India Calling US – Job Fairs in New Jersey and Santa Clara


Two years ago, at the early stage of my India job hunt, I was talking to an executive at a large technology firm. I had just finished telling him about my two prior attempts to move to Bangalore (in 2004 and 2006)  and that I was hoping for third-time-lucky in 2008. Clearly the number of Indians contemplating the return back to the homeland was increasing year-over-year but I was still surprised by his analogy “if 2004 was a trickle, 2008 is like a flood”!

Fast forward to 2010 and we have the front page of Yahoo India with the following story – India Calling US – Job Fair 2010. (a venture of Hindustan Times) is organizing this US road show. Excerpts from the story:

  • Apparently 60,000 Indian professionals working and settled abroad returned to India last year. (I’ve been hunting for this stat for a while btw).
  • Job fair #1 at Raritan Center, New Jersey on Aug 28 and 29
  • Job fair #2 at Santa Clara Convention Center – Sep 3 and 4.
  • This job fair will also provide an opportunity for NRIs to meet up with real estate consultants representatives from major educational institutes in India to facilitate relocation and ironing out procedures for their children’s education needs back home. India Calling looks like an event well packaged to provide a complete career shift and relocation platform for NRIs.

A big shout-out to all my passive should-we friends in US (especially those in Northern California and New York/New Jersey area), if you are too lazy to visit India for your job search, India will come to you! 🙂 If you are wondering what-the-heck I meant by passive should-we, you can quickly peruse The two types of Indian immigrants.



The Darndest Things you see in India – Part 3


Bhurka (abaya) beyond your imagination! 'nuf said.

Emblem of a Tier 1 Bangalore school.

Lalbagh nursery has a mobile garden unit...

Marketing collateral inside Lalbagh nurserymen's office. Am still on the lookout for this woman in Bangalore...

Jail-birds? Think again.. group of day labourers headed to work.

Abandoned Ambassador headed to a 'slow boat to China' burial!

Next post in this 4-part series is The darndest things you see in India – Part 4 (park signs).



The journey from one home to another (guest post)


[Editor’s Note: The 2nd post in the R2IProfiles category comes from my blogger friend and fellow Bangalore denizen “Divs”. She blogs with gusto at Baby Love…and looottts of it]

I went to the US in Dec.1999 and celebrated the millennium New Year ’s Eve with my cousin sis and her family whom I had not met in atleast 10 years. She was the only “family” I knew in the US when I decided to go there for further studies. That was in Charlotte, NC and since then, life brought me to live in other parts of the country such as Detroit, MI and then the Bay Area, CA. So overall, I had spent close to 9 years in the US – first as a student, then as a full time employee along with being a student, then as a full time employee, then as my hubby’s girlfriend, fiancé and wife, then as a mother to my daughter – before moving back to India in Sept. 2008.  So my brother kind of jokes that I went there alone and came back with 2 more additions to my family 🙂

That’s how I perceive US as – not a place where I went to earn a degree or some money. But a place where I grew roots and developed a family and an extended family of my own. When you are so far away from immediate family, all your near and dear ones become your extended family. It is a wonderful way to live, learn and grow. In any case, I digress. So back to the objective of R2I and our story…

We moved back to India for many reasons although one of the most important ones would be to come back and live closer to our families. Living in the same city was not as important in our minds but being in the same country was the key. So city was a choice we had to make based primarily on the job factor as well as lifestyle, climate, etc. Our ideal choice was Pune since that would keep us close to both sets of families and the climate would not be that bad either. But the truth was that if we both wanted decent careers, Pune did not have much to offer. So our next choices were Delhi (Gurgaon) or Bangalore. Delhi had the extreme climate issues on its side whereas Bangalore was completely new to both of us. We went with Bangalore in the end since it promised a career not just for my hubby but for me as well and also that hubby did have one uncle who could be our initial family support in the city if needed. I did have an uncle and some other cousins living in Delhi as well but we weren’t too sure of the career aspects in that city then and were not too fond of extreme climate in general. So figured we’d give Bangalore a shot first and see how we like it. And I am so glad we made the decision the way we did since so far, we have not been disappointed (knock on wood)! The lovely weather in this city came as an additional bonus. Like Vishy has already mentioned in one of his posts, people from the Bay Area would love the weather in Bangalore since it is sooo much similar. One thing that could really be improved here is the roads and traffic management though!

