Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Home, but not Alone

Finally, we have a home in Benares! We are renting the front half of the upper level of a lovely house and after 2 days it is begining to feel like a homey, livable place. Our landlord has called in a veritable army of workers who are doing things like installing a power inverter, making screens, replacing the toilet (with a Western one, I hope!) , and building us a bed. Also on the job are 4 women who cook (lunch and dinner), clean (twice a day), do our laundry (daily) and clean the toilet (weekly, and that's all she does... toilet topics warrant their own post I think) - all arranged by our across-the-street neighbor and all-around saint, Nisha.

I have had my hesitations about having so much domestic help, and I know many of you have had conversations with me about this back home, but honestly, its a god-send. There is so much to figure out and take care of, and doing simple things like cooking, cleaning and laundry are rendered gargantuan, inscrutable projects because of the differences in equipment and technology.

For example, laundry. Neelam, our laundry woman, washed a huge duffle bag's worth of our clothes yesterday, in a bucket, in our shower room. (Yep, shower is seperate from toilet, and occupies its own room.) She then carried all the laundry down our steep marble stairs, and then up 3 flights to the roof to hang it to dry. All in about 30 minutes. I'm in awe, and so grateful, as there is just no way I could manage that task while simultaneously keeping my family on the rails.

And then there's the matter of cooking. This morning I blew up the stove. Trying to boil water. If there was any doubt, this morning's episode has confirmed beyond any shadow of a doubt that its for the best that someone else handles the cooking!

Beyond the in-house workers, our landlord, Dr. Maurya, frequently checks in on us and is managing all of the handyman types. He gives the children sweets at least once a day, give us chai, has Chris over for chats and is encouraging the kids to make friends with and train the 'daytime dog' Alushka. Uncle-ji nicely sums up the role he's playing for us.

Best of all though, is Nisha. Finding us the house was just the begining. She arranged for all of the women who are working for us, and took me shopping yesterday for all of our household equipment and the food to stock our pantry. Without her these tasks would have taken us weeks, but in just a day, everything is all set up. And far from being the sort of hassle such a thing would be at home, she and I really had fun yesterday riding around and doing all the shopping. Taking a cycle-rickshaw to do the shopping was fun, and having Nisha point out sights and give me the insider scoop on things was great. I don't feel at home in the nighborhood yet, but at least I'm now known to the shopkeepers as Nisha's friend and feel confident visiting those places on my own.

So, while at times its a bit overwhelming to look up and see roughly 7 people in the house doing things, and to be going from meal to tea to outing to tea to meal with someone or another, I think we all feel very welcome and cared for. I know I do, and its making all the difference for me as we get adjusted to our new home.


Meema said...

Sounds as though things are well in hand with the household. How are Caitlin and Ben doing? WHAT are they doing?


Grampy said...

I am so pleased to read how well you are settling in.

Madison is definitely into fall - leaves are starting to turn. The road construction continues. But the house is quiet without you.

Love, Grampy-ji

wickedmama said...

wish i was there to sweep your floors and help blow up the kitchen- sounds like tons of fun!

alicia and kids

Susannah said...

you should look into getting an internet walla to deliver internets to your house. then we can video chat!