Sunday, December 02, 2012

The Nanny Hunt

We moved to Hyderabad in May last year, leaving behind a comfortable existence in Mumbai where I had my trusty nanny, a live-in maid AND a part-time cook. An existence that had turned me into a privileged mother who never had to wash a poopy nappy, put together a meal or even know where the broom was kept. All that changed when we moved and HOW!

In the last one and a half years, I have had a patchwork of part-time maids for cooking and cleaning with many gaps in between (filled by yours truly) but I hadn't able to find anyone who I could see as someone with the potential to be a caregiver to my children. It was not for want of trying, and I did go through a few candidates but none of them lasted.

Every time I complained about my nanny-less existence, the husband resorted to his standard solution to our problems - he thought we could get a nanny by advertising for one in the local newspaper. I thought it was a ridiculous idea (which nanny reads the classified to get a job, right?). Having run out of options, I finally decided to let him give it a try. The way I saw it, it was a win-win solution. If it didn't work, it would give me the right to some well-earned 'I told you so's. If it did, I would have to eat some humble pie but with a very desirable side of free time that actually having a nanny would afford me.

I had forgotten all about the fact that we had placed the ad when the first phone call came in last Sunday morning. It was a man and he was hoping to apply for just the cook part of the nanny-cum-cook position we had advertised for. I told him we were looking for someone who could do both and were only looking for a lady, the latter being something we had neglected to mention in the ad. *facepalm*

Then we proceeded to get a series of calls for the rest of the morning, almost exclusively  from men. And these were all well-spoken men talking in almost pitch-perfect English. One of them was even willing to take on the babysitting part of the job. It was intriguing, to say the least. Who are all these English-speaking men responding to an advertisement for a cooking job? Are there are a lot of unemployed hotel management graduate types floating around? Or is the recession pushing educated yet unemployed men to seek their fortunes in less traditional (for men) domains? Puzzling. Very puzzling.

In the afternoon, I finally got a call from a woman. And what a woman she was. She called herself a governess and immediately informed me that she only worked for NRI families and since we had advertised (apparently not something resident Indians do), she had assumed we belonged to that category. She then proceeded to list her rather impressive list of skills - baking, driving, homework assistance, to mention a few - and her even more impressive salary expectations of Rs. 25,000 per month! Oh, and she also mentioned that she was used to staying in five star hotels when she travelled with her charges and expected two days off every week. Hmmmm...

Clearly, men hog the newspaper in the morning and the women only get access to it in the afternoon. What else can explain the fact that the women only started calling post-lunch? Given the fact that the ad had been in an English newspaper, we got a lot of calls from women who were ex-teachers. Some of them even seemed promising but most never showed up for the interview. They probably weren't willing to downgrade from teacher to nanny, when the push came to shove.

Finally, I interviewed four women in all. Two were ruled out almost immediately since they were pretty advanced in the years, unfit and had other issues that can broadly be clubbed under the head 'I didn't get good feeling about her'. One, an ex-teacher, seemed very promising but she never called back - I think the fact that there were household duties beyond babysitting involved did not appeal to her. And then there was one.

So the one we have finally taken on is a young girl of 22, but she seems mature beyond her years - it probably has something to do with her having been married off at 16 and being the mother of two kids herself. She is also reasonably fluent in both Hindi and English, which is a relief since the language barrier has been one of the big reasons we haven't found anyone so far. Finally, she doesn't seem to have any hang-ups about helping around the house.

Three days in, it has been a mostly positive experience. She is pleasant, eager to please and enthusiastic. And most importantly, the kids seems to have hit it off with her. I am still not sure she is 'The One' and whether I will feel ready to leave the kids in her care for a majority of their non-school hours. But that, only time will tell. Right now, I am just enjoying a piece of the leisurely existence I had hoped for when I had decided to take a career break.


  1. oh, its heartening to know that you've found someone and she might possibly fit the bill too. The language barrier can be quite a problem in Hyd. I too had quite a bit of issues with maids and other sundry problems with the plumbers, carpenters and the likes. Although, I did settle down quickly in comparison, I'm quite happy to be out of that place ;-)
    Good luck, Rohini..nice to see you back .:-))

  2. Oh we struggled so much in Bangalore to find the perfect nanny. I guess we need to go the paper route and agency route, haven't tried that yet. And that "do not get a good feeling" is almost always right ;)

  3. Good you found someone.

    And the 25k lady - tell me about it, have seen quite a few like that - know one here who charges 45k and has her own TV and fridge in a room specially for her. but as my friend (who employs her) says - the nanny is the reason she can go and work and earn many multiples of what she pays her.

  4. 1. I couldnt comment on yesterday's glad you took up the marathon challenge...would love to read you

    2. Gasp on that lady working only for NRIs wow! thats pretty..well..pretty surprising for me honestly

    3. Crossing my fingers and praying that you carry on with this one and she comes 'The One'

  5. I am still chuckling over the men probably monopolizing the newspaper in the mornings, and women get it only later in the day :).

    Fingers and toes crossed, that this is going to be "the one" and we're going to see a LOT more of you here!!

  6. [Uma] Ha ha. Yes, I have to agree I haven't quite yet developed an affinity for this place and would not be entirely sad to leave :)

    [Simran] All the best with your nanny search.

    [Choxbox] Yeah, these women are way above the regular nanny profile so only right that they charge accordingly for their services. And there is definitely a market for them - but even as a working mom, I was a very hands-on mom and don't see myself going back to a job that would not let me be one so the value of such a nanny is questionable. This women who called me last worked for a surgeon couple who were hardly ever home...

    [R's Mom] Thanks :)

    {Aparna] Nanny or not, I am going to try and do this marathon blogging thing even if kills me. I have borderline task completion OCD :)

  7. Anonymous5:30 pm

    Like I was talking to you that day, I still don't get the degrade from teacher to a nanny specially in the Indian context and men calling for that work is really surprising

  8. They are open to nanny jobs but most of them are pretty clear that they will not do any other work around the house, which is where the cookie crumbles.

  9. The menz applying for baby sitting is something that freaked me out a bit :)

    25K/Mo??!! Chox, 45K/Mo. Too much Marry Poppins influence!

  10. Waw lot of interesting facts about the nanny search and response to your add.

    I hope you get the much needed "me time" now.

    blogger is not letting me comment,I think I am not entering the words and number correctly..last try..

  11. Wow!!! Am so happy you got some time for yourself.... I am sure she will be 'The One'....

    Needless to say, keep us posted.

  12. Anonymous9:32 pm

    We've been searching in Bangalore for someone who can cook, clean and look after the baby (live-in). It's so difficult to find good people - just like you said. Anyone else here has any pointers on how to go about looking? Any help will be much appreciated :)