The Cult of BHUKMP

[Editor’s Note: It’s been almost four years since I started running with (and became part of) the BHUKMP cult. I never got around to writing about BHUKMP, aptly described as a “cult” rather than a group. The name itself is an acronym for the six races that every member should strive to run in a single season. BHUKMP = B_angalore Midnight, H_yderabad, Bangalore U_ltra, K_averi Trail, M_umbai, P_ondicherry/Auroville. In this post, the cult attempts to outline its core ideologies in the form of “Thou shalt…”].Multiple references to Dandi should clue you on to the fact that it’s a dominant part of the cult’s psychic rhythm. The Dandi Way shall be the next post in this series.]

Thou shalt get out of bed before sunrise at least ONCE a week.

Thou shalt save the Friday beers for Saturday.

Thou shalt run at least a 24k Dandi every Sat morning

Thou shalt run the 30k Dandi run every Sat morning.

Thou shalt run Dandi even if all other BHUKMP’rs have gone out of town for a BHUKMP run and you couldn’t.

Thou shalt be considered a member if you join the group on a Dandi run at least once and share your life story.

Thou shalt be very pissed off if, after having made the effort to run Dandi, one misses being in the group photo at Cubbon on account of being too slow!

Thou shalt recruit anyone running alone on Dandi route.

Thou shalt brood over the Dandi group photo after missing the Saturday run.

Thou shalt feel an extraordinary sense of pride at running more than a half marathon distance every Saturday and treating it like a simple morning run!

Thou shalt always runverse with fellow BHUKMP’rs except perhaps at the races.

Thou shalt DNF only under extenuating circumstances..

Thou shalt DNF and earn the right to judge the DNS (Did Not Start).

Thou shalt run the Comrades at least once before you die or you CANNOT die.

Thou shalt run a full marathon every month.

Thou shalt cherish the after run breakfast, talk about it in runversation and, if needed, fight to get your choice of restaurant agreed.

Thou shalt not feel shame in demanding new members to treat the group in expensive places.

Thou shalt focus only on having a good time but will end up having a good timing at times.

Thou shalt not judge the slow runner… or the elite runner.

Thou shalt not discriminate based on religion, caste, creed or choice of footwear (or lack thereof).

Though shalt always obey The Village Elder bechara elder group se bahar ho gaya hai.

Thou shalt not be judgemental about *crazy*. Crazy is a continuum, not a point.

Thou shalt use a Garmin. Or not.

Thou shalt overcome and hope to RUN (not run/ walk/ stroll) 10 kms.

Thou shalt WALK all the races if you are incapable of joining the Sat Dandi run.

Thou shalt write stupid posts in the group even if you are not able to run with them every Saturday in the hope that you don’t get thrown out of the group.

Thou shalt know the difference between the tank and the TANK.

Thou shalt either measure time or distance, but never both together.

Thou shalt strive to run/walk faster or further.

Thou shalt strive to stay (or catch up) with the peloton.

Thou shalt NOT, even for once, think about stealing fellow runner’s huaraches.

Thou shalt win a podium position and treat the group to breakfast!

Thou previous evening shalt the run even if drunk Thou got.

Thou shalt get more & more people addicted to the madness called running…

Thou shalt promptly post to your blog, the contents of the crowd-sourced FB post that you started 🙂

Thou shalt never forget “what happens in BHUKMP/Dandi stays in BHUKMP/Dandi” or else…

 

A quiet morning inside Osmania University

Major Devender Pal Singh (Pic: courtesy facebook.com)

My mother fasts and prays. My sister meditates. I run.

My brother recently made an astute observation about us – the prayers, fasts, meditations, and running increase when extraordinary events occurred. What kind of events? Say, when a family member falls ill or when a special inter-planetary event comes around. I reflected on this last week when I hatched my plan to commemorate Kargil Vijay Diwas.

Two years ago, I re-tuned in to the Kargil story when one of my fauji friends sent an email. I took the contents of his email (which included pictures of Kargil war heroes) and put it into this blog post. This year, I wasn’t satisfied with Kargil Vijay Diwas – 13 years later.

