It did mean work. When rats would burrow into the thatch, it would leak during rains. This would happen every raintime , and we would put mud pots under each leaky point to protect the mud floor. If the termites built a small hill over the gap between the wall and the roof the thatch would get eaten away. Daily alerness was needed.
So in the raintime we would go to Jalabba in Bandakadapalle, who would say 'Potha undu. Vasthaanu' ('Keep going, I will come'). And we would wait, and he would never come as he would have had other plans, maybe labour in some field, or maybe a temple visit. This would be the routine every morning for a week, and then finally one day he would descend with his thatching equipment. We would have already carried down sugarcane leaf for the repairs from some field where sugarcane would have been harvested.. Everything did take time, but this was time spent in establishing a community, and relationships, and livlihoods. And it was an integral part of living in a village.
But slowly, everyone in this village, and every other village bought the dream of upmarket cement homes, the one-roomed boxes as per government Aawas Yojana schemes. The thatcher was not in demand any more, and he took more to drink. He grew older, and his son refused the profession. A skill quietly dies. A sustainable skill.