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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

To Buy or Not to Buy

"Buy and Consume or Buy and Store", two different thoughts, two different lifestyles, two different countries, too different. This is the thought we grapple with as we move into our newly leasedom (a concoction of a leased kingdom). We nurture this thought as we realized the scarcity of storage space in our new apartment and trying to match it with the large quantity of our belongings that we so lovingly brought along with us to India. How easily we have adjusted to the buy and store Costco philosophy that it is taking time to adjust to the new mantra of buying only what we need and when we need more then go out and buy some more (more like call and have some more delivered at the doorstep but we are not one to gloat on that). Let's see if we are able to adjust our lifestyle to this thought.

It's been a while since I emlogged (this is not a web log but an email log). A lot has happened since. Some good & nice and then a lot not so encouraging and downright frustrating. Yet we are surviving. Yes not a day goes by without us thinking if this was the right move. And I think we will keep feeling this way at least for some time. But we have committed ourselves to creating a space for us here. Maybe someday we will create another space somewhere else. Still we are more wiser on account of this experience. Fatter too as I have put on some weight. And a little more lighter on the pocket as we go on a buying spree to help create a space for us that we can live in comfortably.

So what say you makes us wiser? Wiser as in now we know to purchase electric brackets when we buy an A/C, to make sure the apartment/house has all the wiring complete before moving in, to make sure the electrician, the cable guy, the phone tech and also the house cleaning people are all taking to each other in a language that we don't understand and coming to a resolution in delivering to us a working phone, tv, internet, electricity, toilets, geysers in a clean manner.

Sima keeps on asking me to bear the inefficiencies here but sometimes I am on a vigilante mode and the people in front of me (literally) have to move out the way. This is the advantage of driving a big car. When the going lane gets tough and filled with the oncoming traffic, I have fun in standing my ground and forcing the oncoming traffic infractionists (what else do I call them) back into their lane. Honking and blinking away to glory while I do this. Of course little do I realize that on passing me the situation behind me is no better than before. Sometimes even worse as traffic behind is honking me to get my tough hide going.

The other day (first day of the move) we sat on our leather sofa that has so much accentuated that flat we are in that I think the LESSOR might now charge a higher rent all because of our furniture. So we were on our sofa and for the littlest time of rest we took we took in the blue sky with red clouds reflecting the setting sun and the perfectly crescent moon right in the middle of our picture window. Wow! we said. And then there was the heavy downpour of warm hard tropical rain beating outside on the terrace and balcony as we stood near the door with freshly brewed tea in our own brown mugs from Seattle. Ahh! It's good to have your loving belongings. Finally! Despite feeling that we brought a lot of stuff, we really are enjoying the feeling of familiar comfort from an environment we have left behind. Yet we long for the familiar comfort of the friendships that we have physically left behind as well.

Today we get a call from our bank thanking us for our patronship and as a premier customer reward giving us tickets for a Comedy Theater show that has TV stars acting in it. Prior to this we went to a Shobha Mudgal concert. Again a free event. Further this week is a week long Bangalore Octoberfest. No not as in the beer fest but a theater fest. Last night we went to the "Beach" to have goan food. Before that we went to "Inch" for some TexMex and before that... well the list can go on and I am not the one to bore you or gloat over it. The point is that we were watching the movie "Flavors" about American Desis jogging in the middle of the road in a pristine neighborhood that looks like paradise and then when we look outside at the bustling crowded unclean road and noisy activity outside with people dodging trucks in the middle of the road that we feel that we were in a dream and that we have now woken up and for us it feels good to be awake. Yes there is misery here and maybe we are meant to be here to give us a chance to make a small impact in improving someone's lives.

"Wake up and smell the caffee Sir!"

As before I am ending my ramble on a positive note (in case you did not notice) but yet caution to ye all! linving in India is not all that it is made up to be and then again it is. Life here is just like a bollywood movie with experiences of extreme emotions!

Happy Dusshera

Chintan

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Saga Continues

Were Back!!!

The statement has more meanings than I can count on my fingers. It could mean that "we are back online and able to communicate with the world" or it could mean "we are back in India" or it could mean "we are moving back to seattle" (fat chance!!) or it could be that "we are finally out of our jet lag (99%) and feel like we are back in tune with the Sun & Moon and our inbuilt time machine is in sync with the night & day transitions". But certainly the three !!! do convey a sense of excitement (no not because I am now with Yahoo! and the ! at the end but I must say that I am getting used to typing ! atleast once every paragraph!).

