‘Maidless in Mumbai’ is a plight of the urban working woman

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dAuthor Payal Kapadia in “Maidless in Mumbai” pens an honest tale about an issue troubling most urban and semi-urban residents: getting the perfect domestic help who understands their priorities, does all the chores without complain and takes sufficient responsibility to maintain the house. But finding someone like that is equivalent to a distant dream in today’s circumstances. The book follows journalist Anu Narain, who has recently become a mother and is in dire need of a maid. She thinks of a “dream maid” and consequently, begins the “interview process”. After some gruelling rounds of interviews with helps whose demands range from three sets of nighties, a mobile phone plan, fish twice a week, to a Bengali newspaper subscription, Anu finds her perfect one in one named Deepu.
But her happiness is short-lived as Deepu abruptly leaves without notice. Thus, the maid hunt begins again. Anu’s situation is extremely relatable to new mothers who have to balance home and career with continuous visits by the quintessential mother and mother-in-law to help them with the house.
Honest and funny, “Maidless in Mumbai” seeks to pinpoint the mountains a new mother has to move, in order to have a career and home in sync. The book makes a subtle commentary on the idea that new mothers have to sacrifice their work life in order to have the home front working and how Anu’s unabashed efforts only prove how she doesn’t want a house in shambles as she’s off to work. But what is upsetting is that though the author set up a premise for talking about the domestic help, she doesn’t touch upon the idea how they’re often exploited, overworked, and underpaid in urban homes. Also, it seems hypocritical that while Anu is rendered as the working woman, the maid, despite being one herself, becomes the subject of mockery just because she belongs to the underprivileged class.

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