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Amma. Malin Aunty. Mariyam Aunty. When I think of the Indian maid, the image of these three women comes to my mind. Amma was our maid in Lucknow, the city where I started my schooling. I can’t recall her being young ever. The first time I saw here — she had grey hair. Her skin always glowed — ‘I put malai (cream) on my face’ — she would tell us. We left the city when I was in grade one, but I am certain she continued with her beauty ritual. Malin Aunty (malin when translated from Hindi means, gardener’s wife) is the house help at my maternal grandparents’ home in Chandigarh. She’s seen mum as a child. And now when we visit the town, she is happy to play with my niece. She has been with us for generations. Mariyam Aunty is the help at my parents’ home in New Delhi. She’s attended both my sister and my wedding. She’s a lady of few words. She smiles, rarely. On some days, when I am on Skype with my parents — she appears to say a shy, quick hello. She always wants to know if we’re fine, but will never acknowledge it.

editor’s note

For me, The Indian Trumpet’s MAID special edition is about these women.

Rights: All rights reserved. The writing, artwork and photography contained herein may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of The Indian Trumpet. The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of The Indian Trumpet. All efforts have been made while compiling the content of the magazine but we assume no responsibility for the effects arising there from. We take no responsibility of the availability of the products mentioned in the various sections of the magazine. Reprints as a whole or in part can be done only with written permission from The Indian Trumpet quoting “The Indian Trumpet magazine” for texts and pictorial material. Signed articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor. No responsibility can be taken for the loss of unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or artwork. Contacts: Purva Grover, founder & editor theindiantrumpet.com All queries to be addressed to theindiantrumpet@gmail.com The Indian Trumpet Magazine is released four times a year. It is available to the readers absolutely free of cost on the portal theindiantrumpet.com.

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Our lives revolve around the maids — irrespective of what we call them — Didi, Aunty, Kaka, Bhaiya, Uncle, Nanny, Bai, House Help or Mai. At gatherings, the topic of a maid is a perfect conversation starter — there’s always someone, who is cribbing about her maid going away for a month to her village, there’s always someone fed up with hers, there’s always someone praising hers too. We know that mum is in a bad mood because the maid decided to take a day off, without notice! Our kitchens are cleaner because of them. They iron our clothes, dust off furniture, and water our plants. Maids are the gossip queens of the neighbourhood – they can’t keep a secret. On festivals, we get them a gift, a box of sweets, et al, hoping they wll like it. We offer them leftovers, at times, and they don’t complain. They look after our children as their own. They’re happy to take care of Sahib when Memsahib is travelling. The new-age maids call us Ma’am. We reach our office on time because of them. We trust them with our home keys too. Often, they guilttrap us and we raise their salaries, for the fear of losing them. They work as hard as we do, to keep our homes in shape. At times, they wear our perfume when we’re not around! We laugh it off. We encounter some disloyal maids too. Also, we’re quick to blame them for any theft in the house — just because they’re ‘poor’. This unique employer-employee relationship is high on melodrama. It’s one that revolves around salaries and sighs, uninformed off days and gossip sessions, tantrums and years of loyalty. They’re our lifelines. So, here’s us dedicating 100-pages of this edition to the Indian Maid, male and female — cooks, drivers, cleaners, gardeners, babysitters... — who, make our lives simpler. Thank You, The Indian Maid, for ensuring our lives run smoothly. Until, we meet next, happy tooting.

Purva founder & editor editor@theindiantrumpet.com


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the maids, our lifelines


Dear Editor, Recently, I came across a Facebook post from The Indian Trumpet - and it is such an amazing mag! Its like my Dubai childhood (almost) in print! Finally, I find something in mainstream media that I can actually relate to. The graphic design looks so fresh - very aesthetic! Raqshanda Khan, Canada .............................................................. In love with the team’s work!! Like seriously! The articles are so good. I love the magazine on the whole. The way it’s designed and all. Like it’s so pleasinggggg to the eyes. Jasleen Chadha, Dubai ............................................................... When I first head of the theme for your edition, I wasn’t pleased with it. It offended me! But, the way your team handled the edition was such a pleasant surprise. It wa sensitive, funny, sensible and so REAL. I take a lot of pride in being MIDDLE CLASS and wouldn’t have it any other way. And of course, I loved Mr. AMIT TANDON as the special editor. He is humble and funny. I enjoyed reading his letter for readers too. I look forward to many great editions and ideas. I love the work you guys are doing. Very fresh and quirky.

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This is your space. We’d love to know what you have to say about the magazine. Drop us a line at: theindiantrumpet@gmail.com

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MAIDS, HELP, BAI, KAAMWALI BAI, AUNTY, DIDI or NANNY. In each home, she’s called by a different name. The male help is often called a BHAIYA or a KAKA. They work as hard to keep your home together, clean, and lovely as you do. Sometimes, they ask for a raise, come late for work or take off days without informing in advance. They can even offend with your snide remarks, just like they can melt your hearts by going that extra mile. You can’t imagine running a home without them. They’re the ‘conversation starters’ in gatherings, big or small. Love them, hate them, but you can’t ignore them. Let’s celebrate them, shall we?


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AN E-MAGAZINE THAT CAPTURES THE COLOUR, CULTURE AND CHAOS OF INDIA THAT NRIs CRAVE AND MISS, ONCE EVERY TWO MONTHS

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RUNNING AROUND TREES A tale of Indian cinema

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‘IT’S NOT MY JOB!’ Says the maid as you watch helplessly.

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WHY DO I ADMIRE DEVAMMA, MY 65-YEAR-OLD MAID... She looks after not just her family, but also ours. Her life has its own share of struggle, but she continues to work hard in the hope of better days.

THE KAAMWAALI BAI & THE PANKHA! The maid switches off the fan to sweep the floor and doesn’t switch it back on! Basically, the story of every Indian home.

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BAI-GOD IT’S TRUE! It’s the bai that makes a home & a family complete.

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AAP HI BOLO, HAI KI NAHIN? Yes, she can constantly show you that mirror you don’t want to look into. At exactly the times you want to hide, she will dare you to come out in the open! dairy of an indian

WHY WAS SHE WAS NOT ‘SUPPOSED’ TO ENTER THE KITCHEN? A tale from an era gone by. Or ist?

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WE’D NEVER ADMIT IT TO THE MEN, BUT THE BAIS OF THE WORLD ARE OUR ULTIMATE SECRET WEAPON Not only do we rely on them, we share a relationship of mutual admiration and support. They get it. They really do. It is true what they say that behind every successful man there is a woman. But, what they don’t tell you is behind successful woman there is a supremely efficient bai.


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MY BAI WAS ACCUSED OF STEALING BECAUSE OF A PRANK I PLAYED AS A TEENAGER… Yet, she never stopped loving me. WHY DO I ATTEND INDIAN WEDDINGS? An Indian confesses that the foremost reason why she never misses an opportunity to attend a wedding is because of the food on offer!

