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Cost of living in India – monthly expenses after R2I 2010-2011

Rent + $2100 per month

Cost of living 3

August, 2011

  • Domestic travel – Meenal and I took a vacation in Ladakh. May be one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen.
  • Clothes – we didn’t take enough warm clothes to Ladakh thinking that it’ll be warm. Surprisingly we found good American and European brands for outer wear at very good prices.
  • Groceries – My mother-in-law started giving us lots of fruit every time we visited and she refuses to get paid for it. So it won’t be happening any longer.
  • Utils – I started using a smaller room for hanging out and the air conditioning bill went down. Also, we made fewer international calls since we were traveling for 10 days.

See the expenses between November, 2010 – May, 2011

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Making new friends in India after R2I

Making new friends in India PHOTO: Party at our place for friends of friends we’ve met after moving to Delhi and Gurgaon. July, 2011.

No, it’s not like your grandmother told you. You can’t just drop by anyone’s house at any time. People work, tend to kids, go shopping, do household chores, catch up on Bollywood movies, travel for work, get stuck in traffic and have family obligations like any other place in the world. Organizing a party or a meet up with friends isn’t much different than America – you have to set a date and let people know in advance (texting is preferred). In some respects meeting up can be harder – people work longer hours, have really long commutes and have many family obligations. Additionally, the city either doesn’t offer many activities to do (outdoors, walking paths, etc.) or we don’t know Delhi well enough. Still, we have started having regular parties …

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Kickass home food and cooking after R2I – again!

Fancy food after R2I

King Jeloka has been served – again. My queen Meenal has found a way to my heart through my stomach.

Prep time

5 Meenal minutes immediately after returning from the gym

1. Five spice vegetables medley

Roasted squash, zucchini, eggplant, and onions sautéed in olive oil and with whole red chili pepper and a hint of fennel and honey. Salt and pepper to taste.

2. Couscous

Every whole foods visiting yuppie knows how to make this.

3. Stuffed green peppers

Boiled whole green pepper, cut in half, stuffed with corn and tomatoes, baked with cheese.

4. Sweet and spicy cucumber salad

Raw cucumbers with a sweet and spicy Thai dressing


Beverage of choice

Clean water

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Quality of life after R2I – Single car crash inside our luxury bubble

We were driving with the air conditioning brushing against our silky hair. Suddenly, we hear a BOOM CRANK HISS and we were stalled. WTF?

Quality of life after R2I - car crash

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Speed and reliability of internet after R2I, moving to India – broadband cable and mobile data card

20101225-IMG_7551PHOTO: Airtel is a major telecom provider in India. Advertisement in a ‘dhaba’ (street fast food joint).

Update April 26, 2011

Very slow internet – tech, customer and email support. 5 days of pain. Airtel sucks but internet providers run monopolies in most areas. Details

Update March 11, 2011

Slow internet, tech support, speed returns. Details

Original article

Given internet’s crucial place in the continuity of civilization, you can imagine my internet concerns before moving to India. Is broadband going to be fast enough? Will the connection in Gurgaon be reliable or will I spend all my time on the phone with Bob from Bangalore? Do they sell data cards so I can get my fix when I’m on the move?

Worry not. All your fan mail will reach me at lightning speed…

Continue reading: Speed and reliability of internet after R2I, moving to India – broadband cable and mobile data card

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Home food and cooking after R2I

Home food cooking in India after R2I

Please address me as Maharaja Jeloka. Organic this and sautéed that, whole grain something with Spanish something, and a drink that’s got New Orleans and Assam!

Our R2I home meals are indeed more lavish than in Boston.

The good

Meenal calls ahead so the cook can have most things prepared. The first time, she shows him how its done. Every time after that, dinner takes 15 Meenal minutes! I make the cocktails.

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Romance, the Indian way

It was 7 am on a chilly Friday morning and I hadn’t seen Meenal all week. As her taxi pulled into the apartment complex, I was loading my bag into another cab to catch my flight to Kolkata.

In the 1 minute that we had to meet and greet before parting again, I uttered these romantic words in her ears:

I left the geyser on for you baby.

Geyser: Water heater for taking hot showers in India. If you forget to turn it on a couple of hours in advance, ouch.

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Barbecuing successfully after returning to India (2nd try)

Building a barbecue in India - making holesBuilding a barbecue in India - welding the legsBuilding a barbecue in India - welding the grill Building a barbecue in India - behold man's will
Barbecuing in India - Vegetables20110203-IMG_8110-2Barbecuing in India - Garlicy tomatoes with goat cheese

Last week, I headed to a local metal shop to construct a grill from scratch – armed with metal bowls called ‘Tasla’ (otherwise used by construction labor to carry cement), metal beams (otherwise used to make bookshelves) and a lot of enthusiasm. My last try at barbecuing with a gas tandoor didn’t make my heart sing but this time it was going to be different.

3 hours of welding and 2 cups of sweat later, I had 4 spanking new barbecue grills – ghetto style!

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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


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


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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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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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.


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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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: Umm..um..which 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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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)

Continue reading: The mother of all moving to India (R2I) checklist

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