One tip I would give to folks considering the move – do not move into independent single family homes as your first place of residence after coming here. We opted to live in an apartment complex especially since it has a lot of amenities to offer for the kids – things that we are used to in the US such as swimming pool, club house, gym, tennis court, play area, etc. Along with that you get the gated security aspect as well as the community as a way to build your social network. In a single family home, you will not have any of the above and feel rather lonely especially if you do not know anyone else in the city. Hence we decided to move into an apartment complex and I tell you – the entire move seemed to be a cakewalk just because of us moving into this complex. Over the last 2 years, we have been able to build a good social network with likeminded families and have made close friends that are almost like family – kinda like the same process we went through while settling in the US. I can guarantee that if we had moved to a single family home like I had wanted to earlier, I would not have been so much at peace with the entire R2I process itself.

Going back to Vishy’s list of questions he asked me (I feel like a celebrity giving an interview now btw ;)). He asked about schooling and where our kid is studying at present. Please feel free to read through my posts on daycares/pre-schools and schools here:

Daycare Centers and Preschools in Koramangala, Bangalore

Schools in and around Koramangala, Bangalore

The 3 things I love about being in India:

  • Being closer to family (knowing that it is a matter of hours to reach them now – not days)
  • The social life for us and our little one (it is really only limited to weekends in the US)
  • The support structure that can be built here not just with hired help but with neighbors, friends, etc. (can be done in the US as well but lifestyle there is much different…things need to be planned much in advance. Last minute babysitting etc. is not easy unless you have family)

The 3 things I hate about being in India:

  • No accountability or respect for time in most people
  • People keeping their homes clean but littering their surroundings (roads…parks…everywhere!)
  • “Thoda adjust kar lo” and “Chalta hai” attitude

And once in a while, I also dislike non-stop noise (I mean I’d really like some silence once in a while)

The 3 things I miss about living in the US:

  • Food (I love international cuisines which are not easy to find here)
  • Being closer to nature (simple things like having huge clean parks near your home for taking long walks are a rarity in India)
  • Peaceful driving (rather than stressful driving here)

If you’d like to read more about why and how we made the move back to India, please feel free to visit my blog at and click on the label “R2I” on the right. You’ll see related posts such as these and a lot more:

Returned to India

R2I Plan – Crazy Busy!!!

Motherhood opens your eyes to so much more



Why Indian drivers might never take to automatic transmission in a big way


Pic: courtesy

During our initial months in Bangalore, as we ploughed through the dense urban traffic (being driven around by auto drivers and cab drivers), the biwi and I speculated that automatic transmission cars would be a hit in India. It had to be a case of when, rather than if. I mean, why would anyone reject the convenience that automatic transmission cars offer?

The Indian automobile trends in 2008 hardly supported our bold prediction. The only mass-market automobile models with automatic transmission were the Hyundai i10 and the Maruti Suzuki Astar. The trend improved slightly in 2009 when at least two more car models came with automatic transmission option – Hyundai Verna and Honda City. According to this Carazoo article published in 2009, luxury cars like Mercedes and BMW and semi-luxury cares like Honda Accord and Skoda seem to be reporting better statistics around automatic transmission adoption.

Every driver I encountered and every colleague I accosted, on the topic of automatics, would reply “premium in car price along with drop in petrol mileage by 2-3km (minimum) for every liter is simply not worth it”. Lesson #101 on the cost conscious Indian customer – cost trumps convenience any day.

As a non-driver in Indian driving conditions, the preceding narrative should be sufficient to establish why Indian car buyers weren’t voting heavily for automatic transmission cars. It’s only after I set my inner-driver loose on the Bangalore roads last year (following The Janus Man saga) that I was to learn another reason — a metaphysical one — why the automatic transmission might never be a hit on Indian roads.

I was driving to work one morning and had just gotten onto Bannerghatta Road. The 30 second stretch under the Dairy Circle underpass (at 8:10am I should add) is the only time I’m able to shift to the 5th gear and enjoy that easy coasting feeling before it’s time to take the left to my office building. It suddenly struck me why the manual transmission had become such an integral part of my driving experience in India. The steering wheel, brakes, horn, and the manual stick shifter are the only four things under my control when I get behind the wheel of my car [thanks to my friend Prateep for reminding me of the invaluable horn]. Practically nothing else is within my control — the quality of road can deteriorate swiftly after a torrential downpour, the pedestrian can decide to cross the road forcing me to downshift or brake suddenly, the auto driver can cut in front of me if I paused to scratch my cheek. So of the three things within my control as a driver on Indian roads, you want me to give up one of them? No – never!



