppose – if they buy – they buy what is the shiniest because i suppose in their head they imagine it looks expensive. no idea really – just too amused at how het up everyone got.

  2. I dont know..if I should laugh along with you…or be aghast at the entire… kids going to party with maids thing…..
    Well am not a mother… nor so I ever hope to be in a situation where I cannot take my kids to a party and have a maid take them when I ave them that is…

    Oh well… will laugh with you I guess…… 🙂

    Me: well if you’re working fulltime, i dont see it happening on weekdays – but weekends – i’m with you all the way! i wouldnt have kids if i cant even spare the weekends for them!

  3. I am from Chennai.. so this whole maid thing is alien to me.. plus I have not been in Chennai for 5 years and I don’t have kids… so I have no idea how it is in Chennai now… but this post brought a smile to my face when I imagined you laughing at what happened 🙂

    Me: what’re you saying – chennai is as hep as the rest of the country. you be careful that some gucci toting poes garden mommy doesnt come at you with a nail file for that comment 😉 no seriously. household help is cheap in india. we’ve all grown up with it. the thing is that its now getting in the way of our socialising. otherwise in the old days maids even breastfed the employers kids along with their own so that the lady of the house didnt get saggy!

  4. You Know I get mistaken for a maid so many times by our security guy,esp if a new one is deputed at shift change!! That is because apparently I can pass of as a srilankan, and wear my standard uniform of capris and t-shirts everywhere…most of the maids in my neighbourhood are srilankans wearing the same attire…when i go out grocery shopping,walking etc i dont bother with makeup etc…now I have started wearing an expensive watch not because I mind looking like a maid but because the guards start asking me too many questions that too in Singhalese!! One even insisted I call ”my madam” to buzz me in! Ufff!

    I cant blame them for doing their job after all, so instead of taking the pain of putting on makeup , my Tissot does the job! And I find that funny too!! Cos these guards do notice all this!! And maybe I need to wear heels too instead of my ”rubber chappals”…..lolllll.


  5. On many occassions, I have seen my maid service or other contractor/laborers come to my house in designer duds. And I am happy, because it means, they do good work and they get paid well. I think in India, we still are somewhat feudal. In the US, the couple who sweeps my house and cleans my bathrooms calls me by my first name. In India we still are a far away from that. But I am happy to see one person taking the effort to diminish the feudal lines.

    Me: the birthday boy’s maid? :p
    no seriously dot. i am not taking any maha credit for fighting feudalism. i like the aaram a maid gives me when i get back from a long day and want a cup of tea. but i do know that i will not allow my kid to be brought up entirely by a maid and be taken to a party and taught his party manners there. i’ve had so many maids at parties ask me why the kids’ ‘didi’ hasnt come with me.. and is she on leave?!

  6. I like this post. It says a lot about you. And another story about confidence. Go girl!!.

    Me: 🙂 what else is there to do but laugh?! it makes me pick up a mirror and maybe wear more makeup. otherwise that poor maid would have got it for insulting another ‘madam’. poor woman.. looked so shocked when she realised i was a mother …

  7. Things have changed form when I was a kid. They treat maids like human beings and provide food for them. I remember forcing my parents at other kiddy birthday parties to get something back for our maid. Once or two times it met with blank stares from the hosts, but usually we would get home with cake and stuff packed in little mithai boxes… but then I never had kiddy bday parties in Pizza huts and such like…

    Me: I dont expect anyone to send food for my maid who is at home. i do expect them to feed her if she attends. and while the maid bag is weird (because she still stays hungry there and eats it later) it is atleast something, you’re right. on the other hand – i just make one set of food for everyone and its damn annoying to have everyone bring along a maid and throw my calculations out of gear. i’ve had fancy maids reject food after its been served etc.. crazy. keep your damn high society maids out of my house and i’ll do the same

  8. I am aghast. I can so totally see your humor but at the same time this is so alien to me since I haven’t experienced anything like this. So used am I to taking my kids to birthday parties and feeding them in this part of the world that I probably wouldn’t have even understood where the burger came from. Wow!!

  9. All i can say is WOW at your reaction to the whole thing.

    On an unrelated note – Bean’s eyes are so lovely, i keep going back to that pic to look at her eyes 🙂

  10. This was sad, funny, ironic all at once. I understand the maid’s faux pas – but who can blame her? If the other mothers set a precedent then she can only be accused of making an assumption that would be true if it were not for TMM!! It brings about a lot of conflicting tangents in my mind.

    I ask a question – why do people want kids? You either want them and actively want to raise them rather than outsourcing the ‘chore’ or you don’t want them and remain a social butterfly all your life if you so please!

    And I am glad you didn’t fuss over the poor maid and her assumption. Of course you didn’t it’s the right thing to do.

    And to those who make it about appearances! WTF?!?!?!? _ whoever said all maids were dark? Why is this about the way you look or the color of your skin? I mean, just how shallow can a person’s mind get?

    Me I dont know if its because maids are dark – or more because the damn brats dont look like me – you know fairer and diff looking!!! 😀 ROFL.

  11. I love this post. Except of course for your complete insistence on not sending your children to a party with the help, you granola chomping, cloth diaper, babywearing hippy mama you! Anyway, its your parenting philosophy so really, what goes of my fathers as Channel V would say (with a clever video to boot).


    Me: 🙂 I’m anal that way n! as you’ll see when you visit. I like doing things myself because then I have no one but myself to blame and I can do it the way I want. You have to attend these parties to see what I mean – crazy, baby pushing, maid screaming, return gift demanding melees. I will let them go with the maid someday I am sure, when I go back to fulltime work and they have learnt their manners. RIght now I am flexi-time mostly because these are uneducated maids – what can I expect them to teach my kids and wont I be wrong to expect it of them?

    *slings baby on her back and plods off tiredly to the next damn birthday party*

  12. Hi MM,

    I just have one question. On an average how many maids does a family with 2 kids have. I know you have mentioned you have 2 maids and a cook and a driver?

    Is that the norm? to have 2-3 maids, 1 cook, 1-2 drivers.

    I would say dont ever think about moving to the US. Because here between the spouse and me..I am the cook/maid/driver/ and spouse is cook(sometimes)/driver (mostly:))

    We work fulltime and have a 2 Year Old. And this is the norm here. Most of my friends/colleagues have 2-3 kids and still are all of the above.

    I know it is our choice that we moved to the US and all that…but I was thinking aloud thats all…because I am from a middle class family who grew up without maids to take care of us. The maid was just to wash vessels, sweeping-mopping the floor and washing clothes(which most of the time we used to do ourselves). My Mom in India still does the cooking herself and dad still goes about buying groceries paying bills etc.

    So the more and more I read about all these Maid systems I feel things have changed for sure. Maybe they have been existing from before. But more and more people are able to afford it now.

    Anyways just penned my thoughts as I was thinking thats all…


    Me: Hi Bhavani, very right. Maids have always been around but our lifestyles have changed to suit the west while giving us no support system.

    We’re all double income parents working 12 -14 hour days while our dads came back from work at 6 while moms were mostly SAHM like yours. and even she had a part timer as you mentioned.

    today if i am up at this hour STILL working – when do you imagine i would get housework done.. right?

    so for working moms, its important to have adequate help. tomorrow if my maid falls sick will i cook a 4 dish meal, sweep and swab both morning and night, care for two kids, wash all the dishes by hand and STILL go to office? its not possible when my kids are young and dont go to daycare. i’d rather pay extra and ensure that one maid who does housework isnt called upon to take care of them. read rohini’s post here to see what life in india is like

    that said – this is india. there is dust and dirt everywhere. we sweep and swab the house twice a day – while you vaccum once a day. if i moved to the US tomorrow I’d do that too and manage without a maid just like you and many others do. we have houseguests all the time who will not make a cup of tea themselves – because that is our society – can you imagine a guest in your mother’s house making breakfast for themselves?! its not aceptable here . period.

    on the other hand we spend hours chasing something simple like a driving licence and having to stand in endless queues to pick up a bank opening form. we manage for hours everyday with no electricity. we get no water in our taps other than at certain times. on certain days we order tankers. today i have no gas cylinder. there is a shortage in delhi andi borrowed from my neighbour despite having booked well in advance.

    So not only are we supposed to function at the efficiency you do – we deal with all this and corruption and bribery as part of our daily lives. its a trade off we make for the house help while you can order everything online and get running water in your taps.

    the screw up as i see it is that the maids are invading our personal spaces and that doesnt suit some of us anymore. because we can no longer treat them like furniture which is what the last generation did. i will not give the maid stale food to eat. but neither will i cater a party for 12 invited guests and realise i have to feed 18 instead. see what i mean?

  13. You know, one time I mistook the maid for the lady of the house and to this day I am apologizing for that 🙂 I live in California and when I was visiting family in Bangalore, I tried to initiate some sort of conversation with a woman accompanying a child in the park. Little did I realize that it was usually the maid who brought the kids to the park these days. I learnt my lesson.

    Me: my dad did that a couple of days ago when he took the kids to the park! now that i am working the maids go – earlier i used to take them and most often was worse dressed than the maids!

  14. Oh can you send me contact name and pata for maid who will breast feed my child. Sounds heavenly. I will give her burger and juice pack. If I’m going to be feudal, let it be all the way. Perkiness comes first.

    Me *looks at her watch ruefully*sorry…you’ve arrived a hundred years too late.

