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Searching for a forcing function

When I planned the 2-week trip to India, the objectives were simple. First and foremost, interview with as many companies (big & small). Secondly, meet as many people as possible to assess the overall liveability of the city in question. And finally, spend time soaking in the city in order to get a first-hand perspective of living in the city.

Regarding soaking in the city, my experience has been as much literal as it was metaphorical :). I’ve traveled in chauffeur-driven cars and SUVs (most of my friends have one of these), traveled heavily in auto-rickshaws (fondly known as autos),  and a regular (read “non-airconditioned”) cab from Delhi airport to Gurgaon (not a very pleasant experience in June I’ve gotta admit).

As discussed in Where in India are we moving to, we had short-listed 4 cities – Bangalore, Delhi/Gurgaon, Bombay and Pune. Poonam and I reasoned that, all things roughly equal on the city front, we would use the job opportunity as the forcing function. In other words, if I landed multiple job offers, the overall best offer would drive our decision to move to city X.

After spending 9 days hopping from Bombay to Delhi to Bangalore, I’m learning that the forcing function needs modification. I believe it should be 50% based on career opportunities and 50% based on liveability. Let’s examine both criteria.

Note that the first criterion is career opportunities, not job offer. This is a crucial difference. You might get a great job offer from company X in city Y. In the best of circumstances, you might have a very fruitful and rewarding stint at the company for 3+ years. In the worst of circumstances, you might find the environment too intense or simply not a good match (for any number of reasons) in the first year itself. In either case, your next step would be the same – to look for a new job. In short, you want to be in a city where there are ample opportunities in your industry vertical hence the plural (career opportunities).

Now let’s examine the livability criterion. There are five key components to livability – friends, schools, housing, good playing spaces for kids, and traffic/pollution. The first component (friends) is an essential and obvious prerequisite. If you have spent the better part of your adult life in America, most of your friends are currently in America (very likely in the precise geographic area you are just contemplating leaving). Having a sufficient number of great friends in the destination city cannot be overemphasized – after all, what’s life without friends? From our original short list of cities, Pune is looking bleak because we haven’t located any of our Pune-dwelling friends yet. The remaining four criteria warrant separate posts – stay tuned!