Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Jump back in time - part two!

So now that Priya is ancient history, we can move on to her replacement.  I have an inkling by now that we may not be staying on in India for too much longer and I have started to lose interest in the whole thing!  Bad news!  I hired a maid apathetically.  I ignored my gut instinct and took her on in spite of the fact I suspected she was arrogant, unafraid and bolshy.  I turned out to be right, unfortunately.

she started working the day of The Ray's party and simply carried on from there.  Her cooking was not great - in fact it was not even good!  Her cleaning, although fast as lightening, was not thorough or hygienic.  Her ironing, although fast as lightening, was not crease free or smooth - are you seeing a pattern here?  Yes she worked like the clappers, but the work was slap-dash and sub standard.  I started getting her to clean and prepare ingredients and then I cooked them to make them edible.  A waste of time and money having her around if I am doing the majority of the work myself.

She had a couple of warnings, she tried to change.  What is that old saying about leopards and spots??!!

I tolerated and endured for a another few months, gladly running off on holiday just to avoid having to see this woman in my house all day.  the reason for not throwing her out - I have six weeks left in Chennai at this point - I need to grin and bear it.... or at least just bear it!

In the end even that was not possible.  I had a spate of health issues - I broke my toe, I needed a biopsy done and I fractured a couple of ribs (long stories all of them!).  You would think that having a maid in the house would make life a little easier right?  Wrong!  The woman chooses this time (hottest time in Chennai, traditionally used for visiting the 'native place') to abscond and absent herself from work.  She asked for a day or two as her daughter (14yrs) has kidney stones and needs surgery.  Liar! She returned on the third day after ignoring or cutting calls from the driver and me repeatedly.  Surprise!  She popped in to show what a good worker she is - I came home from school at 9am to find the house almost completely spotless!  She was racing around like a headless chicken to clean, clear and iron.  Then came the stinger - she wanted a 'loan' of Rs50,000 - just like that!  I refused, she said the office guys told her that if I said yes - they would authorise the load,  Liar!  She told me she needed it for laser surgery for the girl.  Liar!  She told me she would take the girl to her mother or her mother in law and come right back.  Liar!  She was gone for three weeks, and my friends (thank God for them) looked after my family and me.  They made meals, sat with me, took me to the hospitals, helped me dress and undress and made sure my kids were taken to school and brought back each day, we were fed and watered and that I followed instructions to the letter.  Good Friends - in fact - THE BEST!

The best part of the story is the outlandish list of excuses we were presented with both during and after she chose to return to work.  Here is a meaty selection - she had heart bypass surgery - Liar!  She had heart surgery and the stitches in her heart have become loose - Liar!  She had heart surgery but she will come back to work tomorrow.  she is fine - Liar!  She had a baby but the baby had to be taken out of her - Liar!  She eventually came back to work, found out she had missed a vital newsflash of our imminent departure and then tried to make me thing that PYT (who came to visit with her baby etc) was robbing me blind - Liar!

What makes me mad as hell was the fact that she thought that if we are leaving - she has the RIGHT to anything and everything in my house, whether I want her to have it or not.  She tried hard to make me give everything to her - but in the end, her greed and stupidity  and her deceitfulness were her downfall.  Good riddance!!

Jump back in time - part one!

 January 31st - As of 6.20 this morning - Priya is NO MORE!!  Priya is/was the cook, ironing lady and The Ray person in this house.  She babysat when I needed and generally ran the house when I am out.  She took in gas deliveries, water deliveries, dealt with the a/c man, electrian and plumber, ordered and paid for the meat etc etc.

She also cleaned the fruit and veg for me and cooked some food for the kids.  The food tasted quite good and the kids were getting used to her.

But - and here is the BIG problem - why do maids feel the need to bring their outside work problems to work? She has problems at home - all which involve her either leaving work early (usually on a day when the ironing is stacked to the ceiling) or not coming in at all - again on a day when I have plans!!  She calls in sick with alarming frequency - but she is not sick at all - her mother is a demanding harridan.  And this final thing - fighting and brawling in the street with another maid like a pair of wild animals.