  15. We had noticed this change in Bangalore too.. Every time we visit, our apt complex seems to have increased its maid and children population.. But as you say, I am not sure how much I would want maids to bring up my children.. I would love to have a cook,driver and the works, though 🙂

    Me: well in our case my kids dont go to daycare so naturally need someone home to keep an eye on them. other than that its up to me how much i allow them to play a role in the upbringing…

  16. i guess nowadays there are more perks to being a maid than a mom ha?
    we really are such a maid/help obsessed society. realization set in only after i moved to the US.
    thank god i lived alone for a few years in delhi before i did…else would have gone crazy here!

  17. I had to laugh at this. When I was in Singapore, almost everyone has maids and all the maid would go to the playground in the evening. I was there in my rattiest tshirt and sweat pants and 2 ladies were talking amongst themselves..woh mummy hai ki hai maid.

    My mom was angry on my behalf. I thought it was hilarious.

    And its touching that your maid wanted to fight on your behalf ….

    Me: yes it is. at some level she’s become family. i had done a post on it long ago when the brat was talking in school about his family and said that his family is mama, dada, bean, sati didi and his didi.

  18. MM,
    I have to share this episode – one of my friends was visiting from Bangalore and she was telling me that their maid watches their 3 yeard old while she is at work. Since this was a new concept to me, I was asking her about the trustworthiness of the maids and she says “I just lock all of my precious posessions in the bureau and leave my daughter with her in the house”. My mind was screaming then “Isn’t your daughter your most precious posession? if you cannot trust your things with this maid, why would you trust your child with them?” I always assumed that India being India, with children surrounded by numerous relatives, doting grandparents, cousins, there would be no dearth of family to help out for childcare, so this came as a big surprise to me.
    Hilarious post!

    Me: times have changed yaar. no more grandparents and family available 😦 my own mother only stayed 8 days after i delivered the bean via csec and then went back to her business. ours is a society stuck in an odd place.

  19. dat’s wat happens when you dont keep up with the joneses. now go buy that balenciago or whatever and get that fake accent. c’mon now.
    no but seriously – I would have shuttled between laughing and looking furtively into every available mirror. maids are looking as good as you these days? I’m not coming to India. period.

  20. Good Post MM!!! I have seen the maid culture in India. I live in the US, but everytime I vsit my neice in India, I get surprised to see the maid culture in Bombay.
    Even SAHMs have full time help to look after the kids. It seems there is this one child, who doesnt have a maid to look after her and my niece was very curious about what happened to the said child’s didi. She was told that the child doesnt have a didi, my niece was like “yes I know she doesnt have a didi, but where did her didi go? what happened to her didi” She cant imagine that it is possible to be without a “didi” in this world 😀

  21. with those kind-a clothes / accessories u had, it does’nt sound like she mistook u to b the maid! may b she was either pre-occupied or was jst sub-conciously distributng food fr “non-kids / adults” around the table!!

    Me: yes of course. that was a joke. she didnt really pay attention – she just handed it to me because i was at the kiddy table!

  22. Hi MM,

    I totally understand…here atleast the work culture is very diff. My hubby works out of home full time and so drops and picks up my daughter. And I work 9-5 and am out. Ofcourse barring a few days when work pressure builds up.

    And if I can afford getting a help here I would definetely atleast for some chores. I do the cleaners come twice a month to do all dusting cleaning etc.

    Anyways you are doing a great job in balancing your life with the support system. And I admire you for treating your support system very well.

    All the best and you have a lovely family!! Enjoy!!!


    Me: 🙂 please dont admire it bhavani. they make my life easy, i make theirs easy. we’re destined to spend some time with these people in our life – why make it harder on each other? i’d expect my own boss to treat me with respect…

    and i must admit that i often get this query from those who have moved abroad. i believe people often make a virtue out of necessity. those who can afford help, get it. its that simple.

    have a great day 🙂

  23. To take your discussion further the worst case scenario is when you live in a country where maids are not the norm and have house guests who as you said will not make themselves even a cup of tea 😀
    That’s a situation designed to make someone feel like a maid. That said I’ll head off and prepare myself for the next visit, sigh.

  24. Your last few paras redeemed this post for me. Why is it indeed an insult to be taken for a maid?

    Me: redeemed?! is it okay if i am not seeking redemption on this blog, merely cataloguing?!

  25. This is a testament to how approachable you are and that you become one with any strata of the society 🙂 From my childhood days in India we usually used to go by ourselves to the birthday parties…my parents never went with us because only the kids were invited.

  26. 🙂 You have company, hon. I am asked “Bai hai?” or commanded “Bai ko phone do!” every time I answer the phone. Everyone from relatives to stray acquaintances have either decided that only household help answers the phone or that my hello sounds “maidish”. I couldn’t care less. Most days I meekly respond with a “ji” and giggle all the way back to my room.
    If we gave it some serious thought though, (although I’m not sure the situation deserves it), I’d say it’s a sad state of affairs. But no, I’d rather go back to giggling.

  27. So what happened to the McDonald’s packet? Gave it to your maids, or ate it?

    Me: returned it to the hostess and finished my kids’ left over pasta and pizza 🙂 i HATE waste.

  28. Hi MM, its the same case everywhere…..I take my 13 month old to the park in the evenings n its really sad to see more maids+kids than moms+kids….

  29. this is classic tragic – comic…. it makes an observation on what we have become and some questions we really dont want to answer….on another note, made me think of what do we expect from the maids? i actually have people telling me not to “sar pe chadao” the maids, just because i dont go yelling at them at the top of my voice…i for one will treat them for the value they bring to my life…being my support system and leaving me to pursue whatever the hell it is i want to in the time that’s been freed up…

  30. This is kinda like that ad with Dhoni. Des badla, bhes badlo?! Big Bazaar or something? But you certainly took it in the right spirit.

  31. What I want to know is: Did you eat the burger at the party? Out here in Cali, I’m always at the park with the nannies. Since those are often dressed just like me — raddi jeans, raddi tee — I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar happened to me.

  32. i got mistaken for the maid every single day that i spent in Mumbai,last year. I was almost the only mum in the park and play area supervising my firstborn. There may have been the occasional grandparent/dad in the park on some days. But mums almost nevah.

    But i don’t think i felt insulted to be mistaken for the maid… I met beautiful ones, hobbling ones, poised ones, organised ones, Bollywood-obssessed ones, girls who didn’t know a syllable of hindi, girls who enjoyed the swing as much as the children they supervised.

    from them, I listened to dozens of stories on… living away from home, not being allowed to use hot-water for bathing — but to be told to use hot water for washing the babies clothes,
    what it means to travel by third-class train when the family was flying to a holiday destination, to be Telugu in a Hindi-speaking world, to sleep on the floor in the cold, to be spat on by their wards, to listen to rudeness from kids…

    On the day I left Mumbai, I gave the youngest girl there Rs. 500. She was 15.
    She stared at me. She said she hadn’t minded my son for even a day, and asked me why I was paying her.

    Somehow, i wanted her to have some money that she had not worked hard at earning.

  33. Ahh MM, i can see how you felt. I have also been mistaken for a maid many a times. But i was also blaming my dress sense, seeing your situation, i can see where we are heading.

  34. Hilarious! I think this “sending kids with maids” is a Delhi thing. I’ve never seen kids come with maids in Hydbad. Ususally both parents are present along with the kids. Also, people really dress up to go out in Delhi. Down south people really don’t bother. Even in supermarkets I have to look for the tags to figure out who is the assistant. I felt quite sad for the maids though, how do people just learn to think (and accept) that they are “inferior”

    Me: you know – i covered page 3 in hyd and saw so many kids with maids its not funny. that said – i do feel its more a bigger city thing. when both parents are working – like in mumbai and delhi, it gets to be more common…

  35. hehehe… when my maid had not turned up the entire week… when i was trying to do all housework by myself in the two hours when my 10 months old baby slept… when i felt triumphant that i still managed and didn’t miss to take my baby out to the garden at 5 pm sharp ….i looked sweaty, completely mismatched clothes, hair not combed..of course, no make up… a known maid, who is always dressed well with great hair, and nicely lined eyes etc.. asked me critically if i was sick ( ahem!! ) with disaproval in her eyes ..hahahahah!!!

  36. 🙂

    i think the culture of maids has always been more prevalent up north! and in mumbai,i lived in a fairly middle class locality where birthday parties were meant for just kids and parents werent even invited! :p

    Me: 🙂 its not a north south thing – you should read kiran and ro’s blogs to see the maid culture there too!

    imagine if my mom tried to have 20kids AND their parents in a one ROOM kitchen! not even one bhk! 🙂

    so the concept of taking maid along is alien to me. ofcos i have maid at home who takes care of Cubby since i work full time and fairly long hours! but while going out, its just us and him! i dunno what will happen when he starts school and has all these birthday parties… i hope i can snatch the time! 🙂

    and yeah! i would have laughed too! thank god for being able to do that!


  37. oh and as for kids being fair or different looking! once an aunty said “he has a nice complexion! fair and all” about 3 times. i just smiled and said yes! till she couldnt resist anymore and said “his father must be fair!” hahahaha! M was not there with me othawise she would have thought i had someone elses kid! :p

    ofcos now Cubby thanks to having his meals standing in the balcony even in hot sun is coming close to his dads shade (which is lighter than me!)! 😀


  38. hahaha!

