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the girl who cleans

Well, I'll admit this is rather a mundane picture of my Delhi kitchen. Nothing fancy going on here, just your average gas cylinder below and stove above. I'm lucky to have a fridge on the right and Bisleri bottled water on the left. As the days heat up, the ants increase in the sink and the dust piles up. And that's where today's blog takes off.
It's Saturday and in every place I've ever lived, certain Saturdays have been devoted to top to bottom cleaning. I turned down two concerts and a fashion show to keep with that tradition today. And, I'll admit it, my place was in desperate need of a thorough cleaning.
As I began scrubbing away (with rubber gloves since I was in for the long haul), the mali or gardener appeared to care for the potted plants (see patio photo two posts down). He commented on how I was working. Next, Sapna, my landlord's maid, appeared and inspected my work, offering suggestions for how I could improve my cleaning techniques. Sapna offered to help but I declined her offer since I gain therapeutic value from cleaning. I heard voices outside my door and realized Sapna had left the door open and my neighbors were peering in. One of the girls, about my age, came in and seemed shocked that I clean my own flat. I explained that I keep an irregular schedule so it's easier to not have someone come to clean. Then I shared how I have always cleaned my own place and feel a little uncomfortable having someone else clean for me.
I am no longer irritated by these responses like I was during the experience. I wonder if I've lost standing in the eyes of those that watched me because I was engaging in a task commonly left for servants. I wonder why I have this foolish pride that insists that I clean my own place because I will clean better than anyone else (save my mother). I wonder why this social structure is so rigid and if I can really break barriers, as a foreigner. I wonder.

1 comment:

april said...

wow. that's a kitchen. chris and i have considered getting a maid to come 1-2 x after the baby comes. we were thinking having someone else do laundry at the laundromat, wash dishes, and clean the bathroom would be super. i keep thinking that a maid wouldn't do any of those things "the right way." can i really give up cleaning control to someone else?