Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The undomestic goddess

“My maid gives me a complex,” said Anshuman, who seemed completely befuddled with his domestic diva in a very ‘settling down in Bombay’ kind of way. She apparently gave him the impression that she earned quite a packet through her assorted retainers in various households, added to which was one at a rather posh restaurant in Andheri. She also claimed prowess in the real estate market, having bought and sold a few flats, and made a killing.

All of which all added up to a total income that was far higher than that of Anshuman’s. Ironically, he was her said employer, yet having a hard time finding something more than a pigeon hole for the arm and the leg he was willing to pay.

She of course wielded further powertics by admonishing him on how slow an eater he was, how much time he wasted in the mornings, and how he really didn’t have a life, since he had to travel to work ‘all the way to Bombay’ from Andheri.

Her rather vocal opinion had its effect on him. Despondent, he immediately rang his local friend and discussed prospects of being a maid in Bombay, which suddenly seemed far more lucrative than his banking job.

As he was narrating his woes, I entered into flashback mode about a certain svelte siren who was in our domestic services a few years ago. Her name, apt to her appearance was Sundari. Everyday, she would sashay into the house, spend a good half hour over her tea and biscuits, purr at the cats, pout at suitable moments, help herself to the fruit on the table every once in a while, glide her way through the washing and cleaning, before she did what she most loved to do. Preen.

Yes, I would catch her every once in a while posing in front of the mirror, sometimes trying my shoes, perfume or favourite neckpiece on. And it irked me that things actually looked good on her. Soon, I began dressing up for her arrival, lest it got confusing as to ‘who bears the broom.’

There is more — Sundari had a retinue of admirers — watchmen, liftmen, drivers, cooks, courier men and other assortments who were in completely in awe of her and gave her their undivided attention whenever she passed by. I once noticed the maali handing her a bunch of flowers plucked from the building compound. Some would share their lunch with her, another would come bounding with an umbrella every time she got stranded in the rain without one. The day she didn’t show up, there would be at least two enquiries.

One day, she was caught red-handed stealing my Issey Miyake, and that’s when my mother finally gave her the sack. The entire neighbourhood was in mourning for the next three days.

Things haven’t changed much. Though the current maid is not a kleptomaniac, my mother complains that she is too posh for her. She is also more voluptuous than all of us put together, better attired, wears trendy footwear, looks gorgeous and is super-savvy with her latest cell-phone (my mother is too technologically challenged to even use my hand-me-down Nokia 1100). The cherry on the cake was when she gifted the manicured maid a saree for Dusshera — she turned it down saying she doesn’t wear cottons.
I am seriously thinking of switching professions.

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