My good friend Monish who had moved to Bangalore from Silicon Valley last year had this wisdom to share – “Select your three bubbles correctly and your transition to India will be smooth”. This mantra was passed on to him by his returned-to-India ‘senior’. If this is the first post you are reading on my blog, bubble does not refer to the dotcom or housing bubble, the connotation is closer to boy in the bubble. For Indian Americans returning to India, the three bubbles to buffet against the differences in cultural and environmental ethos are: the working bubble, the living bubble, and the commuting bubble.
- The Working Bubble: 60% of a working parent’s waking hours are spent at work. If you add ‘working-from-home’ hours and mind share over weekends, this easily becomes the most important bubble. I discussed some of the considerations in choosing the right job in the Soft Landing Anyone post. I surprised myself by taking my own advice. I’m thoroughly enjoying myself with my current Adobe gig. The role is exciting and all-consuming but the best part is that I don’t have to worry about the ‘next funding round’.
- The Living Bubble: If the American Dream is to own a house with a white picket fence, the urban Indian Dream is to live in a gated community. Let’s push to the background (at least for now) the issue of owning vs. renting a place. A gated community was an obvious choice since it fulfilled our top three criteria: a) Adequate security, b) Sufficient play spaces for the kids, and c) Critical mass of ‘like minded’ people. Gated communities in Bangalore span a fairly wide gamut. At the high-end are single-family housing communities like the famous Palm Meadows in Whitefield. If we were looking for a California-style neighborhood with all the associated trappings, this was it. But we were not looking for that ‘unrealistically perfect’ bubble. Instead, apartment gated communities appealed to us because of the higher people density. Most of these apartment communities that interested us also had a healthy ratio of returned-from-USA Indians but they were not exclusive expat communities. We eventually settled on Raheja Residency (a vibrant apartment community in Koramangala). The final clincher for us was its location – walking distance to grocery stores, restaurants, services, etc.
- The Commuting Bubble: With the double whammy of gnarling traffic and pollution looming large in Bangalore, getting the commuting bubble right is crucial. If you’ve been lucky enough to have your work and living bubbles located in close proximity, that’s half the battle won. A comfortable car (with a working air conditioning unit) addresses the bulk of the pollution. Hiring a driver goes a long way in alleviating the other pain point – painful traffic volumes. Following my June reconnaissance trip to Bangalore, Bombay & Delhi, I wrote this post ( Service with a Smile) where I discuss the broadening roles played by drivers in the Indian household. I’m pleased to report that we are proud owners of an arctic white Maruti Suzuki SX4. A young lad (by name of Sunil Kumar) was hired in mid-Sep as our driver and has been rendering great chauffering service.
So go forth and claim your three bubbles.