Oh, you're at home only.

Among the countless problems which I was prepared to face, after relocating to India from UK (after all, phoren country desi dil and all that) the one that I did not anticipate the least, proved to be the one which bothered me the most—the incessant ringing of the doorbell.

In UK, I had my peace, my time, my privacy, my solitude, my art, my writing, my..., my... ,my..---well, you get the picture.  In India, I have my doorbell.

It starts right from the morning and continues incessantly throughout the day, every 15 minutes, I kid you not. We live in a home which has four bedrooms , two of which are downstairs and two are upstairs. I work in my bedroom upstairs which compounds the problem of answering the doorbell each time it rings, as I get more than my fair share of a rigorous work out  by climbing up and down which I never intended in the first place. Please note, I said work.  A writer/artist being viewed as a working person seems to be a concept as alien in India, as Lady Gaga being found doing her next   gig in Bhawanipur, Supaul in Bihar. Not that either is impossible but we have to accept, some things just do not happen.

In my children’s school, the other day, during a Parent-teacher meeting (How I dread those things) a well meaning member of the staff enquired politely whether I am working. With an ever so slight swelling pride in my chest (after all my last book did make it to the best-seller list and my SECOND book has just been released and getting rave reviews), but trying to sound modest, I replied “I am a writer and artist,” the word artist being whispered inaudibly, just in case it would be construed as a boast. “Oh,” the questioner dismissed what I said with a wave of his hand, “You are at home only.

“Yes,” I admitted, “I am at home only”, but I think the sarcasm, the subtlety and implications of my carefully accented stress on the right words had as much impact as a Maa-behen gaali uttered in the streets of Delhi, upon the slightest provocation.

This ‘Home only’  is what I have identified  as  the root cause of the problem of incessantly ringing doorbell.

“Madam, aap ghar mein hi hai na” is a sentence I often hear.(For my English friends, it can be loosely translated as ‘Ma’am, you will be at home, right?”) From my observations in the way it is uttered and by whom it is uttered or muttered as the case may be, it has many connotations.

1.When said by the house-help, it means she will come at whatever time she pleases.
2.When said by the plumber, it means I should NOT grumble if he says he will be here at ten, but rings my door-bell at two. (After all, madam ghar pe hi hai)
3.When said by the ironing guy, it means he is unable to tell me when he will deliver my clothes.
4.When said by the carpenter (who I have had to chase a hundred times, as setting up a new home requires so many things that only a carpenter can take care of) it means the same as when it is said by the plumber.
5.When said by the staff at school, it means “ Home-makers should take care of their children's studies.”
6. When said by the people in my residential complex, it means “Why don’t you come and join us and take active part in the various activities being organised by (a very enthusiastic )residents association?”
7.When said by the newspaper guy, it means I should keep mum even if my newspapers are not delivered on some days! (Madam aap ghar mein hai. Aaj shortage hua .Swalpa adjust maadi)
8.When said by the nice Aquaguard guy who calls home to check how the service is (yeah, they actually checked that!) it means I have to clarify that yes, it is indeed me and not my clone who has answered the doorbell.
9. When said by my children (Mummy will you be home?) it means they will ring the door-bell  fifty times in an interval of two hours when they go to the park to play.
10.And finally when asked  by Satish ( he asks politely ‘Are you at home?) it usually means I have to be around to sign for the courier.

Never mind that a couple of really exciting things are happening in my life, right now—

-- I am working on a COVER Page story for Deccan Herald (I was truly honoured when the Editor called and asked me if I could and I readily agreed)

--I am being interviewed by Radio Indigo  (for those in Bangalore, I will let you know the date of when it will be broadcast--will announce it on this page ) and there will also be a chance to win signed copies of both my books on Air.

-- My second book is getting rave reviews and I am being flooded with mails by those who have read it.

--There is a new addition to the family!! (and I am so totally in love with her). But that needs an entire new post and I promise an update as soon as my doorbell stops ringing.

The door bell ringers (apart from the 9. and 10. mentioned and I truly do not mind the 9. and 10.)  of course have  no clue about the above mentioned exciting things in my life. After all, they are engaged in their own exciting activities which necessitates that my door bell is rung. After all, it is the door bell of someone who is ‘at home’ only.

Disconnecting the door-bell only makes the door-bell ringers turn into woodpeckers on 1000 watt speakers as they unleash their knocking power on my already battered door. KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! (after all madam ghar pe hi hein)

Now excuse me, I have to run-- there goes the bell.


