Sunday, October 9, 2011

Servants' Day 2011 (Joy of Giving Week)

As part of the Joy of Giving Week, I celebrated  Servants’ Day on October 2nd Gandhi Jayanti, this year too; and this year it was almost the same as last year and yet also very different.  

 his year I decided that the only way to avoid the negative and hurtful comments of last year, ( ) was not to ask for any donations or contributions.  Accordingly I let it be known that this year’s Servants Day was going to be sponsored exclusively by me.  However, one kind old gentleman advised me that this wasn’t right. “Get people a chance,” he urged.  “Don’t shut them out.”  There was something to be said for his point of view also and so I informed friends and neighbors that while I was going to sponsor the event they could contribute if they wished to.

No one did so.   Like the previous year, I was again told that treating the “bais” was not a good idea, that they gave their servants food and clothes; that the “bais” anyway kept borrowing money and not returning it; that I had done this event last year and why do it again; that Divali was coming up and they would have to give the servants something then too;   and finally that if I wanted to waste my money on such a foolish idea, I was welcome to.  Faced with this much hostility, I began to doubt myself.  Was I being foolish?  But all doubts fled seeing the eager anticipation in the faces of Urmila and Laxmi the women who came in daily to help.  

 I decided that since most of the help were fasting, it being Navratri- that’s the nine days of fasting preceding Dassehra  I decided on  sabudana  (sago)vadas,  coconut burfee, potato chips,  rajgira (amaranth flour) laddoos, and lime juice.  (Yep, believe it or not, these are permitted foods for a Hindu fast.) Also like the last year I would give  every help a gift and have games they could enjoy.

Nevertheless, I was feeling a little downcast working on the whole event all by myself.  Then a  couple of my friends called.  They had just learned that I was doing the whole thing all by myself and they insisted they would not let me shoulder the burden alone.  Anju insisted on buying the potato chips and Usha, who loves sweets but cannot  eat them because she is a diabetic, said she would buy the coconut burfee.   Mamta said she would sponsor the lime juice and all of them promised to come over on Sunday and help.  Happiness!!

The next hurdle was requesting permission to use the Club House for the event,  from the Building Committee.  Last year, they had flatly refused it.  This year, I was in for a surprise.   When I went to the Committee Office, I found that the Secretary had left a message saying that I should have the club house at a minimum fee and that if I felt I could not pay the amount, he would pay it. Now that was really nice!

And so, this year’s SD was same and yet it was different. We had the entire building’s domestic help, security staff, sweepers, gardeners, all 60 of them,  playing passing-the-parcel, winning gifts, eating, and giggling at the lucky dip basket.  We had people who were as boorish as last year and we had people who gave generously and thought it was a wonderful idea!

But by far the best part of this year’s Servants’ Day was discovering that I had such wonderful taste in friends!

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