Friday, May 8, 2009

Maid in Mumbai

Posting has been and will be slow from this end till things come back to normal (read: Padma finishes vacationing in 'bahargaon', a word alien to me till I moved to this city and although it does for some reason conjure alpine images, it actually mean a village near Chennai). After the initial struggle with snooty ladies who politely declined offers of employment from me, I have finally found a temperary solution in New Girl. New Girl is tall and lanky and has a perpetual grin on her face. This grin does not shake in the face of the deepest peril, much to my consternation. Since New Girl and I seem to disagree on what actually defines 8:30 am, we have already had some differences of opinion. These differences saw me gesturing widly at the clock and insisting that the hour that it showed was 9:15. In response, New Girl grinned manically. This was Day One and was a very apt prelude to what was to come.

On Day two, impossible as that sounds, New Girl bettered herself. She rang the doorbell at 2:30 pm, something that immediately shot her to the Red&White Bravery Awards shortlist. Yes, she disturbed the nap of the only person whose sleep matters in this household. What is it, what, what, what, I demanded of her over the din as I saw her standing at my doorstep, why do you have a death-wish? Oh, I came by to tell you that I won't come in tomorrow, she said. Gah, said I, you have barely started work, how can you take leave. She grinned some more and informed me that all kaam-waali-bais are entitled to two days leave in a month. Well, all that is fine, I said, showing remarkable amounts of patience for someone who actually wanted to shoot herself, but this is like taking a coffee break first thing in the morning. My logic did not deter her and she availed herself of the first of what she warned me will be at least two days off. That was Day Three.

I thought about her behaviour and worked myself up into quite a rage while she was away. A combination of factors has ensured that I am not my usual angelic self these days. I am going to tell her off when she comes in tomorrow, I told myself, let her see my dark, evil side too. Well, New Girl came in to work on Day Four and I put my plan into action. Look, this won't work, I said sternly, all this leave-taking business will leave me in a fix, I said, what is so urgent that you can't wait for a bit. In response, New Girl looked at me and informed me that her husband has cancer and TB and is currently at the hospital. She needed to take a day off because she needed to shift him.

I shrank to about half of my 5'7" frame at that point. I guess if she can literally grin and bear her misfortune, I guess I can put up with a bit of impunctuality and inefficiency too. New Girl is not so bad after all, I have decided. If nothing else, she will teach me a few lessons in humanity and kindness.

Edited to add:

To be honest, it never occurred to me that she may be lying. After I read the comments I did google a bit. Apparently, TB can very well precede or follow cancer. I reproduce here some bits I found on the net. The doctors/experts among us, please feel free to elaborate. Well, what can I say? It can be our GK for the day!

"Fact: Lung diseases that cause scarring of the lung tissues, such as tuberculosis, can increase the risk of developing lung cancer."

"TB can develop more easily if the immune system weakens, as happens with malnutrition, AIDS, diabetes, cancer, or treatment with immunosuppressant drugs..."

20 comments:

Aneela Z said...

ohh parul...i feel so little myself..which is a bit easier for 'longitudinal challenged'people like me...never again am i going to moan my lot. and to think i make such a fuss because gman snores....may god give the girl strength.

Homecooked said...

Aww...dont beat yourself over it. It happens. How were you supposed to know? It was just a couple of days since she joined...takes time to have a bond and know details.

ThoughtSafari said...

It happens! Our perceptions cloud our judgements so many times! But life has ways of reminding us.. doesn't it? :)

Anuradha said...

Arey don't feel so bad about it... you are not a mind-reader for you to have known this! The skeptic that I am, I can't help think cancer + tb sound too much at the same time.

Anonymous said...

cancer AND tb?

er, sounds like too much of a good thing, really.

what, am i alone in the skepticism?

oh well.

maidinmalaysia said...

erm i am the maid in malaysia... so i have to support the maid in mumbai.

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Come on P, how on earth were you to know? And now you do...

Even if cancer+TB actually means eating bhel puri on Juhu beach, but it can be true. One never knows. (sorry, am showing my cynical side)

How beautifully you write...

