Monday, November 19, 2007

Someone To Watch Over Me


I have been wanting to talk about guards for a long time. They are a unique breed here in India. Most businesses have one. They open the door for you, they might glare at you, check your bag, or even ask you to leave something with them (a shopping bag or camera, for instance) just to remind you that they are a guard. Some of them have guns. Nothing too threatening. In fact, most of them look like left over riffles from WWI or WWII and I find it hard to believe that anyone actually pays for bullets. The upscale houses all have one or two guards. I think their main function is to visit with the other guards and drivers in the neighborhood. If you drive down any residential street you will see groups of men by the roadside, visiting in what is obviously their usual place.

I have been putting off posting about guards because I wanted to include a picture one of ours fast asleep. I find them like this once in a while. When I am without my camera I can answer the bell at the gate, go get the key, open the gate, hold a conversation, re-lock the gate and go back inside without ever disturbing them, but alas, when I have my camera in hand they seem to wake up instantly.

When I was informed that we would have guards I balked. Honestly, who were we that we needed to be guarded? Then I read the newspaper. It seems that kidnapping for ransom is fairly common here. Since we are thought of as "rich Americans" (so not true that it is actually funny) the company thought we might become targets. Usually the ransom is paid and the children are returned safely. Unfortunately, right before we arrived there were a few cases in our city where the children were killed before the ransom note was even delivered. Suddenly the thought of guards made perfect sense. I've secretly always wanted a guard anyway, who wouldn't?

As usual things were a little bumpy at first. We started with a day guard named Opdais and a night guard named Mohinder. One day we realized that Opdais had been working for 36 hours straight (we were told Mohinder was ill) and gave him Rs. 500 ($12.50) for his trouble. Soon this started happening quite often and we found out that Opdais was sending the night guard away when he showed up, telling him that we had requested that Opdais stay because we liked him so well. This lead to arguments between Opdais and Mohinder. And the best part? Mohinder's name was actually Partak! We had all been calling him by the wrong name for about two months! Mohinder/Partak eventually quit. I wonder why. Eventually Opdais butted heads with our cook and housekeeper. Not smart. When forced to choose between the couple who feed us and clean our house and the kid who answers the gate, care to guess who we picked? Adios Opdais! (Oops, I forgot I'm living in India.) अलविदा Opdais!

Since then we have cycled through a few more guards and we have finally landed on two that we call keepers. They are (left to right) Pushpindar and Kaushel Kumar. They are brothers and get along very well. They work long, boring hours and only have a day off when one agrees to cover for the other and works a 36 hour shift, (the security company's policy, not ours) which they do for each other once a week. They help us keep our children safe and we are very grateful to them. Even when we catch them snoozing.

9 comments:

suburbancorrespondent said...

I still haven't gotten past the fact that you have guards. They don't look very threatening, though.

Anonymous said...

I've always thought Schmitty should be under guard. I'm surprised you only need two!

nicki said...

What a fascinating life you have over there! I'd love to visit India someday. I have an Indian friend that's promised to show me around. I can't even imagine having seven kids over there! You guys must stick out like a sore thumb! How funny!

aaron said...

Amy, don't you mean left to right when you're pointing out the guards or do they do it the opposite way in India? "When in India do as the Hindu's do!"

Aunt Carol said...

Not only do the 7 kids stand out the fact that they are light skinned and BLONDES. Oh yes and extremely TALL! Sore thumbs, you are right! I bet even the name SMITH is uncommon.

Mrs. Smith said...

You are so right Aaron, I have fixed it now. Thank you for the heads up!

aaron said...

No problem! I guess that's the proofreader in me! 8^)

Tonya said...

That is so very "presidenty" of you to have gaurd. Uh-huh it is to a word. Anyway, since we are on the same "fluffy" blog, I thought I would check out your regular life blog. Hi ya!

Hunnydu72 said...

You know I would work that perk for all its worth. "Guard this sandwich and if anyone gets near it, kill them with a Bic pen!!!"

"When the mean neighbor walks by, growl like a bear!!"

"I know you've been guarding my house for 35 and 1/2 hours, but could you play a game of Monopoly with my kids?"

I'm just saying, being guarded could be all kindsa (Most definitely not a word!) fun.