Friday, May 25, 2012

The Omniscient Bai

There is a phenomenon called “Bai” (or Kaamwali bai to be precise) in India. Technically she is just a maid. But calling her a maid is like calling a Ferrari a transportation vehicle. Every Indian household has one. And she is the one person that the entire household is dependent upon.

The bai that comes to our place is no different. She has been around since the time before I was born. She has her own set of client houses that she visits everyday.

Now, not only does she take care of the cleaning stuff, but also she is a free advisor, consultant, fortune teller and a gossipmonger amongst all the homes that she visits. She is the one person that has answers for everything under the sun (and beyond). So be it politics, inflation, health problems, property problems or just a bad hair day – she will necessarily have a remedy to fix everything (Mind you – it doesn’t necessarily work, but she would get offended if you argue or not listen to her). Kinda like the garbage-man from Dilbert.


Besides, she will make sure that she gossips about every other home that she visits. I practically know the nuances of each of her clients. Someone’s kids are dirty, some are lazy, while others are plain rude. Of course she takes care that she would never praise anyone. So everyone is bad, evil, ugly or dirty. Also she goes to great extend to graphically describe the bad physical attributes of everyone she knows.

I sometimes wonder what she must be saying about me to her other clients. My profile would probably something like – he is lazy (cause she always notices me sitting in front of the computer), healthy (Healthy is an Indian euphemism for – fat), dirty (yeah my room is not amongst the best places to visit in our house) etc.

And since she visits everyday, she practically knows what goes on in the house. Who comes, who goes, what gets bought and what gets disposed off. Sometimes I feel like she is a part of a government agency with the sole purpose of keeping a watchful eye on all citizens!

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