This article was specifically written for The Indian Trumpet, a digital magazine for Indians on all things nostalgia. It feel great to have my article featured in their magazine. Thank you the Trumpeters! You can read this article on issuu as well.
P.S. – The images used here are screenshots of article published in The Indian trumpet.
In India, a house is not ‘home’ until there is a Bai rustling up her magic broom there. She’s the harbinger of cleanliness, convenience and sanity, a God-sent figure who fights the rogues called dirt, teaches messiness a lesson and brings order in disorder. Of different skills and capabilities, Bais have been the backbone of households of any size – nuclear or joint. Once upon a time they used to be a luxury that only the privileged class could afford – a matter of pride and display of status, but today they are a necessity, found in every house that needs cleanliness.
Mornings are not complete until the Bai rings the doorbell, heralding one of the many noises aimed to wake you up from slumber that even the snooze can’t. Noises that you adapt to as if they are ambient noise, something in the background that doesn’t irk you anymore. The rough ruffling of the sheet as she makes the bed, sashay of the keys as she moves around, screeching of the stainless steel ‘balti’ as she mops the floor, clinking of the utensils as she cleans them, thumping of the clothes as she washes them, sizzling of the ‘tawa’ as she cooks ghee-laden paranthas. She is one woman bringing order in your house, giving you ‘gyaan’ on how to manage things better and making a living out of it.
The world comes to a standstill when she takes a leave. House has a peculiar capability of disintegrating by itself if not tended to. Clothes will find a space on floor to rest, dirt will give love handles to the furniture, utensils will party in the basin with roaches joining in, toilet pot will have hickeys so deep that you’d prefer to visit a mall instead, the shirt you want to wear specifically will choose a Godforsaken space to hide, and the miseries will amplify. That’s then you realize, the Bai runs the house, you just live there.
So intrinsic is the Bai to us that we even tend to treat them as family members. But exactly who? Well, read on the many manifestations of a Bai.
Bai as your Child
Indians parents are extremely proud and boastful about their kids, no matter how worthy they are. Bais fall into the same category of pride (without any prejudice). It’s the common discussion among neighbors about how good their maid is, that she can cook up a storm in the kitchen, that she is trustworthy enough to be left alone in house with money kept here & there, that she is so loyal that she turns up even on Diwali and other festivals, that she is so sweet that she never asks for a raise, and other things that make up for a ego boost. Only the children of these neighbors have the privilege of being showered with so many compliments.
Bai as a Google
Google today knows everything about us. And it also shows up results customized for us. That is business intelligence, which is what even our Bais possess. If your child flunks in a particular subject, the next day you would receive a call from the neighboring Mrs. Gupta that she tutor. If you’re not feeling well, you’d receive a lunch thali from the neighbor you had never spoken to. If you are struggling to make friends, a kitty group of the neighborhood will somehow contact you to be added in. If there is a problem passing stool, a ‘gupt rog’ pamphlet will sneak under your entrance door. Thanks to the Bais who don’t just spread news for your voyeuristic pleasures, but bring solutions to home. It’s their emotive, concerned news that does the trick. Who needs Google when we have Bais?
Bai as a Partner
Don’t get me wrong. But we can’t ‘Shiney’ away from the fact that we need the Bai as much as we need a life partner. Yes, there would be nagging, undue comments, disagreements managing the house, but trust me, you can’t live without them. Bai as a partner understands your needs, moods and habits. She molds herself to your likings. And you too adapt to her basic orders. It’s the simplest way to co-exist in harmony and love.
Bai as a Badass Friend
Want to skip the bircher muesli for a wholesome parantha? The bai wouldn’t allow. Deal with it. You only asked her to keep a tab on your urges. Feeling lonely? The Bai will set you up with a neighbor like an ideal wing-woman. Want to call your ex? The Bai will snatch your phone. Want to know the recipe of that heavenly potato-peas subzi Mrs. Ahluwalia cooks? Bai will scout it for you somehow. Want to deflate the tyre of that troublesome neighbor who always blocks your car? Considered it done when the Bai is around. Want to trick the ‘easy monthly installment’ guy who shows up on the promised day? Trust only the Bai to shoo him away. She is your badass friend, the one who has a nasty side too. She can use choicest of expletives on your ex, haggle for discount with the vendors, not let the strangers in, take the case of ‘kudey-wala’ if he misses a day. But she can scold you as well, like a badass mama!
Bai as a Human
Whatever said and done for her robotic tendencies to bring order to the house, Bai is a human at the end of the day. She understands you. She can read your mind. But she has a home too. She has her own share of struggles. Yet she wouldn’t bring that to job. All she brings is a smiling face and a happy vibe. To make your day. Bring comfort to you. So that you don’t have to even lift a finger while all odd jobs get done. She makes your house a home. Worth living. Worth sharing. The least you can do is share an instagram story of her!