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Game on! Old bird 5 – me 1 (finally)

INDIA | Wednesday, 1 June 2011 | Views [283]

I triumphed! Today I succeeded in a battle I have been plotting, failing and finally succeeded in! I beat the maid to the door. I beat an 80 year old lady in a race. And godammit I’m proud because the old girl moves fast and it’s taken a week to do it.

I am staying at a colleagues flat for the week and he has a maid who comes every day. I do not know what she does. I occupy one room and this room remains untouched by broom or duster.  I can only surmise that she spends the day dancing round the flat (I like this idea because she’s small, spindly and about eighty – the idea of her doing ‘twist and shout’ in the living room entertains me tremendously). She’s a sweet lady, but humble and obsequious to the last.

Every day when I leave if I say goodbye, she rushes to the door to open it for me. For me, this is subservient bordering on ridiculous. I can open the damn door. I tried telling her she didn’t have to open it for me and she laughed at me. So, every day is a carefully undertaken battle of strategic endeavour.

It’s complicated: if I leave without saying goodbye, that’s rude. If I pass her to get to the door without saying anything, well that’s rude too. But if I tell her to ‘have a nice day’ she is off the starting blocks faster than a steeplechase racer, sari flying and at the door before I’ve even had time to pick up my keys, ready to bow, scrape and usher me off into my day. This old girl moves fast. There is a 2m straight run from the kitchen area where she hovers and the door, so the art is to get past the kitchen, down the straight, to the door and out before she knows what’s happened, but also without ignoring her or being rude.

One day I made it to the door (‘yes!’) but my shoes are at the door and I had to stop and put my feet in. Too late. She skidded to the door in nanosecond timing after me and was at the lock while I put my shoes on, smiling.


I lie awake at night calculating how to get to the door first:

“maybe if I pick up my shoes, bring them to my room the night before, and leave in the morning with my bag and shoes in hand, I can run past the kitchen, say hi as I pass her, be out of the door and put the shoes on outside.”

Seriously. I lay in bed thinking about this.

I don’t like the idea of a maid or ‘help’. I hate all that stuff, I can carry my own cup, open my own door and tie my own shoelaces. I have arms and legs and they work very well. The ‘yes madam’ , ‘good morning madam’ business makes me uncomfortable. I am not the queen (true, my cousin thinks I am royalty, but he still believes in Santa Claus).

At the hotel I stayed at there was a 24 hour odd-job man of indeterminate job description who no matter what he was doing, leapt to attention whenever I passed in case I wanted anything. He would lurk ominously whenever I ate (I hate people watching me eat) and only broke his subservient quietness to howl “NO!” defiantly, when I carried my own plate back to the kitchen.

Anyway, this morning, the gods were smiling. She was in the living room not the kitchen. This is new, and I decided to take advantage in the deviation from normal activities.

This is a risky strategy because the door to the living room is right by the front door. If she caught me, even out the corner of her eye or suspected my intentions, she would be at the door before I knew it. But while her back was turned and her attention focused on a broom, I sped silently to the door and I made it!!

She realised what was happening and flurried after me, but too late! Even without my shoes on I had won: the door was open and it was in my hands!

We both laughed and it was a sweet victory, but I bet she’ll be plotting how to beat me tomorrow.

I’m ready. Off to buy roller skates…..

Tags: maids, manservants and other species

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