Thursday, September 07, 2006

Ulla Inga Hansen Yansen Yallen Tallen Sweden Swanson

Recently I was talking to a friend in India who was telling me how after her baby was born she has three maids and is so harried managing them and the driver .. ensuring things are on time. S-i-g-h ... all I get to worry about is the tube running on time. Anyway, I think I prefer it this way. I'm not sure I'd like someone else constantly in the house. Having a cleaning lady once a week keeps us going. Its anyway not the cleaning which is as much of a problem as the ironing. Both, Bee and I, hate ironing . . and since our current house has no balcony, we use the dryer which makes the clothes come out like someone has taken out a lifetime of frustration on them.

After moving here one of the first things I did was find out about a cleaning lady. So I get a contact, call up and we fix up for a particular day. The appointed time comes and goes and she’s not there .. I start panicking and then the bell rings - sigh of relief - I open the door for her. A short digression - before moving to London, we had a sweet Filipino lady who came once a week. She was really nice and very chatty. I open the door expecting a version of her (no reasonable basis for that). Instead, I am greeted by a taller-than-me, smart, blonde lady. Now, I have nothing against tall people but when I am in my shabbiest house clothes I do find someone taller, thinner and smarter a little intimidating. My first reaction - she reminds me of 'Ulla Inga Hansen Yansen Yallen Tallen Sweden Swanson' (was half expecting her to say that) from 'The Producers'.

After my initial shock, I gather myself together and show her the cleaning supplies. She tells me that we are very under-stocked and gives me a long list of things to buy. I thought separate cleaners for glass, kitchen, oven, bathroom, floor, general purpose (the catch-all!) would suffice - apparently not. With my promises of being better prepared the next time, she gets to work. I was making coffee for myself when she arrived, so offered to make her some. . she didn't want coffee but tea. Which was fine till she added that she had it with lemon and not milk. That sent me into a frantic dash about the kitchen looking for the tiny piece of lemon I am sure was around - as it is I have an under-stocked cleaning supply image..I did not want to add under-stocked kitchen supplies to it! Lemon found, tea done, I am back at my computer. Then I notice she hadn't taken off her shoes. . . it bothered me a little but I felt way too intimidated to say anything. As a general rule we take off our shoes at home because it keeps the house cleaner. After a few minutes of stewing over it, I muster the courage to meekly ask her if it would be ok with her to take off her shoes since we stay bare feet at home. She immediately obliges adding that she had initially not taken them off since apparently the British wear their shoes at home ... to which I mumble something about the Japanese taking off their shoes at home. In my mind I'm thinking - Japanese... what's the relation here.. and why the hell did I say that.

That was day 1 with our new cleaning lady, who I now lovingly refer to as Ulla. She's not really that scary .. and even offered to get me the balance of the cleaning stuff we needed. We've made our peace all is good..and anyway, as a rule I am very nice to anyone who does my ironing. But, just to be on the side of caution and self esteem, I make sure am bathed and well dressed before she comes.


Me said...

Wow.. what luxury to have someone to do the cleaning. Well, if I had one, my house would definitely be way under stocked on everything.

And shoes you say.. I was surprised that quite a few homes in Austria where I lived for a while have the same tradition too. Removing footwear. The surprising package was when I had to remove my footwear to enter a classroom too.. It's catching up all across the world :p

Grafxgurl said...

its so nice to be able to wander about in any old clothng when the indian maids turn up....sigh...i love the bliss.

our thai maid is the same...only she is probably a hundred times better than any indian maid i have ever know n in terms of effeciency and instruction retention!

Pea said...

[Me ] Look around sure you can get someone to come in once a week for the cleaning.
Interesting about taking off the shoes ... esp in a classroom.

[Grafxgurl] True about the efficiency and instruction retention. Our earlier Filipino lady was three hours she'd make the house shiny clean and iron a mountain of clothes! Ofcourse, there's less dust and a million cleaning aids .. but even otherwise.. though maybe, if you paid the same rate in India (which even at PPP is approx Rs 100 an hour) you'd get someone that good.

Celestial Fundy said...

Removing shoes keeps homes a whole lot cleaner. Well done for mentioning it to that lady.

I have an whole blog about removing shoes in homes: Shoes Off at the Door, Please You might like to take a look.