Diwali

Made my maid’s day

12:07 PM

I realised I never fully wrote about my new maid, after the drama caused by the two we had in Navi Mumbai last year, and the greedy vulture maid we had in Bangalore, the one we have now is a dream. Well she is a dream regardless of the few past maids we had, I never had one so nice, hardworking and helpful.

I’m not complicated, what I expect from my house help is : punctuality, good behaviour, good work and the ability to just take initiatives when needed. And as I said it many time on this blog this is hard to find.
This maid started by scoring massive brownie points the day we moved in, she came by in the morning to ask if we had a position for her, we laid out the list of duty, she gave us her fees, we settled the deal, and she asked us when we would need her, DH told her that it was highly unlikely we would be out of the boxes by 6pm when it was her time to come cook, so that cleaning would have to wait for the next day.
By 5pm that very same day she stopped by asking if we needed help around tonight, DH and I were in the middle of a sea of wrapping paper and empty boxes trying to settle the kitchen, so DH asked her if she was interested in taking the old boxes for herself sparing us the hassle to figure out what to do with them. She told us that yes she could but the next morning, because the recycler’s shop was closed, and seeing us all tired and in such a mess she said “here let me help you guys unpack and clean here” In 2 hours she helped us get the kitchen straight and had the boxes all flattened and pilled up for the next day. She didn’t have to, but she did help.
The next day she helped us flatten more boxes and fold away  tons of wrap paper (again not in her job description but did it), then I found out the stove was not working on the piped gas system we had, she flipped it over to announce it was old and dirty and needed a solid servicing, she took it right away with her knowing where to go, brought it back 2 hours later all fixed and cleaned and ready to go, we gave her a 100 bucks for it which she tried to refuse. not once during our whole settling down did she shy away from helping us with something.

In the beginning, she had to come twice a day, once in the morning to clean and do the dishes, and once in the evening to cook, however she always did the dishes twice a day, and has this obsession about us really liking the food she cooks, in the early days she would ask me what masala I wanted in what dish, and how much oil she should use before cooking, now she knows us well enough, she also knows how to use spices, and not just the good old combo of chilli,coriander,turmeric and jeera. Nope she uses cinnamon, cloves, black cardamom and star anise with expertise in various dishes as well, giving us a lot lot of flavour in our daily food beyond the scorching heat of chilli powder our maid in Navi Mumbai submitted us to.
This maid also want to cook us breakfast on weekends, and gets exited at the idea of spoiling us with stuff like paratha, dosa and idli. When I asked her if she wanted to make the idli/dosa batter from scratch or wanted me to buy some fresh one from the grocer she was offended at the idea of me eating something store bought, nope nothing but proper homemade batter stuff for us. To gain time she tend to take the coconut I buy for chutney home to prepare it in her downtime, when I tried to get her some curry leaves and green chillies from my fridge for her to make the chutney she stopped me firm saying this was nonsense, she would use what she had at home.
She also promptly asked me to get as many type of lentils and pulse we could, as it is important to eat a variety of food not the same old dal everyday.

Over the course of a few weeks, DH asked her to come an additional time at 7am to make fresh chapati for his tiffin, and asked her to clean the bathrooms as well, we increased her salary accordingly. Now bathroom is a daunting task, but without having me to ask anything, she goes through thorough cleaning whenever needed, even took the initiative to clean some hard to reach dirt in remote corners of the common bath we rarely use, and worked out a great system for herself with her alternating the days of heavy work in there doing one bathroom heavily one day and the other the next.

In the past 3 months I not had to scold her, or explain things twice, she has a doubt about how to do something and she asks me, then just do it the right way. Not once did she break anything, or used too much milk, or pulled a no show without warning. Her husband is apparently sick is still hospitalised in a convalescence place, she took one or two day off to travel there on special occasion but usually feel so bad about leaving us without her help that she rushes back in time to cook dinner even when I tell her that it is fine and I can survive a day or two without her.
On certain weekend days we gave her a day off because we were out, and without a fail she takes time to THANK us for it.

This month she told us that she might ask us for some advance on her salary for Diwali, and DH told her that all she had to do was ask, and told her we would be away from the 19th until the 27th, last week she asked for some because of some medical fees she had to pay regarding her husband’s health. And this week she announced she was coming one additional time to do the heavy cleaning! Explaining that our house had to be clean for Diwali even if we were not there, so yesterday without me asking she went ahead and cleaned all the windows, and we are talking big ones as they all are wall to wall almost bottom to ceiling glass panels in every rooms. She also decided all our fans needed a solid clean up, and behind the furniture, and some of the shelves in the fridge, and the walls in the kitchen. Once done she announced that the next day she would tackle the kitchen cabinet doors, all furnitures, bedroom doors and the wall tiles in both bathrooms. All things I never even asked her to do, but I am starting to notice she is a perfectionist in everything she does.

So yesterday evening I reminded DH he needed to withdraw money for her Diwali bonus, we always pay our helps half a month salary as a bonus, in the case of our current maid that means 2000 rupees worth of Diwali bonus. So this morning he hands her the money while she was there for her chapati making explaining it was a Diwali gift, but she didn’t quite register it, she then came to me asking what it was for, and I told her it was her Diwali bonus, her reply was “That much!” and then a huge glow on her face and a huge “thank you didi” offered to me before leaving. She then came back for the 9.30am cleaning chores and again asked me if she got it right that the 2k were indeed a Diwali bonus as she simply couldn’t believe it, and I confirmed again, with her thanking me again profusely explaining with tears in her eyes that it would take care of getting some nice new clothes for her kids for Diwali. She then left telling me the round 2 of heavy cleaning will come at 3pm today again thanking me for the gift.
In 8 years in India, not only is she the first maid I have who doesn’t shy away from work, she is also the FIRST to thank me each time we give her a leave, or give her her salary and yes first one to thank me for a Diwali bonus she never expected. All the other ones we had started hinting at the fact Diwali was coming weeks before the actual date or plain asked we gave them the bonus!
And you know what? It feels really good to see that I truly made my maid’s day with this gift.

1 comments

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