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Friday, April 13, 2007

Return of the Maids - II

So you wonder where we are and how we are doing and wassup with us. It's been almost a year since we found a new base for our life. And time has gone by through several repeating sinusoidal (wave) curves of bliss, happiness, frustration, dismay, wonder, delight and of course humor. Humor has been key in keeping sanity through all.

Take for e.g. a recent crisis Where have the maids gone? In line with Indian traditions and conventions we know that life changes and so do maids. Its a given fact of life that one learns about much before the birds and the bees. So one fine day our domestic help is not a help anymore. Inefficiency and mounting work taking it's toll. Now this news in by itself does not warrant creating waves. But lo' behold - it is the biggest newsmaker in our building. So big that the news has traveled far and wide across mountains and seas to Mumbai, Seattle, Detroit and Vietnam (where my manager is but that's another story). Everyone has been asking us (Sima) on the status of the disappearance. Telling us not to worry as they will return. We were sure they won't this being the second time around. Now we have been used to helpless life in the US for the past 12 years (I meant domestic help-less). So it shouldn't be such a big deal, but it is. In India when your help is no more you call out the alarms and bring in the reserves. So we got a couple of reserves (two external and one internal - Me) for a day or so. Of course we are very efficient at domestic chores - one of the takeaways from America. Still, in India it is somewhat different and difficult as you get used to the "Saheb" life. Don't know how Sima managed to coordinate chores, kids activities and her work (true multi-tasking at it's peak) and keep a sanity. It is such a delight to see all the concern and help people provide in times of such labor crisis (thank you everyone). Suffice it to say that the issue was resolved in person by a very determined Sima and the original maids are back on duty from tomorrow. Lesson learned for all. Certain inefficiencies are inevitable for greater good. Though we will continue to try and propagate the good values learned.

Well this is just one of the myriad experiences we have encountered. And yes "encounter" is the right word. In the "emerging market's" world all experiences have to be gripped by the horn and either it rattles you or you rattle it. There is no other highway.

Speaking of highway remember the work on SE 8th that began just after we all moved into the sacred sammamish city? Well we have our own big dig going on here now right outside our building. Funny part is that one-fine day the BMC corporation decided the roads were bad and just began to dig furiously, without notifying anyone, and without creating a diversion route. The only way out was through the village in the back with roads that are 10" wide with retail encroachments on both sides. It's a wonder how trucks and cars and the variety of transport choices from all types of legs to all counts of wheels plied in both direction without a scratch. In one situation we were desperately trying to reach the airport (normally 15min away but this time it looked like we would miss our flight). As usual there was an uncoordinated jam at the village cross-roads. So finally our hero (me) decide to pitch in as a traffic cop. But soon as I see the mess I am completely flummoxed at how to manage the dump truck, the BMTC bus and the 100 other vehicles in a grid-lock through the narrow channel. Me returns and another blessed soul gets out of his car, replaces me and successfully is able to now coordinate the traffic slowly. Catch is that his car is now the blocker. So our driver gets out and takes his keys (he has no clue who our driver is) and drives his car out of the mess. That leaves me to drive our car out of the mess. A couple of lanes away we both park our car while my driver runs back, returns the keys to the soulful traffic volunteer and runs back and takes over the helms. We reach the airport 20min before departure and make it through. Whew! So anyway back to the big dig. Its getting bigger and longer. We are now covered on both sides by it's size (Help!). Now comes the water pipe leak. Everything is muddy and wet now. Cars and Autos are skidding on the red deccan soil. At the mouth of the big dig we see a container (aka truck) full of soil tipped over 45 degrees. Looks like the axle is broke. Another truck is backed up behind it as some laborers are manually transferring the dirt from one truck to the other. A couple of days later another truck sees the same fate (they don’t learn). And a couple of days later the BMC guy comes to take a look at the leak (someone’s calls were finally answered). Well that is fixed but now the monsoons are beginning in B'lore and so the life for the next couple of months is going to be negotiating wet red deccan earth!

In all this sanity is found in seeing the humor and whiling the lazy sundays at the pool at Grand Ashok with it’s lavish brunch spread and Champagne. Eat, Drink, Swim and cool-off from the rising heat. Jump and get wet in the warm evening showers as the warm rain comes down to cool the parched earth. The unabated thunder and lightning which scares Ishika provide flash glimpses of the city at night. The red moon that provides a picturesque setting over the horizon. And the sounds of the maids working the dishes after you are done with a satisfying meal - true domestic help.

As you can see life is never dull here. It is true when they say movies are a reflection of life. Bollywood and Ekta Kapoor have a wealth of stories right here.
  • "Kkamla bai Kkamwali",
  • "Khod - ek prem kahanee",
  • "Saas, bahuu or naukar"!
Enough dullness for now. Life's calling! Live and Learn.

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