Daily life

The things one can take for granted

12:11 PM

This morning I let out a rant on my Facebook profile about how my maid is slacking more and more and is slowly gliding toward the ejector seat (more about it in another post one other day). And I would not have ranted if I weren’t already pissed of playing crime scene investigator finding rat poops all over my kitchen counter and a rat poison cake I set the other day completely eaten, at 6 in the morning. I never found the rat, cleaned the whole kitchen with Cif and Domex all that before my maid came.
Anyway one of my friends who lives in the US asked me why I don’t cook and clean myself. As you recall that is a question I get asked often by people who have never been in India and addressed this matter here.
As usual I found myself explaining the obvious about how things in India get dirty faster and all, and that got me thinking that for a person that has never been to India and lived there this is something though to grasp. You see there are so many things we take for granted in many western countries that the idea that some around the world do without or have to hire help for certain tasks seems odd. I could write a novel on it really, but I though I just list some of the things that simply do not exist or are done much differently here, so that my readers from abroad who’ve haven’t been to India can get an new insight.

- 24 hour hot water running in all your taps, now that is something people in Europe and US are totally used to, taking a shower or a bath is just a matter of undressing, turning the hot water on and voila. Dishes are washed with hot water in the sink too, dissolving the grease in pans easily with very little soap.
In India FORGET IT, if you want hot water you need or to boil it on the stove, or have a water heater installed on each individual pipes you want hot water to come out of, typically bathrooms are equipped in cities nowadays, but not always, and kitchens are usually never hooked to one as people don’t see the point, they have a maid to do the hard job of doing the dishes and they don’t care about making her life easier. If you come back from work and want a hot shower to relax and get rid of the dust and grime of one day of being out in polluted air, you need to switch on your heater, wait 10-15 minutes and then shower, and of course remember to switch off the heater or else your power bill will give you a heart attack.

- 24 hours uninterrupted power supply. In many western countries that means that if your power goes off that means there was a severe problem on the line, due to most of the time a natural disaster. In India if you live outside Mumbai which I hear is the only city with uninterrupted power supply, you will have to deal with load shedding, scheduled or not, in Bangalore it could go up to 4 hours a day without any electricity, add to this accidents, tree falling on the line every monsoon, and you could find yourself in the dark for quite some time. Recent apartment building have some sort of power back up, but you can run only certain appliances on it, and it doesn’t back up all plug point in your home. In Private homes you will have to purchase an inverter that can take the load of a few fans and a few lights. many houses still don’t have inverters though. No wonder that we all cook on gas still, you can’t plan your meal times around power cuts or you’ll go crazy.

- Efficient public transports, in Europe most cities have a solid reliable network of buses, train, tramways or metro lines, which are made user friendly for newcomers, and ship you from A to B in a relatively short time. In India the concept of Metro is just now coming with only Delhi and Bangalore having some operational Metro segments, Mumbai is planning one. Mumbai has a local train network that is well planned but saturated by an ever growing population, if you are new to the city you will probably not even make sense of it, and even with the local train going from A to B will just take you an eternity because the time you need to cover a distance in an European city might be multiplied by 5 or more in an Indian city due to poor road infrastructure and traffic. The result is that you are thinking twice about going anywhere…is spending 2 hours stuck in traffic worth visiting that one furniture shop I heard is great alone? Or shall I wait until I have something else to do in that area to bother…that’s the kind of question you will end up asking yourself in a city like Mumbai.

- This past few weeks I found myself scratching my head at the whole horse meat scandal in beef product in Europe. First because horse meat is yummy, then because I found it a bit amusing to have people protest the fact that their processed food item contained arggh an unwanted but totally edible other food product. I know it’s still sad because legislations and regulations have been poopooed, but living in India for so long I can tell you I’d rather have horse meat found in my beef lasagna than face the kind of food scam we in India are exposed to : unfit for consumption water found in milk packets (the milk supplier when packing his packs just cut the milk with dubious water to stretch his milk supply and make more money), dispersion paint, chalk paste, plaster of Paris found in milk based Sweets especially around Diwali (make triple the amount of sweets from the same amount of milk solids), rat meat found in vegetable biryani on Indian railway prepared food…get it? We might all end up eating toxic waste of the truly inedible type on a daily basis in India. How does that horse meat lasagna sound now?

