Thursday, November 29, 2007

Raj "Speak" and managing our household staff

OK, now while I miss Tom and I love him, I also appreciate the work he does with the kids... AND, I DO understand his role as household staff manager. However, 2 conversations with Raj (our cook) this week UNDERSCORES how vital Tom's job is to the health of our family...

Example # 1 (also a good example of Indian "help", culture and parenting):
Kay has spent the day getting into trouble, not limited to, but most distressing, climbing into the medicine cabinet get at the strawberry and cherry flavored medicines. It seems she has run out of her hidden stash of chocolate and is resorting to this, similar to an alcoholic and cough syrup. As Raj wants to prevent an accidental overdoes, he asks Jimmy to open the "American food cabinet" so that he can give Kay chocolate instead of strawberry flavored medicine.

(Quick aside, this food cabinet has a child lock so that Kay (and others) dont get into it, eat all the chocolate or god forbid, make beef jerky into a hot cabbage casserole. So, yes, the child lock is for the kids AND for Raj although it seems that Jimmy is a locksmith and now knows how to open it).

Now, I realize that this story is wrong on MANY different levels, but here is the conversation between Raj and I when he tells me the above....

Raj: Ma'am I cant open the cupboard, so I asked Jimmy to do it for me.
Tracy: Why did you need to get in there?
Raj: So that the kids will like me
Tracy: Excuse me?
Raj: With Sir gone, I need the kids to like me and listen to me and the only way to do it is to give them candy.
Tracy: Raj, you are in charge, they dont have to like you, but they do need to listen to you. You can put them on a time out or tell them "no"
Raj: (Laughing at the silly white girl) - Oh no ma'am, I cant tell the kids "no", the best is to give them chocolate
Tracy: (Trying one more time) Really Raj, you can discipline them when I am gone
Raj: (Smiling blank faced look, like I just told him that we have sent a man to the moon) Yes Ma'am (toggle of the head)
Needless to say, I find chocolate wrappers around the house for days after this incident.

Example # 2: Raj has met me at Jimmy's guitar lesson and is telling me about the kids day and what he made for dinner (he's very very proud of his day by the way, as he should be!!)

Raj: Ma'am, dinner is there
Tracy: Great, what did you make?
Raj: Jimmy had brown mutton and noodles, he loved it, its his favorite
Tracy: Thanks Raj, II know.... what else is there?
Raj: Your and Sir's favorite, I made the brain
Tracy: WHAT?!

Saravanan is now laughing and Raj is looking at me in shock

Raj: Yes, Ma'am, you like it, you eat it for breakfast many times
Saravanan: Yes Tracy, you like it, I had it for lunch its good. I thought it was egg, but today I learned its brain. Its good (he's laughing...)
Tracy: You are kidding right?! (I know EXACTLY the dish he is referring too, its like a very delicate scrambled egg dish with veggies)
Raj: No Ma'am, its very healthy for you
Tracy: Oh Man, Raj, now I cant eat it, I'm totally grossed out. I know, it tasted good and I ate it before I knew what it was, but now I just cant.
Raj: (again, the dull look like I am speaking Cantonese or like I just landed FROM the moon but this time accompanied by giggling) Its good for you Ma'am, you like the taste

Saravanan is now laughing hysterically.....

Tracy: Really Raj, I cant eat it. You shouldnt have told me. Does Tom know? Is he hiding this from me?
Raj: Yes Ma'am, Sir knows.....