It was time, I decided, to give a marathoner’s salute to the Kargil heroes and their families – substitute my regular Saturday morning 30km run with a 42.2km run. No race, no spectators, no cheerers, no running mates, no finisher’s medal, and no finishing certificate. Just me – a runner and his thoughts.

As my auto ride from Secunderabad railway station to Ramanthapur meandered through the beautiful Osmania University campus, I knew that I had found the venue for my Saturday run.

Jul 28, 5:55am

Reached Osmania University campus on my brother’s Suzuki Access 125 – the support vehicle for my run. Two bottles of Gatorade and one bottle of water in the scooty’s storage compartment. A pack of Navadarshanam’s dry fruit mix (dates + figs + raisins + cashews) in my pockets. An exploratory first hour of running yielded a reasonable 10km route. The second loop was comfortably negotiated until the 28k mark when I became aware of a gluteus strain. The strain would stay with me until the end (soon realized that it was most likely due to the steep banking of one of the roads). After a deliberately longer third loop which got me to the 33k mark, I was left with 9.2k.

There were many walkers (and few runners) inside the scenic campus. True to Osmania’s reputation as a political petri dish, a loud AISF recruitment event was taking place on the Arts College grounds. As I passed the Institute of Public Enterprise building, I could hear (but not see) several peacocks. Lots and lots of birds too.

Until the 41k mark (when a curious bystander commented on my Huaraches and wanted to know where I bought them), I had no conversation with anyone — not even any non-verbal communication. It wasn’t that I was feeling particularly anti-social – perhaps a silent knowledge that this was neither a race nor a fun run.

Since I wasn’t in ‘race-mode’, I wasn’t pushing myself. It was thus not surprising that, barring the gluteus strain, no other muscle (especially the usual suspects – quads and calves) had any serious complaints. The usual lower-body fatigue manifested itself in the final 10k but, really, nothing to write home about.

A different texture of thoughts

One tends to think a lot during marathons and long runs — especially during the back half — when various parts of your body start rebelling. Against the backdrop of this run’s purpose, my thoughts were deeply humbling. Yeah – completing a marathon is hard and finishing it within your ‘trained-for’ goal time is harder. Now think about a soldier going into combat, especially in a Kargil-like situation — DNF is simply not an option here. Is it thus surprising that we had to lose 533 Indian lives to achieve that important victory? Let’s never forget those sacrifices. So next time your marathon/ultra-marathon runner friend is strutting around like a proud peacock, just bring him down a notch or two with this question “So… are you a soldier?”

A few minutes after 10am, my Garmin 305 displayed 42.2k and I stopped running. My ending ‘tape’ was about 10 meters from where I started (in front of the Osmania University Park entrance). It was fittingly uneventful. The overwhelming feeling was one of gratitude. Gratitude to the soldiers for doing their selfless duty. Gratitude to the almighty/universal laws for life, living, and continued opportunities to keep pushing my limits.

Closing note: I dedicate this post to India’s war heroes (alive and posthumous) who brought us the Kargil victory and also to my school friends who joined the armed forces – Manish, Naveen, Amit, Rakesh, and Hillary. As I started writing this post, I read about Major Devender Pal Singh’s amazing story — Kargil’s amputee hero turns marathon runner.

 

 

 

Our Return Ticket 16 Years Later

[Editor’s Note: After an extended silence in the R2IProfiles category, I bring you an interview with a recently returned (to India) fellow blogger, Vasantha Gullapalli. Most of the answers below are partial or full extracts from her blog (which you should frequent, especially if you are contemplating a move to Hyderabad). She and her husband are “Class of 2010” returnees which makes them two years our juniors 🙂 As it coincidentally turns out, Vasantha and her husband are long-time Sapient’ers and friends with Soumya Banerjee (of Bengali Mumbaikar takes the long way home fame).]

Q: How long & where did you live in US? When did you return to India?
A: Lived in the US for 16 years mostly in the New Jersey/ New York area. Returned to India on Sep 25, 2010.