So Bangalore beckons and Beckham has yet to deliver and the WI deliveries could not contain Dhoni and Dravid (being from Bangalore we close the circle and can be justified in saying that the world revolves around Bangalore! ;-). But world cup or cricket is not yet the focus of our lives. Bangalore, cooling with the rains and heating with the traffic feels familiar and yet new! Ishika and Tanaya have immediately take to their surroundings. Ishika is excited about her new school and friends including 2 stowaway imaginary friends from the US. She is taking bold new steps and I see a great sense of confidence around her as she is getting used to the culture and environment here. Tanaya is just born natural Indian (well actually naturally born US but you know what I mean) and is exploring India literally through her mouth! Mere desh ki Mitti...

Let's take stock of what's happening. Well the stock market is down but the confidence that this is just a correction and the future is strong is present everywhere. While the stocks are down real estate and interest rates are high and climbing. And the roads are very bumpy creating a mixed feeling of up and down.

Our biggest concern is in finding a good place to stay. I think it will take some time looking and strong decisions to not compromise. Having a good house is mandatory! and so is living close to the main areas! Still what is getting us through this concern is the knowledge that this is shortlived, and the service that we are getting morning-night (as Murtuza mentioned). I can see how desis put on weight once here! I need a trainer like Anil. I still have to get used to waiting till the driver opens my door before getting out. My humble nature does not allow me to take advantage of such bourgeois services and I always beat my driver to the door!

But I shedded some big weight last week. Went to a upscale salon in the mall and sat on an armchair for a haircut with full service shampoo before and after including a hair/head massage. I felt like a big weight was lifted off my shoulders (literally ;-).

OK then I will take a break and mention our contact numbers for everyone's benefit. Sima finally has her phone and an internet connection. So we all are now connected to the world. We also bought new mobile phones Sima has a Moto SLVR L7 and I have a Sony K750i.

Till our next encounter of the 1st kind

Chintan the RFNIO (resident foreign national of indian origin) NRA (Non-resident American)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Continued Coverage from Bangalore

Hello all,

In case you were wondering I am still alive and kicking in this city and my spirits are still high. Certainly I did not know what to expect when I arrived here and that I think has helped in adjusting to the lifestyle here so far. So the message to all moving and considering moving to India "Come with no expectations and ye shall not regret".

But I do miss Seattle now! Someone remarked when they found out I was from Seattle "But isn't that such a beautiful city, why did you decide to come here?" It did make me remember all the lovely summers spent in Seattle, camping, picknicking, travelling around the state and just simply many a times the commute back home in the evening under bright daylight with the vast expanse of W.Lake Sammamish and beyond from 520, or the views of Seattle from the floating bridge, and the spectacular downtown view from the ferry with an orange Rainier hovering over the city like a Magic Majestic Mountain. Wow! I certainly miss Seattle.

I was thinking about this as I was waiting to cross the busy street at the signal when the crossing sign turned green and a familiar chirp was heard above me. Wow! Bangalore lights have support for blind people crossing the streets! I looked up and I saw a real bird chirping high above on the banyan tree nearby not an electronic one. So much for a equal opportunity traffic system. And don't get me started on traffic. I think that if only the concept of a stop sign was embraced in India the traffic would be so much smooth and efficient. No hopes of that happening anytime soon. Here it is everybody for him/her self. The name of the game is get as far ahead as you can. Don't worry about the others. If they can they will do the same. If you tell someone that they cut in line while you have been waiting for a while they will grudgingly say "OK man, you can go ahead I don't mind yaar" and you will feel like they obliged you by this benevolent act of theirs.

But that's India. That's the spirit. If you need to get things done demand it. If you can't have it one way try and find another. Be persistent and you shall succeed! And many a times people will help you find a way out (as long as it is not threatening theirs :-)

So it rained the other day for an hour. I was sitting on the sofa in the evening and reading when I heard a loud drumming sound like a machine saw. It went on for a while and I was thinking what the hell are they doing? But I was getting used to the noise when I realized that this isn't a machine saw but hard rain on the aluminium roof shingles. In a couple of minutes the tiny road was jammed with cars, trucks, cows, dogs, cycles and of course constant honking from all of them. Not one minute goes without a car honk and one wonders if all this honking is really necessary. But I feel the car honking is just a reaction very much like getting in a heated argument at the drop of a hat. The other day my car driver got into one (obviously he was in the wrong) with a motorcycle guy who complained that the car almost ran over his leg. The driver let forth a few of the choicest abuses as if it is his right to get as close as possible to get ahead. I had to tell him to stop yelling and continue on.