    🙂 you’re a sweethear to take it in the right spirit, MM. Ahmedabad has the same culture for maid-meals too. Nino’s got a party invite for this Sunday, which says kids and maids, no mums. Don’t know what to do, because he’s great friends with this kid. I hate to send him away on weekends, guess I’ll just gatecrash!

    Me: thank you!!! I was getting tired of this being a delhi thing. i’ve lived in chennai and hyd too – and trust me – there are maids all over the damn place! please gatecrash. i’m sure they’ll be okay!

  39. I witnessed the transition in Delhi from mom escorted to non-mom escorted times. I remember we had a huge mom brigade in the park and every day we used to sit around in a circle and chat away while the kids ran around, one of them coming occassionally to rest on their momma’s lap. But let me tell you, the moms were not attentive to their kids just because there was no maid. I was the only one who played action songs with the kids and taught them to make circles on the dust with twigs! Slowly but surely, I was the only mom with kid in the park. There was a time when I got a maid for some time but it did not work out. How much attention the child gets depends on the mom, maid or no maid. i know women who come home from a hectic job and still manage to take their baby to the park- every day. Then they are others who will stay at home and watch TV while the maid takes the babies out. It really takes all kinds! Maids too are different I have seen maids hitting the child to discipline it and others who love the kid like their own….now what was I saying in the first place!
    Anyhow each to her own I say…and the MM is always right!

  40. Shocking !!!

    While in Delhi and while attending ‘old school’ birthday parties you are kindly requested to wear cotton Saris with Kajal. Delhi maids below a certain age would be seen dead in a sari.

    Mine wears tight nylon capris with a Baniyan type T Shirt. When she bends down to keep the Tea tray for guests I often burst a vein with embarassment. But she is good and nice to my kids and I sighed deeply when I read of your maids in Fab India and starched cotton ! When I once gave a Fab India short Kurta to mine, she used it as night suit.

    Me:LOL! well mine arent very well educated but both are very decent. in the old fashioned sense of the word. even if they take the kids to play in our lawn, wont even talk to the guards or drivers even if i ask them to pass on a message.

  41. well i am sure when Im back in Desi land I will be going through this and more.
    For the past couple of visits I have to face comments about being the ‘uneducated village bumpkin’….this as Im always wearing the past year’s fashions, speak a Pushto accented Urdu (the english too requires help!)…so Ive had shop keepers turning to my hep sis and saying something like “aap tau parhee likhee hain, what is she saying” or speaking to my pre-teen niece instead of me…of course this means they are in fits of laughter.. evil witches !!

  42. Get that all the time love. *Goes to sit with MM in the maid corner* Every birthday party I get asked “Krish ki didi kahan hai?” by the other maids. And the complexion bit too. Yup. Abha, I get that too. Yup I say. His father is fair. I am dark. But he had the good taste to pick my features.
    Wotusay. I’d rather be my kids maid than have a maid do everything for him when I am right there and available.

  43. oh god deja vu about singapore. i was the only mother in the playground forever. the only mother at lunches who ran after CC. deja vu, deja vu
    i am so glad i have you.
    the only issue i really tackled was – the maids did not speak to me – and then when one of them did she bitched about her ward being slow and i broke the golden rule … i said that was not a nice thing to say.
    ostracized from both sects.
    but, i’m happy.
    i’m happy because from i grow really old i will remember the itsy details. you know the really really really small ones.

    Me: we always end up walking the same road, dont we?!

  44. LOL MM. 🙂
    Rocking away with laughter at ur escapade.

    On the otherhand, I’d love to have a maid on standby who can take the kid out sometimes – even for a walk to the park downstairs – so that I can get a 20 min break.
    Ya, I love my kid no end.. but sigh.. just the thot.. the mere possibility of putting my feet up for a while…

    You’re really lucky to have 2 maids *and* a driver.

    I’ve had a tough time in Bangalore trying to get a maid. Forget the price. All I’m looking for is someone who’s decently clean, speaks a dab of hindi, can take care of the kid – and has the energy to keep up with him. And that’s proving impossible. A big huge sigh…..

    Me: I know the feeling. I went through 20 maids before i found a suitable one. And i stayed home 4 years before i could trust anyone with the kids… its not easy. but you will find a solution.

  45. So many things about this incident is so weird! I can’t understand why maids or parents need to go for kiddie parties. When I was a kid, we didn’t have a maid (hired help was expensive in dubai at the time) and I used to go to parties by myself. And that was the norm with everyone!

    Me: You know I think it depends on age and distance. These are 2 and 3 year olds. NO mother – even abroad – will leave a hostess with twenty 3-year olds. They need help with their food, with going to the toilet.. everything. Its unreasonable to expect a 3 year old to stay with a stranger too. Which is what the hostess is. She already has her hands full with the party. Also – the kids need to be dropped a great distance. the party lasts an 1.5 hours. where is one to wait during that time?

    Parents were not expected to come to kiddie parties, and I don’t exactly understand why they need to be there. They would drop us off and pick us up. (Of course, I ended up not going to too many parties, cos my parents needed to KNOW the folks whose house I would be going to, but it was okay, no lasting damage! 🙂 ). Secondly, the idea of the other people saying “maybe they thought you were the maid cos you’re darker” is just ridiculous! i mean… what’s skin colour got to do with it at all? The only reason she thought you were the maid was cos she was used to only maids taking care of the kids, and not mothers. It’s interesting how everyone just tries to find a reason that does not implicate themselves in any way!

    Me: 🙂

  46. MM,

    all i meant was when we were kids we hadnt even heard of maids at home. maids were the ones who mopped and cleaned and did bartans!

    or maybe its a Maharshtrian trait for all you know! 🙂


    Me: oh! no no.. it cant be that. again – if your mom was a SAHM she had no need – but I had a working mom and till the age of abt 7 there was a maid to take care of me and my brother.

  47. Bite-sized beanie is back. YAIYYYYY!!! Her gorgeous and curious eyes are bigger than her face.

    About the maids, I am really worried about how many guests would bring along their maids to handle their kids in my son’s first budday party coming up this weekend. The last thing I want is to run out of food. But then how much extra can one order. And like you, I too hate wastage.

    Is it polite to ask this to the guests if their maids are coming too, or should we just live on their mercy?

    Me: 😦 I now know who will brings maids and who wont so i just cook accordingly. i suppose you could ask – its only polite to tell the host you’re bringing an extra mouth to feed.

  48. How sweet of the brat to say that his maids (didis) are a part of his family! Now I totally know what you meant in his birthday post when you said he’s the generous, loving kind. What a darling!

    I loved the way you handled the situation & amazed that you found it funny. (Frankly, I wouldn’t have known what to do if I imagine myself in your shoes 🙂 )

    But I found the whole system soo disturbing… I mean what’s with doling out *different* food to the maids? I agree they’re busy chasing kids when the party is on in full force (agree, not understand) but why can’t they be offered pizza & pasta alongwith others as well?? Is it that difficult for the mommy or other mommies (if mother is not attending) to look after the kid for a few minutes after the party while the maid eats peacefully? I’ve seen this happening so the logic of packed food beats me totally!!

    Stuff like this makes me wonder if class discrimination can ever be wiped out from our so called bourgeois society.

    Me: well at such places food is expensive. so people who are catering at Rs 400 per head for 12 people, find their costs going up a third – which has an impact on the budget. i understand that because i dont have money to throw around. if i invite you – i am inviting you ONLY. not your maid, your driver, your cook or your neighbour. when people began to drag their maids everywhere, those who invited had to find a way out! that said – i do wish people would manage their kids atleast for ten minutes while the maids eat.

  49. well, i came back to read the comments to the post.. really was an interesting situation that.

    Here in Gurgaon, its incredible. The maids dress up way better than us, so if you see someone who is looking way less than hep(read: me) you know its not a maid. If its someone who is in super shape and is dressed extremely well and is not driving a car, shes a maid. If she is driving the car, she’s the mother.

    And i wont even start talking abt how much they invade our private space and how we have to live with things done their way. My only alternative is to leave the child unaccompanied in his day care, and that i cannot do yet.

    Me: precisely my point to desis who have moved abroad and wonder why we have live in help – because there are no decent daycares and yet india has changed to an extent where we dont have family around either 😦

    But someday, i hope to reclaim my life.. already. Ishaan does odd errands around the house,and someday, i hope to be able to manage with just the part-timers. Yesterday, he carried a small bundle from the car to the house, all the way, and i was soo proud of him! 🙂 But again, one deviates.. sorry.

  50. Hi MM,
    Your’s is the very first blog I read after a long time that I’ve visited the blogosphere. And as expected a very happy happy post.
    Well… err… I guess the people you visited must have maids as sophisticated as you!Hence the confusion. Bring in the stiletto then.

    Me: LOL! with my bum knee I cant even do that!

  51. wow MM, sometimes reading your blog, I feel, so, errm foreign.
    a couple of observations/questions;
    At 20 (which is when i left delhi), kiddie birthday parties were further from my mind than Auckland is from Berlin, but i doubt that kiddie parties were the same way when we were growing up?
    On the subject of looking like the help, am compelled to share a recent experience.
    I was showing a german friend here some of my family photos the other day that my brother took in delhi. My dad’s driver is in one of the photos. so my friend says ‘ who’s this guy’ and i tell her oh he works for my dad. and my friend says ‘ he looks so typically indian, you and your brother dont look indian at all’. am often mistaken for being from southern europe in Germany and I get why that happens- i dont confirm to the german stereotype of ‘ Indian’.
    but reading this now and tying it up with what my friend said, am thinking yep, the help in India often if not always, look different.
    You’re right to not feel insulted, but i am somewhat bemused. is our society really so entrenched in a classist system?

