How my relationship with the maids has changed 51


I found it really difficult to live in a house with maids, it felt so strange. When I first moved to India, I will be honest, I was scared of them! Even though both of the maids who work here are extremely friendly, I felt intimidated. I would creep around them, worried I would be getting in their way. I would always wait for them to leave the house before I left my room, my daily routine revolved around their work schedule. I hid from them and did everything in my power to avoid them, I even stopped eating because they spent so much time in the kitchen.

Why? I was still suffering from my anxiety disorder and quite honestly most things were scary, but having maids was just way out of my comfort zone. When I came to live in India, I was not the same person I was when I came to visit only six months previous. During my time back in England I had fallen into depression and developed an anxiety disorder and I have worked on recovering from those two demons ever since.

I wanted to hide away from people and the maids would always be around. If I would leave my room and they were still there, I would feel terrified, my heart would race and my palms become sweaty. Why? I don’t know. I guess, anxiety disorder is irrational by nature and they became the focus of my panic.

Over time  I have become accustomed to having maids around and my anxiety levels have decreased, this means that I am not scared of them anymore. Now, I enjoy their company. When my husband is at work, I feel so comfortable with the maids. We have a great time, usually laughing at Alfonso’s antics!  I still insist on cleaning my room myself and cook for my husband and I, I still want my privacy and so glad they don’t just walk into my room uninvited anymore.

We have an understanding even though we lack a common spoken language, instead we use laughter and hand signals to communicate. They are both very lovely and kind-hearted women, and I feel foolish for being scared of them, but it just shows how debilitating misplaced and irrational anxiety is. I will miss both of the maids when we move to another place, I am sure Alfonso will miss them too! I am not sure if we will get a maid in our new place though, it took me a while to trust these two and I will want to bask in the privacy I am craving so much for a while.


About Lauren Mokasdar

Lauren fell in love on the internet, took a one way flight from England, got married & started a new life & bicultural family in India. She writes about finding happiness & balance between two very different worlds, when her baby takes a nap.


51 thoughts on “How my relationship with the maids has changed

  • stockdalewolfe

    And mean demons they are– anxiety and depression. I totally understand your fear of the maids. I would feel quite the same! Hats off to you for having conquered your fears and made friends with these women! I hope you continue to conquer the devils. Anxiety is so paralyzing and so is depression in a slightly different way. I fight daily battles with one or the other. I must say meditation and exercise helps. In the heat, my anxiety goes sky high. The other thing that helps is dancing along with Bollywood Youtube videos on the computer. It is great exercise, improves the mood and can be done at home! Plus you can surprise your husband with an Indian dance routine! Glad you are posting and wishing you courage. Love, Ellen

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      They are indeed, Ellen!!
      India has forced me to conquer some of my fears but has also cultivated a couple too! Haha
      I am also trying to meditate and exercise more!
      Such a good idea to surprise my husband!!
      I hope you are having a great day. Lots of love and hugs xxx

      • stockdalewolfe

        Aside from having anxiety and depression you are doing a great job adapting to all the new cultural mores and the Indian way of life. Anyone would have a hard time. And so much harder if prone to depression and anxiety.

        You are doing a terrific job of it! So pat yourself on the back and get dancing. Bollywood dance is so joyous. There are some YouTube videos, all free and accessible through your computer, with Shahrukh Khan that are fun to dance to. And Madhuri Dixit is great and has free online lessons called “Dance with Madhuri”. Have fun!!!

  • marghini

    Dealing with demons is always tough, but even tougher when you are far from home and in a new environment that may sometimes feel hostile. India is another world in any sense. Take you time and don’t be to hard on yourself. The choices you made is incredibly brave and I bet anyone would have some trouble adapting to such a change.

    Hold on and please keep writing these interesting posts!

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Marghini!! Things are getting easier, India really is like another world… an interesting world with its unique quirks which has pulled me out of my comfort zone.

      Thank you so much for reading! Lots of love xxx

  • My Masala Life

    I personally dont like having a maid. When I was in India had one maid we only had in the morning. She gossiped about us to everyone else, She was nosy, and hinted she wanted stuff. She even brought their kids so we would feed them, even though they were paid so well. My MIL gave her food and clothes to take home all the time. I totally understand your feeling of being awkward and I cant imagine having them there all day!! I am big into keeping my house private. I dont think its just your anxiety, I think you just want a tinny bit of privacy which is hard in India.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Hii Tina,
      No, I am not the biggest fan either. I don’t even know if we will have one in our new place! I feel lucky that our maids are lovely because there are some real horror stories out there… I guess it is just part of humanity, some are good but some are bad! I think the day we get our own privacy and own home, I will declare an annual holiday! hehe xxx

  • Magdalena Rogulska-Pai

    You mean you was scared of only maids or all people?? I also felt awkward at the beginning as if there is a servant. But then I understood they get paid so they are not doing me any favour. Also there are so many different kind of maids. Some are sooo nice like members of family and some are just horrible and gossip and even steal. It depends from person to person. But you keep 2 maids? Wow. What they are for? I only know cleaning maids who come every day for 1 hr. My MIL does’t keep any now as last one stole gold. We also don’t have any right now as flat is so small I don’t feel the need as it takes me hardly 30-45min a day to do vacuming, washing dishes, clothes, dusting etc.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Hey Magdalena,
      I was generally nervous, I think I would have felt nervous of them anyway but my anxiety disorder really exacerbated the situation, I am sure. I am lucky, ours are really nice but I have heard many stories about the not so nice ones.

