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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Why women should have cooks?

Women are supposed to cook -- or so some people think -- so, why on earth should they have cooks at home?

Recently, at a friend's house, we were discussing the growing trend of women, especially working women, going in for cooks. A case of a young family who appointed a cook is what started off the debate.

''When she can cook so wonderfully well, why should she keep a cook?'' asked one. ''Her work timings are convenient and she has enough time to prepare food for the small family."

Said another, "There are so many busy women with bigger families who manage without cooks...'' The arguments went on.

I found this reasoning horribly flawed. It missed the changed circumstances in which many women, and also men, work. Priorities have changed.

Earlier, many women worked primarily to supplement the hubby's income. Her priority was the kitchen. That's also the way she had been brought up.

Today it's not so, may not be in all families but in many families. Women supplement not the hubby's income but the family's income. There is a thin line of difference here that needs to be understood.

Today, even a middleclass girl grows up with dreams of a career and being independent. Many struggle with the stereotyped traditional idea that placed women in the kitchen.

Today the gender gap has narrowed. A working woman is no different from a working man. Eight to ten hours of work in the office leaves her -- just as her hubby -- with hardly any energy to do work at home. She is just like a man who would prefer to watch TV or just sleep rather than do any work at home.

It's not that women can't cook. She is employing a cook, only like a man appointing a driver or a cleaner for the car. It's not that the man can't find some time to wash the car himself.

There is also the issue of money. The family has to have enough wealth to afford a cook, or even a cleaner for that matter. If there is no money, there is neither a cook nor a cleaner. If there is money only for one; then it depends on the priorities, often determined by gender equation.

Unfortunately, this is not a point many guys, especially elders, easily understand or are ready to accept. I am an optimist. May be there is a change happening; too slow to notice perhaps.

15 comments:

  1. Great post, Pradeep. In fact, I agree with the part of wanting rest. When I was working, I felt this way, especially after 10-13 hour days on occasion. Of course, in U.S., hiring a cook is only for the super rich, so I continued to cook. The one thing missing when a family member doesn't cook for the family is that making food with one's hand is an act of love and care for the family. When a cook does this work, something is missing from the food. For instance, when I got married and our family from India were here, we all made a meal together. Each of us had a role and that was the most tasty, memorable meal I had ever had!!

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  2. The point about the hands of a family member carrying love, is true. It's that which is missing when cook prepares the meals.

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  3. I was raised in a house of working parents -- both working and both sharing the household chores, including cooking.
    We hired cooks whenever we could. In fact, we (the children) encouraged our parents to hire a cook, because they were so tired after a long day's work and we wanted them to relax.

    I can't believe this is still an issue in our country, especially in urban centers where women are educated and work. (Thank God for guys like you :) )

    There is nothing -- nothing --- about cooking or other household chores that only a woman can do.
    Men can do it just as well.

    If men find it a drudgery, so do many women.
    There are women who love cooking and there are men who love cooking too. There are men who hate cooking /cleaning and there are women who hate it too.

    There may be several housewives who don't care much for cooking and would rather spend their time reading or taking a more active part in raising their children, or engaging in other hobbies, and I find nothing wrong with that either.

    The rest is just about the values and stereotypes you are raised with.

    Thanks for the post :)
    SS

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  4. Hats off to you for this post! I have tipped this off at Desipundit. In my office, the younger married gals have cooks...while the older women still get questioned by husbands and inlaws to the need of keeping cooks which they think is nothing but extravagance!

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  5. I think the guys who actually see their wives slog in the kitchen after coming home from a 12-hr workday understand the need to have a cook. In a lot of cases, they initiate the whole idea of having a cook (because as a woman brought up the Indian way, it's tough to let go of the kitchen - the guilt factor is huge, even if you find yourself coming home at 9pm and starting to cook).

    The people who don't understand are probably the ones who haven't experienced it first hand :-)

    P.S: Here via DP.

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  6. I've tipped this off at Desipundit. A very nice post. I guess this attitude problem of women employing cooks is only with the older generation. Hope this changes very soon.

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  7. "Unfortunately, this is not a point many guys, especially elders, easily understand or are ready to accept. I am an optimist. May be there is a change happening; too slow to notice perhaps." - Great Post :) and this is known as generation gap

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  8. The good thing about India is that cooks are quite affordable- at least if I compare that to the U.S. standard. Middle class families can not hire a cook - it is not economically feasable. So to make food fast we eat out alot or eat frozen meals or almost ready made meals in a hurry. Of course this is becoming common in India too. So you are lucky in India that you can hire a cook because at least a cook will cook homemade items and not fast food items. This encourages health....

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  9. Pradeep, you can't be more right!! When the topic of engaging a cook surfaced at our home recently, it got shot down instantly by my mother in law. Although she knows that I have a very challenging job that keeps me away from home, and all I long for when I get back is a good sleep, she still insists that I should cook considering that my family is small and less demanding. The only good thing is that she feels that her son should help out!

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  10. all said and done, are maids/cooks available these days in banagalore? even in the late 80's it was difficult as they were easily finding more gainful employment at the textile factories..

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  11. Thanks a lot to everyone who jotted their views.

    Maddy, there are maids available. The growth of Bangalore has rubbed off on them too. There are many who have come to the city from villages. The other side is employing one could be costly, though not always given the extent of poverty we have.

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  12. "There may be several housewives who don't care much for cooking and would rather spend their time reading or taking a more active part in raising their children, or engaging in other hobbies, and I find nothing wrong with that either." - Liked this part the best because I m one of those sorts. I have been able to pay attention to my kids' education and other trainings and to my own scholastic pursuits simply because I did not have to worry about reaching home fast enough to cook and serve food in time.
    Great Post - considering that it came from a man. Thanks for your sensitivity towards the fact that women too get tired. Not many men, even today, understand that.

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