Year 2010

Motor bikes can transport anything on Indian Roads!

20101206-IMG_7192-3 Motor bike carrying 2 large pieces of glass in Gurgaon, India Scooter carrying man and kid with lots of wood in Amjer, Rajasthan, India Carrying a rolled up mattress on a motor bike in Gurgaon, India Motor bike with 2 large boxes on Jaipur - Delhi highway

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What will it take to make us like India after moving back?

Relationships: Sailing with family in Mumbai harbourPHOTO: Sailing with family in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai Harbor, India

Meenal and I are experimenting living in Delhi for a year. At the end of the year, we’ll decide if we want to commit to India longer.

HOW will we decide if we like India or not?

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Work culture in India is weak compared to America

Cyber city in DLF Phase 2, Gurgaon, Haryana where many MNCs in India have officesPHOTO: Cyber city in DLF Phase 2, Gurgaon, Haryana where many MNCs in India have offices

I had heard that employees in India change jobs very often. Having been here for a month, I’m beginning to see some of the reasons for all the job hopping.

My opinions below are derived from conversations and experiences with several professionals across various MNCs in India.

The Employee Perspective

At the entry/mid-management level, a 2-year career with the same company is considered long. Employees are constantly on the lookout for another job and are sometimes actively poached by competitors. I’m told this is because there are substantially fewer “qualified” people than there are jobs. And with more and more MNCs growing their operations in India, this problem is expected to get worse.

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Playing Ultimate Frisbee in New Delhi, India

Returning to India makes you miss public facilities like the Boston Commons and the State Parks. Parks in Delhi, where available, aren’t well maintained. You can’t walk (let alone run looking up for a disk) without looking down all the time to avoid bricks, dogs, debris, etc.

Thankfully, Saumya Kanoria organizes Ultimate Frisbee on Sundays in his beautiful farm – green everywhere you look, 6-10 players, and a lot of running. It’s my favorite afternoon of the week!

Sunday Frisbee at Saumya'sSunday Frisbee at Saumya'sSunday Frisbee at Saumya'sSunday Frisbee at Saumya'sSunday Frisbee at Saumya'sSunday Frisbee at Saumya'sSunday Frisbee at Saumya's

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Delhi Ledger R2I blog is No. 1 on Google!

RANKED Number 1  ON GOOGLE!


I’m apparently the best person in THE WHOLE WIDE INTERNET to answer this question today: Do you get comforters in Gurgaon, Delhi?

My grandkids will hear about my day in Google sun!Comorters SEO

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Delhi Airport has the best restroom signs in the world

New Delhi has a fantastic new airport. And someone there has a sense of humor (or a funny non-humor personality). I love it!

4 FUNNY pictures of the Delhi airport restrooms

Restroom picture of New Delhi airportRestroom picture of New Delhi airportRestroom picture of New Delhi airportRestroom picture of New Delhi airport

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Ship mattress, comforter from USA or buy in India? Our story…

20101023-IMG_6574PHOTO: Meenal trying out mattresses in Sikandarpur Market, Gurgaon, India

Mattress

Surprisingly, buying a mattress after returning to India was quite straight forward. All of the major brands- Kurl-On, Sleepwell, etc.- can easily be found in most major markets with same day pedal-rickshaw-delivery and cash-on-delivery payment terms. This was a pleasant surprise after our mattress shopping experience in Boston (the entire industry is shady and worse than used car dealers).

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Defeating the rats of Mahabharata

A few years ago, Surya of New Hampshire had done a business out of India. He had many tales, one of which included an army of rats, his cables and Surya shouting with such frustration that you could see his blood red esophagus (Surya likes to use fancy words). Such a tale would have awed anyone, and it made me fear for my internet kingdom.

Since I am softer spoken than Surya and too modest to show my esophagus in public, I have encased my internet in 2000 pounds of pure stainless steel. If the rat armies manage to break my defenses, it will be the crowning achievement of their civilization and deserve a movie to celebrate it: The Rats of Mahabharata versus the cunning defenses of Jeloka ji.

A new stainless steel boxMy equipment and the perforated boxThe equipment insideOnly rats with balls of steel beyond this point

See BIG pictures of my kingdom’s defenses

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Cost of living in India – setup expenses for 2BR apartment after R2I

Last updated: December 6, 2010January 17, 2011 | US$1 = Rs.47

Setup expenses in India

$12,000

(Rs.5,65,000)
2 bedrooms used in a larger apartment in Gurgaon, India

Setup expenses
Our apartment came with an exhaust over stove $150 (Rs. 7000) and water heaters (Geyser): $160-$225 each (Rs. 7700-Rs.10,000).
Your landlord may or may not provide these.

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Healthcare consulting feels meaningful after 3 weeks of working in India

Badami, Karnataka 2002As healthcare consultants in India, we work a lot with the government and institutions such as the United Nations to bring basic healthcare facilities to the poor. And by “basic” I really do mean basic – 24×7 support for deliveries, care for newborns, immunization clinics, emergency care, blood storage units, etc. Next week, I will make my first business trip to a village to assess a public hospital that serves thousands of people but may not have the ability to do c-sections.  Our deliverables – assess the hospital, develop a plan to offer the various kinds of care expected from district level hospitals, and finally execute the plan over the next few years.

