Maid in India 1

Quotes taken from ‘Maid in India’ by Tripti Lahiri :

 

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an image from a postcard that we publish

 

“We eat first, they later, often out of food portioned out for them; we live in the front, they in the back; we sit on chairs and they on the floor; we drink from glasses and ceramic plates and they from ones made of steel set aside for them; we call them by their names, and they address us by titles: sir/ma’am, sahib/memsahib”

 

Think that’s in the past?

Well, think again.

“In today’s India its not unusual to see, often in largely empty restaurants, a couple seated with their child at a table for four, while the help is despatched to sit not one but two tables away….. or a nanny dandling a child on her lap at a nightclub while her employers and their friends drink cocktails as it creeps towards midnight, her hours of sleep dwindling since she is no doubt expected to be up and ready for another day at sunrise…. or for example children playing in a neighbourhood park, seeing a plump, light-skinned boy on a swing crook his finger at the petite darker woman standing nearby and utter a single word: Push”

Womens’ life experience is an incredible indicator of how a particular society works, from top to bottom.

In India the situation of women and particualrly those who are most socially and economically excluded, in this case, the ones that serve others, shines a spotlight on the social mores, the rules by which we operate, the structures and belief systems that helps maintain the status quo.

It also shows something else.

That is, how these women in often extraordinarily challenging circumstances not only manage but can thrive, can flourish and through that, show their astonishing abilities. In a sense, the influence they subtly exert and how they deal with the changes facing them can also demonstrate to us, on a macro level, how to deal with some of the challenges and opportunities facing contemporary India.

Let’s take a look.

 

You’ve asked for more detail

What’s in a name 6B?

Well, we seem to have ‘hit a chord’ with our imaginary board game.  There has been interest via facebook, our web site and directly to our blog.  Here’s a little more detail to satisfy your thirst. Rememeber, we’re doing this to get a passport!

PAN card, Manjula has already registered to pay tax. It was relatively easy, handled by our accountant.

PAN Card

We shoot ahead with this one! Maybe it’s not exactly playing the game but we did apply in advance, almost as a ‘dry-run.’

The PAN card is a registration to pay tax and is useful, amongst other things, to prove one’s name.

 

 

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The Aadhar Card is the Indian name for the ID card, now becoming familiar the world over.

It works as a universal ID to help access a whole range of services.  Based on biometrics (really?)  it’s invaluable BUT… in Manjula’s case, she was listed as a male, name was incorrect and it was an old address. (no comment) So there needed to be significant changes (really!).

What is cool about this system is, it’s all amendable online: no brokers (aka middlemen), no need to visit offices nor queing. Absolutely fab!  Requests to amend the details are submitted online. Updates are dealt with at a contact centre and confirmed or rejected via Email and SMS (text)  At this stage, I’m overcome with serious enthusiasm.

I register with the system. (as Manjula of course… your wouldn’t believe how much her reading and computer skills have really, come-on 😉 )

I amend everything ALL at once. BIG BIG mistake. ALL rejected. Now then Stephen, listen up, less of the ‘bull in a China shop’ or ‘at a gate?’ go at it a little more gently.. Shanti Shanti. OK, so I submit the changes one by one,  waiting each time for the confirmation of success before trying the next.

Sorted! Big achievements all round.

Quackety Quack

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But next, we need proof of her address to show she has lived a for over a year at Moksha ‘Manor.’ An accepted way to do this is a bank account.

A stroke of luck.

I opened an account for Manjula years ago. With a couple of changes, a passbook newly printed off, her photo added together with  a print off of the transactions of the previous year, a letter from the bank manager with a stamped photo of Manjula and Ducks away!

 

 

imageand finally, (I’m joking.. its not finally, stay with us guys) we need evidence of her Date of Birth.

In a traditionally informal society, such as this and especially for those people from a poor background, they would generally, not have a birth certificate.  Evidence of their age and date of birth would therefore usually come from the school leaving or transfer certificate.

We’d first obtained it as part of the PAN process but needed to get it re-issued. sorted easily.

There’s another Donald Duck!

 

 

So we now have formal evidence of Manjula’s name, gender, image, her father’s name, her date of birth, age, and address (for over a year).

You might feel a bit exhausted just hearing the story.

I can assure you it’s been quite an ordeal just getting to this stage.

In real time (ie not blog time) it has taken months!

We’re now in a position to apply online for a passport…… What does the future hold?