Q: Why did you return?
A: [Reproduced entirely from her beautiful post – Home is where the heart is] In the most basic sense, ‘Home’ is nothing more than a shelter or roof over one’s head to protect from the basic elements of nature. But, is that all that is needed in a home? So, what is it that we need in life? One practical point of view suggests that all we need is air to breathe, food to eat and a shelter and then you add to this the basic human craving for love, companionship, etc., we are already talking about personal needs such as family, friends and then as we move towards being a social being, we are treading into professional aspirations, social status, etc. One of my friends said something that struck a chord with me which is something like this (shamelessly plagiarizing): Life revolves around these three pivots – Personal needs, Professional needs and Spiritual needs and finally Home is where all these three pivots can be balanced and satisfied. It definitely sounded very thought provoking and deep, but for me it has always been ‘Home is where the heart is’ and that heart sometimes doesn’t listen to my head 🙂 So, in the process of trying to understand my heart better, my head started listing down what the above statement really meant? What do I need from my home/life? Here are some that I could put down:

  • I want to be able to be surrounded by people that I can relate to. I want to be able to understand what their lives are like, what struggles they have, how I can help them and want them to understand my life and lend a hand when I need it
  • I want to be able to share my beliefs, superstitions or idiosyncrasies and not be looked upon like a ‘fool’ or ‘stranger’
  • I want to be able to walk out of my home and be able to relate to even a complete stranger because we share the same background
  • I don’t want to be planning every meeting and every moment that I feel like spending with the people I love
  • I want to be able to drop things at a moment’s notice to be side-to-side with the people I love and care and selfishly would like the same from them in the time of need
  • I want to be able to show off my little day-to-day victories or my kids accomplishments before that moment has passed
  • I want to witness the special moments in ‘my peoples’ lives right then
  • I want to be in a place where I will be missed when I don’t show up one day
  • I want to be in a place where the difference I make will make a difference to me

Most visible symbol of Hyderabad’s Hi-Tec City (Pic: courtesy hyderabadplanet.com)

Q: Which Indian city did you move to and why?
A: Hyderabad (given the proximity to career opportunities and family).

Q: If proximity to family wasn’t a top concern, which city would you have rather moved to?
A: Well, our priority was not just proximity to family, it was both good school and employment opportunities, a social circle that is needed for day to day life and just to have a life. Given these, I think we would have stuck with Hyderabad and second choice was Bangalore.

Q: Dwellings – apartment, villa or independent home? How did you arrive at this decision? Did you move all/part of your household belongings?

A: In Hyderabad, we will be moving into our apartment which is not done yet. Currently, enjoying our stay with our parents and my sister. From US, we shipped all the things that we thought we could use here plus things we and kids are attached to. We did not/could not sell the house and so rented it out, sold the cars, got rid of a lot of stuff that we either didn’t need anymore or not attached to as much. Since shipping was being taken care by my husband’s employer, we didn’t have to worry much. In spite of this, there was a lot of decluttering I had to do.

Q: Which schools are your kid(s) going to? And what were your criteria in picking schools?

A: Indus International School, Hyderabad. Short list and criteria discussed in the School choices post.

Q: How do you rate your return to India on a scale of 1-10 (10=love the place, why didn’t we move earlier, 1=hate_the_place; currently planning my return back to USA)
A: 7 [Editor’s note: considering it’s less than 6 months since their move, I’d call this a pretty high rating]. For context, check out our 1 month progress report.

Q: What are the 3 things you absolutely love about India since you returned?
A: From our first quarter progress report, the top 3 are:

  • My people around me – Lot of relief that I don’t have to save up vacations just to spend time with them, confidence that I am right here and they are around me if they or us need anything anytime.
  • Kids adjustment – Kids have blended in so beautifully, they are enjoying school, making new friends, learning Telugu, enjoying our festivals, even enjoying the unexpected bandhs 🙂
  • Time for each other – Although, I am having some time management issues, in general we don’t feel rushed and don’t have to wait for the weekend to have our breakfast at the table or sit down for a cup of tea in the evenings

Q: What are the 3 things you absolutely detest about being in India?
A: Corruption, the state of politics in Andhra Pradesh, and the lack of professionalism in people you interact with day to day.

