We hit our ‘one year anniversary in India’ on India’s Independence Day – Aug 15, 2009. A few months ago, we toyed with the idea of throwing a party and invite all our friends (old and new). The unrelenting pressures of work and the weekly ‘rhythm of the kids’ school and after-school activities meant we would alter our plans. ’twas all for the good anyway. It was more appropriate to celebrate the anniversary as a quiet Thanksgiving-style dinner with family than a raucous party.
I did tweet about it though (and gave ourselves a B+ grade) – and our global social graph responded enthusiastically. There’s much to write about our experience but here are a few top reasons why we are rating our ‘move to India’ a solid B+ (knock-on wood for each bullet point):
Fortunate enough that none of us (especially the kids) have fallen seriously ill
Children getting sensitized to the global issues of haves and have-nots
Adapted to the local environment and enjoying the spectrum of people and experiences
Kids are well-settled at their new school – NPS Koramangala
My job at Adobe has been every bit as exciting and rewarding as I had hoped a year ago
We met my parents thrice and my brother five times in the past year, not to mention the increased ‘calling-to-Vijayawada’ frequency thanks to the same timezone
Met and made friends with many wonderful folks at Raheja Residency
Becoming a regular part of the Cubbon Park Irregulars (a rabid group of enthusiastic group of long distance runners) has meant that I ran my first half-marathon in Jan 2009 and very likely will run my second marathon next weekend at Kaveri Trail Marathon
Graduated from a chauffeur-driven car to self-driven car at the 7-month mark
The challenge a part-time blogger always faces is time – rather the lack thereof. The list of unwritten blogs continues to balloon every month. Partly to reduce my guilt at disappointing my small but loyal base of readers and partly to get feedback on which topics might be of more interest, here’s the complete list (in no particular order):
Bangalore Calling: This was meant to be the sequel to The Bombay Seduction and Gurgaon Growling but this post was threatening to eternally remain in the “Draft” folder. As a stop-gap, I pasted a relevant conversation with a New Jersey-based Indian-American contemplating a return
The Indian Woman’s Dilemna: Someday this post will be written by my wife. The thesis is that an Indian woman has a LOT more freedom in America than in her own native country. How then does she reconcile the pros and cons in her head in order to arrive at the decision to return to India?
Raheja ‘Monkey-Haven’ Residency: When I informed my Bangalore-native classmate & friend (who lives in the Bay Area) about our new coordinates in Koramangala, he remarked, in a disappointed tone I might add, “But that’s a fairly mainstream choice” (He’d have approved if we had taken residence at the Adarsh Palm Meadows.) Anyway, the demographic profile of Raheja, its vibrant community and its killer location made it an easy choice for us. One of the many fringe benefits of living in Raheja: hardly a week goes by without sighting a pack of monkeys scaling the walls of the buildings foraging for food.
Of high rises and balconies: You may not realize it but high rise apartment buildings and their numerous balconies are perilous to kids (and to parents with weak hearts). Our own apartment hunt had to rebooted after our 3 year old demonstrated that the 5th floor balcony is eminently climbable (we still shudder thinking back to that scene).
Vishnu’s Best Devotee: This has nothing to do with our move but I had an epiphany on work-life balance as I recollected one of Narada’s tales.
Crowd-sourcing the traffic light: I could possibly write 3-4 different posts on Indian road traffic but this is the one I really want to. The unmanned Indian traffic intersection is a fascinating and efficient system. Unmanned intersection and efficient? (you snort) In much the same way that the Mumbai dabbawalas have demonstrated their world-class efficiency, crowd-sourcing the traffic light (which is how I’ve dubbed the unmanned traffic intersection) is simply brilliant for Indian traffic conditions.
The Staring Gene: Why do Indians stare so much? I’m not talking about Indian kids nor am I talking about Indians gawking at foreign tourists or celebrities – these are somewhat understandable. I’m talking about Indians staring at Indians…
Midnight Marathon to Kaveri Trail Marathon: This is a tribute post to my Runners for Life and Cubbon Park Irregulars friends who’re transforming me from a hobbyist occasionally-goal-directed runner to a semi-pro obsessive runner.
Do not urinate here: Saw this painted on a wall in Warangal (or was it Hyderabad?) The location doesn’t really matter because there are very few walls that are sacred in India (even those that are close to temples). Why is that we are not seeing the number of Sulabh Shauchalays increase in India? Why are restrooms an afterthought in most commercial buildings? When they do exist, why are soaps noticeable by their absence? Is it a wonder that infectious diseases continue to have a field day in India?
