Year 2010

Barbecuing UNsuccessfully after returning to India (1st try)

You suburban residents of Boston thought that you’d be the only ones to have it all – a big house, a wooden deck and a barbecue grill. You were mostly right. No big house on a cul-de-sac or the visits from deers on my deck yet. But barbecue I can!

I found something called a Gas Tandoor which seems to do the job, somewhat. It’s a metal apparatus that goes over your existing gas stove in the kitchen. Its got a base with a grill that lets the heat of the gas stove come through. The cover with the black handle keeps the heat in.

Pictures from the first test:


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We painted our walls green and caffeine for $100

20101120-IMG_685718 YouTube videos later, we felt that we were ready. So off we went to the paint store. That’s when we got caught.

Shopkeeper: Which paint do you want?

Us: ones do you have?

Shopkeeper: [confused look]. Asian Paints Royale, Premium and the cheapest distemper.

Us: [thinking we should come clean since the YouTube videos weren’t making us look like pros] Ok. So we’ve never painted before. Can you help us choose? What’s the difference?

Shopkeeper: [smirks that we came clean and just rewords his last comment] The luxury is the most expensive, the premium is less, the distemper is the cheapest.

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Diwali in India is a reminder to celebrate

Shweta lighting diyas in her rangoliI’m not religious and don’t celebrate religious holidays. And yet, this Diwali I’m struck by the festive mood – decorating, wrapping gifts and socializing. It is a reminder that celebration is worth the effort. Whether its doing rangoli and pujas for Diwali or a barbeque with your spouse and friends with whom you enjoy living life.

Life’s successes seem almost inevitable after the fact. In about 10 days, Meenal and I would have settled into our new place in Gurgaon. Meenal will start her new job in India on November 15th. I’ll start working full time on my business this month. And we’ll start spending more time with family, old friends and new people we meet. This is a milestone for us. Diwali has reminded me to celebrate this milestone.

Seasons greetings and Happy Life! And lookout for our party invite…

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We are moving to a our own place in Gurgaon, India!

My mother in law can’t keep feeding us. We will be moving to our own place on November 1st. The breakfasts will be slightly more modest in a few days.

Breakfast at Tiffany'sBreakfast at Tiffany'sBreakfast at Tiffany'sBreakfast at Tiffany's

Loosing your vision? Enlarge these pictures!

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Sudbury, MA cushions for sale in Gurgaon, India!

When did Sudbury, MA become fashionable in the malls of Gurgaon? I drove through Sudbury every week to visit Harry and Manny in Marlborough, MA. and seeing the cushion made me smile AND grab my camera.IMG_6577

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Scan and digitize physical pictures before moving to India

Prashant (extreme right) with his cousins in Bihar, IndiaCarrying boxes of valuable family pictures every time I moved was painful enough within the U.S. There was no way that I was going to haul such precious cargo for an international move. But I didn’t want to make love to a scanner for a month either.

Just then, I saw superhero David Pogue of the New York Times fly in carrying a sacred book that promised divine answers to all my problems. I flipped to ‘Scan my family photos’ and put all my faith in its solution…
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Which alcohol should you buy in duty free before moving to India?

Family in Delhi think that I’m not much of a drinker. Shocking as that may sound to my yuppie drinking friends, the accusation is largely true. And I desperately want a drink. Yes, bolded. So, why the wannabe Gandhian stance?

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Sort and scan all your documents before moving to India

2 Annas was legal tender in Bihar, 1945 PHOTO: Inherited document from 1945 in unknown language

You think you have too many files? Don’t challenge me – I have documents from the early 1900s. My father got it from his mother and I got it from him. And that’s just my fathers side. My mother has evolved a philosophy about this – you don’t know when you’ll need it again so best to save it. Yes, my family has been at this for generations. I had to put an end to it – my imaginary children could not inherit a mountain of paperwork from another century.

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MP3 all your music before moving to India

Live Bhangra music in Kurukshetra, Haryana Punjab border, 2010 With a 5.1 Onkyo envelope in my living room, a speaker in the kitchen and one in the bathroom (it helps with dancing in the shower) my place in Boston rocked. All of this, however, weighed a ton. So what, I’ll ship it to India.

No so fast…

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Don’t ship your books to India (Hint: Kindle)

Making do with free news, South India, 2002 Books are heavy and costly to ship. We sold almost all of our physical books on and purchased a kindle. Our entire library now fits inside our office bags. I’ll refrain from getting into the physical and electronic reading experience debate except for saying that I prefer electronic books.

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Uncle Sam, can I come back to USA if I stop enjoying curry?