Q: What are the 3 things you miss most about America?
A: Here’s our top 3:

  • Privacy and coziness – I miss the privacy and coziness that comes with being just the 4 of us. I hope we will get this back once we move into our own home (we are still not there yet)
  • Dependence: The Indian society is very tightly knit and how smooth our life is depends on the contacts we have. With this, comes some amount of dependence and unpredictability. I miss being able to drive down to the grocery shop. Since I am still not comfortable driving in India, I have to wait for some driver to grace us before I can step out.
  • Streamlined day to day – In general, life in US is pretty streamlined and after the initial settling down and figuring out, our day to day was pretty streamlined and we were pretty confident with how to get things done. On the flip side, either because we are still not over the initial settling phase or perhaps this is just the way it is, there are very few things that are clearly streamlined here. Each time we seem to be using a different process or contact to get things done.

 

Would you go on a boat ride or cruise if there were no life jackets?

I ended  the The Value of Life in India post with the question: “Is it possible for us Indians to snap out of our collective amnesia and change our attitude before the next major calamity or the minor tragedy?”

My wise biwi thought it wasn’t fair to leave the post hanging like that. Our ensuing conversation (transcribed below) inspired the sequel and yes – I have a good reason to title it the way I did:

Biwi: “What is YOUR answer to the above question? Why aren’t you including THAT in the post?”

Me: “Well! I do have an answer but it’s not quite baked yet..”

Biwi: “Also, instead of framing the question around ‘us Indians’, it might be more fruitful to pose the question to each ‘individual’ Indian.”

Me: “You mean like Gandhi-ji’s Be the Change You Wish to See In the World’?”

Biwi: “Kinda sorta. What are YOU (Indian, American, anyone for that matter) doing that’s potentially endangering your or other people’s lives?”

Biwi: “For example, when you are speeding down scenic Interstate 280 South at 90 mph, whose lives are you endangering?”

Which brings me to MY answer to the original question I posed – “Is it possible for us Indians to snap out of our collective amnesia and change our attitude?”

My answer is YES. But first… do you recall that scene in Satte Pe Satta where Hema Malini arrives at that pig-sty-of-a-house where Amitabh Bachan lived with his 6 other brothers? She exclaims “What a mess this place is! Where do I start?” The next 2 frames are a fast time-lapse so we don’t really get to see how she pulls off the gargantuan cleanup job. Replace the pig-sty-house with India (with its zillion problems — not just hygiene related) and you still have that question – where to start? I wouldn’t be presumptuous to say that we are at the beginning because there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of civic-oriented initiatives underway which have galvanized citizens. But the reality is that if we are not seeing a difference (no, scratch that), if we are not participating in at least ONE of them, it is simply not enough. After all, we are talking about a billion-plus people here.

My other belief is that the granularity (or specificity) of the cause/initiative is paramount to eventual success — dotted on the way with tangible progress points. For example, “improve the safety standards of tour boat operators in India” is too lofty a cause whereas “ensure the sea-worthiness of tour boats in Kerala” or “mandate that boat operators in Kerala do not exceed the carrying capacity” or “mandate that all boat passengers in Kerala HAVE to wear life jackets while on board” are achievable goals. As I said, not fully baked so would love your feedback here…

Which brings me to the second question — “what am I doing that may be endangering myself and my family?” Before I answer this, let’s go back to the Thekkady disaster. Nearly all (if not all) who drowned that day weren’t swimmers. The survivors were either swimmers or were lucky enough to be close to swimmers who saved them. Turns out there were life jackets on board – nobody knows how many though. I haven’t read reports of passengers using any so clearly they weren’t handing them out at the point of embarkation. Which brings us to the personal responsibility question — Why didn’t anyone ask for life jackets? This, my friends, is the life-or-death question.

