Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Whom do I think of most when I think of India?

With the present enormous furore about the maid servant of Devyani Khobragade and the diplomatic spat between US and India, I think I must tell you that when today I think about India, whom do I think of first? 

(I am glad that the Indian Government and Opposition have a common stand against the world's Policemen, who have no right for this type of behaviour against an Indian or any diplomat diplomat! This coupled with Edward Snowden's recent revelation (regarding Brazil) about the indiscriminate spying by the US Government shows what we are up against.)

Jacob's family or my very very close Indian friends?

Not really!

I think of all those who were in my "establishment"!

What was my establishment? I was a housewife with four children of different ages. 

Over the years the people in my establishment changed, but the final lot before we left Madras for Bangalore are listed here. I valued all of them and I had excellent relations with all of them, They changed over time as they had their own personal preferences!

(There were our maids, Maggie and later her daughter, Pushpa, and then a Burmese refugee, Lakshmi, cook Stephen Baby, and a few more. They came and went depending on their personal family situation!)

I had a driver called Narayanan who was with us from 1969 to 1975, when we moved from Madras to Bangalore. When Tata Consulting Engineers (TCE) closed its office in Madras in 1969, Narayanan was jobless and Jacob's father, who was the head  of that company recommended Narayanan to us. We never regretted the decision to employ him!

Narayanan was crucial to my life as I depended on him for all my outside contacts and work in Madras as Jacob was travelling around the country almost 20 days a month. 

Narayanan would be at my house as early as I requested, take the children to school, two at the Vana Vani School in the IIT, Adayar, and one in the City Centre, in the Sacred Heart School, more commonly known as Church Park on Anna Salai! 

Narayanan was there to pick them up and bring them home after school. 

I could be absolutely sure that in his custody they were safe.

Narayanan used to do my daily shopping for provisions in Panagal park in T. Nagar, as I was not able to go every day to the market. When I did go, he was at my side to see that I was not cheated. 

I trusted him implicitly and his small family, of his wife and his children were an extended part of my family.

When we left Madras he started his own taxi service and till a few years ago he was running it. His son qualified as a software engineer and works for one of the leading Kerala software companies.

Narayan and his family. He made sure his taxi was at our disposal whenever we visited Madras.
Narayan and his family in 1992. He made sure his taxi
was at our disposal whenever we visited Madras.

When we visited India, he was there to drive us around and he would bring his family to meet us.

I had a cleaning lady, called Neela, who used to come to clean our house. Her husband was a drunk. Her son, Anbu, was our elder son, Jaakko's best friend. When Jaakko came from school, they were inseparable.

Shanti, my maid who was hilarious!
Shanti, my maid who was hilarious!
I had a maid to called, Shanti. Not very hard working! She was a friend who had me in splits of laughter. She was a small time lifter, but as I knew it. She used to take anything valuable from the house. I never left any valuables lying around. I always blamed myself whenever I lost anything as I knew it was my irresponsibility!

I had a gardener called Munuswamy. He was so old, he hardly could walk around the garden. He, however, managed to keep our large garden looking neat as most of the plants around the garden were sweet smelling perennials!

I had watchman, an old man, called Raju, who was from Ooty and spoke Butler English, who was pleasant company. 

Raju used to take the lunch by cycle to the two children in the Vana Vani School! Raju used to eat half of it on the way there, so I used to put double of what the children needed! :-)

Raju felt very important as he was my interpreter when my knowledge of tamil failed me!

As a housewife, I had the responsibility of ensuring all these were my happy family!

Yes, these are the people I remember most when I think of India. 

When we moved to Bangalore, only Neela could move with us. But she missed her son, so she moved back to Madras. I got her a job with one of Jacob's cousins and she worked there for several years.

My establishment in Bangalore was not as a large as in Madrs but they were as important, as you will learn from another entry of mine on this blog, and the eBook - the Findians Love Story, coming out very soon.

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