Friday, 1 July 2016

The Life and Lies of a Paying Guest

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone"
-Neale Donald Walsch

An online search for paying guests will give you a lot of accommodation options but hold on! All those are from the perspective of the PG owner who is marketing his product. Further search showed me very few blogs that spoke about actual PG experience and therefore I decided to share my experience with all my readers. In case you have ever lived in a PG, I am sure you will be able to relate and for the rest of you, my blog post can help you brace yourself for what’s out there in the PG World:

The movie Wake Up Sid is one of my favorites. I love the movie because of the lead female, Aisha, played by Konkona Sen. In the movie she is shown to come to Mumbai from Kolkata to chase her dreams, all on her own. I always wanted to experience living in a Metro city in India, chasing the fast-paced metro life, catching up with it and maybe one day, making it through the maze on my own. Two of my close friends, Paridihi and Rushika live in Mumbai. They reflect strong, brave, independent women who are hustling hard and have become my inspiration. My summer Internship in Bangalore after my third year of B Pharm allowed me to take that first step in that direction.

 My overnight bus brought me to Bangalore early on a Saturday morning. I went straight to the area known as Electronics city which was where the company was located. An online search had given me the liberty of selecting from many Paying Guest options available in my area.
Electronics city was a part of Bangalore which I had never seen before. As I was told on my orientation ‘it was closer to Tamil Nadu than Karnataka’ (it was 25 kilometers from the Bangalore city). On entering my neighborhood, I realized it was packed with industries (over 300 in Electronics city) and buildings which offered PG accommodation.

The notion I had was that PGs were houses were a room would be given on rent. In Indian metro cities, the demand for Paying Guest was sky high. The enormous number of students and young employees that came to metro cities to work, some for multinational companies and others for startups, needed budget friendly accommodation. The answer was living the life as a paying guest. The rent was between 5000-8000 Rupees depending on the choice of room. My PG owner told me he was a Civil engineer who now had left his carrier path to build and run a PG! I soon realized that your life becomes simple if you make friends with the PG owner. The PGs were like a hostel except with fewer rules.

My PG building was newly built and therefore the rooms were clean. The facilities offered were identical in majority of the PGs and included two meals, a bed, a cupboard, a common washing machine and Wifi. I considered myself lucky to have been told beforehand that I had to get my own bed-sheet, pillow, blanket and utensils The single room at my PG was very small and I knew I would feel suffocated in it. I choose the bigger room instead. I had to share a bathroom with three other girls. The girls would also be passing through my room and I would have no privacy but I preferred the ventilation and space over privacy.
The meals (breakfast and dinner) were made according to South Indian cuisine. Three years in Karnataka had taught me to adapt to the local food. I introduced myself to my roommates who were all from a town near Manipal! They were in Bangalore for a month working on a project as part of their MSc Chemistry course. They were all friendly and asked me a bunch of questions which I happily answered. 

The following week was unpredictable. The monsoon showers made life difficult and the roads dirty. My life looked like it was stuck in mud at that point. Every day, I had a new thing that would upset me. Once it was having my milk packet stolen from the common fridge (luckily that’s the only thing so far!) and many times it was the regular power cut in Electronics city (the irony!)). My workplace was a fifteen-minute walk from my PG which was reasonable at first but the weather made it so much worse. The Bangalore-Chennai Highway was right outside my PG and crossing it every day twice was another daily challenge. I had not realized exactly what living 25 kilometers away from the city meant until I actually wanted to go to the city. Traffic was a major problem and obviously the rain brought it to a standstill.

My PG was right at the border of Electronics city and the Industrial Area. The locality ensured that there was no sign of entertainment activity for many kilometers. There was no garden or park where I could go for a walk. The green parks were one of the reasons I loved Bangalore. The evening time was extremely boring since all there was left to do was sleep. My roommates woke up at 5.45am and the morning chatter made it impossible for me to sleep once they were awake.

After the first week, I reminded myself of my inspiration and the whole idea being my choice in the first place. I planned to go to bed by 10pm making sure that I got enough rest. Having my sleep schedule in order took care of everything else. I learned my way around my neighborhood. I knew where I could get food on days when I did not want to eat rice thrice a day!

After two weeks in Bangalore I have learned that traveling to a place as a tourist during a vacation is very different from actually living there. In any case, I believe in stepping out of my comfort zone (even though I might do it with a little complaining on the side). I am looking forward to the coming weeks in this city and making the best out of my time here.

If you are planning to stay in any paying guest facility here are a few points you should consider:

-The Location : try to pick a place close to work/college. It will help you save time and traveling expenses. I recommend checking out options online but making the final call after personally visiting them as you will have many options to pick from.
-Rent plus other expenses : plan your budget and have your rent sorted in advance so you don't face any problems later.
-Security : get a lock and key for your cupboard and any bags you plan on leaving outside. If you get a personal room then  a lock for that as well. Try to ask your PG owner of the timings and security in that area. Be very careful with your precious items!
-Transport: take a stroll around your area or check on the map to locate the nearest bus station/ taxi stop to make your life easier.
-Facilities offered: talk to your PG owner on what facilities are available at the PG.

 After some research I found some more information regarding PGs and I am sharing it with you through the links below (they are mainly for Bangalore but things are more or less same in all cities):

Thank you for reading :) I hope it was helpful for you and if you know any of your friends who will be going to PGs be sure to share it with them.

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