So hiring Upali in the UAE was a no brainer. He would come once every two weeks to deep clean my apartment and miraculously leave my balcony without a trace of the ever-constant sand that blew across the desert. Upali would charge me 20 dirham an hour (which at the time was approximately $5.44) and it would take him 2 hours to complete the work.
Of course, I would “tip” him and that earned me a “You spoil him,” from the Princess (more on her later). My argument was, “He spoils me.” She didn’t tip and apparently she was none too kind to Upali either. He stopped cleaning her apartment.
But Upali was more than a maid to me. He was the kindest and sweetest man. And so hard working. He and his wife were from Sri Lanka and he lived close to my home. Many days I would see them riding their moped around the community and they were always smiling and friendly.
This is Upali: my maid and friend!
Whenever I needed anything; car maintenance, wiring connections, shelving fixed, furniture moved, Upali would be there to help me. He even drove my parents to the airport when I had to work. He showed up in his pressed khakis and white shirt and looked every bit the professional chauffeur. Being alone in a foreign country, I was grateful for all the help that Upali gave me. He is a good man!
Our maid in Paraguay was Miriam. She would work half a day, laundry and all, for 80 guarani (approximately $14.00). We would give her 100 since we had a German Shepherd that shed a lot. We paid her on the high end of the scale.
She spoke no English; we barely spoke Spanish. So most of the exchanges were si, si, muy bien, gracias, all delivered with a smile and a lot of pointing. It wasn’t until after a year that Mark’s roommate realized Mark was calling her Mierda. She would just smile and respond with “Hola, Senior Mark.” Poor Miriam.
It took awhile to get comfortable paying the low wages. Especially coming from America where it’s now an outrageous $25+ per hour to hire a maid! But the locals assured us that it would look poorly on us if we DIDN’T hire a maid. We were giving them jobs when they had none. And, boy oh boy, do I ever miss them!