  1. Good post,you are so right, about all those service providers!

    But did you know something, the maids/helpers in my complex don't want to work in a home where the 'memsahib' does'nt work @ office outside, simply bcos she would supervise her, whereas in a office going memsahib's house she would tell her to finish early and rush off.

  2. Anonymous4:14 PM

    That is a really funny post and I must say that you are right. If a woman does not have active work (as in she is engaged in activities like writing, painting, etc), then she is considered to be doing nothing at home. When I start up my laptop for writing/checking my blog, immediately Hubby pipes up and asks me to do something. When I politely remind him that I am doing something, he says "But that's not work!". Oooh! When will India change??

  3. LOL! You are a saint. Such a gentle soul you have. Honestly I would disconnect the door bell! I would, swear. And I would give the kids a duplicate key to the door. And I would train the dog to attack all the others.

  4. Preeti, you made me laugh! You have expressed it so well here. I totally get the frustration. Maybe its time you start telling people around that you are working, really! That may help.
    As for the 9 and 10, please do consider shifting your work space downstairs. I'm sweating just by imagining you go up and down the stairs so often:)

  5. Thats the desi style[ishtyle] after all. Any tom dick harry demands power to barge onto your door beel at his/her own sweet time.
    I enjoyed the narration Preethi-hugs.
    Sush on sushmaspage.blogspot.

  6. :) very nice..
    And here we keep waiting for the bell to ring and once in few weeks when it rings....we get surprised and shocked and delighted - all together - and start scratching our brains as to who could it be..it becomes a Guess Game :) :)

  7. There are days when the door bell rings without stop here too.. but then I guess when you have so much work to do,, it surely can be frustrating. I get irritated when it crossed 3-4 times in an hour, but else presently since I am not doing anything much, I do not mind it.

    Do let us know when is your Radio Indigo interview :) Will try to catch it for sure!

  8. Loved the satire in your writing..
    In spite of all your frustration, you had me in splits, just imagining! And guess all these are an add-on to you being slim n trim (you can cut down on your workout time, maybe);)
    Atleast the carpenters, the plumbers, maids and even the service guy could be forgiven...but coming from the school staff was a bit too much!!
    Congrats on the DH cover page story, Radio Indigo interview, reviews on the second book and on the new addition - saw the pic - she looks cute! :)

  9. My mum works from home too, handling her and dad's firms...and it's really difficult to explain to people that she stays at home but is more than a housewife who has nothing else going on in life. there's a lot of bias regarding this in India. Though I feel working from home, without the 9 to 5 routine is ideal!

    Funny post! the animation is hilarious. Next time at the PT meet at your kids' school, just give a signed copy of your book to the teacher and let her know who she just met :P

  10. Ma'am, solpa adjust maadi :)

  11. Oh I so identify with this situation.I have had to say a stern NO when some well meaning friends ask--can you babysit our kid as we have to go out,you'll be at home only no?[the babysitting part I like,not the taken for granted attitude].

    Loved your second book..looking forward to the 3rd :)

  12. Congrats, Preeti!
    Interview on radio indigo!! Can't wait!!

  13. I can so relate to this after my recent long stay in India....it used to annoy me a lot coz my hard earned (first break for so long after working for 10 years) time off was usually taken for granted.

  14. Hilarious post but how true ! When you tweeted about this I was sort of half expecting this post :)

  15. Anonymous10:00 PM

    Simply and superbly said ! Love it!

  16. hilarious post! One thing I really miss living in the U.S. is not hearing the door bell ring. Hmmm...I don't think I even know how it sounds...miss India for the friendly and unfriendly string of intruders..

  17. I hate being quoted without my permission. And when I figure 10th (last on the list) that's even worse. I do not ask you to wait for my couriers. I may ask you other things, I agree. As for the door bell I definitely don't ring it for fear that the puppy will come charging down and nip me in her excitement. Hmmmm Like the Indian Cricket team I need to do something to move up the pecking order. Probably bunk office, stand outside and ring the bell a few times acting like 1 to 8 (maybe 9 too). Sorryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Will behave in future. Satish

  18. LOL--good read...atleast we got a great read because of your inconvenience.

  19. I can relate totally...u need to tel people "I work from home"...you will still get derogatory looks, but you'll not be dismissed by a hand-wave. You see, 'working' means earning money to ppl

    As for other doorbell ringers, tell them u r not at home between this to this time. They will get a clue after a while...

    These worked for me when I was freelancing fulltime :) (which I am again starting shortly)

  20. Nice post...very well expressed Preeti!! I can so totally relate to this as I work from home too! It's like you have poured out the thoughts running behind my mind :) Loved the post!!