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MY BAI MADE ME FEEL AT HOME A young bachelor, says he couldn’t have survived as a newbie in Pune were it not for his bai.

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THE KAAMWALI BAI Lifeline of indian homes. Love them, hate them, but you can’t ignore them! They keep our lives in order. We can’t survive without them and we aren’t ashamed to admit! so!

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THE INDIAN SOCIAL GATHERING A piece of poetry

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TREES RUNNING AROUND

A TALE OF INDIAN CINEMA A HILARIOUS TAKE ON THE ROLE TREES PLAY IN BOLLYWOOD

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words ANEELA BABAR


Trees, naturally, have integral roles in Hindi cinema: notably the Family Tree. When it’s said that Hindi cinema is all about ‘Running Around Trees’, what’s actually being referred to are producers, directors and financiers all circling the scene: consider them the Phylogenetic Trees of the film world. Among them, foremost is the ‘Kapoor’, their common ancestor, of course, that stalwart of Indian cinema Prithvi Raj Kapoor. Good news! This particular strain has a brand new Jain-Kapoor sapling on offer now a days. There’s also the Kapoor (Surinder) offshoot which had been on the wane for a while (other than the evergreen Anil Kapoor); it has, however seen renewed interest in recent times. Everything became a bed of roses when young Arjun Kapoor turned over a new leaf and started taking an interest in the gym. Then there are the Bachchans and the Deols. Shree Amitabh Bachchan is, after all, the paterfamilias, the ‘Baghban’ of Hindi cinema’s crazy jungle. And the Barjatyas, the Chopras, the Johars and Bhatts can’t be forgotten either. The Khans are the oaks: they’ll live on forever. Being so central to the plot, trees should to be up there in lights, and listed in credits. Did you know that trees were the easiest disguise for unwieldy microphones and groups of musicians in the days of yore? I’m sure the thickets were fairly heaving with script-holders, ready to prompt errant artists who forgot their lines. Film makers must have been delighted that recording studios kicked in just as India’s forest cover started declining.

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Some trees are more special than others. With Indra Kumar films, one particular tree deserves its own make-up van, given its repeated presence in his films. Would you believe that the film maker considered a banyan (fig) tree in Ooty, as his ‘good luck charm’? Well his films did have a pretty good run, so all hail the tree. Go back to your DVD library, and down memory lane. Do you remember the tree’s Special Appearance now? Mujhe neend na aaye... with Aamir Khan and Madhuri Dixit in ‘Dil’? Koyal si teri boli… with Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit in ‘Beta’? Kisi din banugi mein raja ki rani... from the film ‘Raja’ with Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Kapoor. Yup, the publicity material for Indra Kumar films should just have read: Madhuri Dixit and One Ooty Tree. The rest of the cast seems redundant at this stage. That tree appeared in ‘Ishq’ as well, but just like its mentor Indra Kumar, started losing favour after the ‘Mann’ debacle. Trees also stood in as the standard issue Emraan Hashmi, for life before lip locks on screen. Where there was a tree, you knew someone was going to pucker up really soon. Hero and heroine gambol in the woods, heroine skips to the nearest tree, hero in hot pursuit, heroine giggles, and the two of them hide behind the tree, leaving the camera lingering on the tree, and the proceedings to your imagination. While the two actors caught up on each other’s families “Aur Bhai Sahib! Kaise Hai Sab? Bhabhi Ka Phone Aaya?” “Ji ji, bas kal hi Nainital ke liye tickets book kiye hai”, the audience giggled and nudged. Or swooned and sighed. Don’t forget, there are some romantics left among us.

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Let a tree branch ensnare your girlfriend’s pallu, oh, so much sharam is coming, but hey, you can be the hero!


Trees are also an excellent aid for the more reticent lover on screen. Too shy to take the next step? Let a tree branch ensnare your girlfriend’s pallu (long trailing part of a saree), oh, so much sharam (shame) is coming, but hey, you can be the hero! If lightning, rain and thunder was combined with a shot of a tree in the same space, it pretty much meant that the female protagonist was ovulating, the guy had a good report about his swimmers at the last med test, and the two would soon be shopping for a crib. Trouble conceiving? Contact your nearest green cover and take a look at the weather forecast for the next fortnight. It helps if the spirit of Rajesh Khanna is in the vicinity, too. Forget “Kitne Aadmi The?”, the question is ‘how many trees?’ If one, it’ll translate as a prop for Hero’s musical talent or Heroine’s passion for flying through the air. So you want to play the flute? You’ll need a tree to buttress your back Mr. H, playing a flute is tough on the spine. Lean back on the tree, yes, raise one foot and let the trunk support it, oh good! Harmonica or flute to the lips, purse them. And yay! The maestro is in concert. And women? The women can string their swings to the lone tree, believing that love and high winds can give them wings. However, if it’s more than one tree, please refer to previous paragraphs about carnal knowledge.

Pine tree and there is a water body nearby? Duck down, for a trigger happy somebody will be firing shots in the air: call in the cavalry! Lightning may not strike (on the same spot) twice, but a pair of snakes will always await under a tree to bite that succulent ankle. They also find it a convenient spot to reincarnate in their next avatar, or as we call it in simple English, Sri Devi. Trees are also an interesting ghost magnet, but you don’t need to watch films to learn that. A weekend at grandma’s would be enough to teach you this life skill. A dying tree on screen meant the guy was about to get a pink slip. Or he’d draw the ‘Go To Jail. Go Directly to Jail. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect 200 Aashirwaads (blessings)’ card. Life is tough. Sigh. Trees are the last resting place for the Man Dying of a Bullet. His friends are considerate enough not to call in the paramedics or rush him to Emergency, but park him under a tree, and wait for the last bugle to play. If he is Muslim they wait for the azaan (prayer): in 90% of cases it’s Ramadan and he’s fasting. Jai Hind! So please don’t miss the forest (of deeper meaning) for the (running around them) trees. Touch wood! sorry, Bollywood, these trees will continue to play stellar roles for years to come.

