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Monday, April 29, 2013

The Perfect Match !


I decided to hire a maid as I badly wanted to find some free time at home. I called up various agencies and gave my requirement; responded to the newspaper advertisements; told my dear and near ones to let me know if they know or find a suitable ‘match’ for me.

As the search progressed I realized that maid-hunting was tougher than the recruitments that I have seen as an HR professional. Some ladies were too aged and seemed to be over-serious like a strict school principal, while some were too young and immature like an irresponsible and playful college-girl. Some asked for salaries which were higher than that of a software engineer. I had not lost my hope. The match-making progressed.

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I got a call from an agent saying that he had found an ideal person. She was ready to stay with us. She was ready to do all the household chores. Atlast! I am going to have someone who would help me have some quality time with my family. She will get me a cup of coffee when I am home in the evening. I will be relieved from cleaning up the mess created by my hyper active kid - the task which consumes most of my time. She would do miracles and would turn my kid’s dirty brown clothes into snow-white ones.
The agent’s voice broke my thoughts. “She is from Thrissur. She wants to meet you to see if she will like you. And she can’t come to Cochin. You need to go to Thrissur to meet her”. I took some time to digest the whole thing. I had to decide between a maid’s ego and my hectic life. I discussed with my husband and we decided to give a try. I asked the agent to tell her to come to the station so that we can return as soon as we are done with the ‘interview’.

We boarded a train to Thrissur. As the train neared the station we called up the agent to make sure that our interviewer would be there on time. We got down and waited near the magazine shop as instructed by the agent. And here she comes! She was in her late 50s. She wore a rose colored saree with lot of glitters and sequences. She had worn matching earrings and bangles. She had a rose bindi on her fore-head and kajal in her eyes.
“You are Sita?”
“Yes”. I said.
“Shall we sit somewhere? May be in that juice shop? I am thirsty too..” She was already heading to the juice shop before we replied.
She chose a table under a fan. We sat down opposite to her. I asked her “ What do you like to have?”
“I’ll have grape juice.” She had no doubt. I was extra-cautious not to have any expressions on my face.
The first round of questions went on with the ‘Wh’ questions like who are you? What are you? Where are you? What is your religion?
We managed it well. Then came the next round.
“Do you have a TV?” “Do you have a mixie?” “Do you have a washing machine?” “Do you have a fridge?”
This part too went on well until we reached the question for which we scored negative mark “Do you have a vacuum cleaner? ”
“No !” At that point of time we didn’t have one.
She replied “Why didn’t you buy it till now? You should buy one immediately. You will need it”.
“Ok. Will do. Anything else?” My husband asked sarcastically which she mistook for a serious query. “Nothing else, as of now. I am Ok. What about you?”
“We need to discuss. We will let you know.” I said fast as I could and got up to leave. I happily realized that it was time for the return train. We got in and found our seats. My husband sat there recollecting the exceptional experience and laughed. But I couldn’t. I knew I had to go on with the search until I found a perfect match.



Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Lady at the Railway Station


Earlier I had worked in a firm in Kottayam while staying in Cochin. Long hours of bus journey used to give me puking sensation. Train was my best practical option for daily commuting. I took season ticket expecting a comfortable train journey. Until then I was only used to the train journeys with reserved tickets where in I will have a seat or berth of my own; I can sleep or read whenever I wish; I can buy almost-ok food and magazines at various stations through which the train passes.

The very first day of my season-ticketed travel proved all my expectations wrong. The passengers with season tickets were allowed to travel only in a couple of coaches. You will be fined if you are found in any other coach. And there was never ever any move from the railways or the ministries to add coaches for the hopeless ones with the hopeless season-tickets even though their numbers were increasing exponentially. Coaches fully stuffed with the passengers resembled gas chambers. One can hardly move. You should be lucky enough to get a portion of a seat. If you are standing it would be mostly on one leg as you wouldn’t get space to place the other. Train journey turned out to be night mare. But I had to go on. I too became a ‘seasoned passenger’.

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One evening after office I reached Kottayam railway station a little early than usual. My train was yet to come. But I was happy to find a passenger-train in the next platform. I had not travelled in that one before. My usual train belonged to the super-fast category. So I asked a lady in a nearby seat in the platform. “Does that train go to Cochin?” She stopped reading the magazine to look at the train and then turned to me. “Yes”. I was relieved that I had found a train which had very few travelers. I can travel comfortably today. And I’ll reach home earlier. I was about to walk to the over-bridge to the next platform but her stern voice stopped me. “But you should not travel by that train”.
“Excuse me? I didn’t get you?”
“You shouldn’t travel by that train. It would leave the station now. But by the time it reaches Cochin it will be very very late. It will have many halts in between; in stations and in other remote areas for allowing the other trains to pass by. In some of the places where the train stops it would be very dark and there would be hardly any passengers. It won’t be safe for you. Don’t go.”
Some time back Soumya, a poor sales girl who worked hard to make both ends meet was thrown out from a moving passenger-train and was brutally raped even while her tongue and teeth got torn out off her mouth due to falling; she was hit with a stone on her head; she was trashed…she died in a hospital a few days later.

The news about her made me remind of the lady at the station. I wish there was someone like her to warn  Soumya so that she would have remained on this earth to support her lonely mother. So that she would have built the small house of her dreams for her mom and brother. So that she would have married the man of her dreams and would have led a happy life like you and me.But I am happy? No.My disturbed mind is not able  to find happiness.This incident was lying somewhere down my memory lane.But the recent incidents of Delhi rapes-not just one but many; girls being trashed irrespective of their age or cast or creed or dress they wear makes me disturbed and makes me feel unsafe and takes me back to the lady at the station.Today, the shocking visuals in the various channels associated with the rape of a 5 year old in Delhi makes me scared. I am scared to live.But I want to. I am tensed about my kid.I am unsure of how to protect her from the eagle eyes. But I have to.