    Me: 😦 it is. and now you know why I write reams on caste and discrimination. Its so strong. And yet we deny it.

  52. PS Give gorgeous little beanie a big kiss from me. i wish i were back in India sipping the lychee juice she so generously offered me!

    Me: and we’re waiting to open that bottle when we pick up the LCD 😀 so thank you!

  53. You’ll like it. its not just wine, its bubbly!! so pop the cork and celebrate the OA’s birthday and the new telly!! take some photos and share em okay!!

  54. MM this was funny (sort of). Happens often enough to both my mum and myself, of course. Neither of us wears jewelery (she not at all, me only my earrings most times), and no make-up (at all). So obviously. Thankfully no parties excepting my husband’s office ones (where most people know me and semi-accept my wierdnesses).

  55. i was thinking of you all the time at little gym today.
    the class was 50% omas, au pairs and nannies – well, it had to be its midweek, one of the nannies fixed a playdate with me. which i think was very nice and proactive of her. but, it was uncanny being asked “so do you take care of cc or are you his mum.” …. was like – oh-my-god that so happened to my friend and she blogged about it too.
    yes, i think we are walking the same road and actually closer than you and i – imagine. its like anna and i criss-crossing each other on the globe. i think its interlinked.

  56. We Indians are so caught up in 3Cs – color, caste & class. I say Indians because no matter where we live, we abide by those 3Cs. Growing up, I was darker than the rest of my family, so my extended family joked that I was exchanged at the hospital – there was scant dis-regard what emotional impact it had on a 5 year old. But my parents raised me to be a confident woman and it never really bothered me what others thought about me or my color. But that attitude is not changed after 25 years and 3000 miles away. My younger child has a much lighter skin when compared to his sister, dad or me. My neighbor who is Indian used to comment on every occasion as to how different he looks from the rest of us. Fed up, one day I finally told her not to worry he is really mine & my husbands and not result of liaison with some white guy! That shut her up. This just goes to show east or west, Capri/9 yard saree, our attitudes never change!

  57. Long time lurker here… the same thing has happened to me, but in Chicago. We lived in the city and I would take my then 3-year-old daughter to Gymboree (a popular kiddie play class thing here). This being a ritzy part of town, about 3/4 of the kids there were accompanied by nannies, who were either South American, East European or Caribbean. Because my daughter is a lot fairer than I am (and cuter 🙂 ) and because I dress like c#$p most of the time, it was assumed that I was a South American nanny. So many times, another nanny has said to me: “Oh, she’s so cute.” Me:”thanks!” Nanny: “Oh, she’s yours?” w look of amazement.

    Ironically, there was another little girl there who had a white nanny (an artist making extra money on the side). Everyone always thought that the nanny was the kid’s mother, bc she was white.

  58. MM,

    Love your attitude, am shaking my head sadly in approved old-lady fashion, at degeneration of Indian society 🙂 What stood out for me is that your maids wear cotton!

    Back in the dark ages, my mother’s and aunt’s maids told them to NOT buy them saris for Diwali/Pongal – to please give them the money instead, as they (the maids) could not get away with wearing cottons like my mom/aunt – only “ladies” could wear shabby clothes – and my mother tells me she routinely hears this statement even now, from the stream of part-timers she employs.


  59. Err I have to calrify: I must not look like a maid because of the strict security in my neighbourhood not because I have a problem looking like a srilankan maid!! Personally, I couldnt be bothered! The guards are supposed to question every pedestrian wanting access to our compound and if I look like a maid, I get a major grilling and suspicious looks! With 700 houses around to guard, cant expect the secutrity guys to remember all the madams and their maids… Anyways, I am my baby’s personal slave and look it too! Poo, booger, spit up, vomit and the works- you shall find on me! Didnt wanna come across as a snoot!!! Dressing a lil better just makes walking around easier! Nuff said.


  60. Show-off culture of Delhi too is to be blamed for that.

    Me: Alok – you generalise too often 🙂 but i’m used to you now! read the comments and you will see its happening in Chicago and singapore and amsterdam and bombay too !!

    What you went through in that birthday party is something that I have faced on many ocasions esp at Gurgaon shopping malls…..People often(and believe me well dressed english speaking people)would often come to me and ask questions about a product that interests them…….. My fault—–that I usually prefer chappals over shoes on weekends and those very chappals are enough for them to make out that I am salesman….I mean my real identity goes for the toss just because I am wearing chappals! Crazy people!

  61. MM- it might be happening everywhere but still I maintain that Delhi as a city has a show-off culture……

    I guess anyone who is not from this city can spot the difference…….especially small town people like me!

    Me: Alok – I come from Allahabad. Which is smaller than Dehradun. Not even a state capital. No one is smaller town than me! And in this case its got nothing to do with small town. It was just a poor maid’s mistake. Working couples all over India leave their kids to a maid’s care. Its not Delhi specific na? 🙂

  62. @Alok….same happened to my then-wud-be-husband at an electronics store in Bombay. Someone came up and asked him questions about a certain washing machine brand and simple guy that he is (and one who perhaps understands the workings of ANY machine, simple or complex, like a pro) he actually started to read and interpret specs of that model before starting on his response. I thought it to be sweet. There is nothing to be offended about. Any person good at his/her job should be respected and that includes a good maid, good salesman, good teacher, good CEO. I wont be offended at all and in any capacity if I were to be mistaken for a maid or salesperson as long as I was approached with politeness.

  63. women in India,Pakistan and Bangladesh are quite spoiled! now I’m not talking about women who work outside the house and earn the bread and butter for the family but there are so many Indian,pakistani and Bangladeshi women who do not work outside the house but just because they can afford to keep domestic help..they won’t hesitate,although they are at home and they can clean the house, cook and do the dishes and take care of the kids as well..but no they won’t just because they can afford domestic help. not knowing how to cook and not knowing how to take care of the household and having a maid is something they take pride in! although they can cook but they would claim that they can’t and they think that’s a sign of being rich and that’s what I don’t like about such women though it’s not my problem..but just sharing my opinion and hope I’ve not hurt anybody’s sentiments! my father used to be a diplomat and he used to go to different countries and we’ve been to Iran,afghanistan,tadjikistan and there, no matter how rich women are they do their household work themselves..they don’t have maids,cooks or drivers..they do all by themselves though they can afford domestic help, many woman go and work outside the house half day and earn money as well but they still cook,clean,do the dishes,wash the clothes,take care of the kids plus socialize and they never complain, and I really do admire them for this! and this is something my mum has learnt from Irani,Afghani and Tadjiki women. so many women can sit and blog and take hours to reply to each and every comment,watch movies,listen to music, waste hours on youtube but they still claim they don’t have time to do the household work that’s why they need maids and cooks! this is don’t take me wrong I’m not saying that women shouldn’t watch movies or listen to music or blog or use the internet of course this is part of life too but then don’t say that you need domestic help coz you’re too busy working outside the house coz that would be just a lame excuse! coz if you can blog and reply to comments then I’m sure you’ve time to clean the house and cook etc etc..

    Me: Dear minoo – yes – I know who you are 🙂 if you dont want to give offence – dont go anonymous. it makes your response bullshit instead of making it a discussion.

    yes – we do have time to blog and reply. its midnight my time and i’ve just finished my office work. do you suggest i get up and do dishes now? this is MY time to indulge in a little me time. when i blog, reply, interact. sometimes with cowards like you – but mostly with nice interesting people 🙂

    that said – try not to make a virtue out of necessity. what is your point? that people who CAN afford help shouldnt do it, just to look like saints? or like fools? the entire point of earning money is to afford a better life, a bigger house, more time to do the things you enjoy – maybe you enjoy sweeping and swabbing – to me its drudgery.

    the reply was to one in the US who said they do it all there. sure they do – but they are there for teh better lifestyle arent they? so its a fair trade off. i’m here because i enjoy this time to myself and my househelp – even if it means i suffer bad roads, no electricity and water shortage and corruption.

    the time we get away from our jobs is what gives us a certain quality of life that we miss out on in our countries. so if i can afford to blog while i pay someone to come in and do my dishes – its a two fold victory. she makes money and i get some respite after a long day of work. i dont know if you’re man or woman – but you are so regressive in your way of thinking – what about men who come back after work and spend time on hobbies? dont u think they should be doing dishes and sweeping? or is this all abt women?

    so take your sanctimonious prattle where its appreciated and dont try and play that card here. really. if you have anything of value to say – do come back – and oh – with your real name please 🙂 i also have your IP address now so i’d be veerrrry careful if i were you.

    much love and hugs

  64. I wasn’t trying to attack you. I was just sharing my opinion after reading the blog, yes there’re many people who have domestic help just for show off, so you didn’t have to take it personal and just because I’m not making my name public that doesn’t make me a coward!

    Me: LOL! people have domestic help to get work done and because they can afford it. even those who live in the west and can afford it, have drivers, gardeners, and cleaners. you have some warped ideas. and you ARE attacking me when you tell me that if i have time to reply to comments i should be doing dishes. dont you read this blog for entertainment? similarly i write it because i enjoy it. why would i not pay someone to do my chores if i can afford it? isnt that how any corporation works? as a company grows it employs more people and runs better…

    and i find it rather silly that you would sign off as anon if you had a fair point to make.. no?