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‘It’s not my ’

JOB!

says the maid, as you watch helplessly words INDIRA ANAND

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A swanky, stylish office sparkling of glass walls everywhere you look. A number of people walking around, looking busy and important. The click of heels, the ringing of several telephones in the background, the staccato rhythm of keyboards being used with ruthless efficiency – all the makings of a busy corporate world. In the midst of this environment an argument begins between a man and a woman. The woman with an hourglass figure and long hair that shimmers and shines from salon treatment glares at the man with the indignation of someone who feels downright insulted. With one toss of her hair she looks at him with looks that could kill and firmly says, “That’s not my job.” She’s delivered the line loud enough to cause a few seconds of pause in the keyboard rhythms. Just another scene in a Hollywood TV serial, just another day in a make-believe corporate world. The ground reality is not too different however. Take the swanky, glassy office away and replace with your house. Take the man away and replace with yourself. And replace the chic woman with your well-dressed, colourful bai who’s been just told to do one more bit of work than she usually does. And you get the rest of the picture. Up come the eyebrows, eyes go red with insult and out come the words, “Yeh mera kaam nahi hai!” Just like in the corporate world, the world of the maid has a hierarchy, a job description, roles and responsibilities. And just like in the corporate world, maids have an unspoken agreement not

to overlap into each other’s areas. With the evolution of maids to clean, cook, dust furniture, massage, etc. – each domain is protected by this unwritten, unspoken code. You don’t agree to do my work, I won’t agree to do yours and we’ll all get along just fine. Try asking the maid who cleans your vessels and sweeps and mops the floor to clean the bathroom one day and she will flat refuse without guilt or remorse. Try getting the cook to do a bit of dusting and you won’t get anywhere in your attempts. The masseuse is a very special and quite respected sub-section of the maids society who makes an appearance usually post pregnancy. She helps to restore the mother’s strength while strengthening the bones of the new born through a series of oil massage moves. This is one maid who is so revered it borders on superstition. You wouldn’t even think of asking her to do some other work! At first when I noticed this division of labour which is quite impenetrable, I thought it was a caste-ist thing, and would even be disgusted by the lack of what I saw as basic teamwork and cooperation. After all with borders blurring in the corporate world and everyone expected to do everything, one cannot really be this rigid in any field. But when I think deeper about this phenomenon, it strikes me that the answer could be much less convoluted. It could be as simple as protecting each others’ livelihood by refusing to do someone else’s work. And this, I can live with!

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Indira is settled in Dubai for the last 19 years along with her husband. She works in IT Operations. Her hobbies include cooking, reading, travelling the world, and other creative pursuits. A kidney transplant in 2010 changed a lot for Indira including her outlook to life and learning to live fully and in the moment. In her non-existent spare time, she dabbles in writing. She writes stories inspired by real life events for SiyaWoman. On her blog mykidneybeans.com, Indira writes fiction and about strong women who have made it through everything. She has also published an e-book on Amazon.


Why do I admire Devamma, my 65-year-old maid... SHE LOOKS AFTER NOT JUST HER FAMILY, BUT ALSO OURS.HER LIFE HAS ITS OWN SHARE OF STRUGGLE, BUT SHE CONTINUES TO WORK HARD IN THE HOPE OF BETTER DAYS.

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words HITA SONY GARAPATI

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Age is a not a barrier for Devamma, my 65-year-old maid, with a slight hunch, wrinkled face, sunken eyes that carry a charm, and face that reads content. She lives along with her husband in a small hut, under a Neem tree. She made this hut by herself, and it is adjacent to my apartment. The hut has space for the most important items only, which is also a reflection of her simple, basic living. She has been working for us for the last five years — since we moved to west Hyderabad for my higher education. She has always been loyal and trustworthy. Interestingly, despite her age, she thinks she is no less strong than the youngsters. She never refuses any work and makes me wonder as to what is the source of her energy and strength.

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Over the years, I have got to know her closely. When I leave for my morning walk, I see her blow air into the chulah, making tea and preparing food for the day. By the time I return, she is set to leave for work. In order to meet her daily expenses, she has taken up work in five households, apart from ours. She divides her work in to two shifts – one in the morning and the other in the evening. Being aware of her food to mouth situation, where she can eat only when she works, she is ready to do all kind of work from sweeping, mopping, and washing clothes to cleaning utensils or even making rangoli designs. Just that her designs look like the artwork of a six-year-old! She returns to her hut during afternoon. Often, she sits outside, under the shade of the tree, where

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she watches the drama in other people’s lives unfold. Her good observation skills ensure that she’s aware of the events happening in the neighbourhood. On some occasions, she shares some ‘gossip’ with us too. Her evening shift involves less strenuous work, which she generally

finishes in an hour. On her way back home, she spends time chatting with Devi, a dhobi, who lives in the same neighbourhood as ours. It’s here that she and other maids make note of who is working where, discuss about current fares, and explore other work opportunities. Because she cannot afford


troubles. On many days, I feel sympathetic towards her for having to work at such an old age. Not all households where she works for are considerate, kind homes. I recall how one heavy rainy evening, the sheets that made the

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electricity, she completes cooking her dinner before the sun sets in. She and her husband eat their meal in the dim light from the lantern. From the face of it, her day ends long before we even reach home from our work places. Her life appears to be simple and peaceful, but she fights her own share of


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roof of her hut, became victim to the harsh wind. She spent the night without shelter, yet she showed up for work the next morning. Life has never been easy for her and is still not. She’s married to a man, who is not bothered about her. Devamma was forced to take up responsibilities at a very young age — be it earning daily wages, bringing up kids or managing the household. Her children are now settled but have no place for their old mother. Devamma continues to work, saving up for her future. On one occasion, her daughter-in-law took away her savings too, and never returned. Her husband demands money from her everyday to buy alcohol — any attempt to stop him only results in a fight between them and he ends up beating her. I admire Devamma for all that she is. She’s never given up and is optimistic to see better days in her life. She is patient and kind. She looks after not just her family, but ours too. She is a woman of steel, a woman worth admiring.

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A research student at the University of Hyderabad, Hita Sony Garapati is working on the origin and evolution of complex life forms. She is quite regular in maintaining her personal diary, which acts as a creative outlet for her emotions and helps her organise her thoughts better. She likes to read biographies of great people to know more about their lives and success stories. This keeps her motivated and inspired. She wants to explore the various career options available in her line of study rather than stick to one her entire life. She says — You never know what you enjoy, unless and until you try it out.


the kaamwaali bai

& the pankha! THE MAID SWITCHES OFF THE FAN TO SWEEP THE FLOOR AND DOESN’T SWITCH IT BACK ON! BASICALLY, THE STORY OF EVERY INDIAN HOME.

