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Imagine a woman who can cook a seven course meal with a beatific smile plastered on her face! She breaks into an aria when her kid comes back home in soiled clothes. Cleaning utensils is her lifelong passion. She scours and scrubs from morn to noon and still manages to look like a million bucks and dance like Kareena Kapoor. Her occasional back pain is taken care of by MOOV massaged lovingly by the husband. Next morning she’s up at five – lovingly rolling out mooli paranthas for her family.
We don’t want to be that woman, we want that woman. So much, that we are willing to change our sexual preferences, make her our own and live happily ever after. But don’t we all know such a woman is more a fantasy of an ad maker who is pimping the all new healthy cooking oil made from soybean?
In reality women hate housework and will do anything to avoid it. Why! we are even willing to go to work and put up with a boss whose evil machinations will put even a Shakti Kapoor to shame.
In fact, I suspect most married women go to office either to avoid their MIL’s or mind numbingly boring chores. I mean, who in their right mind would prefer spending this gift called life, grating cabbage, stewing lentils and cleaning cobwebs while hanging precariously from a stool!
Had Marie Curie been more interested in baking rather than flirting with danger in her lab, would she ever have discovered Radium? Had a certain Mrs Gandhi been more focussed on perfecting the recipe for Spaghetti Bolognese, it would have been impossible for her to promote her son and remote control an entire nation!
The truth is household chores are the greatest obstacle between a woman and greatness. I have a deep suspicion that they were created to prevent us from contemplating on the truths and falsities of life.
Little wonder, behind every successful and happy man is a hardworking woman and behind every successful and happy woman is a hardworking maid.
In India we have the luxury of being a true blue Memsahib. Delve on the true purpose of life while Maria takes care of our hyper active kids who need a new activity every 20 minutes. Come home to a clean house, cooked meals after a hectic day at the mall. In the evening, as we run on the treadmill, we wonder aloud why we are still putting on so much weight.
An Indian woman’s biggest fear is being deserted by her maid. In fact, if given a choice she’ll readily choose her housemaid over her husband. Yes, we love her that much.
I was preparing myself to live out my worst nightmare when we were about to move to a foreign land across seven seas. The first two weeks were terrible – of having to cook and clean. It didn’t help that I’m blessed with a vision that can spot even the minutest speck of dust/hair on the carpet and floors. I would often accuse my husband of shedding too much hair. I was missing the luxury of home delivery. As I walked long distances lugging heavy bags of groceries, fearing that my arms will come out their sockets, any minute, I would do a quick re-enactment in my head, imagining myself writhing in agony, trying to make a phone call help using my toe nails.
Coming home dead-tired and famished only to realize there was no warm meal waiting for me. Cooking with unfamiliar ingredients, alien looking knobs, spending one hour trying to figure how to make the exhaust work! One balmy afternoon, it reached a crescendo and I burst into tears.
From a desi Mem, I had now become a videshi maid.
It’s been a month of my maid-less existence. Time for me is a luxury now. But strangely I’ve never felt better. Back home my moods were dictated by their tantrums, my routine governed by their schedule. From morning to noon I was running in and out of the house, to make sure I was home to open the door for my helps. My idea of a bad morning was the cleaning lady taking the day off. I would turn a blind eye to chipped glasses, non-stick pans scrubbed clean off their coating, oversalted curries, runny daal, all for the sake of my peace of mind. What’s more I was constantly making up excuses on their behalf. Her husband beats her up every weekend, so what if she broke the new tea-pot. She’s a cook, not a Masterchef contestant!
It was as if I had become a slave to the convenience of having a help.
Now, I work hard, cuss harder as I manage the house. But you know what, I am eating what I like and not what my cook is capable of preparing. I can walk out of the house anytime to meet my brand new friends, explore the city on my own, walk on the riverfront, the wind blowing through my sparse hair , walk in to the bank and scream – David! Where’s my credit card!
In Gurgaon, all I needed to do was make a phone call.
Does it mean I’m championing the cause of slavery to household tasks? Absolutely not. It’s about knowing that happiness should not be a slave to an orderly house. Believing that a pile of dirty dishes can wait a few more hours so that the husband can clean them when he gets back …
It’s about working on a state of mind that won’t let a dirty house mess with it.
If Lord Buddha had to keep the house clean, chop vegetables and throw the garbage, he wouldn’t have had the time to escape to the forest to seek enlightenment under the Bodhgaya tree and invent a new religion!
So, why should I let laundry come between greatness and me?