Maid-a-Woe

This issue somehow comes organically to me. Dealing with the domestic staff.

You ask anyone in Delhi and there is a perpetual complaint, ‘maid bhaag gayi, tere pass hai?’ ‘Mera cook is on leave, I am so troubled.’

With me, this has been a constant issue ever since I started my household of my own and sometimes I still feel I am pretty naive when it comes to dealing with domestic help. You go to an agency to find efficient home staff and at first they introduce you to the most efficient, smart looking peeps. And you can’t believe your luck and for 3-4 months all is hunky dory and dogs are happy, the house runs smoothly and I can finally socialise too.

Then after the honeymoon phase, if you are lucky, before even a year ends the staff begins to create ruckus either- their relatives die and they gotta rush to their village or they fight with other Househelp in the house, or just ‘man nahin lagta.’ (Do I perform mujra for their man or what? )

I ask so many people what is the best formula to retain a good staff for a longer duration and nobody- trust me, not even your bestie- gives the gurumantra of this tricky question. If you are too strict they say, ‘madam bahut gussa karti hain, hence I will run.’ If you are too nice, they mistake that for desperation.

My observation is that it’s these agencies who are behind the scam of first introducing you to your dream staff and the minute he gets a new contract, he/she starts to destabilise your current staff and they then run havoc, to create scenarios to run.

At one time I held salary of one person and the agency actually threatened to falsely implicate me or my husband. We brought it to the notice of our local police station. It’s not what I did to the agency later that’s important, but what pains me is that you invest emotionally, financially and of course intellectually also by teaching them from scratch and according to your household needs and once you feel, ‘ah bliss! The girl is trained’ the girl or boy runs.

Not just that, I pay them handsome salaries and still they don’t stick, I am rather lenient too. I pay them airplane tickets for their comfort to come from their villages and all I get to hear is, ‘you did that because you needed me, not for my comfort.’

By being nice and thinking about karmic BS when I’m only subject to con people, I feel I might as well be bad. 😈. However my late father always taught me to be the bigger person, to be more gracious, magnanimous and without bothering how the other person will respond, and I have lived mostly by his teachings and lessons, but with doubt lately.

This is obviously not meant to be a sorry rich kid rant, but it’s time we face the fact that domestic staff is important, since it has been a part of Indian culture and our lifestyles are built this way.

Anubha Gujral

16/02/18

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