Thilika gave Fahim even more of a song and dance about the eye surgery. Turns out it’s Rs.8000, or about $80 US. Not bad! Well, to me and Fahim and most of North America or Europe, at any rate. For here, sure, it’s a bit of money, close to a month’s wages.
Hmm. It makes me wonder how much cataract surgery is in the US. Just for comparison purposes.
Anyway. Some interesting things happened while she was here. Like she cooked only half the fish I thawed and stuck the rest in the freezer. And we’d run out of fresh veggies and hadn’t gone grocery shopping yet, so all we had were a couple of bags of frozen veggies, a few carrots, and onions. So I, through Fahim’s superb translating service, told her to cook up a bag of the frozen veggies.
She later asked Fahim if she was supposed to cook the whole bag or only half. This was a 1kg bag, or 2.2 pounds. The whole thing, please. I gather that the question was because frozen veggies are so expensive that if someone was going to have them, they wouldn’t have much. I think that’s the theory behind the fish as well.
Anyway, lunch is ready, and she keeps on cleaning. Fahim tells her to eat whenever she wants, but she doesn’t. Finally, it’s getting late, and Fahim tells her to take a break and eat. We think that she had no intention of eating and had no expectation, before she came, that she would be able to eat here.
I don’t get that. I mean, if that’s how she’s been treated in the past, then I can understand her point of view, but I can’t understand why she would be hired to work somewhere, cook for them, work an 8 or more hour day, and not get fed. That’s ridiculous.
But then Fahim tells me that full-time house staff commonly don’t get days off, not even one day a week. Their employers are worried that if they give time off, the employee won’t come back. But they do give holidays for major festivals.
That would also explain why so many house servants will use the whole grandmother died, mother ill, father needs an operation, grandfather’s broken his leg, brother in jail, sister having a baby kind of excuses to take time off, and frequently.
One woman I know from church had two full-time staff. They each would regularly call in (which, in and of itself, is unusual since they usually just don’t show up and give excuses later) with their excuse du jour 11-14 times a month.
This woman got smart by paying them every day they showed up. No show, no pay. They cut their absences down to 4 or less per month each.
Anyway. We basically had to make her take a break and eat. She then asks which plate she should use. As in, people will have one set of dishes for themselves, and another set for the servants, and ne’er the twain do meet.
Fahim and I, of course, are not so fussy. Use a plate. We don’t have that wide a selection. Pick one and use it.
Well, polite, but still. 😀
Anyway, then, at the end of the day, on her way out, she shows us her bag and starts to show the contents. It was a small bag, same size as what she had when she showed up, and there’s not a lot that she could steal in a bag that size. I’m paranoid enough that yes, I pay attention to these things.
But no, I’m not going to subject her to a search with no grounds, although I do appreciate her offering it.
Yep, I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about maids stealing things.
What it all boils down to, I think, is that she’s never worked for a foreigner before, never mind that Fahim’s a local, and she’s nervous and really really uncertain how things she does will be taken.