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words VIREN PAREKH

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Image courtesy: Garbage Bin Studios (facebook.com/garbagebin)

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THE SECONDS CRAWLED ON AS THE MAID SWEPT THE FLO HAD HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON ON THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE & CLEANED THE FLOOR, LIFTED EACH OBJECT, CLEANED UND

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OOR, DUSTED THE ROOM. IT WAS ALMOST AS IF SOMEONE EVERYTHING LAY SUSPENDED AS SHE PAINSTAKINGLY DER IT & DUSTED THE FURNITURE. The blissful, lazy Sunday sleep had just been disturbed. I was feeling distinctly warm. The room was quiet and I instantly knew that the fan had been switched off. The soft, comforting whirring of the fan had stopped and with my eyes still closed, the hearing sense took over. Diagonally across my bed to the left, I could hear the slow jingling of the maid’s bangles as she swept the floor. A decision had to be made: should I just keep my eyes closed and fall asleep again? Or should I open my eyes and investigate? Sensing that she just switched off the fan to sweep the floor, I decided to keep my eyes closed and wait it out; there still was a chance of falling asleep again. The seconds crawled on as the maid swept the floor and dusted the room. It was almost as if someone had hit the pause button on the entire universe and everything lay suspended as she painstakingly cleaned the floor, lifted each object, cleaned under it and dusted each piece of furniture. I could hear the bed creaking with my impatient shifting. I could hear the window being opened and I could hear the breeze outside, rustling some dry leaves somewhere. I still kept my eyes closed, waiting for this unexpected and untimely ordeal to get over. But it seemed to be taking forever...

To get some respite, I quickly raised my head a little and flipped the pillow and the coolness of the other side of the pillow was amazing! This too didn’t last long and I was getting increasingly irritable. With my eyes still closed, the sense of smell too, had become acute. I could smell the soft fragrance of her gajra (flower garland worn in the hair) as she moved about in the room. In the kitchen, I could smell the ginger, which was being pounded for the early morning tea. And then suddenly, there was nothing. I couldn’t hear her bangles, the flower fragrance was gone. Despair took over and I opened my eyes to see the fan, completely still, and the maid, disappeared. “Ushaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” I bellowed. My voice still had the early-morninggrudgingly-woke-up grimace to it and within moments I saw Usha stepping into the room meekly. She had a very disarming smile as she looked at me, gauged my expression, looked at the fan and turned on the fan and I couldn’t help but break into an irritated, almost frustrated laugh. There she was, my Sunday sleep adversary! I had now lost count of the number of times, this exact thing had happened. How she came into the room, turned off the fan and left me in the suffocating, irritating clutches of the quiet, tepid room! And how each time we both grinned about it, she cheekily and I, completely upset!

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Viren Parekh, an internal auditor by profession, moved to Dubai in 2014. An avid cricket fan, on ‘match’ days you’d find him enjoying a drink and watching the game. On other days, he loves to read & write and play the guitar. This traveller nurtures a dream: To set foot on each continent in this lifetime. You can write to him at viren.parekh@gmail.com.


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BAI-GOD IT’S TRUE! IT’S THE BAI THAT MAKES A HOME & A FAMILY COMPLETE words SAHIL BANGA In India, a house is not ‘home’ until there is a bai rustling up her magic broom there. She’s the harbinger of cleanliness, convenience and sanity, a God-sent figure who fights the rogues called dirt, teaches messiness a lesson and brings order in disorder. Of different skills and capabilities, bais have been the backbone of households of any size - nuclear or joint. Once upon a time they used to be a luxury that only the privileged class could afford – a matter of pride and display of status, but today they are a necessity, found in every house that needs cleanliness. Mornings are not complete until the bai rings the doorbell, heralding one of the many noises aimed to wake you up from slumber that even the snooze can’t. Noises that you adapt to as if they are ambient noise, something in the background that doesn’t irk you anymore. The rough ruffling of the sheet as she makes the bed, sashay of the keys as she moves around, screeching of the stainless steel ‘balti’ as she mops the floor, clinking of the utensils as she cleans them, thumping of the clothes as she washes them, sizzling of the ‘tawa’ as she cooks ghee-laden paranthas. She is one woman bringing order in your house, giving you ‘gyaan’ on how to manage things better and making a living out of it. The world comes to a standstill when she takes a leave. House has a peculiar capability of disintegrating by itself if not tended to. Clothes will find a space on floor to rest, dirt will give love handles to the furniture, utensils will party in the basin with roaches joining in, toilet pot will have hickeys so deep that you’d prefer to visit a mall instead, the shirt you want to wear specifically will choose a forsaken space to hide, and the miseries will amplify. That’s then you realise, the bai runs the house, you just live there.

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So intrinsic is the Bai to us that we even tend to treat them as family members. But exactly who? Well, read on the many manifestations of a Bai.


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BAI AS YOUR CHILD

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Indians parents are extremely proud and boastful about their kids, no matter their ‘true’ worth. Bais fall into the same category of pride (without any prejudice). It’s the common discussion among neighbours about how good their maid is, that she can cook up a storm in the kitchen, that she is trustworthy enough to be left alone in house with money kept here & there, that she is so loyal that she turns up even on Diwali and other festivals, that she is so sweet that she never asks for a raise, and other things that make up for a ego boost. Only the children of these neighbours have the privilege of being showered with so many compliments.


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BAI AS A GOOGLE Google today knows everything about us. And it also shows up results customised for us. That is business intelligence, which is what even our Bais possess. If your child flunks in a particular subject, the next day you would receive a call from the neighbouring Mrs. Gupta that she tutor. If you’re not feeling well, you’d receive a lunch thali from the neighbour you had never spoken to. If you are struggling to make friends, a kitty group of the neighbourhood will somehow contact you to be added in. If there is a problem passing stool, a ‘gupt rog’ pamphlet will sneak under your entrance door. Thanks to the Bais who don’t just spread news for your voyeuristic pleasures, but bring solutions to home. It’s their emotive, concerned news that does the trick. Who needs Google when we have Bais?

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BAI AS A PARTNER Don’t get me wrong. But we can’t ‘Shiney’ away from the fact that we need the Bai as much as we need a life partner. Yes, there would be nagging, undue comments, disagreements managing the house, but trust me, you can’t live without them. Bai as a partner understands your needs, moods and habits. She moulds herself to your likings. And you too adapt to her basic orders. It’s the simplest way to co-exist in harmony and love. theindiantrumpet.com

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BAI AS A BADASS FRIEND Want to skip the bircher muesli for a wholesome parantha? The bai wouldn’t allow. Deal with it. You only asked her to keep a tab on your urges. Feeling lonely? The Bai will set you up with a neighbour like an ideal wing-woman. Want to call your ex? The Bai will snatch your phone. Want to know the recipe of that heavenly potato-peas subzi Mrs. Ahluwalia cooks? Bai will scout it for you somehow. Want to deflate the tyre of that troublesome neighbour who always blocks your car? Considered it done when the Bai is around. Want to trick the ‘easy monthly installment’ guy who shows up on the promised day? Trust only the bai to shoo him away. She is your badass friend, the one who has a nasty side too. She can use choicest of expletives on your ex, haggle for discount with the vendors, not let the strangers in, take the case of ‘kudeywala’ if he misses a day. But she can scold you as well, like a badass mama! theindiantrumpet.com

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BAI AS A HUMAN Whatever said and done for her robotic tendencies to bring order to the house, bai is a human at the end of the day. She understands you. She can read your mind. But, she has a home too. She has her own share of struggles. Yet she wouldn’t bring that to job. All she brings is a smiling face and a happy vibe. To make your day. Bring comfort to you. So that you don’t have to even lift a finger while all odd jobs get done. She makes your house a home. Worth living. Worth sharing. The least you can do is share an Instagram story of her!