Excellent products, Poor Services: The former are driven by market economy, the latter due to unchanged mindset? My wife and I slightly disagree on the latter. I hold the hope that the market can drive higher level of service and competitors would be forced to catch-up but my wife thinks the attitudes are too deep-seated.
Living in the Present: [essay from wife]
Well-rounded education: [essay from wife]
The Three Bubbles Revisited: An expansion on the original The Three Bubbles post – whether it’s my friend Pranshu (who goes offroading every weekend in Gurgaon) or the guy in Mumbai (who goes mountain-biking) or me reconnecting with my inner-running-self and looking-forward to resuming my squash routine, there are additional ways of enriching the ‘living bubble’.
What I miss about California
Close encounters of the bribing kind: Two encounters so far and I passed with flying colors.
What I don’t like about India: inspired by a recent Starbucks chat with a friend who mildly accused me of writing only positive things about our move. Not true my friend. You should read my tweets more carefully 🙂
(No) Thank You Maids: [essay from wife] Cheap labor, poor performance, excellent excuse for the Indianization of the Indian-American male.
Desperate Lives: Whether it’s the maid or the driver or the handyman or the kackra-wala, they are all living incredibly difficult and desperate lives to make ends meet.
Educating Boys: [essay from wife] School + sports = incomplete; Home + school + sports = complete. Her thesis is that the top reason why more Indian women are not able to join the workforce is because the men are incapable of managing the household.
Global Identity: [essay from wife] 1992 -> Indian looks, American thinking, Indian feelings; 2009 -> Indian looks, American thinking, Indian-American feelings (hypersensitive vs. tempered)
Back in July, in typical Kuruganti style, I sent an email to the vast majority of my social graph about our planned move to India. It was a rather painstaking process since there’s no easy way to pack all the relevant email addresses into a Bcc field. Using Facebook as the mother lode, I systematically sent batches of email to my social graph over a period of one week. I would have loved to have met all of you Bay Area (and Portland, New York, and Chicago) folks but last minute logistics prevented that. I hope to meet many of you in Bangalore and the rest of you in Bay Area (when I make a business trip). I was overwhelmed by the heart-warming responses – some of which validated my rationale for starting this blog (see Why the urge to blog now). This post is part-tribute and part “Reply All” to my social graph. Hope you’ll enjoy it. I’ve organized the responses into a few different categories and included responses where appropriate.
A sense of surprise, shock, admiration, and… lots of questions
It’s very exciting to hear that you still have the courage to start a new life.
Great decision. I admire it.. Good luck for your future endeavors.
What a brave decision, I am sure your parents/in-laws are very happy. Tell me more, how did you finally make this call?
Wow! I didn’t know you are moving. Are kids the primary driver?
Wow!! This is a big and sudden news to me! What happened? Why this move all of a sudden?
I wish you all the luck. Are you starting up an office for Graspr?
Wow! i’m dying to go to shasta. Are you moving your start up to India?
Graspr is alive and thriving. I decided (in April) to move on to my next adventure in life – which turned out to be this move to India.
Are you starting a new business in India?
No. I accepted a role with Adobe India to manage their Shockwave/Director business.
Vishy, best of luck. Sounds like just going to be closer to your brother will be worth it. Stay in touch. I keep telling myself I need to get to India one day and it would be great to look you up!
Congratulations to you and your family, Vishy. I wish you well. I’ll be following your blog and can’t wait to read all about your journey. Obviously, I won’t get a chance to look you in the eye to say goodbye, so here’s a hug. You’ll probably be back in the US for a trip before I get out to Bangalore, so please reach out if/when you happen to be here.
We will definitely miss you guys here, I was looking forward to some of those hiking trips now that the kids are handling the walk up the hill 🙂 Seems like you are having/had an interesting time before taking off -a road trip, hmm.. tempting.. I would definitely follow what you guys are up to via the blog and stay in contact.
Hey – let’s do a family hike next week we meet (either in Bangalore or in the Bay Area).
It’s nice to have worked closely with you again towards the end of your chapter here in the US — It was a great pleasure and honor to back then, and it was truly cool to have collaborated again this year. I know we’ll stay in touch and I hope to see you in India when I come down sometime, so just want to wish you and your family the best during your transition. 🙂
Sorry to hear you’ll be leaving here, but congrats on the move and the next steps for you and family! Sounds like an exciting decision, and the right timing all around.
