04 January 2009

The Didi Dramas

Didi is the word for "older sister".  It is a polite word that is used far more regularly that you might imagine and is generally applied to any woman older than you in a much more comfortable way that going "hey ma'am" - which reeks of facetiousness and is disgustingly unfamiliar.

Didi is also generally applied to a lady that does your washing for you.  If you are super lucky, you might have a didi that does the washing, cleaning and maybe even some cooking.  I'm just a washing kind of guy - I think its best for both her and me if only I have to deal with my mess.  

There have been some interesting stories flying around about my friends' various didis, and what they get up to.  A&G for example, employed a didi that took objection not only to the type of washing powder that they elected to use but also to the cord they had bought for hanging their clothes and their dishwashing detergent.  This would probably be understandable in a land like Australia, where people miraculousy develop allergies to different forms of chemicals, tomatoes, peanuts and hard work, but amazingly, people here seem to get by without all that garbage.  There were suggeestions of some kind of pilfering scheme that was going on, and if there wasn't, then there probably should have been.  A&G's staunch devotion to the products they had already purchased, that were also cheaper than the ridiculously overpriced stuff their didi wanted was enough to end their relationship.  For 6 months now A&G have been washing all their stuff by hand.  That sounds a lot like the aforementioned hard work, so I don't think that option is for me, plus I have much more interesting things to do with my weekends.

JKS&C (who I believe now have a K and a T living with them) are in a phenomenally ridiculously large house (as you could probably assume by the 6 residents they have living in it).  Supposedly, they have a 9-5 didi 5 days a week.  Overkill you say?  Well you are probably right,.and it seems she agrees because apparently she shows up at 10 or 11 and leaves at 3.  There's other dramas associated with that but they are way over my head and probably not for public discussion [for the details go to www.dirtonthedidi.com....shhhhh]

Katherine has found the idea of locating a didi and trying to communicate what she wants done all too confronting so opts to walk to the tourist section of town with her load each week and pay for them to clean it, which is probably a more cost-effective option however more labour intensive than the one I employ.

I simply leave my washing at the door on Sunday and Wednesdsay nights, and she comes to take it away in the morning, returning it that night or the next.  The most difficult part is remembering to put it out.  This has proven to be more of a challenge that a normal person might expect, but as I think my didi (Reeta) has a washing machine and dryer, so a bigger load later in the week doesn't really seem to be much of a issue.

My drama starts when forgetting to put it out one fateful Wednesday two and a half weeks ago.  I thought "no problem, there's always Sunday.  Monday morning however, I woke up swearing, knowing that I had forgotten to put it out again (she's busy doing other people's washing or being out and about, so Monday and Thursdays are the only days she is prepared to allocate to me).  The next Thursday I was leaving for work and tripped over my bucket of clothes, as they hadn't been collected - "oh what's going on here then?  that's ok, I can make it to Monday with the clothes I have at the moment". The following Monday was similar, only I caught Danesh on his way out:

Me: Is Reetadidi here?
Danesh: No...coming

The "..." probably represented a rather important part of that conversation I didn't understand, as Reeta was not coming, nor was she actually anywhere near Kathmandu.  My investigations led me to believe that she might have gone back to her village for some local festival.  Complaining to Gemma, that I had gone for almost 2 weeks without any washing, "Gemma, I think my didi's gone bunk", she cleverly suggested that I might be capable of doing it for myself for a change, just this once.  With my underwear supply desperately low, that's exactly what I started doing.  Until today.  A conversation with Laxmi (the lady that keeps the lovely garden downstairs) relieved my troubles.

Me: Laxmi-didi, is Reeta back?
Laxmi: Yes, yes, you must have big pile, dirty clothes!?
Me: Yes, I do

Later tonight, Laxmi came and knocked on my door with Reeta in tow.

Laxmi:  Reeta is back, see?  So you have clothes tomorrow, isn't it?
Me: Yes, tomorrow, OK. OK.  Hi Reeta, did you have a good holiday? Good festival?
Laxmi: Her father died.
Me: Oh. ...

Nice Rob, very nice.


Amy xxoo said...

Way to put your foot in it Rob. Did you know the Nepali ( or Hindi ... or whatever )for " Oh...i'm sorry for your loss " ?

Dash said...

my brain stopped functioning after that...i satisfied myself with being pale and looking a the ground

Tamara said...

Eek! A slight case of foot in mouth disease... No worries, I suffer from it too.

In SA we call our cleaning ladies "domestic workers". Mine comes once a week on Tuesdays to do the ironing and the floors, and I also managed to stick my foot in it by interogating Margareth (yes, with a "th") about her children. Turns out she lost one to a car accident last year. Eep!

LadyFi said...

Here from Strange Shores.

Oops - it's always terrible when you end up with your foot well and truly stuck in your mouth.

Cairo Typ0 said...

Here from Strange Shores! :)

I had a friend who was in Katmandu for about a year. I reccomend a little ketchup or hot sauce to go with your foot. :p