Did I say never? Oops! We recently added an automatic transmission car into our stable — say hello to Hum do humare do – bina exhaust ke.



Bengali Mumbaikar takes the long way home


Pic: courtesy

Soumya Banerjee (my friend from University of Houston days) returned from Boston to India 10 years ago – a period which we can term the “first wave” of reverse brain drain. Very few of my Indian-American friends returned that early so he stands out. It’s thus fitting that he’s the first profile being published in the new R2IProfile category. Here we go with the email interview…

Q: How long & where did you live in US? When did you return to India?
A: 10 years. Lived in Houston (Grad school + 1.5 years) and Boston

Q: Why did you return?
A: The company I worked with (Sapient) was setting up an office in India. Had a casual conversation and took a flight over. Wife (Priti Dhall) stayed back in the US for a year and then she also moved. Meeting in London stops being romantic after a few months.

So clinically speaking it was the job. Also important is the fact that we always thought we would move back some day. (America was never our country)

Q: Which Indian city did you move to and why?
A: Delhi, since 3 of the 4 guys setting up the office were from Delhi 🙂 Moved to Mumbai after 7 years in Delhi.

Q: Apartment, villa or independent home? How did you arrive at this decision? Did you move all/part of your household belongings?
A: Apartment (one floor of a 3 floor house). Only two of us, did not need a HOUSE. Also at that time Gurgaon was not developed and did not have that many apartments. We moved with six suitcases of stuff. Rest we left behind.

Q: How do you rate your return to India on a scale of 1-10? [10=love the place/should have moved earlier, 1=hate it here / plotting my return back to USA)
A: 10

Q: What are the 3 things you absolutely love about India since you returned?
A: In no particular order…

  • Career growth
  • Ability to travel and see the country
  • Family being close by

Q: What are the 3 things you absolutely detest about being in India?
A: In no particular order…

  • Roads in cities
  • Chalta hai attitude
  • Encounters with corruption

Q: What are the 3 things you miss most about America?
A: See below:

  • Food 🙂
  • Silence
  • Not being involved in every family decision/trip

Editor’s Note: Soumya is currently working on an online education startup (Attano) targeting Indian students. If you meet Soumya in person, you’ll find that, far from the brevity of his email responses, he’s a voluble and engaging communicator with an insatiable wanderlust. For evidence of his wanderlust, I present you Exhibit A – Genesis (photo blog of his travels in India). Soumya’s dear wife (Priti) meanwhile is accruing karma points for several generations of Banerjees and Dhalls through her dedicated work on CanKids India (a support group for children with cancer and their families).



Kargil Day – The Least We Can Do is Remember


Today is the 11th anniversary of the day India won the Kargil war against Pakistan. One of my fauji friends (and classmate from Xaviers Bokaro) forwarded an email with pictures of the brave officers who won this war for India, albeit with a lot of casualties. His email started with the statement – the least we can do is remember. Next related project: find the names of all the soldiers (not just the officers) who died in the Kargil war.



The least we can do is remember

Capt.Vikram Batra – Param Vir Chakra(Posthumous)

Grenedier. Yogendra Singh (Param Vir Chakra)

RFN. Sanjay Kumar (Param Vir Chakra)

Major Padmapani Acharya of the 2nd Battalion, The RAJPUTANA RIFLES (Maha Vir Chakra (Posthumous)

Lieutenant Balwan Singh, Maha Vir Chakra Of the 18th Battalion of GRENADIERS Regiment

Major M Saravanan, VirChakra, 1 Bihar

Lieutenant Kanad Bhattacharya, Sena Medal (Posthumous)(22 YEARS)

Captain Saju Cherian, Sena Medal 307 Medium Regiment

Captain R Jerry Prem Raj, Vir Chakra (Posthumous), 158 Medium Regiment

Major Sonam Wangchuk, Maha Vir Chakra Of the LADAKH Scouts

Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nangrum, Maha Vir Chakra (Posthumous) Of the 12th Battalion of JAMMU AND KASHMIR



Help find 8 year old Tejas from Panipat – kidnapped in December 2008


For any parent who has lost track of their child (be it for a minute or a few hours), you might begin to understand the heart-wrenching plight of a mother (Neena Gaba) whose 8 year old son Tejas was kidnapped 17 months ago in front of her eyes at gunpoint! Please read her personal appeal below and do your utmost in spreading the word. Time is of the essence.

