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Where in India are we moving to?

Pic: courtesy cwc.nic.in

So we are moving to India but to which city? For better or worse, the list of candidate cities is fairly small.
Before we get into discussing the merits and demerits of each city, let me outline the key V+P criteria (V=Vishy, P=Poonam) in evaluating the candidate Indian cities. In no particular order, here are the criteria:

  • Career prospects
    • Is the city a one-trick pony? or is there a critical mass of hitech and biotech companies? (Biotech because Poonam’s background & experience is in biosciences/neuroscience)
  • Livability
    • Some blend of city infrastructure, traffic, pollution, pollen, schools, non-outrageous housing
  • Character of city
    • City of Djins? Cosmopolitan? old-world or new-world city?
  • Proximity to other cool places
  • Primary spoken language
    • Poonam is Punjabi by lineage but Bombayite by birth and upbringing. I am Andhaite by lineage but have honorary Bihari/Jharkhandi citizenship since I spent most of my growing years in Bokaro, Ranchi and Jamshedpur. Hindi happens to be the Indian language that both Poonam & I are comfortable speaking. Of course, a high proportion of our conversations at home tends to be in English but we fully expect the Hindi/English ratio to significantly increase after we move to India.
  • Quantity of friends already living in city

Now that we’ve squared away the city evaluation criteria, let’s dive into our short list of cities…

New Delhi/NCR

National Capital Region (NCR) encompasses the entire Delhi metropolitan area as well as the neighboring satellite towns of Faridabad and Gurgaon (in Haryana) and NOIDA & Ghaziabad (in Uttar Pradesh). The V+P definition of NCR includes Gurgaon and NOIDA but excludes Faridabad and Ghaziabad.

  • (PLUSes)
    • Relatively speaking, Delhi has the best infrastructure among all the Indian cities.
    • Delhi has a rich and old history worthy of exploration.
    • Reasonably strong hitech action in New Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon.
    • Gurgaon is arguably India’s fastest growing city & most modern city (at least until Nanocity goes live
    • Close to Himalayas and several exciting destinations in Uttaranchal
    • Tons of friends from Bokaro and BIT Mesra days
    • Housing still affordable (esp. compared to Bombay & Bangalore)
    • Excellent food & dining options
    • Hindi is defacto language
  • (MINUSes)
    • Infested with politicians (and all the associated baggage)
    • Delhi-wallah syndrome
    • Punishing summer heat
    • Severe winter for most (not for us since we braved Chicago for 4+ years)

Mumbai/Bombay

  • (PLUSes)
    • Probability of bumping into Preity Zinta or Rani Mukherji high (compared to any other Indian city)
    • Arguably India’s most cosmopolitan city. Entertainment & financial capital of India.
    • City has great & unique character. Energy is palpable all around.
    • Excellent food & dining options.
    • Sizable number of friends from Bokaro days, BIT MESRA days, and Timpany School, Vizag days.
    • Hindi is defacto language
  • (MINUSes)
    • Monsoon season and Bombay don’t play well together
    • Housing almost unaffordable
    • City’s infrastructure roadmap unclear
    • Commute times potentially very high

Bangalore

  • (PLUSes)
    • Silicon Valley of India. Reputed to be cosmopolitan. Hotbed of innovation.
    • Even before hitech hit feverish pitch, Bangalore had a strong tradition of science & engineering institutions.
    • Humongous number of friends from Bokaro days, BIT MESRA days, Jamshedpur days, and Timpany School, Vizag days
  • (MINUSes)
    • Traffic has become horrendous.
    • Double P whammy (Pollution + Pollen). Tough to ignore pollen since it triggers asthma. More on this topic at: Asthma, Bangalore & me
    • Housing costs approaching American and Bombay levels?
    • Need to learn Kannada?

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