Monday, November 11, 2013

The obsession to self-dependence

I belong to a Telugu Brahmin (top-notch) family in which the concept of maid servants is unheard of. Reason being the caste differences: the kitchen, the puja area etc. are supposed to be SO auspicious that very few people in the home are allowed to enter those – that too immediately after bathing, wrapping that wet saree around, just in case any of the readers understands Telugu, it is called ‘madi’. There is this 'madi' time every morning for a few hours where usually the eldest lady in the home along with one other for help; does puja, cooks food etc. And a shorter version of the 'madi' happens in the evening (sandhya time) also. I stayed with my grandmother for a few years, and we used to make trips often and thanks to that I know all of this. I used to blindly accept these as we were taught the same from the childhood, though I don't agree to all this superstitions now, I do respect people doing it, it is their way of generating positive energy, of course if done religiously - it is the intent that matters of course! We grew up in Ahmedabad with my parents, my mother also never had a maid - one reason could be her upbringing & family, and the other reason could be that she never considered Gujarat to be her land, she never trusted anyone there generally, not even now after almost 30 years! - also probably because we could not afford one, and all of us were females at home so we used to  manage things ourselves well.

So, basically, we never had a household help due to various reasons. My grandmother was a very good housewife. She used to manage a lot of things by herself and used to keep the house as clean as possible. Rarely would she ask for anyone’s help. Somehow, her 2 daughters could not get this quality, but her 3 granddaughters – my 2 sisters and I got this to the core - the obsession to cleanliness, and I have gone 2 steps further, I caught another obsession - the one to self-dependence. We were not like this earlier but slowly and gradually, especially after starting our own households, this quality became too much ingrained.

I started my household in Kuwait where I didn’t need a maid. Though, due to my husband’s generosity we got one to clean our home & car once a week, there was no need for cleaning beyond once a week, but still I did. I never admired the guy cleaning my place, I wanted to do it myself :)

We shifted to Hyderabad, getting a help who would work religiously (as per my definition) was a pain there. We changed 2-3 helps in a span of 2-3 months and each of them had attitudes to the core - why can't they study and do sophisticated jobs then, I wonder. Overall, my experience with helps wasn't good - the main cause is my expectations are too high from them. We shifted to Gurgaon, the house was bigger, and it was extremely cold for me who had never seen the actual North India winters before. I was not sure if I could manage the entire maid-like activities of my house myself. I started off but soon I got a maid, I didn't like her work. But I had learnt to deal with it by then, along with my job in the new place, managing everything was tough. The maid left - one maid - then the other - then the other - then another - and almost 10 maids now - again I am left with none! I did get 1-2 good ones though, meeting my expectations but they left without any notice, such an irritating act!

When I analyze, it is not the dissatisfaction with the work - it is the dependence that kills me more! Waiting for someone to come when he/she is not turning up at the committed time or when one leaves without informing - is the worst part of dependence - whether it is a driver or a maid or a bathroom cleaner or a plumber. Getting the work done and the work not to the satisfaction - is another part. Asking someone else to do something that I can do myself is the most difficult thing for me, next to impossible. I like to do everything on my own unless there is no option, because I can do it at my own pace, the output is as expected and no frustration and a lot of satisfaction in the end. It is very tiring at times managing too many things - sometimes I also hurt myself while doing household work, but I learn a lot, I am able to sustain individually. I have used many household tools since childhood - I play an electrician, a maid of course, a plumber, I had played a mochi (cobbler) also [when I was getting married, my mother commented "throw the mochi kit away now, the mochi is going :)"] - I have all these tools at my home and I feel very glad I am able to use them to fix small things which would end up in dependencies on many different individuals otherwise. And also I do it in an educated & a smarter (I have learnt to always keep looking for the smartest way to do a job) manner than the actual helps using smarter tools so its fulfilling. There are things beyond my capabilities - like repairing a soldered work say - even this small amount of dependence when I know the job is out of my capability is something that I cannot digest fully!!! In the process I must say I have collected many good tools :)

I don't know if it is good or bad, it might be unrealistic, but in the current times I am glad I have this obsession!

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