Wednesday, November 02, 2005

For Whom the Bell Tolls

It’s practically a requirement that if you’re an expat in Delhi you’ll have at least one if not more people working for you. Most people have their help live in quarters attached to their own apartments. That’s just a bit too close for my comfort, thank you. I’d give you horrible mental pictures and examples about my walking around naked but I can’t afford to pay for all the therapy you’ll need if I go down that particular lane.

Last night Hubby and I got a glimpse into what people who don’t have our inhibitions do with their servants. Before I paint this portrait of domestic life in India, I need to remind my friends at CW about the lovely parting gift I was so kindly presented: the crystal bell. The jest, for the rest of you, was that I would use the bell to call my servants. Now on with the story…

I spent last night with a local (non-expat) couple we’ll call Mr. and Mrs. R. I should note for the record that they’re very nice people who have taken me under their wing and treated me beyond well. Tuesday being Divali, we began the evening with fireworks on the terrace. Who set off all of these highly dangerous fireworks: the houseboy, Ramma. He almost got clipped several times but we four had a lovely time watching the results of the pretty pyrotechnics.

Later in the evening, as we sat enjoying drinks that Ramma refilled whenever Mr. R called out to him I noticed something. The room had been beautifully decorated for the holiday with lit candles in every nook. As I beheld this lovely scene I noticed that one flicker was a little higher and more evil looking than the others. Yup, one of the tea lights had gone berserk and was about to set the apartment on fire. Not to worry, dear reader, we called Ramma to put out the flames.

Later as sat down to dinner I noted the small gold bell sitting on the table next to Mr. R. I ignored my curiosity and continued to eat the amazingly yummy dinner. Before long we required more Palau since Hubby had eaten enough for 3 starving children and was still hungry. Mrs. R called for Ramma who couldn’t hear her as he was doing dishes in the kitchen. Not to worry: we rang the bell. A melodious tinkling sound or two later and Ramma had fixed the rice problem.

When the dishes needed to be cleared we skipped the calling out part and went right for the bell. Dessert time? You know what to do: ring the bell. More Indian Cotton Candy sweets for Typ0: ring the bell.

Please note that I’m not condoning this behavior. But I’m not saying that the R’s are bad people either: they’re not. They’re highly cool people, thank you. I just wanted to share this story of the bell and its many uses. And leave you, dear friends, secure in the knowledge that should anything dangerous need to be done; we’ll call Ramma.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Back in the days of yore, for Guy Fawkes night, the grandfather mounded the leaves and branches, gathered the local children and affixed Guy to the top of the bonfire. Fireworks were always the highlight of the night with sparklets as a treat for the younger ones. Ah, the joys of my youth and an obvious passion for the Indian in the household.