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Obama, back up, India has got Sheela!

By Rakesh Khar | Last Updated: Sunday, February 20, 2011 - 16:56
Rakesh Khar
Wah Zindagi!

Sheela is not only ‘jawan’, but has a sharp mind too. This Sheela is not slippery at all. She is pretty much available though at a price, with the highest bidder sure to grab the best slot. Sorry, Mr. Raja, she does not prefer the first come first serve route, instead she is deeply wedded to the transparency of an open auction of time slots. Gifted with a skill set that is hugely in demand, Sheela trusts her business instinct and does not want to suffer any loss, even if it is notional.

This is the story of a barely lettered young girl from West Bengal who preaches the value for money proposition as she builds her clientele hour by hour in one of the many high rise apartments in suburbs of Delhi. Sheela though is not the only one who yearns to kiss the sky. Her aspiration brings her face to face with many like her, who have all been drawn to the big city to materialise their dreams unlimited.

Hold on, before you get any ideas, let us get to the point straight. Sheela and many like her are the new poster girls of this latest episode of the estimated $ 76 billion India outsourcing story. Not just that, as they re-write the rules of the game, they also define together what should soon be officially recognized as the ‘Maid in India’ economy model. Is not local the new global?

Sheela indeed is multi-tasked, but she is a better learner. She is quick to spot an opportunity and bill the client for that. Her tribe has by now pretty well realized that perhaps short of outsourcing themselves, everything else in a typically middle class family in a mega metro is up for grabs. Literally!

Cleaning the house is what it all began with but the business model over the years has diversified manifold and innovation is the buzzword. Cooking, gardening, not just your stray flower pots (that are anyway just a cosmetic way of making the green statement by ‘metrowallahs’), but also your tiny tots and your aging parents etc, the ‘Maid in India’ company is readily available to ‘stand in’ for you. Yes, at a price though!

A closer look at the model reveals unrivalled innovation. Look at the peak morning and evening band in a typical day in the life of Sheela: one hour slot each (with an alarm to sound your punctuality) in the morning at three to four flats, preferably with the charge of cooking under her wing (to settle at least temporarily the power struggle between the daughter and the mother-in-law, if you have one), and the evening band or the innovation band would comprise getting the baby in the house to ‘play’ as you gossip about your ‘Sahibs and Madams’ (not necessarily husband and wife, in fact Ekta Kapoor might have competition here.)

Playful part over, the social aspect of Sheela’s paymaster, gets her to really put her best foot forward to celebrate her client: Getting the old widower or widow out from the safety of his prison to the freshness of the world of possibilities outside. This is not your typical OTC service but one that calls for patience. Sure, that is in available in abundance so long as it does not mean an overlap on Sheela’s date with another old man (at another client). The date might well turn out to be exclusive if you are ready to increase the stakes. The list of day to day critical chores outsourced to the maid is getting longer and interesting by the minute.

Sheela is indeed having a ball! For one she just has to be herself (no Sheeeela please to be palatable to some ‘angrez’ erring customer seven seas away). She does not even have to fear supposedly the most powerful man living on earth Barrack Obama. Why should she? She is not taking away anyone’s job. She is creating jobs for herself and many others like her thus scripting yet another bottom of the pyramid success story.

Why not? After all it is a middle class rat race out here and the ruthless city with unprecedented potential just drains you out and you are barely able to just stay in the queue (to take the escalator). Obviously those who make the top grade and stay there up and running indeed are gifted. Perhaps, for a change, they need to thank Sheela and not ‘Shilajit’.

First Published: Sunday, February 20, 2011 - 16:56

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