Good luck to you with your endeavors! It’s awesome that you decided to move back to India and good to see you’re leaving in style 🙂 Quite a trip you have planned to get to JFK.
Hey dude, sorry it took me so long to get back to you, life is very busy w/ a baby. So, this is good news man! That farewell tour looks pretty fun! I’ve always wanted to do that. Do you have time to get together for lunch before you depart?
Good luck back in India. Let’s get lunch before you go. BTW, I am leaving Yahoo! soon. Give me a call and let’s catch up.
Sorry I ran out of time.
Thanks for the update. What an exciting new chapter for both your family and career! Best of luck to you in all your endeavors and adventures.
Good luck with the move! That’s a big change – hopefully it will bring you closer to your family. I myself am thinking of ways to make the move up to Oregon to be closer to home…On your way through Oregon, make sure you wave to my mom and brother in Eugene – and if you happen to make the detour to Bend, you may try to picture me living there! My sister is already there with her husband – I just got back from visiting yesterday. We’ll miss you and your many talents here in the States! Maybe I’ll be touring parts of India one day soon (vacation – would like to visit northern India) and will be able to wave to you from afar – or better yet, share stories in person over a cup of tea.
As it turns out, we did stop in Eugene to have lunch. I could have sworn I saw your twin sister at a Starbucks. Look forward to seeing you in India – now go ahead & plan that trip! 🙂
WOW … that’s a big move!! I wonder if there’ll be how-to video on some site somewhere … Your farewell tour sounds like fun. We just came back from a long weekend in Shasta, which was really good fun. Fires are calming down now, but we saw some pretty cool sights like a huge water bomber landing on the lake. And then within an hour, we were up in the mountains, throwing snowballs! Only in California. Anyways, good luck with everything and stay in touch on FB!
Call me if you’re in Chicago for more than a few hours – I’d love to say hi!
While in NYC, feel free to call me for lunch. America will miss you!
Good luck to you and yours, Vishy. I live in Portland, OR now. Let me know if you’d like to have lunch or something on your swing through. Don’t feel obligated though. I know the scheduling can be tight on this sort of trip.
So sorry I couldn’t get to meet with you folks in Chicago, NYC & Portland.
Thanks for keeping me updated of your status. It is my privilege to get to know you. I enjoyed our conversations. Enjoy your journey! I will read your blog about the journey. Good luck to your new venture.
Best of luck Vishy. Have a wonderful journey and have fun settling in – I hope everything goes smoothly for you. I look forward to hearing about your future success!
Wow, life is a journey, enjoy it! I guess this means you’ll miss my mead class in August. 🙂 Keep in touch on linkedin, will ya?
This is great. What are the plans. I am excited for you. One day I will join you.
Really cool decision. I might probably see you there soon. We are waiting for my husband to finish his MBA before exploring the option of moving to Bangalore. That is my husband’s hometown. Wish you all the best!!!
I read your blog. I like it – I appreciate that you are honest about your feelings. I wish you and your family all the best and success. Going back to India after staying here for so long really requires courage. I salute the determination. We tried it twice (that time we didn’t have any kids) but couldn’t do it. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t do it later again. Anyway have a nice trip and keep in touch.
Fellow immigrants who returned home
Wow…what a big move…First thing first, I wish you have fun traveling to the mid west before your long flight back and wish your family the best. Well, you know i made a decision removed my family to my home town Hong Kong 2 yrs ago. It was a huge move to my wife and son, and taken us months to pack and unpack stuffs (both mentally and physical stuffs)…2 years gone by, still a little adjustments here and there, but overall we love it.
Glad to hear about your move back. I came back in 2002 after spending 13+ yrs in US. We are loving it here, no regrets on the move. If you need any tips on adjusting back, let me know. Too bad you did not consider Chennai, it has the best of several aspects, and a very good quality of living. I visit BLR often, keep in touch.
Congratulations on your move! I remember well, how we’ve talked about this issue when we moved in 2002 (gosh it’s already 6 years that we’ve left the US). While for us it took about 2 years to really arrive back in Germany we are now really back home and happy about how things went. We’ve had a wonderful time in the US but it was also the right decision for us to get back to our roots. I am sure that your move back won’t be always easy and it will take time to really settle back home. I wish you, Poonam and the kids all the best. I hope that one day our paths will cross again. Hope to see you guys some day. In any case, if you ever come to Germany please ping me! And one day, I will go to India and I will visit one of the chicken stores (with life stock) in Tamil Nadu that Rani had always talked about. Take care and all the best.
