Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Life with a Didi

As I wrote yesterday, the minor frustrations I may encounter are thus far outweighed by the opportunities that have come my way -- for example, taking a hike on a random Thursday or going out to the field to meet with BPW Patan's women borrowers.

Then there are the benefits that actually make daily life a bit easier than my old routine in the U.S., counterbalancing the poor maps and unreliable cell phone network. The biggest perk is our didi, or live-in housekeeper. In Nepali, "didi" translates to "older sister," but it is also used as a friendly term to address a woman and signify a housekeeper.

My landlord, Tia, hired Geeta a couple months ago. Geeta is in her early 20s and has a young daughter who lives with her parents in her village. Seeking domestic work in the city, she ended up at our home and lives behind the main house in a separate building, where she has her own bedroom and kitchen.

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Although many didis cook every day, Geeta mainly handles cleaning, laundry, and shopping for fresh vegetables and fruit (she gets a better deal than I do when I go to the local market by myself). Geeta also provides a wake-up call with tea in the morning (for Tia, it is tea and toast, but I prefer to make my own breakfast).

A didi is great, but I am still getting used to the idea of live-in help. It is strange for those of who have always made our own beds, scrubbed our own kitchens, and prepared our own tea. I probably say "thank you" at least twice for any given task she helps me with, and I think that is a fine habit, though most Nepalis would probably think I am crazy for doing so. To them, the help is the help, and you do not need to thank them for doing their job. I still can't get over the fact that Geeta brings me tea every morning, so, thank you very much, I am going to continue saying "thanks."

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