What exactly makes up for the lifeline of the working population of Mumbai, especially working women? Local trains? Dabbawallahs? Yeah, maybe. However, spare a thought for your humble maid or ‘kamwaali bai’. The most underestimated yet the most important person who wields total control over your schedule. If she shows up on time, all is well. If she comes late or doesn’t turn up, all hell breaks loose.
A typical maid in Mumbai
She can be docile, attend to all your chores and keep your home spick and span. She can also turn tables, emotionally blackmail you or shower you with the choicest of abuses to get a pay hike or an extended holiday. She is quick enough to check if your house is clean before she agrees to work for you! Messy homes need more work and she can’t be bothered to spend more time at yours.
Those days when an acid tongued Sakubai turned up wearing a traditional ‘Kashta’ and hair in a neat bun with gajra are passé. Now a maid dons everything from a Punjabi dress and sari to jeans. The mobile wielding super maid of today can be relied upon to use your washing machines, vacuum cleaners and other gadgets.
She knows the knack of perfect time management. You should see how she handles ‘jhadu pocha’ and ‘bartan’ in a dozen households without a break and yet manages to get back home by afternoon.
Look at a Mumbai maid for brushing up your PR skills. A few treat maids as family, with kind words and financial help, if required. The other few take them for granted and are often unkind. But a Mumbai maid knows how to deal with different kinds of employers. ‘Mai aaj nayi aayegi memsaab’ and ‘Haa haa, aap jaao, mai saara kaam dekh legi memsaab’ is for different types of employers.
Can you imagine what would happen if maids form a union and go on a strike? Or even demand a pay hike every now and then?
Today’s maids work hard to give their children good education. They know the importance of sending their kids to school and college. For this reason, future generations may have to do without domestic help or hire help from agencies at high hourly rates. Maids may fade out just like the old mills in Mumbai.
In western countries, it is the norm to do your washing and cleaning yourself. Mumbaikars are spoilt for choice. If one maid leaves, another turns up almost immediately. Maids are aware of this. They never think twice before leaving your service at the slightest hint of dissatisfaction. Your equation with a Mumbai maid often depends on her mood and attitude more than money.
They have their own set of problems too – from abusive husbands and pervert employers to ill health and an insecure future. Offering a kind word is a major part of being human. Sometimes, it is all that we can do.
A maid in Mumbai is an important part of our lives. But, let us not totally depend on her. How about doing some work yourself? Keeps you fit, mentally alert and saves you some moolah too.
So will you be ‘Mad or What’ in Mumbai without a maid? What do you say?