The grilled shrimps were exquisite, and I got up to get another serving at a 5 Star hotel in Bangalore last month. In walked four women with three toddlers holding their hands. Three Ayahs carrying the children’s toys followed their employers. The servant-ing employers dressed stylishly, had expensive branded handbags, and wore large dark glasses. They occupied two tables, one in front of me and another next to mine, for their kids.
As I watched with dismay and helpless guilt, the employers sat separately and ordered their cocktails. The maids fetched food for the kids, stood and fed them at the other table.
Just then, the restaurant manager came to me to exchange pleasantries. I wiped my mouth with my napkin and, pointing my face at the two maids standing at the following table, asked him.
“What do you think of this?” I asked him. He got my point right away.
“I know what you mean, sir. We do not like it when guests ask their accompanying Ayahs to stand. But people who bring Ayahs do not like them to sit at the same table. Why even some business leaders expect their secretaries to stand and listen to them watching while they eat and speak,” he said.
“Sir, we will arrange a separate table for them right here and offer them free Biryani and some desserts,” he said to satisfy me. I was satisfied that at least the bigotry of a few other 5-star hotels that do not allow Ayahs and drivers inside their restaurants was not practiced here.
“Thank you,” I said and noted his name, Praful.
This famous tweet photo, from some time ago, went viral. Even in a metro coach, a maid sits on the floor, not with her employer and child.
India and a few other countries that keep domestic servants (maids and Ayahs) have grown accustomed to the inhumanness of rules that govern what our servants may eat from our refrigerators, when they may eat, what cutlery they may use, and where they may not sit. We have dehumanized, deprived, and denied them of their basic human rights.
The servants do not feel comfortable sharing the same space as us. We have brought about this inhumanness over centuries and put it on them now. Many of us retort with, “we have no problems sharing our space. They only refuse to sit on our dining table or Sofa”.
We Indians are among the most “servant”-dependent people worldwide. They wash our dishes, clean our houses, feed our children, walk our dogs, drive us to work, and fold our clothes. We call them maids euphemistically instead of calling them what they are, slaves.
We are okay with our maids washing our cutlery, but the same maids cannot use our toilets.
One can clean up a filthy toilet with a toilet cleaner, but no cleaner is available for a filthy mindset.