Sunday, January 16, 2011
Of Service And Servitude
Of late, I have been bit by the lazy bug. And frankly apart from hitting the gym in the evenings, there's nothing much I do of late. I suppose I'm in a phase of absolute mental hibernation, where I just practically lounge around all day, without any agenda or commitment. The postings in the hospital are light and so I decided to give my self some time to cool my heels.
But certain things are easier said than done.
I take my phases of absolute indifference and apathy rather seriously, and frankly it irks me a good deal when circumstance, forces me out of my revere and thrusts me back into the mundane aspects of reality.
Thus, I was interrupted from my meditative state of indifference, by the shrill screeching of a woman's voice.
I turns out, that my mother was arguing with a maidservant over her wages.
Now, normally I'm the sort of a person who doesn't care a damn. But in this case, the woman managed to arouse my curiosity, by increasing her screeching to an earsplitting crescendo that would probably give a banshee a run for her money.
As it turns out, the female in question, was asking an astronomically obscene amount of money for doing an infinitesimal amount of work.
Now it was my turn to start screaming, much to my own surprise.
It took a while for my baritone to tone her down to a shrill squeak and after much pointless haggling, she left muttering curses and hexes under her breath.
Now this whole incident has left me quite unnerved if not exasperated to say the very least.
I hate servants.
I despise them, detest them, abhor and loathe them with all my heart and soul.
They do really shoddy work. They have come really close to destroying my Russian souvenirs countless times while "dusting" the shelf. And to make matters worse, I cannot find anything in my room once they are done "cleaning" it.
Of course they are quite eager to please, and it causes the average Indian chest to swell a few notches higher, when servants practically run like loyal minions, to lift their grocery bags.
To me, its nothing but fiddlesticks!
Frankly I just cannot bring myself to terms with the great grand Indian tradition of ordering people about.
Indians are masters at being masters. They love to be serviced and served.
Our house as of now has two gardeners, one driver, two maids, two security guards and a female who comes in the evening to lend a hand in the kitchen for my mum.
This might seem as an extravagance to those in western countries, but in India its usually the norm.
Its a far cry from living in Russia for the past six years.
I had to do things by myself. Shop for groceries, do the laundry, cook, clean my room and in the "spare time" study.
I don't regret it one bit.
I loved every instance of it.
It gave me a sense of self control. A control over my life. The ability to do things when I wanted, the way I wanted. Not depending on anybody for anything.
It was just so wonderfully simple. No hassles, no squabbles and no pointless waiting for someone to swoop down and help you with your chores.
In India on the other hand, almost every household, ranging from large bungalows to pea sized apartments have servants.
Its almost as if people here have a phobia of doing their own chores.
Here the real effort lies in ordering people about.
No matter what, I just cannot give my self the self authoritative pompousness that is needed to yell at the night security guard for dozing off at 9pm or the gardener for not watering the rose bushes. I just don't care a damn, much to the exasperation of my parents.
Now I can understand the basic need for a domestic help, if the house in question is rather large, and difficult to maintain, or if both spouses are working.
But it flabbergasts me so as to why hideously obese Indian housewives who are not working, need servants for their moderately sized homes.
Someone might cry hoarse saying that women are not objects of labor.
But frankly, I doubt picking up your own stuff and keeping your own house clean can be akin to slave driving. The same would go for Indian men as well.
There is a certain dignity and independence in doing your own chores. Where you truly become the master of your home.
I have therefore specifiably forbidden any servant to enter my room.
As a consequence, my room is a mess. The clothes are lying about, the desk is unkempt.
But in short, its my mess.
Its my space, and that's the way I like it.There is an aspect of blissful independence when you know you are in control of your surroundings.
Instead of waiting upon some loon to come and redistribute your "mess".
Of course its something a good deal of Indians don't feel. I suppose its some sort of Maharaja hangover, where one likes to be waited hand and foot for everything.
The problem with this country, is that everything you say or do is an aspect of your "status symbol".
The amount of servants you own, whether you are chauffeured or chose to drive by your self.
Its maddening but true. As I kid I remember being ridiculed among fellow third graders in my for once coming to school in a rickshaw.
The amount of human dependence is ridiculously large in India.
Its ironic that it was in India that Gandhi propagated the thought of self help and self service.
Though the only place self service currently exists in India are the McDonald's and Dominoes franchise.
Well, with all the sarcasm apart, at least its a start!