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That ‘Request’ For Special Weekend Menus By Family Can Be Unfair When Even You Want To Relax, Right?

Weekends are a time for rest and fun for the family. But is it the same for the mother and the woman of the house? What about the neverending kitchen work?

Most women will agree with me that they dread the weekends. It’s time for double the stress and double the work. Because when all are busy spending their time idling around the TV or playing scrabble, the mother is busy in the kitchen catering relentlessly to the continuous and fancy demands of weekend food.

The husband asks for ‘garma garam pakode’ because its raining outside and the children want their weekly treat of ‘mummy special’ paratha, pizza, chat, khichadi and what not. There are like millions of rounds of chai and coffee and to add to it, when its just 10 mins before bedtime there is that last round of ice cream with chocolate sauce. And of course, there is absolutely no end to those soiled plates, pots, pans and glasses which she has to endlessly keep on cleaning to meet the next demand in line.

I am really impressed by mothers who can keep their calm and enjoy during the weekends. Society praises working women who can handle work and home with a fine balance. But please forgive me for letting out a closely guarded secret. Working women just love their offices. Because, even if the work is stressful, it’s their time, it’s where they can relax and have 10 mins to themselves sipping a cup of coffee with friends.

Just last weekend, I went through one of the most exhausting Sundays of my life. Morning 7 am, I got the first shock of the day – that it was going to be a ‘no maid day’. So a quick cup of coffee and next one hour was spent in jhadu, poccha and cleaning the last night’s utensils.

After which it was time for Sunday special breakfast. So it was ‘aloo ke parathe’ which took another one hour of preparation time. Of course, after all were full, it was the second round of cleaning the plates and pans and the kitchen platform. Next was preparation for lunch. Thank god for a heavy breakfast, the lunch was light – dal, chawal, roti and simple curry (usually, being in a joint family, the Sunday is elaborate lunch with 2 curries, dal, a sweet, a salad, a chutney, a kadhi or buttermilk).

By around 2 pm and a sumptuous lunch, it was the third round (scrub, clean, wash, scrub) and by 2.30, I was profusely cursing all the ‘Vim bars’ and ‘liquid soaps’ and ‘scotch brites’. Not a single product can clean the pots as easily as they claim. It squeezes out all your strength and energy. By 4 o’clock it was time for tea, coffee. Then again the evening snacks and dinner and a couple of extra rounds of scrubbing and cleaning in between. By around 10 pm I was ready to go to the maid’s home, hold her feet and plead her to come back. At 10.30 pm when my nephew suggested that we have a round of ice cream – I SCREAMED!

I am often asked, what is your idea of vacation? To that I always say – away from the kitchen for even a day is a big vacation. It is not as if I hate cooking – in fact I love it. But it is the matter of all the ‘supporting tasks’ that come with cooking which are a full ‘no no’. So actually cooking that vegetable pulav and enjoying the flavors is amazing. But what about chopping the vegetables, cleaning the rice and then cleaning the pots after cooking? It reminded me of the Hindi saying – “chaar aane ki murgi, bara aane ka masala”.

Can any man sustain the patience in cleaning and splitting the palak, methi, coriander every single week? I am sure the men will lose it in the second week itself. And what about peeling the muttar (green peas), the pomegranates and the father of all – the garlic? YOU JUST CANNOT IMAGINE THE PAIN!

It’s strange, how the extremely monotonous and tiring task of dish-washing has skipped out from the collective conscious of the entire Indian society. Because we in India are privileged to keep a maid to do this inconsequential job. Isn’t it? Where there are numerous brands of washing machines, why isn’t there even a single popular brand for a dishwasher? Of course, considering the foods we eat, it will be almost impossible for even the best dishwasher to clean our stuff. Can any company claim to clean the tea making pot left with the remains of chai patti, malai and sugar stuck to its surfaces? NO. It requires TAN KI SHAKTI AND MANN KI SHAKTI, both in liberal amounts to achieve this feat and only an Indian woman can do it. Period.

Similar is the case with pots in which we have made ghee, khichadi, and curries with a rich gravy. Add to it the number of plates, bowls and spoons women have to clean only because we Indians make our curries and dals with liquid gravies. Along with cleaning the pots, the other task which takes centre stage is arranging them in the shelves and trolleys which requires another half an hour everyday – more if there are more rounds of food on weekends.

The majority of Indian women can afford a maid now a days for many of the kitchen tasks. Some are privileged (and rich enough) to afford cooks. But only a woman knows that it’s not enough. The maid comes just once a day and the kitchen (plus the woman) works round the clock. There is a limit to how much can a woman hand over to the maid at one time. Plus the maid, too, is a woman handling her own home in addition to our homes. For the rest of the day, it’s the woman and her kitchen all the way.

I have seen people (especially men) asking women – “What do you do in the kitchen? You have a maid for everything!” It annoys me, and I can sympathize with these women. People just don’t understand that the work in the kitchen is so regular and so varied, that a woman cannot get completely free from it.  If sometimes, she does delay or leave it, she is instantly labeled as lazy and careless. Isn’t it?

So, my dear ladies – what is the solution to this never ending the relentless kitchen ka kaam? Here are a few options I considered.

  • Ignore it – NO
  • Delay it – NO
  • Hire a full day house help – Can’t afford it.
  • Take the husband’s help – Sounds good. But its risky as they might shock us with some unexpected extra task.

I think there could be some ways by which we can achieve a good balance. But before I think about them and share them, let me just cut my aloo for the dinner!

Image source: YouTube

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