Right now, I quite like Delhi, where I am spending my leave - the weather was truly horrible the first week of June, but it is sort of tolerable now (Of course, I am writing this happily in A/C comfort, but never mind that...). But I guess I do miss some things about Bombay.
Like the husband, my friends...and as I realised earlier this week, the help that we have in our maid, Zareena and our driver, Vinod. It's strange how these two characters have become, in just a few short months, like members of the family - I have blogged about them before, too.
Before leaving Bombay, I bought our maid Zareena a mobile phone, which which she was very kicked, and gave our driver Vinod a handsome tip - instructing them both to take good care of my husband. It was gratifying to see that they both seemed suitably sorry to see me leave, despite the generosity. (Zareena got teary eyed and reached up from her three-feet-two-inch height to give me a hug, and Vinod told me 'kuchh galati ho gayi, to maafi maangta hoon', which I was quite mystified by until Vijay explained to me this was a standard way of saying goodbye in some parts - strange!)
Anyway, Vijay was travelling abroad earlier this week, so on the day he was to return to Bombay, I called Zareena with a set of instructions, on her new mobile.
Me: Hello, Zareena?
Zareena: HAAAN? HAY-LO? (Sounding very excited to be getting a call, and bawling at the usual unnecessary decibel)
Me: Zareena, main bol rahin hoon (Realising she probably has no clue what my name is, has always just called me 'Madam'). Dilli se.
Zareena: HAAN! MADAM!! MEIN GADI MEIN HOON ABHI! KAISE HO?
Me: (Wondering what Gadi she is talking about...bus, train, auto...there is enough noise in the background for it to be all three) Theek, theek. Aur Tum kaise ho?
Me: (Realizing I better get on with this quickly) Achha Zareena, Saab aaj raat ko aa rahen hai wapas. Kuchh khaane ko banaya?
Zareena: HAAN! BANAYA, NA..
Me: Accha. Aur unhe camera nahin mil raha tha, wo dhoond ke rakh dena, theek hai?
Zareena: HAAN! MILA, NA...
Me: Aur ek aur baat - aur hamara bank se courier aane waala tha, wo aaya kya?
Zareena: HAAN! AAYA, NA...
Me: (Satisfied) Achha, theek hai phir, Zareena. Dhyan Rakh na. Bye..
Zareena: ACHHA MADAM! (Gleefully reassuring me) MERA PHONE BAHUT ACHHA HAI. ACHHA, BYE!
Having done the dutiful wifely thing by making this call, I then proceeded to take my afternoon siesta. It was broken two hours later by a call from Vinod.
Vinod: (In his slow, soft spoken drawl) Hullooo? Madam? Mein Vinod bol rahan hoon.
Me: Haan Vinod. Kya haal hai?
Vinod: Bilkul First Class, Madam (Usual endearing sing-song lilt to the 'First Class') Aur Aap?
Me: (Finding this to be a good expression and not quite awake) Haan, bilkul First Class. Kya ho rahan hai?
Vinod (Supremely politely and apologetically, explaining the reason for his call) Madam, aapne Zareena ko aaj phone kiya tha. Usse kuchh samajh nahin aaya. Mujhe phone kar ke bola, ki Madam ko phone karke poonch lo kya bola...
I was dumbfounded for a minute, and then saw the funny side of it all, as usual. I laughed and repeated all the instructions slowly and carefully for Vinod, who seemed to have no problem understanding it - and then bid him goodbye.
These two conversations left me thinking about what prizes these two characters are, individually, and as a team. Alright, they have their own quirks, but then who doesn't? In any case, I know how difficult it is to get good help - someday when I have the strength for it, I will tell you about the Bangalore maids (Sickly Sarojamma, Clever Kalpana, Creaky Josephine...shudder, shudder).
In any case, Vijay and I have been fairly fortunate in Mumbai, to get Zareena and Vinod. Overall, I guess, we are just two clowns who have sort of lucked out with these two clowns.