  65. Hey MM,

    Got back from work and thought of replying to this post.
    Brought back memories of the blissful life in Delhi. My husband was on assignment there from 2003-2006. One of the best years of my life. Had a pampered life with a maid for each of my kid, a cook, a maid for the Jaadu/poncha and a driver. Seems like a dream now. Here between my husband and me all of it plus being MOM/DAD to kids:)
    So have fun and don’t pay attention to the negative comments. They all sound like sour grapes 🙂
    As you rightly put it its a trade off between living in India and the USA. I have lived for extended periods in both countries and I can say there are advantages/disadvantages and pros/cons in both countries.
    Have fun blogging. You do sleep very late right???

    Me: 🙂 yep. i work flexi hours so i spend time with the kids in the evening. and then work till late night.. and then get up early to get them to school. so about 4-5 hours of sleep in all.

    and yes – in india you have a lot of help. but its a fact of life and our lifestyle. i’m surprised when i see indians reacting weirdly to it. as though they’ve arrived from outer space! you want to work towards better conditions for the help, i am all for it. but to act as though we’re sinners for having it is silly. its going to take an entire change in our system, literacy levels, governance – everything, before we change. until then – atleast anons shouldnt act ignorant!

  66. So true MM. I am visiting India this summer for 3 months with my kids and I am so looking forward to it. Couple of my friends are shocked that I going for so long. They are like ‘How can you stay for so long’, ‘Too hot’, ‘Too much pollution’, ‘Too much noise’, ‘Too much dirt’….. I am like Hello, you spent 25-30 years of your life in India and after spending few years here in USA you forget your life and the years spent back home.
    These double standards really piss me off.

    Me: see.. if i said that i’d be lynched 🙂 that said – i totally understand if you dont want to put your kids through it since they arent used to it. although i guess its as hard for them to adjust to as it would be for my kids to visit the US in winter and handle the snow and the culture..

  67. of course everyone struggle for a better life but I think it’s just being lazy and spoiled not doing anything all day and having a domestic help! I never claimed that one should work outside and earn money and then come home and work at home too, I was talking about those women who are at home doing nothing and having help. and I’ll stick to my opinion, doesn’t matter if you call me ignorant or whatever!

    Ria:this aint a case of soure grapes..please.

    Me: actually you aren’t. not only did you put your foot in your mouth, you also are lying now! go back and see your comment. you claim that those who work should come back and work too. and why is it that only women should do it? what about men? i see no mention of them in your comment!

    you’re welcome to stick to your opinion but i guess you have no idea how a home runs. even a woman who has househelp and no job runs the place in the same way as a CEO runs a company. without getting out in the sun and selling his goods, but depending on his mktg people. doesnt make it a bad thing. just means its on a different scale to what you are used to.

    people have a right to do what they want with their money no? so if they want to pay househelp and sit around, its fine – as long as they treat them well. would it be more commendable if they came back and did housework and took a trip to the bahamas? they aer after all, doing what they think is the best value for their money. if their husbands are okay with earning and letting their wives sit home and run the home and give them perfect meals and ironed shirts – how is it your business and why does that make them lazy if they can afford to delegate?

    its sad that you are unable to give credit to those who live differently to you. i’m afraid it DOES sound like sour grapes!

  68. See I can say and get away with it 🙂

    Yep. I totally agree if the kids say that. Its understandable for them. They have spent all there growing years here. But for adults saying that is not agreeable with me. In my case my kids would not be saying they don’t like India. Reasons, 1. maybe they remember atleast my older one of living there for 3 years, 2. since we visit India every year they know what to expect and what not to expect 3.and the most important they know how much I love my desh so they know how to please MOM and say nice things about India 🙂

  69. if it really sounds like sour grapes then I’m sure the truth must hurt too! don’t fret and enjoy..

    Me: not as much as i imagine its hurting you…

    and yes – that is the point. we earn to enjoy. i see no reason why we must justify it by swishing a mop around to prove we’re superwomen!

  70. MM, HELP Anon is after me now!!!

    Anon, I am repeating again. TAKE A CHILL PILL.
    I was in Delhi for 3 years b’coz of my husband’s assignment. I took a break from work and stayed at home for 3 years. BLISSFUL years ( I know I said that before:). In the evening I would go to the park with my kids and the maids. I was chatting with a lady and she was surprised to hear I am a SAHM. She asked me how do you spend your day? Don’t you get bored. I said NO. Managing the entourage of my assistants takes up a lot of time and planning. They keep me busy. The look on her face, I still remember it and makes me laugh. Now as I said before I am back in USA and I am all of them rolled into one plus I am working too.
    My point is not just working moms even non-working moms can have the luxury of household help. There is nothing to be judgemental about. Its not being lazy or anything else. Its just matter of priorities and personal choices. So Anon I am saying it again, TAKE A CHILL PILL BABE.

  71. “women in India,Pakistan and Bangladesh are quite spoiled!”

    Hehe WOW, this statement was too TOO bold! And that too without any solid backing to it.

    My sister in law lives in Bombay and she has a cook, one live in maid, one driver and two other maids who come twice everyday to clean her place. Lets forget the fact that she’s working. But the main reason she has all this help is just so that she can spend as much time as possible with my nephews (her kids). And there is absolutely NOTHING wrong in it. To think of it, she might not even need all that help that she has hired….but she has it because she can afford it AND it helps her.. It helps her to not worry about household things so that she could spend time with the kids.

    Anon, I think you are missing the point MM is trying to make here. It’s not that Indian women, and also Pakistani and Bangladeshi women for that matter, are lazy…My mother has been a houswife all her life..and we’ve had maids for as long as I can remember.. whether we were in India or somewhere overseas..We’ve always had maids! Does it mean my mother is too lazy and that’s why she needed help? No. My mother can whip out a meal for 30 people in two days! It’s not cos’ she’s lazy or she doesn’t know her job well.. but it’s because sometimes you just need some additional help! And anyways, even if my mother is taking a nap while the maid works, I don’t see anything wrong in that either! My mother is treating the maid well, she is paying her well…both my mom and our maid is getting what they want.. so where’s the problem? Plus Anon, you should also consider this- a MAJOR population of the women in India work as maids.. in fact they go knocking on people’s doors asking for a job, pleading to sweep their floor and clean their kitchens because they are THAT desperate for a job. Their livelihood in a way depends on us. Think about it. At this point, I think your only concern should be whether th maids are treated well. That is something we all can discuss about. Judging someone for wanting help and blaming someone for being lazy without having any substantial backup….that is really wrong and unfair.

    And the thing you said about Indian women spending too much time on blogging and replying to comments and on youtube blah blah blah… Are you saying that you would have judged us less if we were out playing a sport? Or maybe knitting a sweater? I really dont think the blogging and youtube bit fits into the point you were trying to make. I think i can safely say for everyone, that whether we are neck deep in work or we have absolutely nothing to do, we would still find time to blog and reply to comments. (And check out youtube.) Like MM said, its a time for us to interact with our friends and acquaintances. We shouldn’t be judged for that no? Its our leisure time. I think we deserve that!

    MM, Sorry for making my comment this long! But I had to say all this. That statement at the very top of my comment got me a little worked up!

  72. Geez…I pay someone to fold my clothes, put them away and iron. Someone mows my lawn and there is a cleaning service too. In the U.S. And I am not rich. I work hard just so I can afford all this. Oh, and I have a babysitter when I go for adults only nights out. I am so doomed.

    MM, I signed in with a different email address earlier but its the same me 🙂

  73. MM, please pardon my ignorance. Why do parents send their kids to birthday parties with their house help? With most people having a career these days are the b’day parties not on weekends in India too? Why can’t they not take time out for their kids they chose to have? Or is it fashionable these days to do just that?

    Me: Well no – lots of birthday parties are held on the day of the birthday itself. I too held the brat’s birthday on the day it was – despite being a working mom. Piling them up on weekends is no better because too many people do that and then you have to skip something. Although as I’d blogged long ago – I’ve seen kids with help on weekends too. I understand that parents want a break from everything – but those kids are just so badly behaved because no one seems to be teaching them how to behave at parties.

  74. Bhavani @12: I’m in the US too. WE have a nanny for our 4 month old – I work from home but the kind of work that I do requires quiet uninterrupted time and there were no good daycares nearby so we opted for a nanny. We also used to have a housecleaner coming in weekly (we moved cities, so now are looking for one to come in). Cooking is about the only thing that we don’t outsource and that’s because we don’t personally know any cooks and the stuff we cook is pretty simple, so we don’t find it too stressful. So no need to scare MM. All our working friends have nannies.

    And I grew up in India with a full time maid, as well as one who came in to do the sweeping, swabbing etc.

    There might be a couple more people in India (driver etc) but overall you can get household help even in the US. Of course you have to be prepared to spenda much higher proportion of your income and sometimes you can’t afford it. But if both parents work in corporate America (as many desis do), then there is no reason that its unaffordable. I think that its just that folks get sticker shock out here so hesitate to employ them.

    And I agree with MM – there’s a LOT of sweeping and swabbing to be done in India, lack of machines and also a LOT of runninga round. Besides domestic help is affordable, so why not hire them?

