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.