Maid of honour | Society | Times Crest
Popular on Times Crest
  • In This Section
  • Entire Website
  • Manual for the helicopter mom
    April 20, 2013
    What to do when the kids have grown and flown the nest. . . and then flown back?
  • How Buenos aires children go to bed late
    April 6, 2013
    Most at-home events - birthday parties, barbecues, and so on - welcome kids; it's rare to get a no-children-allowed request...
  • Princeton charming
    April 6, 2013
    A letter advising Princeton's female grads to find a husband on campus has been dubbed regressive.
More in this Section
Leaving tiger watching to raise rice Ecologist Debal Deb, who did his post-doctoral research from IISc in…
The crorepati writer He's the man who gives Big B his lines. RD Tailang, the writer of KBC.
Chennai-Toronto express Review Raja is a Canadian enthusiast whose quirky video reviews of Tamil…
Don't parrot, perform Maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta will hold a masterclass on ragas.
A man's man Shivananda Khan spent his life speaking up for men who have sex with men.
Bhowmick and the first family of Indian football At first glance, it would be the craziest set-up in professional football.
From Times Blogs
The end of Detroit
Jobs in Detroit's car factories are moving to India.
Chidanand Rajghatta
How I love the word ‘dobaara’...
Can ‘bindaas’ or ‘jhakaas’ survive transliteration?
Shobhaa De
Anand marte nahin...
India's first superstar died almost a lonely life.
Robin Roy

Maid of honour


Time zones are not always determined by geography. Only a narrow road separates our homes yet when it's half past nine at my place, it's always just turning eight at hers. There's a perpetual ready apology on her lips and a smile that's bordering on a snigger, as if the whole idea of punctuality were ridiculous.

The excuses, of course, range from the mundane to the dramatically colourful. Once, for instance, she had to rush her neighbour's sister - who had been behaving strangely "probably because she was possessed" - to a black magic practitioner or a "bhagat". He demanded a bottle of perfume and a piece of lemon to drive away the evil spirits that his broom could not. She knew he had used a broom because she had been standing outside his room, an ear pressed against the door.

That's my maid, a 25-year-old mother of two, who is usually panting when I open the door. She has been heaving her way up and down twelve storeys for a while now in her bid to reduce post-pregnancy weight. She has even grudgingly given up rice by choice and taken up "tension" - a quality that she has heard aids quick weight loss. But she isn't satisfied with the results. Even dancing - something she has often sneaked off to a friend's place as a kid to indulge in before her strict father could return from work and spoil the fun - hasn't helped, she gripes. Clearly, however, she is only fishing for compliments as the dupatta that would earlier shield her protruding tummy like a sheer curtain, now hugs her waist like a belt.

On important occasions, such as Diwali and New Year, she turns up in a red sari and a puff-sleeved blouse. Recently, she said she purchased a "net sari", involuntarily prompting me to picture her deftly operating a laptop. "A net sari", she repeated. "Thin saree. " It has a shiny petticoat and a blouse that she has specifically ordered a deep-neck for. That will take care of her impending trip to Shirdi. She can go on for very long and often does. The topics range from nightmarish encounters in the common bathroom to creative ways of committing suicide. She knows someone in "Attar" jail and wants to visit the premises. When she's not talking to me, she's giggling on the phone or singing to herself.

It's amusing, though, how the frequency of her compliments tend to rise invariably towards the end of the month, close to pay day. She isn't impressed by my profession, though, and thinks I should consider being an "air-hostel" just like some friend's girl who would turn up in a "tip top" mini-skirt every day. She dreams of wearing jeans but fears her husband's wrath. Once, when she tried his trousers on, he made her regret the impulse. He is a tough, large man who works in a vada pao joint but is often mistaken for a cop. She prefers lying to him on occasions such as recently, when her phone conked off and she bought a new one for Rs 1300. "When my husband asked, I told him it was a used phone given to me by a madam, " she said.

In front of his daughter though, her tough, cop-like husband loses his aura of authority. She is often amazed at how a two-foot tall being is always able to get her way with this broad-chested father and even secretly relishes the feeling as if it were her vindication. He always returns with a bar of "Cadbury" to bribe the daughter whose tantrums he likes to laugh off at first and then pay heed to. This is why the maid wants to enroll her two-year-old daughter in an English medium as she is the smart one. An eighth class pass, she herself has only learnt the English alphabet but finds it tough to join them. Su. . per. . man, " she pretends to read the poster, but it's the picture above the word that she's actually reading. In her conversations, there have been hints of domestic abuse and her mother-in-law feels like a burden "unnecessarily". Of late, she has been deliberately washing utensils till 4 in the morning for fear of thieves who are known to enter through their corrugated roofs. Her ears are now sensitive to the slightest ruffle and her eyes are puffy. The police, however, wouldn't buy any of the residents' complaints or even eyewitness accounts. But her face, except for the grimace from climbing up twelve flights of stairs, does not bear any evidence of domestic trouble on purpose. "I don't like to celebrate my troubles, " says Sn, whose greetings feel like she has just emerged from a moral science lesson about golden words - "Hi, madam", "Sorry", "Thank You", "Have a nice day" and "Enjoy". And so, in return, I have moved to her time zone.

Reader's opinion (4)

Sujata May 18th, 2012 at 08:43 AM

I doubt we will be in the office sitting and reading this article if these ladies dont come up to take care of our homes.

Poonam KeshwaniMay 4th, 2012 at 20:21 PM

these ladies are amazingly intelligent... and would have gone on to have great careers... had it not been for their circumstances. let us give them the respect they deserve.

Sandhya BhandarwarMar 28th, 2012 at 10:27 AM

I am amazed at their ability to remain cheerful in spite of their domestic problems.

Alice ShibuMar 26th, 2012 at 15:30 PM

Maids are a breed apart be it in India or abroad as soon as they land they want to go back to a drunk husband and wayward kids who were the very reason they wanted to leave shore all the money you paid for their visa ticket et al goes down the drain. They have the ability to crack you to the core.

Other Times Group news sites
The Times of India | The Economic Times
इकनॉमिक टाइम्स | ઈકોનોમિક ટાઈમ્સ
Mumbai Mirror | Times Now
Indiatimes | नवभारत टाइम्स
महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स
Living and entertainment
Timescity | iDiva | Bollywood | Zoom
| Technoholik |


itimes | Dating & Chat | Email
Hot on the Web
Book print ads | Online shopping | Business solutions | Book domains | Web hosting
Business email | Free SMS | Free email | Website design | CRM | Tenders | Remit
Cheap air tickets | Matrimonial | Ringtones | Astrology | Jobs | Property | Buy car
Online Deals
About us | Advertise with us | Terms of Use and Grievance Redressal Policy | Privacy policy | Feedback
Copyright© 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service