Good to hear this and welcome to Bangalore. You may be aware that I have moved back to Bangalore last year and still working with Yahoo. You can reach me at [x]. FYI, I am residing in HSR Layout.
I was just in New Dehli and visited the Taj a few weeks ago. I’ll be in HK for at least another year, if you ever decide to head east, let me know… Good luck on the move, and have fun on your tour of America!
Wow what a decision! Thanks for keeping me posted. i am glad that you finally made your choice which seems to be after much thought and debate. An Indian friend once told me all Indians, no matter where they are on the globe, all have one home traced back to india. now that you are heading back to this home of yours, i wish you all the best 🙂
Warm reception from the folks in India
Welcome to India. You always wanted to return. All the best. Will see you in Bangalore soon.
Welcome home Vishy 🙂 Wishing you & your family a safe & enjoyable journey…
Glad to hear that you are coming back to India. Nice journey plan, in fact gr8!! Wonderful idea to visit all the places before flying back to India :). Let me know, if you are going to Bangalore via Mumbai.
Thank you for the update. Best wishes to your new movement to India. Good thing is that India is close to China, so welcome to visit Beijing! 🙂 Enjoy your farewell tour ahead.
Cool man !! Welcome back ! So which co. r u joining here ? Another startup 🙂 Let me know when u r here, we will catch up. my # is [x]. looking forward to meeting u and the additions to ur family 🙂
Aha! Certainly Bangalore’s gain!! Hope you have a great ‘farewell’ tour and a smooth relocation to Bangalore.
Looking forward to seeing you folks in Bangalore…
Best of luck to you and your family back in India! Hope you have a smooth move, and enjoy it in Bangalore. I will be there myself shortly — maybe we will run into each other.
Wow. That’s pretty cool, Vishy. Have a great time out there. Next time I’m in Bangalore I’ll give you a call.
Love the blog, excellent writing, keep it going. The very best of luck with your new journey. Bangalore is home for me, so hopefully will meet up when I’m there… Cheerio.
Congrats on the move… One of the gigs I am looking at could put me in Bangalore a fair amount. You will have to show me the ropes…. When are you all arriving NY? I would love to meet you out for drink/dinner if you have the time.
Wow! This is a huge move! Best of luck to you & your family Vishy! Will this get you closer to your wider family? I’ll ping you next time I’m in Bangalore …
Good luck – I will catch you in my next visit to Blore. Sorry to see a good friend leave from the bay area! I know you must be very busy, but let me know if you have some bandwidth to sync for maybe 1/2 hr over coffee and catch up before you leave.
duuuuuuude! I think this is a good thing? Bad for us.. good for India. I’ve never been to Bangalore, but if I do perhaps I can look you up. Same goes for you if you ever make it to Austin/Texas. Seems like you’re going the ‘northern’ route to NY though.. heh. Man! Well.. best of luck.
Wow! Sounds fantastic. Have a safe and enjoyable trip back to India. Do stay in touch. I visit India on business every couple of months and do stop over in Bangalore, so hope to meet you there once you are well settled.
Wish you well on the move…what is your plans when you get to bangalore. I am there every 2-3 weeks. Let’s definitely stay in touch.
Good for you. I have heard wonderful stories about folks returning to India and really enjoying the good life and reconnecting with family and culture. Enjoy your US tour and stay in touch. My partner and I are looking to vacation in India next year. Please stay in touch as we might like to stop by and visit you in your new home. Cheers and best wishes on you new endeavor.
Wow! Big move. Hope to see you in Bangalore some day.
Have a safe, wonderful journey. Hope the transition back to India is smooth for you. Perhaps I’ll track you down the next time I’m in Bangalore.
All the best to you. I hope my travels will once again bring me to Bangalore, and if so, I will definitely be in contact. Travel safely and keep well.
Wow!! That’s amazing news. I’m really happy for you! I’m also glad to have someone to visit if i’m ever in bangalore again. 🙂 Please keep us all up to date. Good luck!
Wow that is big news!!!! Would you happen to have some time before you leave the bay area to meet up for a coffee or something? Would love to connect before you head out to BLR. My in-laws are in BLR and we do visit every time we go back.