Growing up in Mumbai in India (where labour is easily affordable), we were always surrounded by helpers. And while we had one full-time helper, we had many other part-time “specialists” who would come to perform specific duties. One would come for sweeping and mopping the floor, another to clean the bathrooms, yet another for dish-washing and a separate one for cooking. Then there were hourly helpers too – for washing the car, walking the dog, gardening and other small jobs.
Growing up, it was fun to have all these different influences around. Some maids would even bring their kids along so we could play together! I attribute my fluency in local Indian languages (Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi) to these daily interactions. But while it was amusing for me, I’m sure it wasn’t exactly fun and games for my mother, who besides looking after us full-time, also had to manage this army of helpers!
When we moved out of India 13 years ago, that’s the one inheritance I did not carry with me. I was very happy to have my house, hubby and kids all to myself and, apart from one brief spell of having a full-time helper, I thoroughly enjoyed the privacy and peace of mind that a “no-helper home” offered. What I did not know is that most Asian cities are not made for life without helpers.