      One of them cooks food for my in-laws (I insist on cooking for my husband and I) and waters flowers and prepares the weeks vegetables and the other one cleans the floors, washes up the pots etc and cleans the clothes.

      When we move out I don’t think I will have a maid either, I will quite enjoy being a home maker! 😀

      I hope you guys are well! Lots of love xxx

  • hungrydai

    Nothing abnormal about you at all, Lauren. Having maids around, no matter how nice they are, is not the same as having the place to yourself. I know that’s not an option for you because you are in your father in law’s house.

  • Cyn (@Cynadventure)

    I have difficulties with maids still, 10 years down the line. and I could never have a full time one, I need my privacy too much. At the exception of one, all the maids I had in the past decade have all been lying, stealing, slacking and gossiping, begging for freebies and ins entire while not doing a thing to deserve the extra perk. I wait until my maid is done to do any cooking or personal chores in the house, and I had to ask some of my maids to not interfere in my parenting decisions on many occasions too.

  • midnightamane

    I’m so glad you’re feeling better!
    Anxiety really is tough 🙁 I know how it feels. But I’m so happy that you’re felling better and doing well. Hope the move goes good!
    Xoxo Ashlynn

  • priyankavats

    i honestly feel that if you speak to them then the maids would admit that they were intimidated by you and must have been worried as to how you would behave with them . they like it if your friendly… and works to your advantage as they are happier to serve you when they are friendly.they are poor people who work to support their family. most of them have drunk husbands who do not earn and if they do they lose the money in betting games.they are also victims of physical and domestic violence. this has been the case of almost 99 % of the maids ive had in my 23 years of wedded life in more than 9 stations weve been posted to… so i do sympathise with them. just a small smile or a cup of tea or a piece of fruit makes them so happy.

  • madhmama

    Awwwwww that is really nice! I’m glad you have a nice friendship with them – gotta love women friendships!
    In our home in Hyderabad we had one maid but she was unreliable so they stopped using her. She always used to stare at me and it made me feel really uncomfortable to be stared down in my own home. On the street is one thing….but at home you don’t want to be stared at! I’d imagine it would be a big challenge to get used to, especially if you are used to your privacy or alone time.

  • Beatrix

    There is no privacy in India ‘basic’ or otherwise. It is VERY anxiety inducing to us ‘westerners’ with our ‘selfish’ notions of privacy & independence. It took me 2 yrs to get somewhat used to the Indian lack of privacy. Now I know if I don’t want something borrowed, broken, or stolen I have to somehow ‘lock it up’.
    My advice-
    Don’t take anything personally.

  • kreacherspeaks

    As a working couple, our maids are more or less our lifeline. Without them, the entire responsibility of the house falls on us and that sucks! But we need to keep a tight-ish hold on them so that they don’t try and run us 🙂 However, our donations to them have always been well received and I am glad for that!

  • anawnimiss

    I can completely imagine how hassled you would’ve been by the maids’ constant presence in the house! It’s not easy to get used to that life, is it? 😀

  • Subramanian

    Hi
    unless you trust your maids blindly,be careful and don’t leave things,around,especially, cash and jewellery..u can always make alphonso sit around and keep an eye on them.
    how are handling the roasting heat of Nagpur.. Don’t try English drinks here …

  • Manju

    ur doing a great job, Lauren. Keep it up, like ur spirits. Even I would not have been able to cope had I been in ur place. Love reading your posts/blogs.
    Have u found anything special that you like or dislike about India / ur immediate environment, etc? Do share!

  • Manju

    By the way, I’d never shout at my maid, (am scared she may quit) I need her too much. I wait for her to come every morning, and then,…… I wait for her to go!!

    • piyaali

      While hiring help clear the points u r particular about like cleanliness and timing. Tell them 2 casual leaves in a month only possible if informed beforehand by calling. Salary will be paid on 1st or say 7th of a month. (If they are very needy please don’t make them wait till 7th) Try avoiding talking as much. Treat them with respect. But NO showing too much need..else these people are smarter than us as they have seen more rainy days than us. Demand respect and command respect. Once first time inform them how and what needs to be done with smiling face. Tell them that mopping cloth, rods, dusting cloth all needs to be washed before drying htem on separate cloth line. Give them freedom to work. Next day when they come after they wash hands and feet with soap (Cardinal Rule at my household) Tell them softly with ‘smiling face’ that where is the scope for improvement and let them work on their own. SET THEM FREE. Remember they are not robots, they have their positive as well as negative points..Use their ability to think and decide and work in best possible way to your benefit. Never go where they call u instead if they call u .. call them wherever u r sitting to give guidelines. EXCEPT emergencies. Say your sorries and thank yous..Never ever shout or be ready to lose them. Remember they respect you because of your education and class..Maintain that dignity. Pay on time, pay the festival bonus (half or full month salary depending upon need, work and behaviour) only after they work atleast for an year at your place. According to my experience servant/helps/cooks dont steal if u keep things at their place. remember old saying..’place for everything and everything at its place’ If your house is already in mess then they know anything can be stolen nobody will notice for days. Last but not the least is keep a back up plan safety net, in this case an extra morning help ready for little extra money if u r a working woman like I am. I have a cook and two maids(different time) for my household of one. 🙂 😛 🙂

  • Deo Shenai

    Great post. Here is a thought that came to my mind. Sometimes one has to dance with one’s demons in order to regain the power, and win at the end.

    Have a great day!

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