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Every year thousands of poor illiterate unskilled women flock to Delhi from villages across the country to work as domestic help This is how Fullin from Athgama in rural Jharkhand Lovely from a tiny settlement in Malda Golbanu bibi from Doparia Mae from Kokrajhar and a Santhali girl from Annabiri in the heart of Maoist country find themselves in the nation's most powerful city working for its richest people This is how tycoons and refugees politicians and orphans—India's one per cent and her 99 per cent—rub shoulders every day under the same roof We eat first they later often out of food portioned out for them; we live in the front they in the back; we sit on chairs and they on the floor; we drink from glasses and ceramic plates and they from ones made of steel set aside for them; we call them by their names and they address us by titles sirma'am sahibmemsahibWith in depth reporting in the villages from where women make their way to upper class homes in Delhi and Gurgaon courtrooms where the worst allegations of abuse get an airing and homes up and down the class ladder Maid in India is an illuminating and sobering account of the complex and troubling relations between the help and those they serve

10 thoughts on “Maid in India

  1. says:

    This was interesting to a point but I think it was really written for an Indian audience who might have identified with the stories of the employers I can't think the maids would ever have had the wherewithal or education to get hold of and read this book Which really says it all doesn't it?The choices for the rural poor seem to be back breaking physical work starvation or go to the city and be a domestic worker Even the best employers work their maids and cooks than 10 hours a day and underpay them compared to non domestic jobs As in Saudi Arabia Jordan and Lebanon view spoilerI watched a documentary last week on the appalling treatment of imported domestic workers into Lebanon and Jordan hide spoiler

  2. says:

    Maid In India examines the people who live on one of modern India's most visible class fautlines India's millions of domestic workers This book tells their story and explores the mechanics of this off the grid informal sector of employment It examines employee maid power dynamics the dignity of labor and the slippery ladder of upward mobiity Cognizant of the cushioning of class Lahiri manages to impress upon you the human impact being a maid has on the maids themselvesWell researched with human stories adding multiple perspectives to the narrative Maid In India book makes you see what it's like from the other side with all the struggles the bad bosses the low pay the dehumanizing class tensions and the thirst for better living conditions It also makes you appreciate how much indebted your own position in life is to your privilege something that we all need to be reminded ofLahiri's detail rich writing is incisive when the situation calls for it and manages to shake you out of your own carefully crafted complacency At the same time there are a few too many ancedotes and it can be hard to keep track of all them something that makes parts of the book drag on for a bit

  3. says:

    Although the book's effort to point out the upper class's hypocrisy ignorance and barbarity along with the plight and struggle of those who work for them is commendable I really wish its writing and editing there are uite a few typos in it would have been better Especially because there are such few books talking about this subject Had its sentence construction been less convoluted and its language simpler I think the book could have been accessible to a lot people Also the way its put together is a bit haphazard For example a single story will be broken down and spread out across different sections of the books which have different themes making it hard for one to get a good overview I really didn't expect an Aleph book to be this poorly edited and proofread Despite all this I would still recommend it because the subject is an important one and needs our attention

  4. says:

    Interesting book about an often overlooked because it becomes to seems so natural area of life More like several long feature magazine articles weaved together than single book with an agenda and a point to make which is fineThe organization of the book however was a little confusing

  5. says:

    Very cut and dry and boring Rwad till 16% but the structure of the book didn't fly with me— of having a separate chapter of each pawn in the game the maid the madam the sahib etc She'd done lots of reporting but the writing itself is not very good Lots of places it's like she is not clear on what she wants to say or hints at something but doesn't expant or say it clearly because she either does not want to take sides on a social issue; or hasn't formed her views clearly yet Not worth the time even though this is probably the only contemporary book on this subject Wished it was easier to read in terms of writing style and structure

  6. says:

    The book started on an interesting note bringing to light the discrepancies between India's social classes perceived or otherwise and went on to build on these with real life stories and incidents However halfway into the book you tend to forget the purpose of it as it starts feeling increasingly like an amalgamation of random stories that follow the expected routine of good employer deceiving maid or bad employer oppressed maid Post that it felt like a drag somehow trying to reach the finishing line aka back cover with no real way of knowing what and if I'm going to learn anything new by making the milestone Don't think you'd miss much by skipping this altogether

  7. says:

    A much needed book about the class ineualities in the employer domestic help dynamics It addresses the privilege blindness and hypocrisies of the self proclaimed progressive peopleI wish the stories were better organized The book seems to be cut into disconnected parts Hard to tell what the connecting theme of the stories in a chapter is

  8. says:

    Made a good start but soon after its just drifted into too many interviews and stories and lost the main focus of this book Could have been better Maid in India seems only maids working for upper middle classes of Delhi ignoring the other regions and sociological angles Disappointed

  9. says:

    Purest form of stretching a concept to a humongous form of boring Simple stories transformed into a complex book with even complicated writing Haphazard chapters talking about the same characters that you seem to lose a track of Disappointing

  10. says:

    A nuanced well researched book on an extremely important topic Contrary to other reviews I actually enjoyed the layout of the book and its focus on stories and anecdotes If you're living in India and are employing any type of staff you need to read this book