Sunday, September 27, 2009

Misery of a Different Kind

(New York Times)


It seems families in Jakarta, Indonesia have problems this week. It is Ramadan, and household help including nannies, maids, and chauffeurs are all heading home, in mass, to their hometowns. This has left the wealthy to deal with their own problems. Many of these families use this time to travel, but some are actually checking into hotels as the stress of dealing with their own children, meals, and driving is more than they can manage. One mother said she thought it was good for her children when their maids left, as it forced her children to get their own glass of water, for instance. After all, they might live somewhere like the US, and won't have the help to which they are accustomed.

The household help, who make between $5 and $8 per week, probably count the hours until Ramadan, don't you think?

This is not a challenge most of us understand, I'm afraid.

26 comments:

TheChicGeek said...

So true! It's really unfortunate for both the rich who are missing out on the everyday joys of raising their children and the poor who have a hard life.
Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

Hugs to You, Nancy!

Nancy said...

How strange!!!

Natalie said...

My bro and sister in law (overseas) have always had 'help'. It annoys the living daylights out of me.However, the 'help' have done wonderful things for my neice and nephew....they are beautifully behaved children.xx♥

Lydia said...

"...probably count the hours until Ramadan, don't you think?" is one of the funniest lines I've ever read, when in context of this interesting post! You're good, darned good!

Sylvia said...

Well, I must say that this situation is NOT an exclusive of the Muslims. I lived in a rich zone in Portugal and everybody had servants and the children didn't make any effort to get what they wanted too. As to me, I never had servants nor wanted to.

ellen abbott said...

Oh those poor dears, having to get their own glass of water, having to look after their own children and fix their own meals.

We always had a maid/cook when I was growing up but she certainly wasn't a servant and my parents made sure us kids knew that.

It's a shame when the rich take advantage of the poor.

Hilary said...

Wow.. heaven help these families if they ever fell out of riches. How would they cope with real life?

luksky said...

Wow! I live in the wrong country. :-)

DJan said...

When I was a teenager and we lived in Georgia, we had a maid who lived in Americus (where the first race riots of the 60's occurred). My dad let me ride along once when he took her home, and I was appalled at the living conditions I could see around me. But she was dependent on the job, and I began to think about all this...

Brian Miller said...

how odd. and sad. what they must miss out on during the day to day.

The Good Cook said...

I bet there is hell to pay when the servants get back from their vacation....

wendyytb said...

Well... It seems that slavery is not dead.

How unfortunate for those servants and nannies. I am sure that they appreciate their meagre wages, but I have to wonder about the effect on those children they are raising. Chances are...even though their parents have not raised them...they will grow up to be just like mom and dad.

pranksygang said...

you are right!!

CrazyCris said...

ummm... not to sound like an over-priviledged child or anything, but my family also had live-in help when I was a child. For 8 years in Mexico we had a live-in maid, but that was pretty much the norm there for a middle-class family (at least having someone come clean several times a week), and so even more so for a fmaily living on a US income...

But she wasn't a "servant" per-se, she took care of the cleaning and laundry and some of the cooking (my dad did most of that), we were always in charge of our own rooms, making our beds etc. And she was gone every Friday evening to Sunday evening and then we were the dishwashers. I remember as a child being upset that my parents always programmed big dinner parties on the weekend and then we'd get stuck with all those dishes!!! :p Fortunately being 3 (or often 4 when a friend stayed over) it was frequently a goofy/fun task.

As for "getting a glass of water" not only were we more than capable of doing that for ourselves, we were always running around doing it for my mom who had this lousy habit of yelling out from her office "can someone bring me a glass of water?!" :p

But I do "blame" this "fortunate" period of my life for current extreme distaste of housework... as soon as I can afford to have someone come once a week to clean my place you bet I'll hire them!

Rain said...

Geez....reminds me a bit of the novel/movie "The Secret Garden"...that came to mind when I read this!!! Maybe I'm tired, but here's another tangent, lol...your post made me think of a documentary about a man who survived Rwanda. When he first arrived in Canada, he was surprised by the automatic doors, he said the first thing that came to mind was "Canadians don't like to open their own doors?" I guess the cultural "misery" is different everywhere.

lakeviewer said...

Interesting, unusual perspective.

Lily said...

We look at it as pitiful because of the culture we grew up in; but is it really any different than a two or three car family when others have to walk?

As long as the person is treated well in their job, they probably don't see it as slavery. They probably see it as a good job. There are worse things than watching kids and doing housework.

It's sad though that they miss out on so much of their children's lives.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

A different slice of life, for sure.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

A college friend's family lived in Malaysia. I recall him saying one day how when he visited, the maid had cooked something special for him. "You have a maid?" I asked. "Everyone has a maid," he answered rather flippantly.

My other friend shrugged his shoulders and said, "Even the maid has a maid."

Thought of that when I read this.

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

Amazing how parents can't cope with their own children's needs. And here I thought this was a problem that only existed here in the states!

Whitney Lee said...

You know, I wouldn't say no if someone else wanted to mop or clean my windows and baseboards...However, I consider that a small price to pay when I am able to stay home and raise my daughter myself.
It's actually a shame that these people are missing out on the joy and wonder that go hand in hand with spending time with children.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Have you read the bestseller, "The Help", what a great book.

The rich live in a different world.

Marguerite said...

The rich every where have always had servants and nannies. I personally don't understand it, either, but if I were wealthy, I might hire someone to do the house cleaning! :)

susan said...

I guess those rich people must not be Muslims since Ramadan started this year on the 21st of August and ended on September 19th. Do you suppose the servants are pulling a fast one to get another month?

♥ Braja said...

I have "hired help," as they say, but most people I know around here treat them real well; it's part of the culture. I don't know why one would be "annoyed" at someone having help, it sounds like envy to me...but I'd definitely be annoyed at bad treatment....and it's not because they have servants that children become rude and lazy----it's because of their parents....

Phoebe Miriah Kirby said...

What a stretch! Their own glass of water! They might even have to tie their own shoes, heaven forbid. ;)