- A legal system that stands up and protect you, you get wronged in many places in the western world and you have the justice on your side, you have laws that are here to protect you and implemented as much as possible, there are regulations for everything, including clarity of what goes in your food as mentioned above. In India you can try getting justice, it will take about 15 years or more to get it for a simple infraction omitted toward you, or you might even end up being laughed in your face and told you asked for it if said offense you are trying to get Justice for is a rape case….darn lady what were you doing out of the kitchen to begin with?
The legal system in India is like all governmental things: CORRUPTED, you get nowhere without bribes being paid, you can bed the law and get away with it if you have money, and just cry and bear with it if you are poor. It’s a democracy with a set of laws and a penal code on paper, in practice it’s the law of the Jungle, only the fittest…err  most powerful and rich survive.

- Organic food and environment friendly cleaning product, it’s just somewhat starting now, reserved to an elite that can afford paying double the price for their dal and vegetables. The normal vegetables might actually contain even more toxic stuff than the non-organic ones found back home, because..yup you got it…no regulation on pesticide in the country. Cleaning products that respect your environment aren’t even as widespread as organic lentils.

- Kid safe play rides at the playground. That one I had people pointing to me how this and that slide my daughter was seen playing on would be banned back home for lack of safety. Agreed, 100% the problem is that..yup again…no regulation. In fact just having a place to play outdoor is considered a luxury in India, public gardens that are well kept are a rarity in most cities, apartment buildings societies generally invest in a few swing sets and monkey bars, but don’t necessarily see the point of maintaining them or making sure they even meet any safety guidelines, gives you 5-6 ft high slides with no edges from which the child might fall, sharp edges, chipping paint, rusted parts…A state of the art play set made of safe material is more often than not still imported, cost a fortune and in this harsh climate might not even last as long as in other place. In the end better to count your blessing and be grateful you have a playground to take your kiddos to play to. Many don’t have this luxury.

Right now that’s all those I can think of, to list and I will stop there not to end up writing that novel I was mentioning, but if you are a frequent reader of my blog, you probably know what I am talking about. And if you haven’t checked the blog’s facebook page, do it already, I put pictures of my home and surroundings frequently enough.


  1. Anonymous6:21 AM

    F.Y.K.I metro started in India in 1984 kolkata..plz give correct info..

  2. Yeah I am having flash backs of Navi Mumbai, I saw the first rat poops a week ago in my utility area, promplty bought rat poison cakes and placed a chunk behind the washing machine, for a week nothing happened, then 4 days ago the rat poison cake diseappeared and I had no other evidence of a rodent being in the apartment, the day before yesterday I woke up in the morning greated by rat poops all over my kitchen counter, cleaned it all, disinfected it all, and at night slid another rat cake under the stove since the previus one ended behind the gas cylinder, yesterday I woke up to the same sight, rat poops every where, cake dragged behind the oven and no other sign, looked high and low in the kitchen for the rat, no sign, lifted the washing machine and saw no signs. Last night I put another cake under the stove but woke up at 1am and decided to go check, the rat cake was nibbled and I heard a super loud thump under the sotve, so I shut the kitchen door and woke up DH since we know that if it came to a chase we might need to be two people. Turns out that in the meantime the rat went hiding behind the washing machine making more noise and he got scared when I switched on the light there and climbed all the way up to the ceiling on a rod used to shut some blade windows on top. That thing was HUGE, scared the hell out of me, so I shut the utility area door and from the balcony in our living room opened the sliding window of the utility space, placed a rat cake there, shut all other windows and balcony door so that the rat could only go out and not sneak back in from another spot and went back to bed. This morning the cake is gone and there are no rat poops int he washing machine area so I assume the rat is gone, I even opened the washign machine to check inside, that's how crazy I have gone with rats since one destroyed the electronic panel on ours in Navi Mumbai a few years ago.

  3. Navya3:50 PM

    Ah the help! I should blog about my own issues with help but it would be one long never-ending sob saga!!! My first experience with a nanny for my child last month made me lose 4 kg weight in one month thanks to the tension and drama that she caused in our family!!

    In one month, she caused enough drama between me and in-laws ( because the help is very good in causing tension within family) and borrowed 5000 loan from her 7000 Rs monthly salary from my MIL stated that MIL assured her that I would not cut money from her January month salary, took one week leave in the starting month, arrived late each day (around 9.30 am) and left between 3.30 - 4.30 pm even though her timings were 9 - 5 pm and insisted she be left early on weekends because I am anyhow at home so I SHOULD be FREE to take care of my own son !

    All the extra money given to her as loan plus her erratic timings of coming and going as she pleases could be excused if she were interested to take care of the baby! Her idea of taking care of the baby was to make him sleep , when I insisted she play with him when he was awake, she just wanted to put him down in front of TV for a 4 month old! We had to get another nanny ASAP and I bought another car for myself - so I could drive down to mom's place and leave my son there on the days I had to travel to work...

    This month things are settling down thankfully! The new nanny shows promise! And I am slowly picking up the pieces and moving on from the drama of the previous one!


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