On the day of the Charity Fair - again a day when I actually NEED the woman, she chooses to stop and have a cat fight with a maid from down the road.  They are separated by some drivers who witnessed the incident and then encouraged to go to the Police.  I would not care what is happening, except that I had left the house at 6.30am for school to set up the fair (with Nikh in tow) and have moved into PTA mode with a vengeance.  I had left clear instructions with both the driver and the maid about the schedule for the day - starting with Priya bringing The Ray to the school and supervising her until My Darling managed to leave his office (yes he works on a Saturday too!) and then enjoying the rest of the day with the family and hopefully spotting other maids that she knows and having a fun day.

Nah - too bloody simple - revised plan - fight on the way to work, spend the rest of the day at the Police station and pay over Rs1000 for wasting police time,come and pester me (with her crazy mother in tow)  at 6pm when I was trying to leave for a Mexican Fiesta party and try to get some money and sympathy out of me.  Me - I slog at the charity fair all day, My Darling has The Ray until good friends snap her up and My Darling can go back to work!

She thought she held the winning hand - The Ray has her birthday party coming up - 70 or so people in the garden - catered and entertained by your truly.  So she thinks I need her for all the work to come in the next couple of days.  Boy, is she WRONG!!

So she shows up to work the next day - after the mother has screamed and yelled at people on the way to work, outside our gate etc.  She says she cannot possibly allow her pure, innocent girl to come to work alone when clearly our driver is a menace to her and I am not caring for her.  In fact she accused me of keeping her at work till all hours every single day.  Those who know me also know that I send the staff on their merry way well before closing time on many, many days.  To be sent home mid afternoon is not unusual.  The million dollar question is - where was sweet, innocent Priya going between 2pm and 12 midnight, and then claiming that I kept her late at work and would not pay her overtime!!???  again - not my problem.  I told Priya that her mother would not be allowed inside my house even if she insisted on following her to work.  They also came four hours late because the old bat could not walk very fast.  She stood at my gate hurling abuse at anyone and everyone until I had to tell her to stand outside the gate or I would call the Police!

Things were not looking so pretty!  Ultimatum time - either come to work sans harridan mother or don't come to work anymore.  Priya called and said she would come to work and live with us (not an option!!) and her brother called and said she would not be coming to work anymore because I do not protect her well enough!! I said goodbye! HUGE SIGH of RELIEF!

The next couple of days passed in Bliss, bliss bliss!  Until I realised that we have a party to put on!!  At last count I have 49 kids, 6 babies/toddlers and unknown numbers of adults. all very welcome, but all are gonna have to take it as it comes. the cakes are in the oven as we speak. the cookies will be baked tomorrow, sandwiches made on Saturday morning; jelly pots made tomorrow and pasta, samosas, hummus etc on Saturday. I have no trouble doing it all myself.  I just wish I had had some notice of all the impending doom and gloom - I may have made slightly different plans - but probably not!

I called my old maid Amudha, I called my friends maid, Sarah, I brought in Amu's friend Eswari (who was Priya's potential replacement) and I had two maids from My Darling's office to generally clean and check the bathrooms all day.  A veritable army of help! Amu has always been diligent, and works hard though not always with good initiative!  But she was an able, trustworthy body in my kitchen while I was down in the garden.  There was a plethora of activities for the kids to enjoy - cutting, sticking, Bollywood dancing, gluing, colouring etc.  My many friends stepped int o run activities for me; My Darling was in charge of photos and food distribution and I managed the whole shebang!

Upshot - thank goodness it all worked out.  I had my driver supervise the million maids and make sure all right stuff came down at the right time, make sure the samosas were picked up, the safe ice was in plentiful supp;y and that all the drivers of our guests had tea and snacks through the party time.  He did a damn good job!  the kids seemed to have a blast, The Ray loved her shark cake, though some faint hearted souls were scared stiff!  The photos turned out well, thanks to another friend running around with my camera.  And I collapsed in a heap at the end of the day unable to budge for 48 hours!

Team Birthday Party in Action - job well done!