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Monday, 5 November 2007

A maid. Saigon. Early 1970s. Memories of Vietnam

A photo of one of my maids. These girls usually worked as maids, cooks and housekeepers. They would often take care of the children, although with very young ones it was advisable to have a nanny for them.

I can't remember how much they got paid. That was dealt with by one's wife or girl friend. They weren't expensive. What they really needed was board and lodging. A roof and food were what counted.

You had to be careful choosing them however. There were many instances of the unwary hiring a maid, going off to work and coming back to find their house stripped clean and the maid disappeared. Hence the wife or girlfriend taking care of the hiring and firing.

I know I got through quite a number. The first one I had when I arrived in South Vietnam was marvellous. Unfortunately she had a family and couldn't move around with me. She also knew too much about me as well. One of the few women who was tolerant of my girl friends. The only one I've known who would serve me a cold beer in bed.

The last one I had in Saigon was excellent as well. But she had been with my wife's family for many years and also had a great deal of patience with my ways which the younger one's didn't always have. One of them put the spider in my soup. Another tried to wash my suits along with my shirts. Another couldn't answer the telephone as she'd never seen one before.

On the other hand they were always well treated in the family. We had a very easy going relationship. The Vietnamese were used to having servants and in my opinion got on very well with them. Doubtless others could say it was different, but I'll stand by that.

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