Working as an account director in an advertising firm, Sahil Banga has been writing ever since his college days, starting with poems, moving on to short stories, ultimately becoming a copywriter. When not writing, he is seen on streets with a camera pursuing photography. Or cooking at home on weekends to satiate his tastebuds. As a food-lover, he’s seen mostly at restaurants, reading the menu as if it were a novel. You can read about his travels, food sojourns, photography, verses and proses on sahilosophy.com

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why was she was not ‘supposed’ to enter the kitchen? words PROMOD PURI

I don’t know if she belongs to the class of housemaid, aka “bai”. If so, then her status could be upgraded in India’s class and caste society.

By nature, she usually was a quiet person with innocent lively expressions. But there occasionally were some disquiet and afflicted rebellious moods as well.

She had a regular assignment at our home around 11 every morning and finishing her limited but reserved task in 15 to 20 minutes. It was the most needed part of daily cleaning.

She was from the class of people from the lowest ring of the Indian caste system who converted themselves as Christians from the Hindu faith. Their “Basti” or settlement constituted a segregated community which was a few miles away from our neighbourhood.

She was a Christian Punjabi-speaking girl in her teen years. Most kids in her age group were in schools at that time studying and playing. But here she was punctual in her daily routine, seven days a week. Besides our house, she was duty-bound attending few other households in the neighbourhood.

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I remember when coming to our place she was often provided “breakfast”, which most of the times was some leftover food. She had a designated cup and a plate set aside for her exclusive use. Her monthly income if I remember correctly, was about 50 rupees back in early ‘60s. And she often asked for raise. Her requests were quite legitimate when comparing the nature of her work with maids doing household chores including washing dirty dishes. As her work was considered “contaminated” she was not supposed to enter kitchen or other rooms as a maid helper.

The place was called Bhangi Colony. And she belonged to the Bhangi caste. Her professional title was “Bhangan” doing the dirty occupation of “manual scavenging”. According to the Wikipedia “manual scavenging is a caste-based occupation involving the removal of human excreta from bucket toilets or pit latrines.” A few years back the profession by law was declared illegal. However, the rebellion she felt in her teen years is still there among the people of her clan or community against the dehumanising practices rooted in the social customs of India. I don’t know if our “Bhangan” is still around. But the profession she was involved continues. And her upgrading for equality is still pending in India’s degrading social behaviour which often defies the laws.

Promod Puri is a Canada-based writer and author of “Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions”. You can follow his writings on the portal, promodpuri.com. He was also the guest editor for one of the previous editions of The Indian Trumpet. (The above article carries some fiction also)

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MY BAI

was accused of stealing because of a prank I played as a teenager… YET, SHE NEVER STOPPED LOVING ME.

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words SAHIL BANGA

She sat hunched on her knees, eyes bereft of remorse yet welled up, occasional hiccups bringing a kind of comic relief in that tense moment. She was accused of theft, a grave offense given that maids are supposed to be loyal to the core. It’s their primal role, to be faithful to the masters; rest is all hardwork and noplay. All eyes were on her, waiting for her to admit. But she was resolute. Not a word escaped her mouth. I was reading faces of all people gathered, here in our verandah. The office guys from the next building had come to our verendah when a watch salesman screamed aloud a hefty discount on branded watches. Those were the days when door-

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to-door marketing was picking up, and salesmen would just show up in a sweaty shirt and a winning smile. I was among the curious ones who felt each watch, checked the faux leather as if it were real, twisted the three dials to check if the chronograph actually worked, and haggled the price of each one, as if I’d have bought a few. The fact was, I wouldn’t have bought even one, since they were the ‘nakli’ variety. Popularly known as first copy, second copy, etc. These watches were for people who wore HMT yet dreamt of owning a ‘scratch-less’ Rado, forgetting a Titan here and Swatch there. Kamla Bai was the only one from the lower strata, hence


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it was believed that it could only be her stealing a watch. The salesman was furious because he couldn’t handle a crowd of ten people together checking out watches and one among them succeeding to miss his eyes. He couldn’t conjure enough guts to check each person’s pockets, the easiest way to get attention was to blame Kamla Bai. There was a three-seater sofa I sat on alone while all others were standing, a scene that was sort of funny because a teenager was hearing out men in their 20s & 30s like a ‘Mukhiyah’. Hearing the noises, my mom came out to inspect what was going on in our house. Looking at her, Kamla Bai started crying aloud, saying she didn’t steal anything and these guys are accusing her. Because mom trusted her, she believed her immediately. Then she played the godmother by giving accounts of how much cash lies in our household, yet never a penny had gone missing. How Kamla Bai is a woman of utmost integrity, and how much struggle she has gone through in life. Then her stories started getting emotional, to the extent it lost context. The salesman must have got bored of the stories, so he cut short my mom by saying, “Okay, what is lost is lost. Tell me who all wants to buy the watch now, everybody was interested here.” To his dismay, none of the men came forward. The look on the salesman was one of wonderment. How come ten guys checking out watches thoroughly aren’t interested anymore? The salesman again said, “I’ll give you good discounts, at least buy something”. The men started giving lame excuses: “I already own a few”, “I didn’t like the leather”, “I didn’t like the straps”, “I wish the chronograph worked”, “I can get better variety in Nehru Place or Karol Bagh” etc. I expected the salesman to be sad… perhaps ‘very’ sad. No sale and a stolen watch was not what he would have expected. But what he did next was surprising to even Kamla Bai. With real tears, the salesman started crying like a baby. The men tried consoling him that all is not over, that the next lane had many more offices and he should try there. But the salesman wouldn’t stop crying. Then something happened that even I hadn’t expected. My mom started getting aggressive and asked everyone who stole the watch. In a fit of rage, she started ransacking the sofa as if the watch was

somewhere there. Lo & behold, as she flung the cushion, a watch fell to the floor, in all its packaged glory. And there was only one person who sat on the sofa. Yours truly! Nobody uttered a word. The salesman picked the watch and quietly left. The men from the office had a smirk on their face. More than the astonishment, it was the relief, because few minutes back, everyone was under the scanner. And now it seems that a boy from a seemingly good house had committed such a dastardly act. It was the scoop the whole neighbourhood needed for a good laugh. Kamla Bai tried to salvage the situation by covering up on my behalf, saying “The watch must have slipped out of baba’s hands and made its way through the recesses in the cushions to reach inside the sofa”. Who would have believed her, even she couldn’t believe what she said. Mom went inside, yelling at me frustrated. Kamla Bai followed. I was frozen. Disturbed at the thought that I would be the butt of jokes. 90s wasn’t the age of trollers. It was the time of face-to-face insult! When people would come home and rip you apart. When neighbours knew every minute details of each house, even how many whistles the pressure cooker has had. My shameful behaviour was already echoing in my mind, and my worry was how much mirch masala it would go through before it went ‘viral’. How each person would recite that story, dramatising the situation. And to this day, nobody knew my story! That I hid that watch under the cushion to get a kick. Teenagers are always up with a trick, and here was an epic one by me. I was happy that I would take the case of this salesman, then return the watch when he’d start crying, and recite the story to friends later. But as soon as things got serious and accusatory, I got nervous. I feared that now if I returned the watch, they’d think I’m a thief. I wasn’t happy with Kamla Bai being accused either, but at least I wasn’t getting caught. So I let it be. That was selfish of me. And generous of Kamla Bai still loving me after so many years. Because bais have a heart of gold.

