October 11, 2006

Maid in Hyderabad

At my Hyderabad house, not to be confused with the restaurant Hyderabad House where I partake in some delightful biryani, we employed the services of an old and rather useless maid. Her daily routine consisted of clearing out all the empty cans, glasses, and bottles she could find in the flat and then getting a refund for it. Dishes were halfheartedly washed, the floor was swept once a month, and the bathroom was ignored altogether. With heavy hearts, my roommates and I decided to terminate her employment and acquire a new maid. After heated debate, we settled on a teenager/young adult who lived in our garage. Very enthusiastic at the prospect of regular employment, the new maid regularly made us tea, folded my clothes, made my bed, etc...

As was the case with the previous one, this maid also did not speak a word of English or Hindi, knowing only Telugu. Communication occurred primarily in the form of hand gestures and facial expressions (of which I have a limited repertoire), but was largely successful. When she appeared at the doorstep decked out in her finest traditional Indian clothing on the day of the Ganesh festival and kept asking if I wanted her to sweep the floor, it was easy to determine that she was asking for a day off. The occasional misunderstanding did occur though, such as when my flatmate from Dubai could not locate his CD collection. He queried the maid for the whereabouts of his media, but the maid confused his question for an accusation of theft. For the next few days she had a sad face containing evidence of heavy tearfall. The source of her misery was deduced through masterful interpretation of linguistic nuances, and the Telugu speaking landlord was asked to speak to her and clarify the situation.