  21. Hahahah... A hilarious post. Acha preeti, lets plan to meet some day. ma'am aap gar pe hi ho naah??? ;) :p :)

  22. good one ! same is the case with my maid.. my roommate leaves late to work.. so she comes at 2pm ! and now she 's asking for a copy of key so that she can come whenever she pleases !

  23. Very funny post...I hate door bell ringers too...cos as Murphy will have it, it rings just when I have put baby to bed :O)

  24. LOL... This is my first comment on ur post... Even I have disconncted the doorbell as my baby will be sleeping... Nicely written...

  25. Nice post preeti :D
    but don't forget the sale's men who keep coming to sale the most useless stuffs...

  26. Makes me think of that dialogue from 'As good as it gets' when they come knocking at Jack Nicholson's door :)
    "Never interrupt me, okay? Not if there's a fire, not even if you hear the sound of a thud from my home, and one week later there's a smell coming from there that can only be a decaying human body, and you have to hold a hanky to your face because the stench is so thick that you think you're gonna faint - even then, don't come knocking."

  27. OH how i relate to this post!

    barely had we moved in, the doorbell started ringing...after 4 years of living abroad, i had kinda forgotten that doors came with bells :P

    its either the guard wanting me to join the resident association or the maid wanting to know whether she can get someone to wash my car. and of course once the boys get home its always their friends wanting them to come down and play or someone wants water or...or......you get the picture...

    i loved the post. chuckling at Satish's comment too...

    both the times i logged in, the bell prevented me from commenting! :P

  28. Suma: :-))))

    Hari: I really liked that movie--yes Jack Nicholson said it so well :) and love his comment too when that woman in the elevator comes gushing to him to compliment him about his writing.

    Sweta: They are fortunately not allowed in my complex :)

    Shilpa:Thanks :)

    Janes ire: yes--always!

    Jaanaki: i have given a key to my maid so she wont ring the bell ;-D

    Gopikaa: I have a doberman trained to attack. :-)))

    Pratima: Thanks! :-) Hope you go my text before u left from India.

    Prerna: It aint so bad :P was just satire :P :)

    Horizon: Thanks :)

  29. Satish: I have no time to reply to your comment baby--doorbell is ringing :D

    Sheila: please come and live here for a few days..Bet you will want to run back :P

    Koffeereading:Thanks so much!

    Ruch: Thanks :)
    Was just writing a funny post..purely a writing exercise :P :-)

    Shachi: ok :)

    Vidya: Thannks so much! I felt good about it too!

    Divya: Oh yes--it is indeed the taking for granted which irks.
    Thanks for the compliments :)

    Ramesh: maadthini saar maadthini :)

    Sucheta: Had started replying to you here--then thought it would be better if i mailed. :P :) will mail sometime.

    SK:Thank you thank you!! Indeed it was merely a writing exercise..Glad you got that! Thanks for the other congrats too :) Does mean a lot.

    Aathira: it was broadcast yesterday..will put up recording/link.

    Life begins:It used to be like that for me too :)

    Sushma:Thanks a lot.It was indeed a writing exercise.

    Life N Spice; see comment above :))

    Ritu: See comment above :))

    Merrymusing: give him one kick from me :P :D

    Asha: thanks :)

  30. Hmm, solitude & time of ur own , those i guess are the lifelines of an artist. And how, sometimes i take that for granted and dont value it enough..

  31. Your post is hilarious!

    In India, I lived in a house, so instead of the doorbell, it was the clang of the gate opening, much to the annoyance of my mother. Now I live in the US, so the bells rings as a surprise but only once or twice a year, maybe even less. Friends come after calling ahead of time, their ringing of the bell is neither surprise nor annoyance.

    Your post brought another interesting thought to my mind - the use of "only" in Indian English to stress the subject. I started noticing this language trait only after coming to the US.

  32. the Door bell really bothers!! i know it pretty well as my mom who is lot tired after all house hold chores ..tries to take a nap..some or the other comes and rings the door bell and if she doesnt go on the first ring they will bang the bolt of the iron gates surrounding the apartment...and the IMPATIENCE of our indians is very irritating...it seems in some countries in africa there is no honking at all..IN INDIA on roads u can only hear to the horns...and see the jaldbaazi of every one!! same is the door bell.. U GOTTA ANS AT THE FIRST RING..people dont wait here

  33. A very nice post...explaining clearly what is happening in day today life.I like the way you write in detail(u don't miss any )and you are my inspiration....I have started a blog-
    http://mysugarandspiceoflife.blogspot.com/.Please provide your reviews:-)I would be grateful:-)Thanks a lot!


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