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Working as an account director in an advertising firm, Sahil Banga has been writing ever since his college days, starting with poems, moving on to short stories, ultimately becoming a copywriter. When not writing, he is seen on streets with a camera pursuing photography. Or cooking at home on weekends to satiate his tastebuds. As a food-lover, he’s seen mostly at restaurants, reading the menu as if it were a novel. You can read about his travels, food sojourns, photography, verses and proses on sahilosophy.com.


Image courtesy: Sd280391 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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We’d never admit it to the men, but the ba of the world are our ultimate secret weap

NOT ONLY DO WE RELY ON THEM, WE SHARE A RELATIONSHIP OF MUTUAL ADMIRATION AND SUPPORT. THEY GET IT. THEY REALLY DO. IT IS TRUE WHAT THEY SAY THAT BEHIND EVERY SUCCESSFUL MAN THERE IS A WOMAN. BUT, WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU IS BEHIND SUCCESSFUL WOMAN THERE IS A SUPREMELY EFFICIENT BAI. words INDIRA ANAND

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1970s

In a classic ironic twist, the term that was used to address a woman with respect (heard of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi?) now became a term used to address a maidservant A bustling Mumbai with immigrants pouring in from all states, eager to make a living, maybe more. Dreams, hopes, ambitions soar high. While husbands busy themselves with work and prospective business opportunities, wives busy themselves with housework, bringing up the children. It was very rare those days to see a working mother. But as the family grew, the wives needed support to manage the house, the kids, and every minute detail that goes into running a household. Enter The Bai. In a classic ironic twist, the term that was used to address a woman with respect (heard of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi?) now became a term used to address a maidservant. Who knows? It might have been a way to accord this most supportive class of women the respect they deserved and probably otherwise wouldn’t have received.

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1980s The bai became the working couple’s fairy godmother

Armies of Bais had taken over Mumbai by now. Rising inflation and nuclear families without the economies of scale made the bai one of the most essential components required to run a household. While women began to step out of the domain of the house and tested the waters with professions like teaching, nursing, accounting, administration and so on – the bai became their fairy godmother. The one who would keep the gears of the house running like a well-oiled machine while the women helped the man of the house to make ends meet.

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1990s

The bai diversified into cooks, house cleaners, bathroom and toilet cleaners, post-pregnancy helpers - and learnt how to juggle demands of multiple households The Internet made an appearance in India. The world including India exploded. Unprecedented growth, unchecked transformations, unimaginable opportunities. Women were liberated beyond anything the world had seen. And the bai diversified too, into cooks, house cleaners, bathroom and toilet cleaners, post-pregnancy helpers. Slowly but surely, the full time maid firmly planted a flag on the fertile soil of opportunities. The level of service and efficiency demonstrated by the bai in juggling multiple households, scheduling each household, memorising the specific requirements of each Memsahib, can be the subject of a management review by Harvard one day, if it hasn’t already been done. theindiantrumpet.com

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2000s Enter the

There have been times I have been visiting home and practically drooling at someone’s bai’s efficiency, asking if I could take her with me Most women now have resiliency even in their support system. The one thing women outside the country like myself often envy our Indian counterparts on, is not the fact that they’re close to home, or get to eat Indian goodies whenever they feel like, or enjoy cheaper products or fresher vegetables. No, our main source of envy these days is how the women back home surround themselves with no less than three to four bais in order to ensure there is zero downtime on the help they need to manage their busy lifestyle. And they schedule them with in a Machiavellian level of political manoeuvring such that no two bais can ever get into a conflict situation and bring resiliency plans to a standstill. There have been times I have been visiting home and practically drooling at someone’s bai’s efficiency, asking if I could take her with me. Of course this is met with laughter from both them and the bai, leaving me no choice but to treat the whole episode as a big joke, when I was being dead serious.

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Indira is settled in Dubai for the last 19 years along with her husband. She works in IT Operations. Her hobbies include cooking, reading, travelling the world, and other creative pursuits. A kidney transplant in 2010 changed a lot for Indira including her outlook to life and learning to live fully and in the moment. In her non-existent spare time, she dabbles in writing. She writes stories inspired by real life events for SiyaWoman. On her blog mykidneybeans.com, Indira writes fiction and about strong women who have made it through everything. She has also published an e-book on Amazon.


Why do I attend Indian weddings? diary of an indian

AN INDIAN CONFESSES THAT THE FOREMOST REASON WHY SHE NEVER MISSES AN OPPORTUNITY TO ATTEND A WEDDING IS BECAUSE OF THE FOOD ON OFFER!

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words ARSHPREET KAUR


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Indian weddings are synonymous to the big fat affairs especially if you belong to somewhere in the north of India, not to mention, the state of Punjab where the weddings are grand affairs demanding more attention than a lot of festivals. India and its customs never fail to surprise anyone. With every 100 kilometers, one can notice a change in dialects, which usually don’t claim a lot of attention but also don’t go unnoticed to the people with a keen eye and keener ears. The same goes for lifestyles, traditions, festivals, and folklore. With every 100 kilometers, a difference in the style of celebrating a festival can be observed, a different tradition kicks in with next 100 and a different lifestyle follows in the next 100. The weddings in different parts of India are observed in different ways varying with not just the location but also the communities, religions, castes and historical backgrounds — but the reasons as to why, when and how people attend Indian weddings majorly remain universal. I remember when I was a kid, the sole reason as to why I liked attending weddings was because the weddings were a rare opportunity to catch up with distant cousins with whom I shared mutual interests but who otherwise lived so far south that it was almost

impossible for a ‘middle-classme’ to geographically spend my vacations with them. However, I did spend my vacations thinking about their vacation spots. Practically, the only way to stay connected with them in those days was to write letters and while I did write them four-page long letters every now and then, I rarely ever received replies longer than two short paragraphs. Whoever once said that our priorities change with time must have been a very wise man (or woman, no offenses) because I clearly remember that by the time I attended my fourth cousin’s wedding, the only thing I cared about was the food. Unanswered letters from my favourite relatives had put me off and the only motivation for me to travel 300 kilometers for the uninteresting wedding of a bimbo for a cousin with a rich NRI was the possibility of treating my taste buds with a variety of delicacies for three full days. Trust me, if the food at a wedding is good, everything else has a chance to go unnoticed even the bride and the groom. It’s equally applicable vice-versa. Food remained the sole motivation for me to attend weddings for a large part of my life. Even now, when I am at a wedding, there is a great chance that I am there just for the sake of food. After all, what kind of Manchurian can

