Most of you must have seen the joke circulating in fb about a maid servant who disappears for several days. When she comes back, the housewife questions her to which she replies, “I had updated my status on fb as saying “I will be on leave for 5 days”. Saheb had even commented that “I will miss you”. I shudder to imagine Saheb’s plight.
Though, so far we didn’t have a net savvy bai, we have availed the services of several bais with their own peculiarities. They have typical names like Sakubai, Gangubai, Sunandabai, Mangalbai etc. There was one who was always in a tearing hurry. She would literally make a clean sweep with the broom except that the floor would still remain unclean. No amount of gentle or stern persuasions helped to slow her down. It was her style and we had to adapt.
Another one that we hired was just the opposite. She would take her own sweet time, sweeping in slow motion, gently pushing the dirt as if they would be harmed otherwise. Often, we would be waiting to have breakfast while she made her way from room to room. She would sometimes pause to nudge a cobweb, rearrange the papers or keep things in order. We wished she would hurry up but nothing would deter her from keeping to her speed. It was, of course, her style.
Earlier, I had mentioned about bais not being so net savvy. Yet, all of them nowadays have cell phones. This does seem like a boon for us as it removes the uncertainty of their being absent without prior intimation. In reality, it works differently. Invariably, when we call her number well past her regular time, the phone is either switched off or unreachable. Sometimes, when we do get the number, it is picked up by her daughter who has borrowed the phone and has no idea about the whereabouts of her mother.
Yet another one of those bais had a know-all attitude with no control on her tongue. She would liberally hand out unsolicited advice. “You should dispose of those books and papers. Who selected these curtains? They don’t match at all with the wall colour.” We gently tried to tell her that it is none of her business but she couldn’t resist being the tough inspector. We dismissed her after a shocking incident. My elderly aunt had come visiting and she was alone with the bai. Some neighbor was smoking cigars and the smoke wafted in. Immediately, our bai turned to my aunt and sternly questioned, “Do you smoke?”
We had this bai who was tall, fair and considered herself good looking. The problem was that she was obsessed with her looks. While sweeping the floor, she would purposely stand around the full length mirror. Even while talking to my wife about various domestic problems, her eyes would be on the mirror looking at herself from various angles. We noticed that she was grumpy when asked to do any work in the kitchen. The reason was not hard to find. We are now thinking of installing a mirror above the kitchen sink. Maybe have them installed all over so that the house remains spick and span.
There are talks of bais getting together and demanding privileges of organized labor. We will then have to make provision for casual leave, sick leave and privilege leave. Maybe provide them refreshments while on duty, or sponsor their annual trip to native place. Indeed, it looks like a scary scenario.
Nevertheless, it must be conceded that bais today perform an essential service reducing the drudgery of the housewife and enabling her to contribute to society in various ways. So much so that good bais are much coveted and retained with expensive goodies, for they are neighbour’s envy and owner’s pride.