You Have a Maid?

No… I have a haus meri.  She comes once a week and does all sorts of wonderful things around the house – like scrubbing my piles of dishes (there are never a shortage of those), washing and then hanging my laundry on the line (there are no dryers here), and dusting my patio furniture (the dust accumulates fast enough here to require a weekly scrubbing).  I thought you’d be as interested as I was about what my clothes look like on a line (and no, I don’t wear dish towels)…

I also have a yard man who comes the same day and trims the verge for me.  Both of them are quite the characters – what with the latter always trying to communicate to me in a language I clearly don’t understand and the former always sending me to the store to get more laundry detergent or peanut butter or dish soap (today it was Beef Crackers.  Beef Crackers?).

Yes, she also requested Tuna.  Ever since Mitchell contaminated my elbow with Tuna slime three years ago, I swore never to make eye-contact with the stuff again.  And now I’m buying it by the handful.

The good news is that my haus meri does actually speak English, so she’s been a big help on the whole Tok Pisin issue.  And when she and the yard man are around simultaneously, she serves as a translator, which itself is more than worth the Tuna.

But what you’re probably wondering is – does Alan really need house help?  How messy can he be?

Well, first of all, I am naturally a bit disorganized – and when you’re throwing two pancake parties a week and experimenting haphazardly with rhubarb stalks, things can get out of hand quite rapidly.  Having the help lets me focus on my students all the more.  Secondly, it’s considered bad form here (for good reason) to deny the help of local people.  In fact, the culture in PNG is such that “independent” folks are seen as a bit stingy – the ones, that is, who want to do everything on their own.  It’s good both as a means of interacting with the local folks and as a way to help them by letting them help you.

If only you could meet these kind folks – you’d surely want them cleaning your house and mowing your grass in no time at all.

13 thoughts on “You Have a Maid?

  1. So what’s with the food? Does she cook for you, too?…glad to know you’re not wearing dish towels. You haven’t put a ring in your nose yet either, I hope.

  2. So, unless I missed something here, we’re to gather from this that you’re using tuna slime for laundry detergent and beef crackers for dish soap…

  3. I bought your book for a Christmas gift (Supper of the Lamb)? Can’t say for whom…

  4. It is so much fun to make friends with and help those helping you!! I had an ayi in China and miss her so much! I love your blogs and pictures Alan! Thinking of you!

  5. from your comment, it sounds as if you have never seen clothes drying on the line before…surely not. and is this a lone sock we see on this end of the line? does your washer eat socks like mine does? hungry little critters, aren’t they? why is the area under the clothesline not grass like the rest of the yard? does it double as a garden, or what?

  6. Hahaha – yes, I’ve seen clothes (my own from time to time) on a line before – the comment was meant in jest. And I had the same question myself about the sock. Who knows what became of it’s partner?

    Some people’s haus meris do cook for them, but the tuna and beef cracker requests were only for herself – she takes two breaks during the day and eats tuna while drinking coffee (to each his own…).

    Sue, I commend you on your purchase. Some fortunate soul’s Christmas is now complete. :)

  7. Alan, keep writing – you have a gift! Back when I was wee, I went on a Wycliffe linguistics trip to Guatemala and even majored in linguistics and TEFL. :) Love your blog, Haynes’ BFF Alexis :)
    Fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith! When you’re tired and weary and lonely, it’s okay because as you lean on the Lord, His might and strength and power become yours :).

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