I was first introduced to India’s home helper industry in Kolkata. After the dinner at Tora’s, i offered to help and was told not to worry, someone would come in in the morning to take care of it. As it turned out, there were three of them. They’d come in twice every day, each time for about 2, 3 hours: wash, clean, cook. Since Kolkata is an expensive city, a maid earns about Rs. 6 per month per family. Working for 8 families, that’d earn her Rs. 4800.

My boss also has a “maid” cum “office girl.” From a conversation i had with this super sweet girl (actually, it was in broken english through another employee) i learned that she’s 25, has two kids who live with her parents (in-law?) in Surat, about 200 kms away. She comes back there the first day of each month to see them. She’s been working here for more than a year. Now she earns Rs. 1947 for her 8-6 work schedule.

I found my apartment yesterday (finally!). The rent costs Rs. 2000, with electricity and other expenses, it comes up to Rs. 3000. My roommate (Daina) and I are splitting the Rs. 400/month pay to our maid. The thought of cleaning our own house and washing our own clothes seems very alien here.

Anyway, the apartment is spacious. It’s on the 4th floor, and Daina’s room has a beautiful view of the river. It’s 2 minutes walk from the Darpana school, next door to which is a little cafe, seems like an artsy neighborhood to me.

Can’t say how grateful i am to Daina. She didn’t want to sublet it to my at first, but then she got my text and couldn’t say no. She said she understands how hard it is to find a place here. She herself spent 7, 8 months to land this one.
Not only that, this place is a real luxury to me, after having seen the girl hostel: 20 girls on one floor, 3-4 people in one tiny room, shared bath and toilet. And it costs Rs. 1350. The other place that i asked was a flat with 2 other girls, but the room is tiny, and it costs Rs. 4000, just rent, nothing else included. Ridiculous!