A woman in charge

10:51 AM

A while back I was telling you about my maid here in Mumbai and how I made her day with a big Diwali Bonus.
Well a few months short of a full year working for us, she is still the same hardworking, conscientious, professional maid. She still do not shy from a chore that has to be done, she still goes the extra mile do make sure my place is spotlessly clean, she plans big clean up afternoons when she decided my windows need a scrub before I have to ask. All in all she is the only real professional maid I’ve had in 8.5 years in India. 

And I think it is fair to call her a PROFESSIONAL, she is in total command of what she can have control upon in her life. Like every Mumbai maid she has the same tariffs : 500 rupees a month for each chores, 2000 for the cooking (comes twice to make fresh chapatti). She lives in a nearby slum-ish area in a house that her husband and her own apparently. She has two kids in their pre-teen years, one girl, one boy, born a year apart, her husband has been in Hospital and in rehab since we hired her, so it’s pretty much her all alone manning the house, the finance and the kids, with her hubby not working at the moment she is also the sole bread earner too. If she slacks, she has only herself to blame, not that it would happen, she juggles 4 housekeeping/cooking jobs a day, and still makes time for her kids, she hasn’t dropped the ball on any of her employers, she always warn if she has to take a leave, and her positive outlook on life means Dh and I are happy with her, and even chit chat with her too.  Her positive attitude is what makes people want to go the extra mile for her. But she doesn’t want pity, she keeps her chin up. And after having to deal with 8.5 years of maids playing on the  “I’m poor have pity” and their begging for more leaves, more money, extra money to pay their kid’s school fees, I have now a maid who just leaves her troubles at home and does her job.
Recently though she came to DH and I really embarrassed having to ask, needing money as her house seem to have taken some damages and would if unfixed become a hell of a place to live in during the monsoon thanks to the down pour Mumbai is known to go through during these months and how poorly planned slum area can be.  The total amount of the work to be done in her house to make it dry and monsoon proof: 30,000 rupees, she quickly told us she enlisted the help of relatives as well, but that she is struggling to come with the whole sum upfront to get the job done on time and that she would appreciate any help and promised to pay us back, she also told DH that if this repair didn’t come right smack before the start of the school year she would have had the money, but her kids education matters big time (big applaud to her). DH curious about her finances started asking how she manages being all alone at home and the sole bread winner, she told him that thanks to her 4 houses job as a maid she makes 12 thousands a month, Dh asked her how she keeps that money safe, and turns out they have a person collecting money from all the maids and putting in a joint account and then write chits to them stating the amount they are entitled to, a sort of bank of the poor system. DH told her that she should open her own account and get the interest on her hard earned cash herself and even volunteered to take her to the bank one Saturday, the offer still holds but the past 2 weekends have been hectic both for her and for DH. She also told DH her husband has a life insurance policy made to protect her and the kids in case something happened to him, a thing that DH was impressed with and congratulated her for having one.
All this explain her behaviour, unlike many maids, she is aware that a job is a job, and that it’s better for her to be a maid, than maybe earn less as a factory worker, she is in charge of her income and working hours, and smart to know the power she has in her hands. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself, she works hard to get herself and the kids a better life. She could have taken the easy option of just educating her son, but she sends both kids in school, what’s more she is raising her daughter to be a modern strong lady too, she showed me pictures of her kids she had made by a professional photographer for her son’s birthday last May, on the occasion she used the bonus I gave her then to get her kids new clothes too and wanted to show me that as well. What actually pleasantly surprised me is that her daughter was all dressed in a new pair of jeans and a sleeveless still very decent shirt, not a traditional salwaar suit, nope a western style outfit like her brother. My maid probably prefer salwaar suits over anything else, but from that picture and her attitude it is clear she is a woman of her time, a woman who knows that things change and that you have to move along with it.

In the end we loaned her 15k toward the house repair, and she promptly took my calendar at home and wrote the amount she took on which date, and even her repayment plan, explaining it to me, stating as she wrote in bold in my calendar that we are to not pay her her salary until August, not a single rupee because she wants to finish it off and not stay indebted too long.

I don’t know about you, but to me a woman who acts this way, and just refuse to let life and its circumstance bring her down, or uses such circumstances to not try to get out of it by herself first, is a lady that commands RESPECT.


  1. shatranj1:59 PM

    Isn't it fascinating how people can make things work when there are so many others who insist " I can't do it"?  You have a girl in a million there - not many are so honest and have such a non-complaining mentality.

  2. lovely post..........she really deserves all the respect for trying to do her best in difficult circumstances with her attitude........

  3. Great and uplifting story. She is definitely a proud woman with unwavering ethics... I wonder if I could be so strong... 

  4.  Oh yes she does! And her positive attitude actually wins her not only respect but many incentives from her employers as well.

  5.  Exactly, I spend years having to deal with maids who constantly made excuses and slacked, and just about tried to get away with the fact that them being maid meant they should be pitied, so this one is a very refreshing change.
    No one said cleaning floors, doing the dishes and scrubbing the toilet is easy, but at the end of the day it's a job that puts food in one's stomach so there is all the interest in the world to do it well, and my maid understood that perfectly, and because she does rise above it, she actually have people more willing to help her in a pinch too.

  6. Remember I told you my cook does know how to cook, but then she is a vulture like you described your previous maid?

    Well, a little praise the other day, ended up my own downfall! She decided to quit on me!!! :-(

    Ahh, while help is really affordable in India, it is indeed a real treasure hunt to find one that will be of help to you and not a pain! It is indeed good luck that you have found this maid to be so honest and hardworking!

  7.  Oh no! Sorry you have to go through the hassle of hiring another cook, finding one that is hardworking and honest is indeed precious. The one I have now is the first one in the 8.5 years I have been in India


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