But I have been driving around a lot in the city and have a fair idea of distances and times. Exploring some areas for schools and homes. It's been hard to get a good combination so we will have to continue to work on it when we all move here. But prices are shooting off the roof. And sellers/renters are demanding a premium price just because they can. If only buyers/rentees stood their ground then the price rise can be contained. Still with the expansion planned and some road infrastructures planned to complete in the near future for improving the flow there seems to be good amount of growth still left in the city.

And there is a lot of life and energy. I saw a sign for Sunday Music Jam every month in the palace grounds. Bangalore is a good place for music artists. Also there are lot of other activities for kids through adults and older. There are also Karate classes, urban yoga wear shops, kids model hunt, indian idol shows and other fashion shows (I haven't been to any though ;-). Also "sleeveless sarsa" is quite funny on Radio Mirchi. "Chi Ganda" is her quote on the DJ. Also there are decent places to eat. Not as good as Mumbai / Delhi but good enough. I had pani puri and sev puri and gobi manchurian at the "chaat corner". The Pani Puri guy was the authentic one with the thela (not a sanitized version) and hands dipped in the masala. I had dosai, vadai for breakfast at Yahoo!, frankie for lunch, really good paneer tikka at Geoffreys (a bar) and good buffet at "Roomali with a view". So guys I have been eating well. A little too skip a meal (not used to so much food during the day).

Anyways it's getting late so I should stop. I am eager to come back! It's been long 3 weeks and it's going to be hectic for the next 2-3 months for us.

Hope everything is well in Seattle and I will bring some Mithai with me. If anyone needs anything else please send me an email asap so that I can get it.

So as you say bye in Kannada

"Bye"

Chintan

Monday, May 1, 2006

Hello from Bangalore

Thought I would drop you all a line from my new email address which is . It's been a week here for me in the "garden city" (or should I say "pub city") and I have been getting settled in both with work and trying to make head or tail (or rather north/south) of the city. So far I have had both good and the usual experiences (I won't say bad since this is what we really expect to face). The work place is very nice in the downtown center of the city where all the pubs are also located (and no I haven't been to one yet during office hours :-). The people are all good to work with as well.

The first thing I decided to do was to get a cell phone. Thinking I will get a pre-paid SIM card I went to a store to get one. But they refused to get me one without proof of a local residence address. Apparently there was a Govt. circular last week making this mandatory. Wow! We are actually following government guidelines to the T. I am both glad and slightly miffed with this. No longer you can get things done quickly with a wink and slap, but I am glad that we Indians are following the rules (not on the roads though). So it took me 5 days to get a cell phone that I can now use anywhere in the world to call anywhere in the world. It really feels good to be connected again.

Now I am looking at schools for Ishika and flats for us. Again I do have to deal with the usual "call u in 5 minutes sir" and waiting for 2 hours before I call back. But that's India so I am getting used to it and where ever possible trying to push a need for efficiency. But all in all work is very exciting. In fact couple people I met we were discussing how professional growth in India is at a far rapid pace than in the US. You really get to experience a larger side of the business aspects than I did in the specialized jobs in the US. This is really challenging and motivating.

I still have to explore the city. Being late spring, early summer the Gulmohar trees are in full bloom and they are a beautiful sight (I havent' seen these trees for don't know how many years). But it is a good sight distraction from the increasing traffic and noise. Like I had been warned either the traffic is terrible or the roads are completely broken down in several places and the average speed would drop down to 7-8 kph. But apart from this there seems to be a lot to do in the city. I did try to go to a pub here. But apparently (again due to Govt regulations) they close down at 11pm sharp. I think maybe next time I will try to go earlier.

Anyways thought I would drop you all a line but it turned into several paras. Still I am quite charged though I do miss you all here and can't wait for Sima and the kids to be here. There is a lot of excitement in this city and so many companies that it is truly a globalized center (as mentioned in the world is flat book). Certainly lot of opportunities and especially many interesting people to meet. I have already started networking. I will continue to give report of the city and my experiences in coming emails.

OK Then Au Revoir (I think as the Kotharis would say in French) or as we say in India Phir Milenge

Signing off

Chintan