The domestic activities part of day-to-day life here in India often strikes our guests as fascinating. So many services and little life luxuries that are simply not available or affordable for most folks in the west. However convenience comes with a price, and for me, the morning routine can sometimes lead to a serious bout of grouchiness with the incessant ringing of the doorbell.
You have to understand, I am decidedly NOT a morning person… it is best to not expect a coherent conversation until after my second cappuccino. However much I yearn for an easy morning ritual, I instead contend with a series of door bells which typically goes like this:
- “Ding dong!” It is 7:00am, and the doorbell rings as the deaf-mute newspaper boy proudly announces the arrival of the daily newspaper.
- “Ding dong!” It is the press wallah asking if we have any clothes for ironing… or delivering yesterday’s bundle of clothes neatly pressed for a mere Rs 4 / item.
- “Ding dong!” The security guard / car washer comes for the car key. Now, you may ask, why does
the car need to be washed every single day? Aside from the regular muck one gathers driving, our building has no covered parking. Instead there is an abundance of trees – lovely to look at and do an admirable mini-battle against the ubiquitous air and noise pollution – however trees also attract large flocks of birds who delight in practicing their projectile poo contests on cars. Remarkably, their little blobs invariably manage to get into the door cracks.
- “Ding dong!” The courier arrives requiring signatures for delivery of some statement, junk mail or other sundry paper items… Yes, you do need to sign for it rather than it being stuffed in the lonely empty mail box.
- “Ding dong!” Well drat! We again forgot to put out the garbage the night before and it’s the kachara walli come with a bright smile to see what needs to be taken away. Of course sometimes it really does need to be directly handed over lest the crows get curious and strew unmentionables all over our doorstep.
- By this point, it is discovered we are short of milk, sugar, eggs with a call going out for delivery… a few minutes later another “Ding Dong!”
- “Ding dong!” It is our lovely maid come to do her magic on dishes, floors and more. Now the outside world has come into our home in earnest…
- “Ding dong!” The car washer comes to return the car key, pass on any building gossip or vital message from ‘the society’.
- “Ding dong!” It is my partner’s driver laden goodies sent by his 83 year old mother – a feisty lady and phenomenal cook!
- “Ding dong!” Is it the meter reader? The khabari wallah to buy old newspapers and bottles? How about daily dudh (milk) deliveries? What about fresh pav (bread)? No thanks!! Please not another person coming to ring the doorbell every day – no matter how convenient the offered service may be!! The daily dozen “Ding dongs!” are quite enough – thank you very much!
Now granted these services are part of a symbiotic relationship that truly DO bring convenience. However one can’t help but yearn for a peaceful morning, sans interruption, to slowly awaken, enjoy the first sip of coffee, flip open the paper, listen to the birds’ morning song… Til that actually happens and the car goes unwashed, garbage remains, clothes wrinkled and dust gathers in the home. I think I don’t mind that “ding dong!” after all.
Do you ever find yourself frustrated by the very conveniences you equally immensely appreciate?
My doorbell doesn’t ring much, so this sounds like a production! My cleaning lady does arrive around 6am though. Does that count?
My doorbell only rings in the mornings when somebody’s forgotten their keys to the building or when a repair/service guy needs access. This happens about once a week. It used to annoy me. But you’ve put that into perspective for me now 😉
It never used to be such a production! For years lived in a different apartment where the security guards kept most at bay plus a pair of fabulous ladies (with keys) managed the balance in afternoons while I was at work. Moving, changing domestic arrangements and most significantly having a more flexible pace largely working from home means I’m now on the front line of all the ‘ding dongs!’
[…] “Ding Dong! Or inconvenient conveniences“ remains my most popular post! A dear friend and professor of anthropology at Ithaca College, plans to use it this fall in her course as a depiction of every-day morning routines in India – how cool is that? […]