In the U.S., our contributions felt more indirect and due to a mature market, the problems we attempted to solve were more “first world”. Our solutions probably affected fewer people and were incremental and evolutionary. In India, our contributions have the potential of being very impactful – bringing healthcare services where there weren’t any or dramatically raising the quality of care provided. The large population exponentially multiplies the effect of our successes or failures.

India is so different from the U.S.

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Gingery Daap (Coconut) cocktail

These cocktails are made keeping in mind the high cost and limited availability of alcohol in India and the luxurious access to freshly squeezed juices. So far, I’ve found Vodka (several brands), Rum (Bacardi) and Gin to be decently priced in India.

20101128-IMG_69826

  • 1 part vodka
  • 1 part coconut juice
  • 3/4 part sprite (as a sweetener)
  • Ginger juice to taste
  • Lemon

Shake vodka, coconut juice, ginger juice and lemon with ice. Strain into ice filled glass. Top off with Sprite and stir.

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Minty Keenu (Orange) cocktail

These cocktails are made keeping in mind the high cost and limited availability of alcohol in India and the luxurious access to freshly squeezed juices. So far, I’ve found Vodka (several brands), Rum (Bacardi) and Gin to be decently priced in India.

Minty Keenu

  • 1/2 part rum
  • 1/2 part vodka
  • 1 part freshly squeezed tart Keenu juice
  • 1/2 part sprite
  • Mint leaf

Shake rum, vodka and Keenu juice with ice. Add Sprite and stir.
Muddle 3 mint leaves in glass, add ice and pour.

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Please don’t compare New York’s cost of living with New Delhi or Mumbai

Meenal expressing herself in NYPHOTO: Meenal expressing herself in New York, November 2008.

Alright, I’m quite tipsy now. Can you repeat what you were saying. Oh yes, I remember now: the cost of living in New Delhi or Gurgaon is high and that makes sense. Something something New York something something. Your drink must be better than mine. Even in my current state of intoxication, hearing New York as justification or explanation for the cost of living in Delhi sounds like a stretch. Why?

Gross Metropolitan Product in 2008

  • New York: $1466 Billion
  • INDIA GDP in 2009: $1240 Billion*** 
  • Boston: $338 Billion
  • Mumbai (Bombay): $209 Billion
  • Phoenix, Arizona: $200 Billion
  • New Delhi:  $167 Billion

Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers list of world cities economies

*** Shockingly, New York’s metropolitan product is more than all of India’s GDP. There’s a 9 fold difference in wealth between New Delhi and New York. But 2008 is dated. New York and America have suffered an economic ‘situation’ since. New Delhi and India, on the other hand, are growing at 5-10% per year. Fair enough, let’s fast forward …

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Momos (Tibetan Dumplings) are everywhere

Aah, Momos. Brings back memories of my childhood.

Every kid was served a fixed amount of food in my boarding school in Darjeeling. If a kid didn’t want to east something, he’d trade it with another kid – I’ll give you 3 bananas if you give me a mango next week. The king of all food items were Momos – Each kid got 8 momos for dinner on Saturday night. The going rate for a single piece of Momo on Saturday night?

1 Momo = 8 bananas or equivalent!

Now Momos are everywhere in Delhi and I’m loving it! The best I’ve had so far are from the Big Bazaar (local equivalent of Wal-Mart) stall in Gurgaon.

PHOTO: Big Bazaar Momo stand
CJ's Big Bazaar Momo stand

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Nonstop repairs at home after R2I India

Things break all the time in India. Things come out of their factory boxes broken, or are found to be faulty on first use. Things break that you’ve never seen broken. Things that you couldn’t even fathom had anything to break in it will break. We Sherlock Holmed this and found 2 obvious reasons. First, the stuff itself is of a lower quality – This is understandable in a poorer country. We’ll make peace with this. Second, the workmanship is very irresponsible. I’m not sure why people don’t take pride in their work but the constant repairs are frustrating.

examples

Example 1: Faulty light wiring

The ceiling light was installed 2 weeks ago. This was the first time I tried to position it according to my taste and it short circuited blowing the main house fuse. Lesson learned: If it works in any respect, thank your stars and don’t touch it.

PHOTO: I’m up on a 30 pound workman’s ladder shit scared of getting electrocuted:Prashant fixing a new light fixture

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Delhi after the first drizzle

New Delhi 63 degrees FThe sweaters are out
The shawls draped
The fires are lit
The puddles reflect.

(real poets don’t rhyme)


Man warming his foot on fireMan warming his hands on fireHawker lady's daughterFast and dangerous way to get aroundAutos in the rainHenri Cartier Bresson?

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First day at work after R2I in Deloitte India

November 15th, 2010

My first day in the Delhi office. A little anxious, a little excited…I was ready to meet new people and begin my professional experiment in India.

7:15 am – 9:00 am: Commute

I finally understand why office hours start late in India. The typical commute to work:

  • 7:15 am – take a rickshaw to the company van service stop
  • 7:30 am – board the ‘company shuttle’
  • Snooze for 1.5 hours with head bobbing violently
  • 9:00 am – arrive at the office

The company shuttle – Most companies contract with private van services to ferry all their employees to work from most parts of the city. For some companies, this is their second biggest expense after real estate and ahead of wages. The shuttles carry 4-8 people from each area and are feared on the roads because of their rash driving – by the other not so gentle drivers of Delhi!

Thankfully, my commute is a tad better than this typical commute.

Traffic jam with a thousand company vans waiting in DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon, HaryanaPHOTO: Traffic jam with a thousand company vans waiting in DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon, Haryana

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