Techies talk about living in the many hostels and paying guest facilities near Technopark
For many young women and men, Technopark is not just a work space, but it’s also home. A fair number of the 40,000 plus people who work in the IT firms on campus (at least a quarter of them by some estimates) apparently live in hostels and paying guest (PG) facilities adjacent to or near campus. In fact, running hostels and PGs is big business in the Technopark-Kazhakootam- Karyavattom area, with literally hundreds of enterprising property owners opening up their homes to the techies, most of who are out-of-towners. Some property owners have even gone to the extent of constructing buildings just to cash in on the ever-increasing demand for safe and affordable accommodation.
Most of these facilities cater to women; for men there is not much in way of accommodation save for a handful of PGs and one or two hostels. “Accommodation in the area can range from hostels that cater to hundreds of techies to even a spare room in a house. All of the facilities are private. Very few, if at all any, companies provide accommodation. The one exception perhaps, is TCS that has an ‘Executive Hostel’ for its trainees,” says Divya S., a systems analyst at a multi-national company in Technopark. A native of Irinjalakuda, she’s been living in a hostel for the past three years, with 30 or so other women. “Most of the rooms available, be it in hostels or in PGs, are offered on a twin-share or a three-person sharing basis – some rooms even have up to six people. More often than not most of the rooms come with attached bathrooms. Some rooms, in some of the better PGs, have kitchen facilities too. All the hostels and almost all the PGs provide food. The cost per month depends on the type of accommodation you opt for and can be anything from Rs. 2,500 to Rs.6000,” adds Divya. She says that her own monthly accommodation bill, including rent and utility bills (laundry and ironing services, cleaning, and so on) comes up to around Rs. 4,000.
The general opinion among the techies is that the available accommodation is “reasonable, in terms of safety, comfort, facilities, food, and value for money”. Techie Susha Nagendran, from Mavelikara, who works for an MNC in Technopark and lives in one of the bigger hostels nearby agrees. “I used to live in a hostel while studying for my post-graduate degree. So I don’t mind sharing my living space with other people. My current accommodation is quite good – there are around 250 women in the hostel, techies and some students of the University of Kerala too, and it’s just a few minutes away from work. The food is quite alright. You get both non-vegetarian and vegetarian food. And because there are quite a few women from other States living in the hostel, we also get North Indian food. Also the hostel has a store on premises that sells all sorts of ladies’ stuff,” she says.
Techie Vishnupriya P.V., who hails from Wayanad and who has been living in a PG for the past year and a half says: “I like the homeliness of PGs to the impersonality of hostels. Most of us are of the same age and so we have good fun. There are some 30 of us here and we all celebrated Deepavali together.” Techie Leegy Anthony, who lives in a PG on the Kulathoor road near Technopark campus adds: “I used to live in a hostel nearby but didn’t like the food so I moved to a PG. I now live on the top floor of a house, sharing a room with two others. We share a kitchenette with the three others who live in the adjacent room. We don’t get food in our PG but have the option of eating from another one next door or cooking ourselves. All six of us who share the kitchenette have now become good friends.”
The biggest advantage of these hostels and PGs, say the techies, is that there is no curfew, a huge bonus for those who have to work late night shifts. “Unlike college hostels, most hostels here are open till at least 12 p.m. – even later in some instances. Once I had to work until 3 a.m. I just made sure I informed the warden,” says Divya. In most PGs, the curfew is even more lax. “The upper floors of the PGs, are accessible by outdoor staircases. So we can usually come and go as we please,” says techie Vidya Prasad, a native of Kollam, who has been living in a PG for the past six months. Leegy’s PG, meanwhile, has a 10.30 p.m. curfew. “The owner lets his dogs out then,” she says, with a laugh.
But no curfews can be a bit of a disadvantage too. While most hostels have security personnel at the gate, PGs don’t have such an option. “People keep trooping in and out, which is rather disturbing when you’re asleep. Also, that means we can’t lock the front door of the house, which is a security issue as well. In fact, recently there was an incident when a roommate discovered an unknown person trying to get into our floor. We now lock the door and have to ring someone inside if we need to get in after a late night shift. Yes, it is a hassle but necessary,” says Vidya. “On weekends when almost everyone heads for their homes, it can also get quite lonely in a PG,” adds Vidya. And because of the high demand, the techies say that there is no cap on rent. “Every other month the rent just keeps increasing… If we are not willing to pay, accommodation is so in demand that there is always someone new.”