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Monday, August 30, 2010

Human Capital

I am taking advantage of the human supply in India. There are plenty of people, more than there are jobs available. Many activities that are nice extras in the US become very affordable and enticing in India. When Doug and I first visited India, we felt the concept of household help was not something we would engage in. It seemed not necessary and extravagant. After a few conversations with my peers at work, it seems like one of my career level is expected to hire these layers of support and in fact, it contributes to the livelihood of the local economy… Still not convinced we resisted the maid for the first few days, only to see that all the house work is much harder in India. Dust is oppressive, no dishwasher, you can only run the washer or dryer, not both at the same time due to voltage restrictions and vacuum cleaners or swifters are just not standard issue.

We have given in. I have hired a maid, Jaya, who comes daily to clean my house, do all the laundry and ironing while listening to MTV India. Our dog appreciates the Bollywood white noise. I come home to a VERY clean house and happy family because I am no longer yelling at everyone to pick up, wash the dishes and put away their clothes. Next on the docket to hire is a cook, I am either left to buy processed imported American/ European food for high prices OR buy whole ingredients and make Indian dinners from scratch. I am really not a cook, much more of a warm up in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes kind of girl. Since having an oven is not standard in India either, I have to find someone who really does know how to cook. Yes a kitchen with a beautiful granite counter top, stainless appliances but no oven or dishwasher!

Finally, I have a driver, who is really like a life guide here in India. In addition to taking me to work and shuttling Doug on errands, Javeed helps us negotiate for help, manages our household employees, and assists in shopping and regular home maintenance. He is very knowledgeable and has expedited our adjustment to Bangalore life. He is worth his weight in gold. Any of these services would be out of the question in the US unless I was independently wealthy…even then I am not sure I would find someone so pleasant to actually do these tasks.

Other small fabulous things available are: 45 minute Swedish massage for $16.50 USD including tax and tip; spa manicure $11 USD including tax and tip…. And many more items I have not yet had the time to experience. More to come …

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