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I have been particularly lucky in the case that my brother has constantly been in habit of tipping waiters at the weddings ever since he was a young fellow. However, the size of the tips grew with his age, profession, and class but I never thought of switching my table or company at the weddings. I have always chosen to stick by him because that choice has always ensured me quick service of best of the cuisines available at the

wedding. I remember a particular wedding where the waiter promised my brother a couple of extra cuisines of his choice which was not available for any other guest for an extra charge. That night, the two of us with a couple of more friends and cousins had sat in the car parking of the hotel, swallowing chicken tikkas and kebabs! While my reasons to attend weddings have

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ever replace the taste of the ones you get at the weddings? How can anyone resist the never-ending supply of Paneer Tikka and Tandoori Chicken? The seemingly perennial fountains of endless varieties of cuisines particularly of the food items that your mothers tell you against can turn any food-addict on. In fact, simply the idea of great food especially if it’s apparently for free can lead you to foodgasm.


remained constant for a long time now, not much has changed for my parents. They still care about the price of the plate at the hotel and how much shagun they received on their own kids’ weddings before they load their bags of shagun to be handed over to the bride or groom’s parents. In fact, they even care about getting their pictures clicked at the wedding with the wedding couple to ensure that nobody, later on, accuses them of not giving the shagun. Sometimes, I wonder would their lives have been much easier if they too cared just about the food?

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Now, I might seem like a ‘bhukhad’ at an Indian wedding but there are a few other things that too tempt me to not miss the occasion, however, they don’t stand a chance without the food. I love the way everyone is high on emotions at the weddings, the smell of mehendi and haldi thick in the air, the traditions, the customs, the colours, the smell of the spices and sweets all across the house, the décor, the flowers, the apprehensions, the lights, the music and the dance and the endless possibilities of a new life. I guess, weddings everywhere are both similar and unique at the same time and no matter why we attend weddings, it’s the people that we are surrounded with that make everything beautiful.

Arshpreet is crazy, passionate, and full of enthusiasm. Currently working as a copywriter in an ad agency, she is also working on her novel. She loves poetry and has a strong fascination for fiction. She has been writing since she was 11 and has known it ever since that she was always meant to be a write

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Aap Hi Bolo, Hai Ki Nahin?

YES, SHE CAN CONSTANTLY SHOW YOU THAT MIRROR YOU DON’T WANT TO LOOK INTO. AT EXACTLY THE TIMES YOU WANT TO HIDE, SHE WILL DARE YOU TO COME OUT IN THE OPEN! words INDIRA ANAND

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I feel the glare of her eyes before I actually see it. If sharp glances could throw laser rays, I would have a hole burnt in my back. I cringe inwardly, reminding myself who is the boss. Since I have my back to her, I practice my memsahib stare down before turning around theatrically. There. That does it. I see your glare and I raise you a stony stare.

appreciated for their worth – another side of them emerges. As the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt. And we human beings, we are nothing if we’re not wrong most of the time. It doesn’t help to have a maid whose conscience radar is so sharp that the slightest deviations in norm are met with raised eyebrows and a barrage of questions.

This isn’t the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last. Ever so often, we both land in a deadlock situation and the power struggle begins. She glares, I stare… and for a few tense minutes, the entire household holds its breath. Who will win this round? Who will emerge victorious?

If you decide to take a day off from cooking and that leaves very little vessels for her to clean, her eyebrows will shoot up and out come the words – Kyon aaj khana nahi banaya? Sahib office mein kya karenge bechare? Kuch to thoda banana chahiye tha na? Aap hi bolo, hai ki nahi?

You see, maids are our secret weapon, our support system, our go-to person to manage a work/life balance and basically keep ourselves sane through it all. But maids can also slip into the role of judge, jury and executioner from time to time. Especially if they’ve been around long enough, enjoy a good working relationship with the family and are

If you decide to go out with the girls and land up leaving the keys with the neighbour so she could enter the house and clean up the home while you enjoyed some quality time with friends, and you waltz back home after an awesome lunch, feeling like you killed two birds with one stone, you would barely get your foot in the door before she goes – Kyon didi,

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kidhar chale gaye the? Main to chinta mein pad gayi ki kya ho gaya. Mereko batane ka na! Aap hi bolo, hai ki nahi? If you shout at the kids for not doing their homework and you storm all around the house afterwards, seething with indignation and frustration, she will be following you with a concerned frown and attempt to calm you down with a reasonable comment – Didi itna gussa mat karo, bachey hai, seekh jayenge, aap kyon khaali peeli tenshun lete ho? Tenshun leke kuch hoga kya Didi? Aap hi bolo, hai ki nahi? Yes, she can constantly show you that mirror you don’t want to look into. At exactly the times you want to hide, she will dare you to come out in the open. Just about when you run out of explanations, she will demand one in her own subtle way. Then there are those times... times when you feel the whole world is against you. Times when your head is not in the right place. Times when you feel lost how to put one foot in front of the other and keep pushing yourself. Times when you just want to give up. Those are the times she will defend you, protect you, support you. It might be in the way she falls silent and gives you the space you need, or the cup of hot ginger tea that she will whip up to lift your spirits. And you realise just what a comrade-in-arms you have in her. Aap hi bolo, hai ki nahi?

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Indira is settled in Dubai for the last 19 years along with her husband. She works in IT Operations. Her hobbies include cooking, reading, travelling the world, and other creative pursuits. A kidney transplant in 2010 changed a lot for Indira including her outlook to life and learning to live fully and in the moment. In her non-existent spare time, she dabbles in writing. She writes stories inspired by real life events for SiyaWoman. On her blog mykidneybeans.com, Indira writes fiction and about strong women who have made it through everything. She has also published an e-book on Amazon.


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As I look back at those halcyon days as a young bachelor, it makes me wonder whether I could ever survive without their super efficiency, versatility or the motherly feeling of a Nirupa Roy or Reema Lagoo doting on me as if I am their only son.