    MM, erm, I hope my comment didn’t offend you – was firmly tongue in cheek!! But good for you that you try and attend bday parties iwth your kids. (says the mom who’s nanny took her daughter to the public library for a storytelling session today while she was out at work!!).


    Me: 🙂 course not! dont be silly. you described me beautifully – except for the granola bars !! I stick with chana and dates!

  75. MM, pardon my ignorance..but why do parents or anyone else have to accompany kids to birthday parties..these are meant for kids..cant we just drop kids off to the venue and pick them up later? and kids of brats age are capable of eating by themselves arent they?

    Me: Sure they are – capable of eating but parties either have games or are held in games arcades or perhaps swimming pools – and THAT is too much to expect a host to manage twenty or more 3.5 years with no help, as well as organise everything. there’s a lot of interactive stuff. plus – its the distances. if i’m dropping my kid all the way to gurgaon – i cannot drive home. and yes – i can sit at a mall but it seems such a waste of time. i think kids of the ages of 6 and above can be left. earlier than that is a huge nuisance for the host. also becaues in india our kids are out of diapers but will still not at this age ask a host to guide them to the toilet.

    I dont remember my mom-dad accompanying me to every birthday party..unless specially invited..and I clearly remember that large birthday parties with adults used to be held only on sundays.

    Me: You know, very honestly – I dont remember being invited to a birthday party by myself till I was atleast 8. before that there were no major class invites. we were only invited by family friends and comfortable enough to go there by ourselves. here a 3 year old’s entire class is invited – half the time they dont even know each other!

  76. And maids are totally essential in india. We are only a couple, no kids yet but its hard to imagine life without any help. I leave home at 7 in the morning and earliest come back at 8 in eve. After struggling thru the city traffic its impossible for me to mop and cook. Its absolutely ridiculous to compare life in urbane india with tht in US.
    And also since maids have become such part of life, its high time we learn to respect them as people and start treating them well.

    Me: couldnt have put it better myself…

  77. Somehow, can’t seem to agree on that part MM. I agree parents do need a break, totally/completely agree but taking kids to the b’day party is so much fun and they shouldn’t need a break from that! Playing with them at the party, watching their kids interact with other kids, seeing them happy and enjoying the party,enjoying little wins at the party and seeing them grow into little social beings at the party and developing their little personality, why would they want to miss out on all that by sending them with someone else? Can you imagine the difference between you experiencing the joy as opposed to someone else describing it to you? Are they not missing out? Don’t you agree?

    Me: oh! I’m in full agreement with you. i dont need that break from my kids because that is my temperament. i love being with the kids. I dont need to be out doing my own thing. This IS a break for me – to be with them. So you will get no argument from me on that. Why do you think I’ve been home four years? because i dont like anyone else experiencing things that are precious to me…

    p.s: But on hindsight, if there are 10 b’day parties in a month and this happens every month then may be, they do need a break!!! May be because it doesn’t happen that often around me, I don’t see it!

    Me: and YES! sometimes there are parties every week. which makes it tough because we do have our own social life, weekly and monthly errands and chores… so more than anything else we might excuse ourselves to get other work done.

  78. MM, I leave home at 8 am and generally get home around 9 – 9:30. I have a madi who comes in the morning to do the bartan n jhadu-pocha, dusting etc. We have a driver cuz we travel about 80 kms a day and it would be crazy if we had to drive. I think we’d end up murdering each other. Earlier, I used to get home n cook, but that would end up being either one of the Ready to Eat meals or we’d ed up ordering. So now we have a veg dabba coming in 5 days a week and we cook on weekends. And right now its just the 2 of us, no kids.

    At hme in Cal, our maids have been seeing me since I was a school kid, a college kid and now a married woman. Our maids are well-dressed (they generally wear my mom’s old cotton saris), and are very much a part of the family. My mom attended their kid’s weddings, griha pravesh ec. They were very much a part of my wedding and were no less dressed than anyone else around.

    If I can pay for it, I see no reason why I should not have help, so long as I treat them properly.

    Me: dont tell me! tell the sanctimonious trolls who believe that a woman must work night and day, at home and in office if she’s educated. the maids shouldnt work at all – they must stay unemployed and starving or else all live on charity instead of earning their living the way we do!

    about the long drives – its not just the commute. when your day starts early you end up reading the papers, (which is important for both, the i-banker husband and the journo me) and making phone calls to kick off the day – and guess what – gives my driver employment!

  79. Dude, looks like you can’t write anything at all without some anonymouse butting in !

    Remember that post of yours which spawned hate mail on the usage of the word ‘maid’ Or was it ‘servant’? *shudders*

    Am still zapped by the goody bag for the maids. Listen, it may not be a Delhi thing, maybe it’s just the circles the brat’s school kids move in. And I’m torn between whether it’s discriminatory (why can’t maids have the same food as the rest ?) or whether it’s practical (maids may not like the kiddie food)

    Me: yes – its the brat’s school kids only. we would die before doing that – but then we dont really welcome maids to our parties either. we like the parents to come and participate. and all have a good time. its not any more practical poppy becaues there’s no real baby fod – its regular noodles and pasta and pizza. but its also damn expensive. i see their point. they’re not giving some stale old food. but its like inviting you for a wedding dinner – paying Rs 1000 per head for the catering and then having to feed all the drivers too – it hikes up costs by 1/3. which any of us who have ever catered, know, is insane.

    it was servant by the way – i’d still use it if people didnt get their knickers in a twist. as i said – we’re always more hung up over form over content

  80. MM, you are in very good company. Utpal Dutt was mistaken for a maali too. By Lakshman Prasad in Golmaal, I mean. Yes, you are in excellent company. Enjoy.

  81. This story is sad …. maids babysitting kids at a birthday party!

    It is also sad that the maid mistook you for another maid… that tells a lot about the state of affairs about what’s going on there. Clearly the maid didn’t even think in her wildest imagination that a mother (you) would be standing near her kids… Honestly, THAT’s really sad.

    I’m all for help. We have help here in the US. I have someone clean the house every two weeks and I have a nanny who looks after the kids on the 3 days I’m at work. The other 4 days, my husband and I do EVERYTHING for the kids …alone. That includes mopping, vaccuming, driving, grocery, cooking, feeding, sleeping, bill payment, yard work etc,etc etc. NOT saying that people should’nt hire help. Help good thing to keep your sanity intact. But outsourcing your child’s needs at a BIRTHDAY PARTY just baffles me! Really.

    I don’t get it, if these mothers have help at home, why don’t they get together once a week or once a month for a lunch date? Why is it so hard to spend a 100 percent of their time with their child at a party?

    I haven’t been on a late night date with my husband, let alone another mom in almost 4 years !!!! WAAAAAH, WAAAAH!!! (crying out loud)

    Me: there… there.. i did offer to babysit them the next time you’re in town. and you two can go get drunk and do unmentionable and illegal things

  82. MM,

    I was slightly closer to the disagreement side of the spectrum on the maid thing while I read the post right after you posted. But I reread it again after a few comments and re read the comments and all that and now I am in complete understanding of the situation there. Having worked in India for 4 years for a software company while I was single, and out of my hometown I never had the time even to pursue my other interests because I never saw the sun set and ALWAYS went home at about 9. And now my friends and colleagues still get home at around that time or even later and none of us have kids yet. And its the same case for women with kids, but atleast they try to reach home around 9. They cannot help but stay at work as their income is necessary to pay the fees of their kids’ school. As a consequence, they have to appoint a maid in the absence of family around. Ofcourse they will be torn between sending the kid with the maid to a birthday party and not sending them at all. She cannot deny the kid the joy of meeting friends. How is she supposed to work around that? I think the readers who were in disagreement with the maid being sent, only thought about Moms who were at home or who could have gone.

    In my opinion, there is nothing right or wrong in this issue but the consequences of not spending the time with the kid will be seen in later years and indirectly affect the society. I know of a good friend who still is not happy over his childhood because his father was away in a different city earning for the family and the mom was at work and he was a single kid at home. The parents cannot take this out of his mind now nor does he feel too bad but he has this regret. I can now see the effects of not spending quality time with the kids have in their adult lives. Sad state. I wish we acted responsibly now than regret it later.

    Sorry I was not very coherent in the comment. Just shared what I felt like. Its nice of you to have laughed over the incident. I am glad it was you, coz anyone else could have taken it differently.

    Me: I didnt take a side on it at all. On weekdays it can ONLY be someone else taking your child if both parents are working. The only time i voiced an opinion on it was the last time when a child came to a party on a sunday too, without either parent and i was told he always comes EVERYWHERE without his parents. oh well. that said – i do wish my mom hadnt worked. 😦 i had a lovely joint family but no one can replace a mom. my mom. and now to me, the same applies where my kids are concerned. you were coherent. dont worry.

  83. MM,

    Thank you for your reply comment. I did not mean you took a side at all. I just was in disagreement with the idea of a maid for each kid and all that. How much I have become unaware of the practical difficulties after staying away for 3 years. FYI, I completely agreed with you on the other post where you talked about maid being sent everywhere :).

