HAVING GROWN UP IN INDIA, I got used to a range of home services that made life that slight bit easier. But living here in the US, if I forget to buy milk, for example, then we have no milk. Which means no coffee. Which means grumpy mornings. This would never happen back home.
1. Doodhwala — the milkman
Doodhwala is the guy who delivers fresh milk to your doorstep every morning, so you never run out. He usually gets paid on a monthly basis and there is no extra charge for delivery. You just choose what sort you want — whole milk, toned, or double toned — and that’s the first thing that arrives each morning, without you even needing to take a step out of the house. Nice and convenient.
2. Dhobi — the ironing guy
Dhobi is the guy who irons your clothes. Every morning the Dhobi comes to your house and collects the clothes that need to be ironed. You count your items when you hand them to him and then count them again when he comes back in the evening with the ironed lot.
Payment is individually negotiated and can be daily, weekly, or monthly. Charges range from around Rs 4 (about 7 cents USD) for standard clothing like shirts and pants, to a maximum of Rs 6 (about 11 cents) for something bigger like a complete suit. Some Dhobis also wash clothes for a nominal fee. Bonus!
3. Bai — the maid
A Bai is the lifeline of every Indian household. I grew up in India and I have yet to come across a house that doesn’t have one. She’s a part-time cleaning woman who comes to your house once every morning and then once in the afternoon to broom and mop the floor and wash the dishes. Dishwashers are non-existent in India, and the floors aren’t carpeted — they’re either concrete, marble, or tile, and require cleaning every day.
For an average monthly charge of Rs 1000 (about 19 USD), the Bai takes care of it all for you. Bais are also nerve centers for gossip, which they transfer from one household to another: each Bai works for more than one house at a time, which gives them special access to the internal affairs of most households. The Bai will usually negotiate one day off per week, but other than that, life is good!
4. Koodewala / Jamadar — the trash guy
The Koodewala, or Jamadar, is the guy who comes to your house every morning to collect the trash. Like most other services, he gets paid on a monthly basis. Having the Koodewala come to your doorstep every morning means there is no stinky trash lying around, even if you forget to take it out one night.
5. Chotu / Babloo — the convenience store delivery guy
Almost every apartment complex or individual housing complex in India has a convenience store located by it. Almost all of these stores offer free home delivery and the delivery boy is usually named Chotu or Babloo or Bittu or something similar.
All you need to do is call into the store and order what you need, have your address noted down, et viola! About 10 minutes later (or even quicker) the doorbell rings, and the goods you ordered have arrived. I have ordered things ranging from eggs, to shampoo, to cookies, and once even a single pack of safety pins. All part of the good customer service in India.
6. Kabadi — the junk/scrap dealer guy
The Kabadi is essentially an extension of the Jamadar. You can fix with him to come over to your house once every month or (maybe) two weeks and he takes away your junk and stuff that can be recycled. This includes newspapers, cardboard, glass bottles, and any other metal scrap that you might have. And before he leaves, he pays you money for it all, based on weight or number of items.