If this is not ulaari, then I don’t know what is


“But my move was unconventional…”, replied my friend R who had moved to Bangalore from the Bay Area three years ago. Our email thread stalled at that point so I didn’t get a chance to learn what her definition of ‘conventional’ was. Bet it wasn’t Nagesh Kukunoor‘s portrayal of Varun in Hyderabad Blues. Jokes apart, I reckon the following stories might map to most folks’ definition of conventional moves:

  • S moves to Delhi/Noida from Bay Area, remains with Oracle. S’s parents live in Delhi.
  • SB moves to DelhiĀ from BostonĀ to start and lead Sapient’s India operation. SB is originally from Bombay.
  • BV moves to Bangalore from Bay Area to start and lead Yahoo’s India operation. BV is originally from Bangalore.
  • RA moves to Delhi/Noida from Bay Area, quits HP and joins HCL. RA’s parents live in Delhi.
A common refrain between these stories is that the primary breadwinner secures a job first and then moves the family. In other words, there’s little downtime between the US job and the Indian job. Now let’s contrast this with that the Kurugantis are doing.
I wrapped up my responsibilities with Graspr on May 31, went on a 2-week trip to India in search of a forcing function, decided on Bangalore as our destination even before I had finalized my career move. To make life more interesting, we also decided to sell our house and, mind you, not just sell our house but also sell/give away 95% of our household belongings (more on this later). And to top it all, we were embarking on a 25-day Farewell USA road trip to bid farewell to our beloved adopted country, dear friends, and cousins. If this is not ulaari (Etymology of ulaar), then I don’t know what is.

Etymology of ulaar


Main campus building of Birla Institute of Technology (BIT), Mesra

Back in my undergraduate alma mater (Birla Institute of Technology Ranchi, India), the ulaar moniker referred to students who were gentlemen of leisure, or in other words, displayed very little interest in scholarly pursuits. So how did these characters spend their time (you may ask)? A great majority of them indulged in inebriation, smoking and rowdy behavior – perhaps not very different from certain fraternity organizations in US universities. Some of the reclusive ulaars also resorted to excessive sleeping. The related term ulaari refers to the act of being ulaars – in other words, if you were spending exam nights indulging in binge drinking, you were doing ulaari.

In certain minority circles, the ulaar moniker morphed to a more broader state of mind where one “didn’t have a care in the world”. The moderate ulaar has not abandoned scholastic ambitions but realizes that there’s more to life than a single-minded pursuit of academic excellence. During my years at BIT, Mesra, I was a moderate ulaar though, I daresay, none of my friends could have surmised it.