As I took more and more interviews and asked the questions all in marathi (translating my questionnaire into marathi so that both maids and employers would be able to understand it is something that Tejal tai and I had worked on together) I realized all the possbile problems I could encounter.

The employer obviously wants to come across as a very kind, caring and generous person which, unfortunately, not all are. In one of my questions in the questionnaire, I ask if the employer and maid talk about anything besides work (chit chat).

The employer would take it as what I had intended to ask and respond with “yes all the time, about the weather, family etc”. However, the maid would first hurriedly respond No, no of course, thinking that I was asking how focused they are at work. After responding no, once I changed the question a bit, asking if they chit chat with their employer, the maids said “oh of course, yeah sometimes about weather, news, family”.

The issue with this was the word being used in my question. Since I had written the original questions in english, I translated the “besides work” into “kaam sodun” which technically (to the maids at least) means that you leave the work you are doing behind to chat with your employer which is obviously unacceptable.

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About Vaidehi Dongre

Vaidehi is a sophomore majoring in International Studies with a focus on Southeast Asian political economy and development. After graduation, she is interested in obtaining a JD/MBA in International Law. Vaidehi will be working with scholars in Pune for four weeks to explore the difference in relationships between female employers and female maids depending on age group and income level.

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  1. It can be really tricky to adjust wording, but it’s great that you discovered that sooner rather than later! It’s really cool you can do the translating yourself too. A friend of a friend was doing research in Africa on abusive working conditions in small villages and had to go back and forth through two translators, and the process took a really long time to iron out all the small nuances of the differing languages. Looking forward to hearing more about everything!

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