When I moved into my new shared apartment on Saturday, I was shocked by how messy the living room was. Honestly, one of the major reasons I chose to live here was because it was super clean when I visited it the previous Monday. I couldn’t figure out what turned my roommate into a slob until I saw our ayi (in Shanghai, we call cleaning lady ayi) enter the apartment. I then realized that she had cleaned the apartment the day before I visited.
My roommate is from Hubei Province and she has lived on her own ever since she was 18 years old. Obviously, she is capable of keeping the house clean but she has become lazy since she realized how affordable it is to hire a cleaning lady to do the housework.
Our cleaning lady is very good. But the ayi who cooks for us is disappointing. The food is not tasty at all; even I can cook better. My roommate said she will teach our ayi how to cook and write recipes on post-its and stick them on the fridge. At first I thought she was kidding. She is an excellent cook and now she wants to pay someone to cook for us who needs cooking lessons.
And why do we need two ayi anyway?
Young Chinese are getting lazy. Most of us are spoiled because of the one-child policy. Parents and grandparents treat us like emperors and empresses. One of the reasons I decided to move out from home is that I want to be more independent. My mom is in charge of all the household chores at home and she doesn’t want me to do any housework as it is not my duty. Obviously it is. In my opinion, parents should make kids help with the housework and teach them the value of hard work. A child’s duty in the eyes of parents is to study hard and get good test scores at school.
When I moved out, I expected to do more housework. I even downloaded a few recipes from the Internet. We have a really nice kitchen and I would love to cook in it. All I can cook now are eggs. With an ayi cooking for us everyday, I can rarely use the kitchen. I’m afraid I will lose my passion and motivation soon as I know someone will cook for me every day just like my mom did.
Many expats and young people in Shanghai struggle to imagine what life would be like without their beloved ayis to pick up after them. One of my local friends complained about his wife, “I could get an ayi to clean the house but it doesn’t mean my wife should just sit around all day.” His wife does not have a job nor do they have children!
I think I will have a serious talk with my roommate. We need to fire at least one of the ayis we have now. Cooking can be a pleasant activity. She could just teach me how to cook and we could cook together sometimes. It would be much better than having terrible food. As for the cleaning part, I suggest making Saturday morning cleaning time. Cleaning the house is a good way to exercise. Mom told me that’s how she keeps fit.