Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Different strokes indeed

So I have a new maid. Two new ones actually. Because my full time maid Ratnamma's daughter is pregnant and she has gone to look after her. More than anyone else, I pray that she has a smooth delivery and a  healthy beautiful baby at the end of it. Only then can good ol' Ratnamma return to me.. But I digress.

So in the interim period, I have 2 maids. A girl who comes in the morning and cleans the house. And a middle aged lady who comes in the evening to be with Sonny boy when he returns from school, and who will do all the prep work in the kitchen. The agreement was that I would leave all the things necessary for dinner, arranged in the kitchen before leaving for office. All would have been well, except for the fact that the kannada spoken by the dear lady was TOTALLY incomprehensible. If I were at home, I could have managed with my hands and eyes and whatever other appendages came in handy. But since I would be in office while she was at home, the phone was our only means of communication. And boy! what an effort at communicating there was!

Ingredients I'd not given a second thought to while Ratnamma used to be at home now assumed supreme importance. Basic things like turmeric. The other day, I was in an auto going to a client's place while giving instructions to her- and I needed to tell her to add turmeric in the dal when cooking it. I did not know the kannada word for it, but valiantly tried Hindi, Malayalam  and Tamil.  I tried telling her about the yellow sunflowers, and and temples where they gave out  haldi kumkum- (turmeric and vermilion powder given as offerings to the Goddess). Finally I gave up and requested her to give the phone to Sonny boy. I asked him to take out the yellow powder in the masala dabba and give it to her. And then I asked her WHAT it was called. Ah! Arshana podi.   .. At the end of the phone call, I sat back and heaved a sigh of relief, only to see the auto driver turn back to me in enjoyment and tell me with a grin, that it was a pleasure to hear me talk in kannada. The rest of the drive passed by  pleasantly, with the driver commiserating with me and lauding my efforts at  trying to learn kannada. Little did he realise that it was a question of survival.

So during the weekend, I was showing Gowramma the different ways I wanted the different vegetables diced... When it came to cabbage, I showed her that I wanted it cut in very thin strips... She cut it quite well as per instructions.. and later, as she was washing up the vessels, she told me that in her village, cabbage was cut in big pieces. I nodded smilingly. And then she added- we don't have all the time in the world, we have other work to attend to after cooking. Which made me laugh inside.  And wonder- were the Mallu women really so jobless that they would stretch cutting of cabbage leaves?? Somehow I doubted that. Especially when I remembered my Mom and Dad's elder sisters. They packed SO MUCH into a day's work. Tirelessly, efficiently.

It was just a case of different folks, different strokes.


sher khan said...

just reminded me of my maid also cutting cabbage into big big chunks! and acting puzzled when i told her i want it as thin and fine as possible! :-)

Shivaja said...

I too love the cabbage sliced thin! Long time, just remembered your blogs an came in to read. More of FBing nowadays:) As usual enjoyed ur posts.