Gaurav Raghuvanshi

Hazira, May 15

BUSINESS executives are known to fly in and out of cities. And here is a bunch of youngsters who manage to keep pace with their jet-setting guests, following them by train to serve them in anywhere in the country.

Mr Amardeep, a hotel management graduate who is to join a leading chain of hotels, has spent nearly a fortnight in Hazira and Surat, working two shifts in a day as a waiter at parties of the rich and famous.

Based in Mumbai, this 22-year-old travels to any location where his supervisor, Mr Murad, gets a contract to supply "smart" waiters.

The boys and girls work for a week or 10 days, depending on their convenience, and head back home with some smart pocket money.

"I have completed my hotel management course and have to join my company on June 1. Why waste time when I can earn something," says Mr Amardeep, whose working hours can stretch from 11 a.m. to well past midnight.

The wages for the boys range from Rs 200 to Rs 300 per shift. The girls command at least four times that figure.

The girls are put up in more secure hotels, while the boys have to shack up in a rented house in Surat.

Reverse gender discrimination? Mr Murad does not seem to think so. "While I get Rs 500 for a boy, the rates for girls start from Rs 2,000 upwards. It is based purely on what the clients demand, and girls as waiters are seen to be more pleasant. Plus, the costs are higher in case of girls because we are very particular about their safety and security," he says.

The demand is particularly high in the Surat-Hazira industrial belt in South Gujarat where several large corporates have units.

Locals say youngsters can often be seen taking trains back to Mumbai early morning.

Mr Murad says he gets contracts from different caterers across the country.

While he primarily operates out of the industrial towns of Gujarat, where English-speaking youngsters are not available to serve the high-profile guests, Mr Murad says he has even sent waiters to far-away Chennai.

The parties range from corporate get-togethers and events to weddings and birthdays. The demand picks up during the wedding season, Mr Murad says.

How do youngsters find out about such temporary employment? Ms Yogita, a management student, says it is mainly through word of mouth.

Advertisements are also put up frequently in local trains and stations.

So, while the guests are impressed with excellent service even in the wilderness, the youngsters smile and pocket the cash.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 16, 2005)
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