I’ll be presumptuous enough to answer the question. Nobody asked for life jackets because nobody was thinking of the probability that the boat could capsize, and if it did, the life jackets would really come in handy. We all go through life constantly making decisions based on risk – some are deliberate while most others are purely automatic. I will not buy a house with a swimming pool because that clever economist in Freakonomics convinced me that swimming pools are more unsafe than keeping a handgun at home. I won’t ride a motorcycle in California where the speed limits are so high and the car-to-motorbike ratio so high that if I get into an accident, it could well be fatal. I might ride a Bullet Classic 500 in Bangalore someday (after my slipped disc fully heals) because I will drive very carefully and don all my protective gear and if I do get into an accident, there’s a good chance it will be minor. And so we go on and on…

Why am I so sure that nobody asked for life jackets? Because I/we have  done the exact same thingjust 2 days before the Thekkady accident – on the Hussain Sagar Lake in Hyderabad. The only difference is that our boat didn’t meet with an accident. Our family of four, my brother & his younger son boarded the boat with nary a thought about life jackets. Group size = 6. Number of swimmers in group = 0. Need I say more?

Would my wife or I board a boat or cruise ship in future if there were no life jackets? No. At least until the entire family learns swimming. In case you didn’t know, my goal for this summer is to learn swimming — in 7 days or less. A dear friend has promised me that it indeed is possible and he’d be my personal coach. I, on my part, have promised him a suitable guru dakshina. So shall it be written, so shall it be done!

Closing question: What % of Indians do you think know swimming? (knowing defined as “enough to save one’s life) I used to think it’s a lower percentage compared to the Western world primarily because of the low number of urban area swimming pools but.. 70% of India lives in villages where, due to their proximity and close habitation with water body, the swimmer % must be close to 100%. When you come to the cities and towns, again this might differ from state to state. A couple of Keralite colleagues (over lunch) thought the percentage for largely-coastal Kerala is probably 90%.

The Value of Life in India

(I started this post in Oct 2009 a few days after the tragic boat accident in Thekkady, Kerala ~ 5 month gestation period)

“The quality of life in India is great but the value for human life is not”, uttered my cousin Sridhar. We had stopped for a few days at his Germantown, Maryland residence on our Farewell USA Road Trip in mid-2008. I kinda-sorta knew what he was talking about but it really hit home in the past few months – as I reflected upon three tragic events with a common refrain.

Incident#1

Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Four years ago, my attaya (dad’s sister) left her home in the evening to go to the neighborhood grocery store. Earlier that day, she had bought some biscuits for her grandchildren but she had erred in picking the grandkids’ favorite flavor so she headed to the store to exchange. She never returned. Her husband, her daughter & family, her brother (my uncle) began a frantic search. Several hours later, her body was identified in a hospital and changed her family forever. An auto-rickshaw had slammed into her at high speed just as she was crossing the road to enter the grocery store. She most likely died before reaching the hospital from the massive head wound suffered from the impact. A woman in perfect health her entire life and who had never seen the inside of a hospital in 55+ years was dead in a freak accident. A woman who walked a mere 200 meters from her house (a route she had taken a zillion times in the past 10 years) was dead because a rash and callous auto driver wanted to reach his destination a few minutes sooner.

Incident#2

Panipat, Punjab. It started out as a normal morning at our friend’s parents’ house in Aug 2009. Auntie woke up early morning and left the house at 6am for her morning prayers at the nearby temple. She would normally close to 7am when it would be Uncle’s turn to head to the temple. On that fateful morning, Auntie returned home to find the door ajar, their house burgled and Uncle dead. I don’t know the gory details of the homicide but it wasn’t a difficult case for the crime branch to crack. The door wasn’t forced open so Uncle had to have known the person(s) he let into the house which narrowed down the list of suspects substantially. The investigation trail eventually led to one of the domestic help employed in Uncle/Auntie’s house for years. A kind and gentle grandfather/father/husband was dead due to greed and a cold-blooded deliberation on the part of someone who (until recently) was a loyal employee.