On 12th december 2008, time 7:35 am, I drove to the bus stop to drop my son tejas for school.It was like any other normal day for us.But suddenly something happened.A masked man came from behind ,snatched him from me and pushed him at the backseat of a honda civic/accord in front of my eyes..When i tried to stop him,i was fired at,by him.What followed was a series of ransom calls.But they did not give me proof of my child and he has been MISSING since then.


NOW I APPEAL TO MY COMMUNITY AND CALL ON ALL OF YOU TO HELP ME FIND MY CHILD. WHOSOEVER GIVES INFORMATION OR CLUE THAT HELPS US REACH TEJAS WILL BE AWARDED ”50 LAKH”. No questions will be asked to the person who helps in the recovery of my child. It has been 17 months and we do not know what physical or mental trauma my son has been going through.WHAT WAS THE FAULT OF AN INNOCENT 8 YEARS CHILD TO HAVE DESERVED THIS IN HIS FOUNDATION YEARS OF LIFE?




The darndest things you see in India – Part 2


The previous post of this series is The darndest things you see in India and the next is The darndest things you see in India – Part 3.

Lessons in user interface design. Remember - avg vehicle speed on Indian roads VERY low!

Gotta admit Boca Grande has one of the cleanest loos in town!

Is the Avon brand marketing manager a genius? Worthy of a dedicated blog post...

If not for sale, why list name? Bcos owner wants to be notified if someone begins building something...



An asthmatic’s ignominious (first) running story


I had originally posted this story in my Xaviers Bokaro alumni mailing list back in Sep 2006. If you’ve read the post Running the Course – Mumbai Marathon 2010 and are wondering about the back story to my running fetish, this story might offer some clues. I made a few minor edits to the email, anonymized the identity of my two classmates (A and C below), and tweaked the ending based on a recent recollection. Loreto house (blue) and Carmel house (yellow) are two of the four sports houses of St. Xaviers Bokaro.

Haile Gebrselassie (a contemporary marathon legend who still needs to battle asthma)

For those of you that remember me, I was rarely (if ever) seen on the athletic field. I had a bad case of asthma during my formative years. Anyway, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. During the 8th or 9th Standard, my loyalty towards Loreto house reached epic proportions and  I decided to  participate  in the only sports event that  didn’t require selection or qualification – the venerable cross-country race. Never mind that I’d never run a distance longer than 5m before. Outfitted with a freshly-dusted pair of tennis shoes (keds, if we must be accurate), blue singlet, shorts and an ardent fervor in my heart, I stepped on to the field. If I had had seen Chariots of Fire, its music would have been resonating in my head. In reality, what I sorely needed was an albuterol inhaler to combat my asthma. I crouched at the race start with two equally loyal Loreto compatriots – A and C.

The gun went off and behold my dismay when I saw the entire crowd “take off” (or so it seemed). I was thinking to myself, this is a cross-country race (for crying out loud!) – why are they running so fast already? I calmed myself down and decided to stick to my plan of “pacing” the race (having a scant little clue how long the race was). Lucky for me, my dear buddy A was giving me company as we brought up the sparsely populated rear guard.

As a token of my gratitude, I entertained A with the rhythmic music that only tortured asthmatic lungs can produce. I think C must have raced ahead because I don’t recall seeing him after the starter gun went off. Anyway, after an eternity and thousand deaths, we completed the trail segment of the race and reached the entrance to the school field – the final 400meter beckoned to us. At that crucial stage, a couple of things happened..

  • A began to  break free  (his 2nd wind probably?) leaving me in sole possession of last place.
  • I heard Voice#1 from the sidelines “Quick! you are almost there! Just 400 meters more!”.
  • Then I heard Voice#2 from the sidelines “I think they award points only to runners who finish within [X] minutes!”

Ultimately the combination of voice#2 and A’s late burst was too much for my tender nerves to bear. I was probably fine completing the “victory lap” jointly with A but I could not withstand the ignominy of being in sole possession of last place. I had no Garmin (or even a regular watch) so I had no way of knowing how close to the cutoff I was. So I did the dastardly act of throwing in the towel thus leaving A in sole possession of last place. Dear A, I’m sorry for denying you the ‘official’ last-but-one spot! But at least you got Loreto house one extra point.

Unfortunately, there’s a final sad twist to the story. That was the year Loreto house tied for 3rd place in the overall standings with Carmel house! Had I completed the race and secured an additional point, Loreto would have been in sole possession of 3rd place. I recall C being very sore on this point and guilted me on several occasions “had you got that one point, Loreto would have…”

Shame is temporary. Quitting is permanent! (Not sure who said this)