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The TTK (Tamil-Tulu-Kannada) Household

Every day, when I sit down to study, I close my door. Not because I don't want anyone to see me studying, but because I wouldn't be able to study if it were open. Mainly, this is because my grandmother is having a shouting match with one or all of the servants. Now, I don't know how it is in other houses, but in our house, we have three people who come in to work - one person who cooks, one person who cleans and a third who deals with the garden and walks the dog and does all the other little odd jobs around the house. It sounds like a perfect solution, right? We don't have any work to do! The problem is, though, every person we find for any of the above posts turns out to be argumentative and noisy.

Until last year, our house functioned quite smoothly. We had a cook, a driver, a gardener and a cleaner, all of whom had been working in the house for at least three years. However, over the course of a few months that year, all of them left or were fired for varying reasons. At that point, the hunt for new domestic help began.

The first to go was the cook. There were, of course, several agencies that we can go to for a cook. The problem was, my grandmother, being the hardcore brahmin that she is, wanted a brahmin - preferably iyengari (our specific branch of brahminism) cook. She wasn't willing to let anyone other than a brahmin into the kitchen, let alone allow them to cook our meals. According to her, the idols of God that she keeps in the kitchen (Rama, of course) would be contaminated by a non-Brahmin. This put the kibosh on all my hopes of some brilliant cook who could cook decent Italian and Mexican or at least North Indian food (as Brahmins, we consider anything from further north than Tumkur North Indian food), because most brahmins who take up cooking as domestic help don't seem to be particularly interested in that sort of thing. After several days of searching, one of the agencies found us a cook. She wasn't an iyengar, but she was a brahmin, and that seems to be enough for my grandmother. I wouldn't have the slightest issue with it but for one thing: She does. Not. Stop. Arguing! On the rare occasions that I'm home at the same time that she is - she only comes in in the mornings when I'm generally at school - the noise has been constant. The one thing all out cooks have instinctively known, though, is to steer clear of all the various vintages of curds in the fridge.
Credit for the image goes to Krish Ashok
Shortly after that, we discovered a need for a new cleaning lady. My grandmother, thank heavens, did not have too many caste-related (or Rama-related, I've no idea which) issues with respect to that, so we got one pretty quickly. From her very first day in our house, she seemed to have an issue with the cook. They'd constantly be yelling at each other. On occasion, my grandmother would join in to the shouting. While the cook and this particular cleaning lady worked together, I don't think the noise level ever dropped beneath 100db. So anyway, this cleaning lady wasn't doing her work very well - we could still see spots of dust on our "surfaces" or whatever they're called - so she was sent away. Her replacement was a much quieter Tamilian girl. She doesn't speak much Kannada, so she's immune to all of the cook's yelling. She also does her job well, so there isn't too much yelling between her and my grandmother, either.

After that, our gardener left. He took ten days off to go watch over the building of his new house in his village and then pretty much vanished for about a month. After that, we found him working at a neighbour's house. His replacement was a guy who'd just come into town from his village. He couldn't add or subtract (not the greatest addition to the household, geddit?), so we couldn't even send him to the corner store with some money and ask him to bring change. He quit after a couple of months and went back to his village. The next guy was sent away because he was supposedly a drunkard, though he always denied such charges. After that, we had some 20-year old guy for a about three weeks who was sent away because my grandmother never saw him doing any work. I'm still waiting to see how long the newest one will last.

Personally, I think the perfect domestic arrangement would be one like Bertie Wooster (of P.G.Wodehouse fame) has. One 'man' who does the cooking, cleaning, driving, thinking and (no doubt) a number of other -ings. Perhaps one day I will have a Jeeves whose brain bulges out at the back. Someday.

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