Help – in the Indian context


A friend asked me “Do you have help?”.

She was actually implying how I manage my job , family and a toddler .

I said yes, I have a cook and a maid. And the friend says ” That’s good ”

A few minutes of her asking that question, I sat down to write this blog note

When people ask this question, they usually mean ” Do you have some one that can help”

Is that all I wonder ??? Is help only in the form of additional hands ??

Of course, having that trust worthy someone, that can manage a home and the baby and allows you to whole heartedly pursue a career is indeed a bliss or a dream… How many of us have that luxury ???

A lot of working woman have that arrangement , where either set of grand parents take turns to take care of a baby and manage the home, while the lady gets to worry only about her career and job.

A lot of friends tell me , the grand parents manage the child and the child’s entertainment. The young couple takes care of “earning the money” and “keeping their career” without much alterations or major adjustments post baby. And that means not having to worry about groceries, bills, about refilling gas cylinders on working days, daycares, the associated illness that comes with sending kids to daycare etc.

Well ! we don’t fall into that category and hence this post.

As a working woman in her mid 30’s,it matters to me that I raise a child that is cared and loved for, it matters a lot more that I have a career that I am happy about, that I am not giving up my job because I had a baby. It also matters a lot that I have personal relations intact with my family, ensuring that I get back into a home which is not a bachelor pad ( and that means I am not entering into my house just to sleep and wake up to rush to work, that the fridge has edible food and not rotten stuff that was forgotten to be taken off and thrown away because I was too busy with work).

If I chose to do what I did for many years at work, since it gives me comfort and gives me some flexibilities such as a work from home occasionally – Isn’t that a help??

But if I am adamant, worry a lot about my career and make a move and take something very challenging that involves late working hours and travel ,it might help my career a lot. It might boost my confidence and make me happy. But it would not help my family at all. We would suffer if I am not home by 7 P.M at least. If I work weekends, we might have to leave the kid at an all day program on weekends too.
So while it helps my career, it gives a lot of headache and some friction in my life and lots of guilt … So is that help at all????

A few days back I talked to a very good friend, an ex-colleague, who left a very accommodative team because she wanted to grow technically.The price she pays for it is by working 7AM – 7PM , saturdays and sundays , once per month. She is told by her boss she is not very accommodating . This girl travels from Vijayanagar to Marathahalli and leaves office by 6 P.M so as to reach home at least by 8 P.M. . I asked her , “but aren’t you adjusting by working weekends? What more do they mean by “not an adjustive kind” Do they mean any shift, any time of the day ??????
To boot, she is a working mom and manages because she stays with her in-laws.She does not get a work from home.

I guess the word “Help” is so complex in modern Indian homes where women pursue a career and manage pretty much on their own

A help would mean

-Knowing to drive a car and staying independent
-Staying closer to work so you manage time more effectively
-Having a accommodative boss/team
-Work that you are familiar doing, or at the least that allows you to go home to see your kids before their sleep time !!
– A day time work ie a 9-6 PM or 7PM and not a night shift or UK , AUS or US shift !!!! because daycares don’t open before 8 AM in the mornings and they close by 7 P.M
-A accommodative team.. after all who wants to work with bitchy men and women all day??? and then worry and lose sleep and mind on it
-It could be a maid that shows up on time
-A cook that doesn’t mind waiting if you are late from work

..and above all

-A spouse that respects you and your career !
-In-laws that respect you and your career
-A spouse that can pitch in day-to-day tasks such as giving baby a bath, engaging him/her while mom is busy at work

So there you see, the word HELP is so complex.

I actually begin to wonder what do I reply when someone poses me that question !!!

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2 thoughts on “Help – in the Indian context

  1. I agree with the last points that you listed under help..and yes though I would want to have a career I would not want a high hitting one where in I don’t get to spend time with my kid or see her every single night I come home…

    a career where in I get to work and manage my personal life…for which I’m willing to wait as long as it takes for me land up in such a job 🙂

    and when I say I want to reach home early doesn’t mean because I’m a mother and hence but because I’m a parent and I want to spend quality time with me child,period 🙂

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