Incident#3

Thekkady, Kerala. We were on a week-long visit to Hyderabad and had gone to visit my cousin Saroja (whose mother is my Attaya in incident#1 above). She was driving us to my uncle’s house nearby. At the precise moment when Saroja was pointing out the spot where her mother had died, my wife was on the phone with a Bangalore friend — and learned that the Thekkady boat tragedy had claimed the lives of a Raheja family we knew – Aishwarya (my older son’s classmate from his Vivaa International kindergarten days) and her parents (Raj and Senthil). 45 people (out of 76) on board a double-decker tourist boat drowned when it capsized. The driver suddenly steered the boat to ostensibly respond to a crowd of passengers having rushed to one side of the boat to catch a glimpse of a herd of bison. You can learn more about this tragedy on this Wikipedia page or this collection of links put together by The Hindu.

The answer to “why did this happen” in incident #3 is more nuanced than the previous two. Had the passengers displayed more common sense in not rushing to one side of the boat, the boat wouldn’t have become unbalanced and the driver wouldn’t have had to swerve suddenly to one side. But this makes no sense. Surely the boat wasn’t water-worthy if it went off-balance so easily when passengers crowded on one side (an expected eventuality if the objective is to sight wildlife). And what about the competence of the driver? And what about the life jackets that were allegedly on board but passengers were never made to don them? In a country with arguably the lowest percentage of swimmers, shouldn’t it be mandatory for boat riders to use life jackets? Not to mention the total absence of life guards. Who regulates the water-worthiness of tourist boats? And certifies the qualifications of the boat operators (especially the driver)? The plot of this pathetic tragedy is so full of holes, is it a surprise that so many people died?

In terms of the perpetrators, incident #1 can be summed up as callousness, incident #2 as cold-bloodedness and incident #3 as cluster-of-indifference. Ok – so that last word doesn’t exist – I made it up. Cluster-of-indifference refers to the whole gamut of things that are simply broken in India – safety standards are either not codified, or if they have been, are brazenly flouted, the citizens too don’t demand any of these things because sab chalta hai – at least until such a time when it’s too late for them personally. Leaving aside hand-wringing and chest-beating that typically follow tragedies (be it personal tragedies involving family members or large-scale accidents), it’s not as though we Indians learn anything from it. This is the collective amnesia of the Indian society – it’s as though every morning Indians wake up having completely forgotten the events and lessons from the previous day, not at all different from Lucy Whitmore’s amnesia in the movie 50 First Dates.

Dear Readers,

What do you think? Is it possible for us Indians to snap out of our collective amnesia and change our attitude before the next major calamity or the minor tragedy? I firmly believe that changing our chalta hai attitude is a necessary prerequisite before we start demanding more from the elected and appointed officials at all levels of government.

Next post in this series: Would you go on a boat ride if there were no life jackets?

 

Brother or Best Friend?

My two-week whirlwind India trip was not touching Hyderabad. This was a bummer because my brother lives there. Since I had a 6-day continuous stay in Bangalore, he planned a 2-day trip to Bangalore to spend some quality time with me.

I was really looking forward to it. My brother is older than me and I spent my first 20-something years hero-worshipping him. He was one of those brothers who shared a lot of his life experiences with me so that I could learn from his mistakes. I was one of those brothers who soaked all this up like a sponge. I’m also one of those chaps who go through life self-appointing one guru after another. My brother was my first guru.

Coming back to the Bangalore meeting with my brother – we spent all of 30 hours together but we had a blast. During my America years, the frequency of our communications had reduced significantly but not the quality. Somehow, magically, we could just pick up where we had left off, whether it was one week or four months since our last conversation. So here we were in a really nice 13th floor rooftop restaurant in Bangalore chatting away when… after a lull, he remarked “Listening to you talk this evening, you sound more like my best friend than my brother.” Man! If I needed any more reasons for why I was returning to India (not that I did), here was one more. Looking forward to spending more moments like these in the coming years.

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?