Vidya said...

OMG!People like this make me feel smaller than an ant's leg!:( Does she need help?

Sonia said...

Seriously Cancer and TB both!! Ask her what he got first ? Hai, God pls forgive me :) You could get TB after cancer but not the other way around....my Uncle died of lung cancer and we were kinda hoping it was TB when we were awaiting the test results...

Anyways if its true, kudos to the girl's spirit, thats amazing!

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Ok, this would be the guilt after that show of cynicism.

I hope it's not true and kudos to her for her smiling spirit. You're right...much to learn.

Parul said...

To be honest, it never occurred to me that she may be lying. After I read these comments I did google a bit. Apparently, TB can very well precede or follow cancer. I reproduce here some bits I found on the net. The doctors/experts among us, please feel free to elaborate. Well, what can I say? It can be our GK for the day :)

"Fact: Lung diseases that cause scarring of the lung tissues, such as tuberculosis, can increase the risk of developing lung cancer."

"TB can develop more easily if the immune system weakens, as happens with malnutrition, AIDS, diabetes, cancer, or treatment with immunosuppressant drugs..."

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

2 days off in a month - is that a mutually known agreement? I never knew of it !

The knife said...

we have lousy luck with driver's which is the other bane of Mumbai life. remember you hired one of our Mad Max's ages back after we sacked him

Our maid, of 6 yrs, is our lifeline. i have now taught her to cook too. We have moved her across houses. She bunks like hell and has no concept of punctuality. But we have learnt to take that in our stride.

And don't get too hot under the collar. I have heard the most creative of excuses, specially from drivers

Cynic in Wonderland said...

..the cynicism is what is scary - the fact that one even wonders whether it is true or she is lying. i hope she is lying in this case.

Looney Tune said...

I think I did my bit of celebrity spotting today when I spotted Mahesh, 'the famous husband of super-famous Parul Sharma' gorging on panipuris at Elco :)

Parul said...

Cantaloupes Amma (CA)... Yeah, well, I never thought of it earlier.

The knife...We never hired your guy but our current driver is very good. Also well, I'd rather get upset about not being kind enough than vice-versa!

Cynic in Wonderland...You've hit the nail on the head, Cyn!

Looney Tune...You're wrong on so many counts, LN! I am not super famous. Mahesh is not famous. And he did not eat pani-puris at Elco today though I have to admit that I had some at that guy's stall near Jogger's....yummm!!

Radical Ancient said...

Somehow I just don't buy this. Too many people begging and saying their dad died... and then you meet one "fatherless" child and a man who "needs an operation" talking at the T-junction. Not sure how to react. I choose cynicism over moral responsibility.
And also, in these circumstances, I would expect the maid to declare what was going on BEFORE asking for leave, instead of when pressed. Sounds a bit like the proverbial kettle-borrower's defence - "We are entitled to 2 days leave".. "I'll be 2 days at least".. "husband is in hospital with two of the most dreaded diseases at the same time". Er. A bit too much for me. Honest.
PS. It's Suki.

Parul said...

Fair enough. It's just that I could not possibly go through my life mistrusting people and doubting myself for not having helped a person when they needed it (in the absence of adequate proof). It's all about what makes you happy and helps you sleep at night. I am not questioning your choices....your decisions and world-view are based on your experiences and inherent nature. It cannot (and why should it) match mine.

Madhu Palaparthi said...

Wow! Amazed at the cynicism on display! The poor woman might just be telling the truth.
And cancer could be the first diagnosis with TB being an incidental finding.
That Or the doctor told her it could be either TB OR cancer and they are investigating- which in my experience gets misunderstood as having both
My two cents as a doctor

Madhu Palaparthi said...

Wow! Amazed at the cynicism on display! The poor woman might just be telling the truth.
And cancer could be the first diagnosis with TB being an incidental finding.
That Or the doctor told her it could be either TB OR cancer and they are investigating- which in my experience gets misunderstood as having both
My two cents as a doctor