    My mom worked too, but I have lovely sisters who are my role models throughout my childhood to play and learn. So no regrets 🙂

    Me: ah yes. thats another thing. maids dont accept a job where they have to take care of two kids. specially two small kids. as a mother if i am taking care of one and the other falls down, i’m forgiven. as a maid – you’d ask her how it could have happened while she was on the job. so unless the kids are atleast 7 or so – one maid will not take on a job .and then as i said – i personally hate over working people just because they’re full time. they get plenty of time off, they watch TV, they go shopping (!) on the weekends when the OA and I take our kids out. they’re happy and comfortable and that works well for me. i wouldnt keep one just to save some money and overwork her or run the risk of having all her work to do when she is unwell.

  84. Sorry MM… I know this is your blog but I can’t help make a comment on what Subha is saying.

    If parents work on weekdays and if the party is on a weekday, my kids don’t go ..even if it is their best friend. OR one of us takes the time off or ask to be excused from work for a couple of hours. I realize that it may be hard for someone to do that in India. (although, I remember my dad always did that when I was young). Sending your child to a party with nanny or maid has to be the VERY last resort… just my opinion. Also I’m shocked to read that people get home at 9pm, even those who have little kids! Certainly, I’m not judging their motivations. A man/woman’s got to do what they have to do… but 9pm? My kids are fast asleep at that time.

  85. MM this anon or whoever she/he is is getting on my nerves. I know you are standing up for yourself but I would like to add my 2 cents to anon.

    “of course everyone struggle for a better life but I think it’s just being lazy and spoiled not doing anything all day and having a domestic help!” wow!
    I think it is a choice you make. Why do we go out and buy atta to make rotis and not peesofy the atta ourselves? Coz it is easy and convenient and fast, so also having a maid at home, if u can afford it. Making life easy is what we all are after. Don’t judge people like this anon coz there are people judging you too. next time you go out to buy that atta, remember, chakki, gehun, lazy, spoiled!

  86. In Chennai, as I know, ONLY parent/s accompany kids- if the kid is yonger than 5 yrs and/ or needs it.

    As a parent who is home by 6, I find it great fun to be a part of the parties Anush gets called for and it is also a good time to catch up with the adults when the kids dont need you

    usually the host has a maid or close relatives to help…..

    it might be a generalisation, but i think Delhi is a little high on the show shaa quotient

    here most working couples do not seem to have maids after the child is 2yrs old- they usually depend on creches or they live in a joint set up . . .

  87. Big Zed,

    I agree with you that it has to be the last resort. Unfortunately, the thing about the IT job is its binary. Either you work hard and have it, or quit it. There is no chance for a 9-5, 9-6 etc. Though there are bench/out of project days where they get to go really early n all that. One of my friends is quitting job this week, as she no longer wants to work in the shift of 12-9 which she gets on rotation. She and her husband are trying to work around the single income now to pay their EMI and other commitments. Another of my friend in Bangalore, leaves work at 7 or so, reaches home around 9 after all the traffic. I am thankful that here they dont expect me to work late to give me a hike but do my job in the 8 hours of the day. Some offices in India are accomodative too. the thing is businesses can’t help it too.

    Don’t even get me started on some men (colleagues) back home who make snide remarks on how women should stay at work late, if they need the same salary as men. That deserves a separate post, that when I maintain a blog may be!!!

  88. you know, after reading the maids posts, I feel good about not being in India, as bad as it may sound.

    First, It’s heart breaking that parents don’t want to spend time with their kids(if that’s a choice), secondly – this whole issue of maids – being given a different meal, the maid-ish clothes/ maid-ish looks etc seems so unfair.

    I understand it is a more practical approach, easy on your purse etc, somehow it doesn’t really gel with the way many of us were raised that anyone who showed up for a celebration at home was treated the same. It is so sad to know that it is happening and is quite an acceptable trend now. If you really can’t afford to feed a few extra people, who you know may come along with the guests, why not throw a party where you can indeed afford the extra bucks? you are anyway paying for the McDonald’s, right?

    Me: In a funny way I align with the guests here Saumya. I throw parties at home so it doesnt kill me to feed 1/3 the people more even though it is expensive. In restaurants – it costs a good 5-700 per head. People are putting aside money to invite guests they want to. Would it be fair at a wedding to call in all the drivers and feed the same amout per head? Be in India or a swish wedding abroad?

    To me, it sounds like someone wants to buy a million dollar home but is not able to afford the maintenance so wanna make do with the cheap appliances…Beats the whole purpose!

    I can understand your shock(though you took in it your commendable spirit) for being mistaken for a house-help just coz you chose to ‘feed your own kids’.

    But the reactions of others’ is what is appalling(I don’t know if they were joking, I hope they were!) ‘coz what is a maid-ish look anyway? What ARE maid-ish clothes? If dark complexion is maid-ish then half of the country is indeed that! I am more than happy to be mistaken for a house-help if I have to work sooo hard to not be taken for one – the clothes, the works is way too demanding. isn’t it?

    it must be difficult to be in your shoes MM. It IS a high-maintenance society there.

    Me: 🙂 actually its just funny. the loss is theirs.

  89. being comment number 98 is so daunting- i wonder if my two bit isnt a repetition of everything that was said in the last 97 but i guess ill plod on anyways. 🙂

    i think one of the most deplorable things in educated circles when you have to prove how youre a mother because you cook or clean or do some kind of physical labour. What about if i just work bloody hard and earn well and pay someone else – who wants to make money too- to do the physical work so I can have some quality time with my kid? Why do i get judged on that? Is a mother MORE a mother because she has suffered more? Personally in my circle of reference the people i have seen taking on all the laborious work of cooking cleaning are the ones who are worried that their kids get the short end of the stick- so basically instead of pointing these long painted fingers at each other, if we actually stood up and smiled encouragement at each other for whatever little bits we give up to provide the other little bits, wont we finally be making some kind of universal sense?

    as for the maid story- i suppose there are days when all of us mothers look or feel like maids eh, no matter how well dressed or how professionally inclined? kudos to you for seeing the hilarity and sadness in it-

    Me: well said jammie….

  90. Pingback: Real Mothers (capital R, capital M) « Mom on the Outside, Babe on the Inside.

  91. Oh the ‘packed decent food for maids’ thing is a bit new for me. But it’s a very good thing they do.
    But I assure you, there’s no written rule as to how a maid has to look or something. And there has been lots of instances in my own life when people are mistaken. Which includes others mistaking me and also me doing it. Oh come on, it’s just not possible to tell. No, not even a person’s dress, or makeup, or color can say.
    Many a times I wear my favourite ‘years old’ t-shirts just because they are comfortable. Ofcourse, I wear them indoors but who knows when you will be out and about? Hubby tells me that even maids won’t be wearing them!
    And then I bring my child to playpark and get confused who is a maid and who is a parent. Some maids are so well dressed and beautiful, and some parents are just not interested in dressing up.
    One day me and hubby brought my old part-time helper with us to take care of the baby. On the lift, I looked at my maid and looked at myself in the mirror (I was right out of confinement and I had no interest in make up, and I was wearing nursing clothes-with no style). I felt really embarrased and once out of the lift, I excused myself to the wash room for some makeup!!!
    You are right for having laughed… There’s nothing to be embarrased about this little mistake.
    Your maid is so loyal. These days, it’s not an easy thing to find someone like that really. It tears my heart to think that she holds herself so low compared to you. She doesn’t really have to, being a maid is her profession just as your work right?
    But the more practical side of myself wishes that I should get one like yours, for it makes your relationship smoother than if she were to talk balk at you isn’t it?

  92. see, no one denies the practicality of the solution. Nonetheless

    1. caste system started off like a practical solution for division of labor, n we all know where it led us to. I see this different food thing as another class division, at a very basic level. I am not surprised at your maid putting herself down in your comparison. It all starts small at lil things like different meal packets.

    Me: actually its got nothing to do with the caste system sparsh. you’re confusing issues. my cook is a brahmin while i am converted lower caste on one side of my family for all practical purposes. her son who she was educating dropped out of school to be a driver while the other studied and is a bank clerk. so its more economic difference than anything else. as for different meal packets – as long as they’re not being given stale food or crap – i dont see reason for major complaint although i already mentioned that its weird and i dont do it. the point is that they’re uninvited guests being forced down the host’s throat. why should the host have to shove out more money than for the guests they invited?

    2. I am sure the kids don’t mind going to ANY place as long as they are well fed n have fun. So I really don’t get why ‘saving’ and then going to a place beyond one’s everyday capacity is so important?! Besides, it no longer remains a kid’s day when the focus is on what the parents want, no?

    Me: yes, kids will go anywhere but parents have their dreams too. i might save on what i spend elsewhere to buy my kids better clothes or give them a better education. its their hard earned money and their right to spend it on the child’s birthday in the way they choose na? keep in mind that i dont really support it – but i totally understand that they have a budget and a desire to do things in a certain way and are not expected to provide for pampered parents who cannot bring their kids to a party and manage them alone for 2 hours. why should they bring down the standard of their party because someone else has happily trotted in another mouth to feed. which gets to be a substantial number of extra mouths to feed when its 30 maids na? and would this be acceptable in the US or the other countries where you feel its better? would 30 extra uninvited guests be acceptable ?

    That said, I agree I am being judgmental on someone else’s way of having fun. Maybe ‘coz I find the whole concept a little too ostentatious and class-ifying.

    Me: its not judgmental. i see where you’re coming from but people who have moved out have NO idea where india is today and most of this is a surprise to you. its not about inviting everyone in to share the fun. parties that are held at a venue by workign parents have a fixed budget and to throw that budget by 30 extra guests is very different from making extra chhole and puri at a home party. got a lot to do with working parents and small suburban homes and a lot less to do with class or ostentation. who would blame a parent who has a working day tomorrow if they throw their party at a venue and choose to enjoy it too instead of frying poories in a hot kitchen?

