Don’t get scandalized by the title....
One thing where India any day scores over these western countries is availability of cheap labour. Whether you have to call a lineman to fix your telephone line or an electrician to hang lamps in your apartment or labour to transport your furniture – nobody atleast sends you a bill with 70 CHF hourly rate with 7.6 percent VAT!
I was told by my relocations consultant that an electrician will come to your new apartment to activate the telephone line at so and so time. The smart Indian mind came into action immediately and I thought he’ll charge some 15-20 CHF anyways so why not give him 10 CHF extra and ask him to hang lamps also in my apartment instead of doing it myself.... When I tried giving him money after the work, he smiled and said some arbit things in Swiss German + High German + English + blah blah blah ….good enough to make me understand that he’ll send the bill by post and I should pay through post office (as is done for most of payments here in Switzerland). The bill gave me a bigger shock than I would have got had I hung lamps myself!! What the ****….90 CHF!!!…..why would I pay him 3000 Rs for hanging lamps and activating the telephone line!! (Though the golden rule of happy survival in firangland says that one should convert only savings into INR but I am still finding it difficult not to convert my expenses in INR) There was no option but to pay! But I decided to be cautious from next time onwards.
Few days later, I contacted a small logistics group to transport my newly bought furniture to my new apartment. For two persons and a mini truck, they told me a vulgarly high hourly rate with additional 0.5 hrs charge for coming and going back along with additional VAT. I wanted to scream “Hello!! The amount u r asking for totally is more than my monthly expenses here!” But furniture had anyways to be picked up! I decided to call only one person and help myself in loading and unloading. After picking up the sofa with him, the first thing I did was to call up the company to send another person!...just a few hundred more CHF….big deal…what for I am earning if I can’t spend it on myself!! (Believe me! The argument was of little help in overcoming the guilt generated by post decision Cognitive Dissonance)
“Assembling furniture should not be a problem if u help me with it”..I confidently told Venkat (another Novartisian). I was excited……it was a challenge to assemble it without the instruction booklet and after four years I was going to use my design engineering knowledge!! After three hours of hard work…the design engineer inside me figured out that the basic structure was alright but I had assembled cupboard on ground exactly 180 degrees opposite of what it should have been. Another 3 hours in disassembling and reassembling only to find out that it was impossible to lift it up in that position!! It should have been assembled vertically! Another call for skilled labour….another hourly rate….another VAT….A few hundred more CHF gone!! Why the hell they don’t teach assembling furniture and hanging lamps as a VI term elective in XL! I would have saved enough money to sponsor two wet nights!!
My mother has been asking me to keep a servant for doing dishes, washing clothes and cleaning home. I haven’t told her yet about the labour pains that I am undergoing here! I might have a servant…but no house to live in, no food to be cooked, no dishes and clothes to be washed after paying him/her for that!