Sunday, August 3, 2008

Of Mona Lisa Devi, Abhishek Bachchan and DVD players


Living in a big city, people adopt their lifestyles to suit the times. The 'bai'* became a regular feature of the Mumbai cityscape sometime in the 60's. My grandmother refused to employ a bai until she broke a few of her bones. My mother, progressive and liberal had a bai pinned down even before she had a house. And as the years rolled on, the bai found herself an integral part of our family mosaic. Sometimes aloof, sometimes interfering. Sometimes working too much, sometimes slacking. However for good or bad, our bai she remains. Apart from this unusual bonding we share with our bai, another unique thing is our bai herself. A mass of contradictions, intelligent and crazy to the point of hilarity. I have come to accept her sayings as gospel and listen to all her gossip with the air of a cynic and she never fails to crack me up.

I shall call myself Mona Lisa Devi, bai announced to a shocked home one day. I later realized that it was due to the Da Vinci craze. My intrepid bai, ever questing for knowledge and going where no bai had gone before had come across the Da Vinci fever and had decided to call herself that. An act of self promotion? Advertisement mania hits bai-land? Bai's explanation was simple: Sounds phunky. I must reinvent myself with time no? Mona Lisa shaves 20 years of my age and then these über cool households might want to hire me.

That wretched girl. Bawlat mulgi. Kayko shaadi karneka…she wailed. Bai was upset. Understandably so. Aishwarya Rai was marrying Abhishek Bachchan, and bai's heart was broken in a million pieces. Such a nice boy and so handsome no? The she-devil must have ensnared him. Sly vixen. What will Amitabh do? Parents can't control their kids nowadays. I am afraid. I don't like the way that Sunil carpenter fellow looks at my Varsha, but I have to go to work no? I cannot sit around all day long looking at my kids. I know exactly how Amitabh must be feeling. Ah… the perils of parenthood.

"O Tai…DVD ghetla me" bai's sing song Marathi rang through the house. Bai does it again. She purchased a DVD player so she can watch movies on her 'kemputar'. Truly her resourcefulness and alacrity never fail to amaze me. I gaped open mouthed while she carefully studied our DVD collection, deciding what she will borrow for the weekend.

I, as usual was left speechless.
*bai = maidservant

15 comments:

swatimala said...

aah, the bai, widout him we cant do!

jai bai!!!

buddy said...

jai bai!
bai zindabad

maami said...

by the by, before saying bye-bye, bai knowing bhailog also?
p.s nice read

buddy said...

heheh...our bai is a 'don' herself...shes the dada of our area!
Thanks maami :D

padmaja said...

In Chennai, we don't have Bais.. But I do have a Nepali cook who was born & brought up in Vijayawada! And when not working, she talks non-stop to someone on her mobile phone in Hindi and/or pure telugu!!!

buddy said...

nepali cook telugu cheptundaa?
too much!
does she make momos with molaga?

lemonade said...

our maid is so awesome..an extension of our family :) they just become such an integral part of our lives after awhile, and not just because they help us..its just because of who they are

buddy said...

i agree...my bai cried when i was leaving home..i never expected it!

chocoliciousgal said...

I agree with lemonade...I really like my bai..shes a sweetheart... :) :)

maxdavinci said...

When I was in mum our bai was full hep! She'd watch streethawk on DD, even though she nvr understood the lang!

buddy said...

heheh..bai's are the most hep!

sthitapragnya said...

Waah! Kya 'bai' hai!!
Let me share a 'bai' tale too!
We lived in UP more than 20 yrs back, when my brother was just a few months old. We had a Punjabi bai who adored him. Everytime she'd pick him up she'd affectionately address him saying "Abey gadhe".
My mom hated that bai!!

buddy said...

@Sthitapragnya: lol...i have nothing more to say.

sthitapragnya said...

Even I had nothing else to say when my mom first told me this!
Bais! *rolling eyes*

aandthirtyeights said...

This is really funny. I wrote a post long long ago - a short story of sorts, with an ending plagiarised from Woody Allen, about someone called Mona Lisa Devi. And I just thought of the name off the top of my head - just because it sounded funny!

The link's here.