Monday, July 21, 2008

Getting Used to Having a Cook and a Nanny

We lucked out with our first post being in the "nanny belt" - a term used in livelines discussions for the group of countries that have very affordable household help. At first I thought having help would be an additional luxury, but now I see how - at least in Kolkata - it is a better way to get all that needs to be done in a day.

With running water that is not acceptable to drink, we switched into camping mode the first few days in our temporary apartment. Baby bottles need to be washed three times: regular water, distilled water, then boiled water. Fruits and vegetables need to be sanitized - most popular way is with bleach - before eating.

It is also rare to find everything you need at one store, since stores tend to specialize in one thing or the other. I was thinking of starting a cookie diet for the convenience but I couldn't convince the rest of the family.

Also, it is very hard to schlep Sicily around on shopping trips - no carts with seats and we have given up using the umbrella stroller on sidewalks, too much waste (of every imaginable kind) and broken masonry.

Then Bina and Krishna came into our lives and everything was back to normal. They are two very graceful Nepali sisters that have been working for Foreign Service Officers for many years. Again, we got lucky with being able to hire them. They worked for an officer that just left, so we were in the right place at the right time.

Krishna, the cook, has lived in (to name a few) England, France, Italy and Lebanon. She starts her morning by going food shopping and then comes to our apartment to cook wonderful meals. Since they are both vegetarian, she also knows how to make amazing vegetarian dishes with meat replacements such as soy flour and green papaya. After our stint as vegans (good preparation for India) we can really appreciate how hard it is to make dishes that taste as hearty and flavorful as meat dishes. The image above is of her shepards pie.

Bina and Krishna are very reliable and dedicated. After talking with some expats here for private companies, it can be very hard to find someone that is reliable. One woman has hired and fired three people so far.

Sicily has decided to help as well, since the floors need to be swept every day.


kaushik said...

I have been following your blog for a while after getting the link from An American in Kolkata blog. Glad to hera that you are settling in well. Summer is the worst time in Kolkata but you seem possitive and getting on well. Good luck with the rest. Glas that you found two reliable home help. Consider getting an Aquaguard system (water purifyier). Have you found a permanent place to live yet?

Natalie Buda Smith said...

Thanks kaushik. We really like Kolkata and already have our living arrangements.