Maid in India 3

I arrived at my friend Cariappa’s house to meet the prospective maid.

I have no photos of the meeting. I think the whole thing, for everyone involved was all too intense! We were checking each other out. How weird. Would we get on? How would we know? It’s quite an intimate thing. Inviting someone into your home to cook, clean, and look after things. This was a whole now experience for me. Manjula of course had been here before she had worked as a maid for over ten years for one family, amongst many other things. Me, I was the beginner, the intrepid explorer stepping out into the unknown.

Help!

I’d only supposed to come out to a India for a few months’ pilot. Now I was renting a house, furnishing it, employing a maid. What had happened there… A whole new adventure, in a crazy land and with so many twists and turns…. Whatever next!?

…. if only I’d known!

What would she be like? What did I want and how would I communicate it?

What would she think? (I found out later!) Working for a foreigner would be so different, maybe! It’s worth me remembering I’m from a poor background that’s shifted into the middle class and now living abroad in India.  ‘The old poor made good’ which as it turned out, is exactly the path that many in India are taking.

img_0077

Manjula was quiet, shy, reserved. She’d brought a friend with her for moral support. Good idea! We spoke a few words with Cary and his wife Ganga helping out. I just wanted someone to cook a meal and clean. We  then walked round the corner to my house. Things seemed to be going well. They looked around the place, it seemed so big to me. There’s so much to clean but only me, honest! Just the upstairs house with three bedrooms (known locally as a 3BHK) the downstairs house came later. It was sparsely furnished with little on the walls, it’s hard to imagine what it was like ( so, so different now) but then oh no……..we hit a problem….. it was all off ……we’d found the deal breaker..

Why India? 2

Why move to India…

I fell in love with India, its culture, people and places from afar and planned to visit in the 1970’s when I took a year off from my university. (I made a bit of a habit of taking years off).

True or False

True

I was a bit of a wus and not an adventurous traveller. I’d got as far as Turkey and the message from those who’d travelled overland from India was that it was particularly dangerous at that time to go to India, via Pakistan as they had just hanged Bhutto. So my visit to India just didn’t seem destined to happen.

Would I even manage to get to India in the next decade?

Nope

I hooked up with Liz and Ben in my late 20’s (We’re in the 1980s now). Liz had already lived in India for a couple of years in the early 1970’s so with one kid already (Ben) and potentially another one to come (Ol), India, was most definitely not considered by Liz to be a suitable place to take a young family.  Her experience of India was as a hippy  and she wouldn’t reconnect with India for many more years.

So that means I wasn’t also going to get to India, not yet anyway.

Farrell Factoid

I have subsequently met many people who have found a love for India (not least the visitors to Mysore Bed and Breakfast). There are of course many different attractions and often its difficult to define what it is that they particularly like. For many people they are inexplicably drawn to India, it has a sort of magnetism from a great distance. Maybe it is the free flow of ideas crossing the ‘bridges’ west and east (especially Britain and India) that stimulate people’s interest, there has of course been many exported ideas (and zero) for hundreds of years. There’s been icons such as the Beatles, the travelling Yogis, the hippies themselves, Yoga, whatever, there is an incredible range of things that we’ve heard about that help feed our seemingly insatiable desires for India, India things and Indian-ness.

Michael Wood in his book (Big Recommendation) to accompany the BBC series ‘The Story of India’ writes of becoming ’emeshed with India’, ‘the great privilege to be welcomed into another culture and to spend time in it, especially one so rich and diverse and perenially illuminating’

Of course many cultures and countries could fulfil this but

…what is so special about India?

I’d have to wait, quite a bit longer to find out.