Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Melrose Place....er....Model Palace

If Rudramma, the lady who helps me around the house, is off for a few days, I am morose.

Not because I have to clean the house myself (I have plenty of experience doing that and frankly, because we have to move back to the US, I would prefer not to be spoilt by all the available help here), but because she is my source for all the juicy gossip in our apartment complex as we chat over a hot cup of tea.

Our apartment complex, whose name translates to "Model Palace", is home to many families in which both the husband and wife work. As a result, many of the apartments are empty during the day, or populated by live-in maids.

During the day, the car garages are teeming with drivers who do their drops in the morning (kids to school, adults to work) and come back to the apartment to be available for whoever is left at home during the day.

The apartment is also a workplace for numerous contractors, plumbers, carpenters, gardners, and one guy who irons the clothes of the residents here (he has a monopoly). For want of a better word (any suggestions?), I'll call the guy that irons the clothes the "iron guy". His job is to press clothes that have already been washed and dried (Rs. 2 per garment (pants, shirts, shorts) and Rs. 5 for sarees).

There are two stories currently doing the rounds of the aparments. The first one is about a live-in maid, and the second one is about the iron guy.

The live-in maid in question has co-opted her employer's kitchen and all of its contents to assist her in charming the drivers and other male workers in Model Palace. She also has, very graciously, offered one of the rooms in the apartment for the plumber to carry on a liaison with one of the other maids in the complex. This liaison has resulted in the plumber marrying the maid.

The marriage occurred when the plumber's first wife was away at her mother's house delivering her first child.

The second story relates to the aforementioned iron guy. He has two carts where all the pressing is done - one on the premises and one outside the apartment complex.

He is in a state of constant inebriation. He, therefore, is unable to do any of the actual pressing of clothes himself. So he has a wife who "mans" the cart on the premises. And a second wife who does the same outside the apartment complex. I found out last week that he has a third wife in his village. I must say he has his bases covered.

I mentioned this to V and he said, "Well, he must be doing something right!"


Sourin Rao said...

Looks like you are'nt missing out on your share of "Desperate Housewives" in India at all ?

IMHO in India, the super rich and the super poor have a swell time with bed hopping et all. Its the middle class that mostly seems to uphold moral values and maintain the facade of relationships in an otherwise decadent surroundings. Maybe thats change too now, Im not sure !

Sujatha Bagal said...

Hi Sourin,

You're right. I remember the "middle-class morality" speeches my dad used to make.

But I'm not so sure that the middle class ever actually help up the morality all that well. There was and is a lot of "we can't do that" or "it will not look good".

But it's a facade.

From all appearances, Indian society seems to be a conservative one. Arranged marriages, low divorce rates, the whole idea of the sanctity of motherhood, boys and girls told not to talk to each other, innocent friendships frowned upon and so on.

But in trying to be conservative, we have turned out to be a pretty repressed lot. And the rebellion against all the repression manifests itself in eve-teasing, sexual assaults, etc.

One of my colleagues in the US made a very intersting comment. It was Mother's Day and she asked me if we had Mother's Day in India. I said, no, we did not have a day set aside to celebrate mothers (Hallmark hadn't made its way to India yet) and we celebrated our mothers every day. And she said, "Well, and you show your respect for women by burning them." I was speechless.

This is an aside, but I hate having to explain some of the sordid things (bride burning, sati, infanticide) to friends and colleagues in the US. 60 minutes or PBS would do some big expose, and I used to dread going into the office the next day.

Amit said...

Suj - Looks like your iron guy (love that term) is good at delegation and it works well for him....

as for the west thinking we burn our women ... it is all hogwash --- i do not want to turn a blind eye to what happens in India --- but all countries have their problems --- so hell with them

Anonymous said...

Iron-guy reminded me of Goldmember! (Austin Powers in Goldmember!?) then when you said there is a story about him, I started laughing! Finally you end with a comment that he must be doing something right! After all he is the "iron-guy". Good that he has three wives or else...

Sunil said...

Now I know why there is so much alcohol abuse in India, especially amongst the poor. Handling 2 or three wives (or a wife and a mistress or whatever combination!). Too much....

But these gossip stories are good fun :-)

Anonymous said...

Take one look at what happens on sanskaar-parivar type Hindi serials - mostly all directed by 'K'eta Kapoor - people get married and unmarried and again married so often you lose track. and count. but these serial character types live in huge bungalows and can surely afford many marriages. but I wonder how these iron guy and maid woman types can afford it? and all the babies that come as part of the deal?!

Sujatha Bagal said...

@mit: Right o! Good advice.

b: :)

Sunil and Charu: This is unbelievable even to me who is seeing everything first-hand, but apparently iron guy propositioned Rudramma, my maid, as well. Looking for a fourth, our man. He told her that he would pay her Rs.3,500 (!!) per month if she went around to all the apartments, collected the clothes and brought them to him. On the surface, very innocent (but how in god's name does he have that much money every month after taking care of 3 wives and assorted children?), but 3,500 is a lot of money. He surely must have been expecting something else in return as well.

FSN 3.0 said...

Suj, sounds like this guy is a real 'player' - as the term goes.

Maybe they should stop looking at Rap Stars and start looking at iron guys - for tips on being a player.

Makes me think this guy is living the life...for sure.

Kelly said...

Iron guy = press walla

But do all of you already know that and I'm just stating the obvious?