Mysore maids find better pastures

They are opting for the big, bad City with the big, good money

Today, Mysore women are making between Rs 5,000 and Rs 9,000 per month, food and accomodation provided in high profile residences, as against their income of Rs 500 - Rs 2,000 per month, after working in three to five homes in Mysore.  

This has indeed helped the families see better days too like those of Prabha, and Kamala (names changed), who were in desperate need of help when an advertisement changed their lives for better.

Prabha, with her husband away in Bangalore working for a private firm, had to support her daughter, a student of engineering at a private college in Mysore, with her meagre income as a cook in various households.

Even after working in many places, she could manage to make only Rs 2,500 per month, not enough to keep the family going, not to mention her daughter’s fees. Banks would not give them any loan since they had no collateral to pledge.

For Kamala, the second wife of a government servant, it was a life of contentment till her husband passed away recently. “After that, the first wife’s family started harassing me and threw me out of the house we had built. With zero skills and no previous work experience whatsoever, I had no other go but to look for something like a domestic help or cook with food and accomodation,” she says.

Both women hit a ‘jackpot’ when they landed at an industrialist’s house in Bangalore, happy to be working as cooks and stay together in a room. They earn Rs 5,000 each. That the work begins in morning and ends late night is not something that worries them right now.

“I can now pay my daughter’s fees, along with her staying expenses in Mysore, which is relatively economical than Bangalore,” says a beaming Prabha.  

Mysore, the quaint lilttle city once known for its closeknit families, neighbours who were almost part of each other’s family, and domestic help who worked at homes for decades, is moving up in notches. And for once, it is not the creamy layer that is reaping the benefits, but those who are in the lowest rung of economy.

Maids from Mysore are now migrating to Bangalore and other cities, some even to West Asian countries, thanks to the placement agencies. The agencies regularly place advertisements in local dailies and do a thorough background check before recruiting the women, usually middle aged, for jobs as home nurses, domestic help and child care assignments. Salary is fixed based on the amount of work.

They are assured of minimum medical assistance, two days leave in a month enabling them to travel, and safe work atmosphere.

“We keep in touch with the helper’s and client’s family, and this is a boon for destitute women too. They are usually loyal and committed. For those who want to return, we make immediate arrangements and provide a replacement too,” says Raja Mohan, who visits Mysore regularly to interview the domestic help for homes in Bangalore.

There are grey areas too. There is no redress mechanism for the women in the big city. There are instances of women returning to their city too, happy to be earning little, yet living in a socially secure city, their own.

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