Maa ka khana The first maid! Oh, how I hate calling her Kaamwali Bai (maid) for she became family when as a young student I sashayed into campus life at Fergusson College. The petite maid who wore the sari to the knee length walked inside the apartment to clean the house, washing the dishes and of course, concocting the yum delicacies. She was a maven at it, swirling the Masala and chopped onions to give the Pav Bhaji her own unique sauté style, making it spicier that made me miss Mom a little bit less. There was one peculiar habit about her and no matter how busy she would be in the kitchen, the stove would be abruptly switched off the moment India was

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playing the cricket game. Our bai (maid) plonked herself on the wooden chair and her eyes remain glued to the screen, not without convincing us that we are going to pull off the match at the last minute. In the mood for chicken, you gotta fend for yourself for our maid would never try her hand at anything non-veg. It’s like none is willing to bare open the secret of who killed the chicken!

Of course, like a typical mother, she wore the heart of gold on the sleeve, scolded me every time I took ill and insisted to take money from her to see a doctor and I could always give back when the money order came. It’s another story that she never worked on Sundays. Her dedication is commendable for once when she was ill for a week, her daughter-in-law was brought as a replacement so that we don’t suffer. Compassionate bai There was an air of familiarity and selfless

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From pressing the ear-splitting bell to wake you up from the deep slumber to this ‘irritating feeling’ when snuggled on bed in the December cold as the fan suddenly whirs to life, it’s a matter of pocha and the ceiling fan doing the trick of drying the floor.

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love in this lady whose smile swapping with emotional misery and physical scars faced. The wide smile on her face spurned like magic in our lives and she would never be tired to greet us with this maternal affection kinda question, ‘Khana khaya’ (Had food?) The ‘Bai’ would confidently straddle her way inside the kitchen and shoo me away if I am ever seen taking over her, washing and drying clothes. It was Diwali Day when we gifted her a pair of sari and money as gift that she broke into tears. Our, ‘Bai’ poured her heart out and showered us with blessing. The heart tanked to hear the wrenching story of a drunkard husband or useless son who would spend the time squatting on the road, beating her and plundering the hard-earned money to waste on alcohol. Isn’t it the tale and sorry plight of women in India belonging to the lower social strata who are exploited at every end?!

diary of an indian

Language! No problem bai! Food has no language. The relatively young lady who came to work in the studio apartment would converse only in Marathi, a language I was alien to in those days. A little bit of chit chat and speaking in broken Marathi to instruct her on making dal, chawal and sabzi helped to ease through the communication barrier. It’s the beauty of India as a country where spoken languages are like Horn! Ok Please! I

remember how I made friend with her little son who would sit quietly and watch TV with me. Once I gave the little boy a toffee and the little monster leaped with joy to hide his face behind the Mom. Of course, there were the girls employed and staying with the owner upstairs and they would regularly come down, the moment they called Bhaiya, I knew it was them. One of them shared how she would be soon moving to Mumbai where she was getting married to her boyfriend who is settled as a driver with a bada Seth (big shot). The girls often helped me to break the ice by giving food instruction to my maid in Marathi. Of course, all hell would break loose when the kaamwali bai would travel to her (Gaon) village and leaving me to fend for myself that felt like a lifetime struggle in the Pashan flat. From the scattered kitchen with vessels lying around to empty cups strewn all over the space and clothes piling on the bed, it became a messy affair as well as the attempt to cook extra rice and daal that would be kept in the fridge in the hope to last me three to four days. The Kaamwali bai had this placebo effect on our lives and kind, talkative, at times tantrum showing but there is no shunning them for one cannot make do without whether a bachelor or married couple in India.

Vishal Bheeroo has worked as a journalist for English publications in Mauritius and is currently a freelance journalist. He loves to write & blog about all things related to India. He loves Indian cinema and dreams of making a short film, someday. He is currently working on a rom-com novel and a script for a short film. He is a huge Amitabh Bachchan fan. He loves poetry, travelling and reading. He is currently based out of India but has plans to return home, someday soon.

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THE

KAAMWALI BAI

LIFELINE OF INDIAN HOMES. LOVE THEM, HATE THEM, BUT YOU CAN’T IGNORE THEM! THEY KEEP OUR LIVES IN ORDER. WE CAN’T SURVIVE WITHOUT THEM AND WE AREN’T ASHAMED TO ADMIT SO! artwork & words SONU SULTANIA

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RAMU KAKA

He makes his appearance in every other Bollywood film! He’s old, affectionate. He’s seen us grow up from an innocent boy to the young villian, who needs to be shown the right path in life. Enter RAMU KAKA!


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She is on WhatsApp. She charges by the hour. Dresses up in Western clothes! Calls you Ma’am! And well, you can call her by her name, nanny or help. She is not the bai!

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THE NEW-AGE NANNY .93


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THE JHADU!

Even in the age of vaccum cleaners, it’s hard to imagine the INDIAN BAI without her most useful tool. The PHOOL and the TILLI JHADU.

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ALWAYS AT WORK bharat darshan

EXCEPT SUNDAY! She keeps your home clean, your kitchen shining, the clothes ironed, the veggies chopped, et al.

Powered by vivid imagination and aesthetic vision Sonu Sultania uses her brush to experiment and put her thoughts on canvas. Colours and textures have always been her best companions. She works primarily in concept based and expressive paintings around the themes of women: their journeys and emotions. She has participated in many UAE exhibitions; at Pro Art Gallery, DUCTAC, and so on. Her works can be found here: facebook.com/SonuSultania

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THE INDIAN SOCIAL GATHERING The noise. Loud, prominent, constant. Endless chatter, because adults must comply to social statures. And hence the agonising small talk. Predators in white hats, peering with their surprising hawk-like gaze... For the unsuspecting prey, innocent children. Worse is the state of the adolescent. Free enough to think on its own. Yet, treated like the child. The result, torment. When the predators strike this bundle of confusion (or the teen), is taken into a painful, 5-minute ride through hell.

last word

The white hat attacks with the customary, “How’s school?” Then the vicious, “What are your plans for the future?”

Followed by bouts of unsolicited advice. While the adolescent controls the urge to roll the eyes 360 degrees. Each has their own can of worms. The unmarried youth are subject to expert matchmakers. While the newlyweds, showered with advice unsought for on the exact number of kids they should have, which also conveniently includes the sex of this unborn child too. The chain is undying. These pestered newlyweds, soon turn into the pestering white hat. Lucky are the few, who escape this chain. Usually by the means of introversion or revolting liberal acts. Welcome to the nightmare, that may occur umpteen times a year, the Indian social gathering.

Nilaya Mairal is a teenager-based out of Dubai. She is an ardent lover of literature and poetry. She believes the written word holds great strength, with the ability to change minds and develop understanding. Apart from writing, she’s always up for a good game of basketball or capturing the marvels of nature through photography. Being a strong advocate for equality among the masses, she is also a proud feminist. Goofy at times mixed with bits of thoughts and hope - she’s your typical teen; embracing change as it comes with a sprinkle of optimism and a dab of satire.

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