Rach's Ramblings

Thoughts from another world

The Cleaning Fairy

on March 22, 2013

You may not have been aware of this, but over the last 13 years of marriage, Andy and I have employed a vast staff of house help. Think Downton Abby downstairs and you’ll get an idea. Jeeves was our first and longest serving employee. If the Lord and Lady were both sitting down at the end of a hard day, we would call for Jeeves to make us a cup of tea. Our nanny was called Mary and she would often be called upon to change nappies and break up squabbling children. Betty was our cleaner – dishes, bathrooms and floors were her tasks. Unfortunately, each of these staff were quite inept- in fact they never even raised a finger to help and we were left to do all these menial tasks ourselves. (nb. Except when Levi had a pooey nappy and we would encourage him to run across to grandmas:-). ) So the problem with our staff? Well, they were the figment of our imagination and the products of our longings and therefore they were unequivocally disappointing.
So, fast forward to India, and the staff is now a reality! She’s a one woman show called Latta and although she doesn’t come in the evenings to make me a cup of tea and she doesn’t help with the kids, there is nothing else that this woman won’t do!!! She is sweet and petite and as strong as an ox- and we love her to bits.
I struggled so much at first with the whole concept. I felt like a lazy slob and I would follow her around apologizing and picking things up around her. It even got to the point where my guilt would lead me to flee the house so as not to suffer my feelings of embarrasssment.
Truth be told, having an Ayah (maid) in India is indispensable. It is a cultural norm, providing employment for local ladies ( but at a rate that is next to nothing for Australians) It is the way things are done here and most significantly for me, it also means that I can leave the house and be engaged in meaningful activities at school and in the local community.
It would be a full time job to just keep the house clean here- no brooms, just stick brushes, no mops, just a cloth. Stone floors, dusty mountain, soaking all fruit and veg to kill germs, an ancient house with cleaning quirks. Oh, Ayahs are a gift from heaven!
Back in Australia, my very being used to rebel at the inordinate amount of time I spent in cleaning up and then just re cleaning up again and again and again ad infinitum!!!! I knew it had to be done, but as every woman knows, it was the undoing of the doing that really drove me bonkers! I would even find myself discouraging the kids from playing with their toys as that would just require more cleaning up. Well, now that is a thing of the past! I leave the house a shambles, and come home to find it clean. I bake and bake and leave the dishes and they are gone when I get home. The cleaning fairy is real and her name is Latta. My boys are turning into little slobs as she even makes their beds and cleans up their toys. I’ll have some catching up to get them ready for their future wives:-) In the days pre- Latta I would go to hop into bed and remember that I hadn’t put the fresh sheets on, don’t you hate that! Well, now I just put the fresh sheets out and she makes the bed for me.
It’s not all perfect, and before you scoff there have been some issues, for example, her acceptance of mould and refusal to clean it and her tendency to turn off the hot water when she leaves subjecting us to cold showers. There were some extreme tantrums when she packed up what looked like Lego mess but was actually a complex Lego space base. And she does water my plants every day and their roots are rotting. She also doesn’t speak English and even though I have excellent sign language skills that involve lots of waving and gesturing, we never have any idea what the other is talking about. My Hindi lessons will help in time, but at the moment unless we are counting to 20 or discussing how many kilo of carrots I would like to buy, it’s not really a help!

Living in India has its very real struggles- struggles that make me long for home and sometimes feel like giving up. But it also has Latta and when I’m feeling down I remember that I haven’t cleaned a toilet in 8 months and I feel a whole lot better.

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5 responses to “The Cleaning Fairy

  1. Renata says:

    God bless Latta! Thinking of you & praying for you. X

  2. Chrissie says:

    Found your blog via a friend and LOVE reading of your experience. So similar to ones I had living overseas. But you are able to put into words exactly how I felt, but so much funnier when I read yours. I had the same feelings of not wanting to have a ‘helper’. But you are right if it wasn’t for our helpers over the years, my house would have been a disaster and we would have starved!! Not to mention employing a sister. Love it! Keep up the Good work!

    • rachrambling says:

      Thanks so much Chrissie for your encouragement! You are my first comment from someone I don’t know:-) Glad you enjoyed reading and that you could relate to the wonders of house help:-) Take care xx

      • Chrissie says:

        You’re so welcome! Is there a way I can subscribe to your blog? Would love to continue to live my cross-cultural adventures vicariously through you! 🙂 But I know I won’t check back regularly unless something goes to my in-box.

      • rachrambling says:

        Thrilled that you want to keep reading my blog:-) You can click on follow on the blog and then you will get an email notification whenever I post. Thanks again!

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