Has anyone read The Help yet? It’s been recommended to me several times, but I’ve been too busy reading free books to pay for it yet. Is it worth $9.99? Anyway, that’s not what this post is about. This post is about my actual help. I have employees!
Most Indians around here either have help, or are help. There’s not much in between. I’ve gotten the impression for several Indian moms that I’ve met that they need baby care. They can’t take their children out anywhere. It’s always the nannies with the kids at the park in the evenings. Some of these same women think I’m crazy for have two kids! How can I handle two kids, even with a house helper?
I recently asked Mommysavers if they would rather have a house cleaner, nanny, cook, chauffeur, launderer, or gardener. The response was overwhelmingly “House Cleaner!” so we’ll start with her.
This sweet woman comes daily to clean the floors and bathrooms in our apartment. Cleaning the floors is the bane of my existence, so I’m very grateful for her. The floors really do need to be cleaned every day, too. She is paid by the landlord, though I give her Maggie’s hand-me-downs for her granddaughter, if that counts.
Next up: Chauffeur. He calls himself a “cab driver.” My husband’s company pays for a hired car and driver for us 25 days each month. On Sundays, we take an autorickshaw to church, and stay home the rest of the day. We have a kilometer allowance we’ve never come close to using, which means we also don’t have to worry about gas prices. We don’t pay him directly, but we do give him occasional tips, or give him money to buy lunch.
Sandeep is awesome. His English is terrific, and his driving is the best. We occasionally have a different driver if he’s sick or on holiday, and Sandeep is by far the best at navigating the poor roads and heavy traffic in Bangalore. And he loves the kids. He has a boy around Maggie’s age, but his family lives in his village 300 kilometers away.
Having a driver is a bit of a hassle. I can’t just run out the door whenever I feel like it, I have to wait for him to pick me up. Of course, it’s nice not to have to worry about parking spots, or carrying heavy groceries, and I wouldn’t want to drive here even if we were allowed. I can’t wait to get home to my car, though.
Finally, I have a house helper, Kannagi She comes three times a week for several hours, and spends most of it cooking. She makes homemade pretzels at least once a week. She makes dinner, usually enough that I don’t have to cook even when she doesn’t come. She also takes the kids to the playground. The kids adore her – Dalton calls her ‘Kiki’ and Maggie actually lets her come near!
She is very trustworthy, and I love that I can leave the kids with her to run an errand, or for a date night. She is a member of our church (yes, she’s Christian, not Hindu) and known/employed by friends and coworkers previously, so a long and good track record. I’m so lucky to have her. We pay Kannagi ourselves. She makes about $1.50/hour, plus I give her bus fare.
So, I don’t have to pay much to have my cook, house cleaner, nanny and driver, but I think I’m getting spoiled. We might have to arrange our budget around a house cleaner when we get back. What do you think – is a house cleaner worth the money??