Adds Rohit: “For tens of thousands like me, Sonu was a real-life hero. But for my family specifically, Manjeela was an angel. I will never be able to forget what they did for me and my family.”
A quiet man with a wide smile, 45-year old Amit spent a decade in Saudi Arabia taking care of a family of 7, alongside three other South Asian migrants including a Nepali housemaid.
He had come home to India for his nephew’s wedding when Covid-19 hit, and he was stuck because of a Saudi ban on flights because of the Delta outbreak. Two years later, it finally looks like he can rejoin his employment, but only by making a convoluted journey through Kathmandu for a flight to Riyadh.
India has finally been lifted off the Saudi red list, but direct flights from Mumbai are unaffordable for Amit. That is why he is flying from Delhi to Kathmandu along with three other stranded Indian migrant workers. This is a less expensive option – at least that is what his agent told him.
Agents are skillful at finding loopholes around flight bans and restrictions, and provide options for desperate workers like Amit. But the Kathmandu option is also expensive for him: he had to pay the agent ₹85,000, including costs for a two-week quarantine in Nepal.