Music outside the Obama pad in DC, 2009After we decided to return to India and give living and working in Delhi a try, my first question was predictable:
Can I come back to the United States if I hate the Delhi experiment?
Clearly, this was an expectation setting discussion between Meenal and me. But this was also a LEGAL question – will Uncle Sam be happy to have us back or is this really a burn the boats strategy that’ll force us to make India work at every cost? I was only comfortable doing this if we were able to keep our options open. I considered Boston and New England home.

U.S. Citizenship

I had thought of becoming a US citizen a year earlier but wasn’t comfortable with the idea and since there was no urgency, I didn’t pursue it. After a year of sleeping over it, I was eager to take the oath. My American immigration story had come a full circle.

4 months after making up my mind, I raised my right hand in the historic Faneuil hall of Boston and became a part of the Ellis Island history.

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Why we moved to India


Prashant: Animals have fought for mates since the beginning of time. Human history is full of examples of wars waged in the pursuit of beauty. In this great tradition, I’m following my wife half way around the world. My masterstroke has only one goal – to unashamedly use this in every marital argument from this point on. If you don’t want to move and your spouse does, this mind-numbingly brilliant strategy could serve you well.

Also, I had an opportunity to start a design company. I was smitten.

Meenal: Even after a blissful decade in Massachusetts, I still referred to Delhi as “home.” I was not ready to settle down in the US without at least attempting to live in India. I didn’t want to be a middle-aged naturalized American who longed to settle down in the motherland one day. This wasn’t due to any nationalistic sentiment. I just missed family – I missed being a part of people’s lives. By perfect accident, I got a great opportunity to work in India for a couple of years – so we took the plunge.

It may end up being a classic case of the “grass is greener on the other side” but at least I’ll know where I want “home” to be.

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The mother of all moving to India (R2I) checklist

Meenal and I moved to India at the end of October, 2010 and into our apartment in Gurgaon on November 1, 2010. Divided into 5 sections, this post will be a guided tour of Delhi Ledger R2I blog.

PART I     Long ago – September, 2010

Before moving to India or Returning to India

July 4th in Washington DC

  1. Emotional – what’s the point of moving to India or R2I?
    • Why and when we moved to India
    • The heart-to-heart with the spouse before moving to India
    • The talk with family about returning to India
  2. Immigration – Uncle Sam, can I come back to USA if I hate living in India?
    • US Citizenship before moving to India
    • US permanent residency/green card – maintenance requirements while living in India, I-131 re-entry permit BEFORE moving to India
    • Indian permanent residency – Overseas citizen of India visa before R2I
  3. Emotional – What will it take to make us like India?
    • Money and personal finance in India
    • Material things in India
    • Health and sports while living in India
    • Relationships after moving to India
    • Working in India after R2I
    • Intellectual stuff and hobbies after moving to India
    • Emotions and wisdom (touchy feely stuff) after moving to India
  4. Your stuff – sell them before moving to India
  5. Financial – taking care of personal finance before moving to India
    • Banking – U.S. bank accounts, Indian bank accounts – NRE and NRO, linking accounts
    • Credit and Debit cards – charges, exchange rates, setup for international transactions before moving to India
    • 401 K – Adjust deductions, move to IRA after quitting work
    • Vacation balances – using them or cashing out before moving to India
  6. Work
    • Talk to your current employer – pending promotions, yearly salary increase, etc. before setting a date to move to India
    • Moving to India with your current employer
    • Network with Indian employers even before you move to India
  7. Healthcare
    • U.S. health insurance and coverage after moving to India
    • Physical and dental exams before moving to India
    • Local health insurance in India
  8. Other
    • Get an international driving license before moving to India (AAA)

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Welcome to Delhi Ledger R2I blog!

Lets start with a disclaimer – we’ve never blogged before and haven’t written regularly since college. Not withstanding this small detail, we’ll try and keep you entertained with a topic that has plagued Prashant’s mother-in-law for a long time – will we make it in India?

We pledge to you that we will not rest until we have satisfied the sadist in all of you with stories of our adventures in India – sharing all the morbid details of our frustrations, our pains and of how Meenal sobbed like a little girl. Sometimes, Prashant will tell you tales of his conquests of this spiritual land. You are free to use all the stories on this blog, posing it as your own, to appear greater than life to your grandchildren. If you use it in any other way – we will sue your ass in true American spirit.

Enjoy Delhi Ledger R2I moving to India blog!

Prashant & Meenal

Learn more about usMeenal Bagla & Prashant Jeloka in Bangkok, Thailand 2009

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