Yeah, its been one of those days. You know. One of those where everything seems to go wrong and Murphy is disturbingly all pervasive and at the end of which you just want to kill somebody. The last couple of weeks have been a series of one unmitigated domestic disaster after another. At last count, one maid was yet to recover completely from an attack of dengue, the other was seen merrily traipsing off to explore greener pastures without so much as a by-your-leave and the friendly neighborhood rogue, otherwise known as the dhobi, burnt some of P's best shirts and promptly vanished into thin air leaving us dhobi-less and with a drawer full of burnt shirts.
The making of 'Oh boy, oh boy, oh bai!- The Sequel' is currently underway and our life currently, minus the tenuous support of domestic and other peripheral staff is in a state of gentle disintegration . In other words it is an unholy mess. The mornings start with several rounds of interviews with aggressive women in the locality masquerading as bais. I open the door with a deep feeling of dread, akin to that faced by the meek spirited job seeker when faced with the nail-chewing-for-breakfast prospective employer to find Petulant Padma or Sulking Shanta at my doorstep. You recognize them instantly: the flared nostrils, the knotted brow, the ferociously clenched jaw and the beady look in the eye. The lark that sang merrily on many a gay,dewy morning certainly never made the acquaintance of these formidable ladies.
"Bai chahiye kya?" barks Petulant P or Shady S, as the case may be, and so begins the interview.
"Er yes" you meekly submit.
"Kaam kya hai?" continues PP/SS and then goes on to ask minute details of the work involved, the timings, the pay, only to shake her head in the manner of a displeased bull disappointed with the performance of the matador in the ring, before strutting away. Some, of the less forthright variety, promise to get back only to vanish into oblivion thereafter.
I shouldn't be surprised really, given my many years of bad maid karma (right up there with the bad boss karma that affected me quite regularly back when I was working), but I continue to live with that faint glimmer of hope that someday a gentle, loving, matronly sort of woman will land up at my doorstep to lovingly share in the domestic chores. Until then I will continue being afflicted by the Petulant Padmas and Sulking Shantas of the world.
The recent hobnobbing with these unfriendly sorts has made me wonder whether the world has become a ruder place in recent times. Last weekend we were at a sports shop trying to buy some badminton rackets when the shopkeeper trotted up and barked at us to expedite our shopping immediately because the shop closed at 1'o clock sharp. On being asked why on earth the shop needed to close in the middle of the day on a Sunday we were curtly informed that 1pm to 4pm was siesta time for the owners and the shop downed its shutters come rain or a deluge of customers. He was rather aggressive about the whole thing, unscrewing the shop shutters even as he spoke and we beat a hasty retreat for fear that he might decide to guillotine us with the shutters if we lingered too long. The entire neighborhood seemed to be a fan of the 1-4pm siesta and all the other shops were downing their shutters as well so we popped into a nearby, busy restaurant for a quick bite. Frenzied crowds were thronging the place and as we searched for a place to sit or a waiter who might help us with the waiting system, a crusty old waiter affronted us with indignation oozing out of every facial feature.
"Kyaa chahiye?" he barked, swinging the menu he was holding in his hand like he'd like to swat me for crowding his space.
"Ooooh I was thinking I'd rather like to have a bath with some of that lovely mineral water you have on that tray there!" I said, only, of course, I said it in my mind.
"We'd like a place to sit" I said to him as politely as I could manage.
"Jaga chahiye to dhundo! Yaaha pe khaali peeli khada hone ka nahin mangta!" he rapped out sternly, turning on his heel as I gaped after him. Taking the levels of customer delight to new pinnacles and all that.
Then there's the afore-mentioned dhobi, the charming Rajkumar, who in times gone by would land up at our doorstep with a becoming scowl and his trademark "Kapdaa hai kya?" A reply in the negative would unleash a series of under the breath mutterings and grumblings as he sulkily stalked away, and a positive reply would get you a long suffering why-can't-these-slops-iron-their-own-stuff sort of look accompanied by an overwrought sigh. Really makes me miss my good 'ol society in Bombay where I had overcome my bad maid karma to get some wonderful staff and a happy and non shirt burning dhobi to boot. Sigh. Well, man, or in this case, woman lives in hope and we shall, hopefully, overcome these minor domestic glitches soon. Aah and now I must rush, for the doorbell has chimed as I type these words...onwards ho with the interviewing of maids then. The heavy breathing and gentle grinding of teeth I can hear from the other side of the door seem to indicate that Raging Rekha, or possibly, Depressed Devki, may be at the door,