  93. Me: actually its got nothing to do with the caste system sparsh. you’re confusing issues. my cook is a brahmin while….

    S: Dear MM: I don’t know why you feel I am confusing issues, coz I already mentioned ‘caste system’ as an example for the way ppl were divided( on the basis of their occupations). Here it is the economic status. I am NOT saying both are the same, just that you don’t know where things are gonna go when they start on seemingly logical grounds.Where is the confusion here?

    Me: You mentioned it as an example? okay. then we’re on the same page. dividing on economic basis is not right but then we also have simple things like my boss sitting in a posh cabin while i sit at a dingy cubicle. thats life honey – the higher up you are, the better the facilities. no?

    MM:….as for different meal packets – as long as they’re not being given stale food or crap – i dont see reason for major complaint although i already mentioned that its weird and i dont do it.

    S: I agree that it is not stale/crap(Thanks to the host) – it is different and cheaper than what is being served to the others. I feel little things like these seep into your conscience and makes you feel low. and that’s why I wasn’t surprised at your maid’s lowly opinion of herself, despite your efforts to make her feel better. Won’t you agree?

    Me: yes I AGREE!! I already said i find it weird.

    MM…the point is that they’re uninvited guests being forced down the host’s throat. why should the host have to shove out more money than for the guests they invited?

    S: That’s why I said it seems so ostentatious when others find the need to bring un-invited guests along. would you or I want to be the uninvited guests ever?

    Me: Here I find your usage wrong or then your logic faulty. People dont bring maids to be ostentatious. They bring maids because they cant be arsed to manage their own kids. simple. you’ll see plenty of people say it all the time – that it makes their life easier. i dont pick a car over a scooter because its ostentatious. i pick it because i can afford it and its more comfortable, makes my life easier. nothing to do with ostentatious. ostentatious is when i wear a kundan set to office!

    We can comfortably sit and argue on whose fault it is – the careless guests or the hosts – who ends up paying for their wishes is the poor maid – who probably doesnt even want to be there at the first place. I wish she could be spared the humiliation of being the uninvited guest.

    Me: Yes – but its not just maids then na? its the drivers, the peons, and very often us too. look at any organisation and tell me why the bosses get better treatment than the juniors. take marketing executives who are out in the sun all day selling aerated drinks! why do only maids get the sympathy? everyone who is poorer/lower down the corporate chain, gets treated with less respect and gets the cheaper food packet. i know a telecom major where the biscuits at tea time come from a five star hotel for the big bosses. while the rest eat parle G.

    MM:…yes, kids will go anywhere but parents have their dreams too….its their hard earned money and their right to spend it on the child’s birthday in the way they choose na?

    S: Exactly my point. it IS indeed about the parents. and hence the loss of simplicity. And like i said, I admit being judgmental here.

    Me: What is simplicity Sparsh? For you its a home made cake and burgers, my maid thinks its halwa and poori. someone better off than you thinks its a better cake. why else are we earning if not to live better, eat better, do better? which of us is Gandhi and giving all our money to the charities? let those among us without blame cast the first stone…

    MM…why should they bring down the standard of their party because someone else has happily trotted in another mouth to feed. which gets to be a substantial number of extra mouths to feed when its 30 maids na? and would this be acceptable in the US or the other countries where you feel its better? would 30 extra uninvited guests be acceptable ?

    S: And I believe that the standard of the party depends as much on the food you serve as it does on the ppl who come. From the look of it, it seems the host are burdened by feeding 30 ppl more than they want, w/o a choice. need I say more!

    I didn’t compare the situation with US or any other country MM. Bringing in uninvited guests is universally unacceptable.

    The one to lose the most are the house-help and the kids(who as you noted yourself were fed by their respective maids and not by their moms).

    and you know, India is not that different from the US in many ways – working parents, smaller homes, limited budgets, limited time etc. Pasta or Puris – everyone wants to have a good time. yes, the difference may lie in how people view/treat each other.

    Me: ????????????? ANd in the US people treat each other better? there’s no racism as opposed to the casteism here?!! Again – India or US, it depends on what you earn na? IF you earn well, you outsource, if you dont, you make at home. the only reason i made the comparison is because of what you said – ” I feel good about not being in India, as bad as it may sound. ”

    I have no idea where you live, I just made a random guess of it being the US (because everyone seems to live there!) and I made a point that no matter where you live, if you’re being forced to serve 30 extra people – its not fair. I invited YOU and your child. And I will feed you what I want to feed you. IF you drag your maid along and increase my guest list, that is JUST NOT FAIR!! You cannot force me to feed 30 extra women what I have paid with my hard earned money for and stretched my budget for to give my child what i think is best.

    And finally – i sorta agree with you which is why i dont take my maids anywhere, i dont invite maids and i dont give them packages. i feed them what is made at home. but i dont agree with your judgment because I see where the others are coming from too. I might judge them for dragging maids along everywhere. but the rest is a very grey area

  94. MM: And finally – i sorta agree with you which is why i dont take my maids anywhere, i dont invite maids and i dont give them packages.

    S: That’s ALL I wanted to say MM and glad that we agree on the gist of the thing I tried saying all along – not accepting a behavior you don’t agree to is as important as not behaving that way yourself. I personally would not entertain house-helps, both for the way I feel about the trend – comfort/no comfort – bring on your kids and my home/my venue is yours,but not their care-takers please. ‘coz I can’t afford to treat them any different, iff I just can’t afford(money wise) to treat them the same!

    I would leave out the part about corporate culture and differences coz I thought about it and I feel the change begins at home – you can definitely make a difference where you are the boss; I totally agree that it is an unfair world but why to join them, if you can’t beat them.

    About the difference in US vs India( about ppl viewing others differently) – I am not riding on my high horse here but stating the simple fact – that bringing in uninvited guests(specially a house-help) would be looked at very -vely. I could go on on the why and the how of it all…but I guess we both know what I was talking about. So rest my case here.

    Me: LOL! Hello Sparsh. And we’re back at it. cool. i enjoy it too.

    yes – we agree – but here’s the point. i cannot tell you leave your maids at home. most parents openly say they cannot manage and wont come. i dont want that either. they’re my friends. i want them there even if we disagree on certain issues. you and i disagree but i enjoy your POV and you like to read my blog. similarly i cant ban my guests who bring maids. the best i can do is feed them good food which is cheaper than my catered mexican dinner.

    Why leave out the part of corporate culture? its the same thing na? there i am not the boss. and so i dont get the same treatment. but i do talk back to my boss and stand up for my rights and i encourage my help to do that too. i give them what i can afford and my boss pays me what she can afford. simple.

    and exactly my point abt the US. when you say you are glad you are not in india anymore i must point out that uninvited guests are unacceptable everywhere. and in my house, your maid is not welcome. i can keep my own in comfort. i cannot suppport 30 more maids!

    lets shake on this now 🙂

  95. The incident you recounted is disturbing on so many levels…

    Oh, I’m all for hiring maids. I fully expect to hire help once I’m done being a student and can afford it. I worked hard at getting my education, at least partly so that I wouldn’t end up having to wash my own dishes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just hate doing dishes, and believe that I contribute more to society by doing the job I’m trained for. But I could never see myself as more ‘important’ than someone else. I had better opportunities than many others, which is why I’d treat hired help like I’d treat business associates/colleagues. Which is why I like the US. Your maid today might be a mogul tomorrow.

    That said, I find the racist undertones very disturbing. Darker skin=lower class. The whole idea that maids should look different from their employers. We’re fostering the idea of an underclass and it’s high time we got rid of that! I strongly believe that the true measure of a man is not by how he treats his equals, but in the manner in which he treats those working for/under him. So it’s great that you treat your help like they’re human, I wish more South Asian were like that. I *do* see anon’s point, we are a spoiled lot, but it’s something we can’t really help given how feudal/unequal our society has been. But I do believe it’s getting better..more people have more opportunities, and hard work really can make a difference in elevating people’s positions.

    While I was shopping in India, a woman once asked me if they carried a certain top in larger sizes. I raised my eyebrows quizzically at her, and in that moment, I was tempted to call her a fat cow, but I settled for a polite ‘I really wouldn’t know.’. Now while it’s hardly insulting to be mistaken for a salesgirl (or a maid for that matter), I just didn’t think very highly of her intelligence for being so clueless as to not pick up on some very obvious clues. Such as salesgirls wear uniforms and don’t carry handbags.

  96. Something similar had happened to me also once. In our previous apartment, when i took N out in the evening, there was this new maid along with a kid. She was young, had her hair tied back and was wearing a salwar kameez. I was wearing a jeans and a short kurta, hair tied back too. She asked me ‘Which flat are you working in?’. I laughed and said ‘we live in XXX flat and I’m his mother’. I laughed because one cant really differentiate a mother who is not gorgeous from the household helps in salwar kameezes in an apartment complex where all kids come down with their respective maids! It was not her fault. I am not fair, i never wear make up, dont have perfect pedicured feet and i dont care about looking good always. In fact i have often seen maids with neatly painted toe nails accompanying kids in my apartment. Looking at them, anyone would think i am a house help. I didnt care but that poor maid was extremely embarassed to say the least.

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