Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Modest Proposal

There is an epidemic of lifestyle diseases and obesity in the Indian middle class.  Middle class folks, both men and women, complain that there is very little requirement of physical activity in their lives.  Nobody would argue that this complaint is frivolous or imaginary.

There is also a growing awareness of human rights and of the rights of the disenfranchised.  The daily wagers, the bonded laborers, the child workers, and so on, arouse a lot of sympathy and pity in the hearts of the privileged lot.  I have no reason to doubt the genuineness of their feeling.

Lastly, people emphasize that they want to indulge in physical activity, but gyms are inconvenient (traffic, gym memberships being costly, and so on), there are no public spaces in big cities in India to jog or exercise in the open, and therefore exercising is logistically tough.

I have a modest, simple, easy-to-implement proposal which can solve, to at least some extent, all three of these problems.  The proposal's simplicity, however, should not lull or delude you into thinking that it will be found acceptable or agreeable.  The reasons for rejecting this proposal can lead to many an interesting coffee-table conversation.

The proposal is simply this:

Give a weekly, or the weekend, off to your household maid or full-time house-servant.  And having given them their holiday(s), proceed to do the household work yourself.

I am assuming that you value the respite from going to office at the end of the week.  There is no reason to withhold this very essential of reliefs from your maid or your servant.

Household work includes cleaning the floors and the kitchen, and doing the cooking, laundry and ironing.  Done properly, a moderate-sized house should occupy the better part of a couple of hours of your weekend mornings, on both Saturdays and Sundays.

This work will not only lead to physical exercise, but will lead to many other benefits.  You will finally clean the nooks and crannies that your maid has been ignoring, you will wash the clothes properly (cuffs and collars getting special attention), and you will finally put to use those cookery books that had been gathering dust.  Also, you won't need to spend money on those expensive good-looking breathable exercise clothes.

If both the husband and wife are employed, both should collaborate in the housework, dividing the responsibilities so that there is minimal possibility of coming across each other in what is sure to be an irritated bunch of mornings.  If only one of the spouses is employed, or if you are single, then it is a no-brainer as to who should be sipping coffee reading the paper and who should be sweating it out.  But I have compassion for the employed as well.  Why should his or her body not get this most valuable of opportunities for physical exercise?  I suggest that he or she should volunteer to clean the public spaces around his/her house.  The civic sense this is sure to inspire will be invaluable.

Moreover, if you are married and only one of you is gainfully employed, dispensing with the maid altogether may be an excellent decision.

(The title of this essay is inspired by its namesake by Jonathan Swift.  Also relevant is an excellent illustration of the value of housework from a rather unknown film, Carnal Knowledge.  The film comes highly recommended.).


Anonymous said...

More to support your proposal!

The Sex-Housework Link (source: WSJ)
Housework cuts breast cancer risk (source: BBC)

feminist said...

"Moreover, if you are married and only one of you is gainfully employed, dispensing with the maid altogether may be an excellent decision."

And if you are a single male, maybe marrying a maid is a good idea as anyway that's what you are conveying by the above sentence.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@anonymous, thanks for the links.

@feminist, nice try at trolling.

Anonymous said...

1.Is there any NGO in India that recruits beggars on streets to clean up the streets and act as Trash Police for wages? If not maybe it is time to start one.
2. Media should promote programs highlighting the importance of personal and environmental cleanliness.
3.Neighborhoods can form their own neighborhood watch for shaming people who thow their litter around.