My cook has given notice. Her only daughter has passed H.S.C. and joined professional course, now she wants to reduce her workload and is quitting all 'cooking' jobs that she was doing. She will continue to work till we get new cook. So we started hunt for the new cook. As almost everyone in our society-67 flats- have cooks, i thought that it will not be difficult to get one, but a month has passed and we are still looking. It's not that we did not get cook. The cooks we got either had problem with our set up/timing of 8-9 in the morning etc etc or we couldn't adjust to their timing of 1pm, their style of cooking,tasteless food etc.
I always had cook. When i was young, we were in SoBo and my mother had Maternity Home. In those days we used to keep patients for 10 days after delivery and food,tea,nasta was provided by hospital. We had Rajastani cook( Maharaj) who prepared full meal twice a day in our home kitchen.On Sunday morning 'Feast' was served and no food in the evening. Food was good or atleast would taste good for few days. But we got used to it and i had no problem with eating in 'Guju mess' in KEM hostel. In mid seventy we closed the hospital and moved to 7 bunglows, Andheri. Now problem started.
We looked for Maharaj. There were few working in JVPD,but they would not like to come to-then faaar away Versova. In those days there were very few societies in 7 Bunglows,4 Bunglows so it was really difficult to get cook. Problem was solved by our 24 hrs maid- who had to help my wife in cooking anyway. Now she was given additional charge of cooking besides looking after my daughter,jhadu-pota and washing utensils. She was good worker and was from my wife's 'maike ka gaon',so for entertainment she would constantly argue with my wife. But we were free from looking after home and children. She took good care of children and younger one was almost raised by her.Besides she was good cook. For those 8 yrs we could concentrate on our Hospital practice. She left us when her son got married and she had to take house in Dahisar for them. She wanted to relax and enjoy life with her grandchildren.
By now our area was well developed one and one could get Marathi Bai as house maid who would cook as well. Few of them had graduated to do only cooking. One could get Bai to come and roll out 'Chapatis' - most difficult and tiresome part of cooking.( How i wish that we could get 'Rotis' or 'Chapatis' as in USA.). But we had got used to 24 hrs maid who would cook for us. This continued till mid Nineties when one day the maid left suddenly and we had to do ALL the work in the house. We had tough week or so as we had to do everything and also look after hospital patients. Then we decided to adopt policy of 'Divide and Rule'- i.e. divide the work. Have one person for only one job. So we had 24 hrs bai, another one for Jhadu Pota, one for washing utensils and 'Maharaj' for cooking.
There was one advantage with Maharaj. They knew cooking !! Taste was always good. They could prepare different dishes and cuisines. Now we could get all those Farsans-Dhokla,muthia,kachori,Samosa...- and Mithai prepared at home. He could prepare Chinese,Thai, Italian food BUT ONLY VEG. Jain yes but not even eggs. We couldn't prepare eggs for breakfast if he was around. Disadvantage was that he wouldn't listen to Home Minister. He would prepare food as he knows it. You want different taste, then prepare yourself. He was always in hurry, so any additional item was pain for him. and worst thing, since his family is in Gaon, he would take long holidays 2-3 times in a year.He would give substitute Maharaj, but substitute Maharaj was doing this work in addition to his normal workload, there was severe time constrain for new Maharaj,who would simply not turn up at your place. This sudden disappearance would destroy our schedule for the day and we had to rush home to get cooking done from other servants-remember divide and Rule !!. besides each visit to Gaon would be preceded by 'Advance' which was to be deducted from his pay when he returns. This advance amount would slowly mount to a level when you know that now you are never going to get money and he may leave work if we demand often. Come the 21st Century and our Maharaj decided to go to Gaon for small family problem. From there he phoned that his Son is getting married and he is building new 'Home.' By this time we had also got tired of managing with 'Locum" Maharaj( He was 5th or 6th one in a year). Children had left-Daughter got married and Son left for US. We used to travel to US and stay there for extended period. Hospital was looked after by Daughter so we decided to change track.
We had learned doing Household work in our private 'San Jose University-USA'( Son's Home). Now even i could make normal daily food. Since it was prepared by me,taste didn't matter. Wife is good cook. In US we got used to packaged cut Vegetables,Rotiland or Kawans Rotis and Parathas. So we asked our Ayah bai( Mausi) of the hospital to come home after her duty hours to cut Vegetables and roll out few Rotis. My wife would put masala or instruct her what to add and wait till food is cooked. For variation we could always order from numerous restaurants in Andheri-west,where 'Free Home Delivery' is norm.
After five years of this bliss, now this 'Cook' has given notice and....