PG for gents, PG for ladiesMy neighbourhood in Bangalore is covered in these signs. Every possible surface, up to and including trees, is covered in them. Many of them are identical, only differing in the phone number to call.

I spent ages trying to work out what PG was – a service, a slimming pill, a type of astrology? Eventually I caved in and asked around at work. There the rather prosaic truth was revealed – PG means paying guest.

The PG set up is like the old fashioned lodger or boarder arrangement. You pay for your room and get your breakfast and evening meal included. Often you’ll have your own entrance as well. So basically you’re just renting a room in a house. Sometime you’re allowed to use the kitchen, sometimes you’re not.

There are so many people who come to Bangalore for work and many of them young and away from home for the first time, that there’s a real demand for this sort of service. And generally, to make a sweeping statement, people here would rather share with a family, than live alone. Obviously not everyone, and not even many of my colleagues, but for ladies in particular there can be a lot of scary loneliness being in the city so far from home.

So, PG services really help – the family gets a little extra income, and the PG gets some company and a cheaper room. Although I do hear that some of them are vast – squalid little bedsits with landlords who cream of the rent and provide nothing but watery sambar to eat and no hot water. But then, evil landlords happen in London far too often as well.