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?

  1. Money – income, savings, net worth and financial security
    Employment in India pays significantly less. Doing a business is no walk in the park. But Meenal and I are lowering the importance of money in 2011. And we know that India is a poorer country. Hence, we won’t be judging India on this factor.
  2. Material things– things we needed to feel comfortable, role of stuff in life
    • In our control – We are used to retail heaven of America. Shopping in India is, mildly put, challenging. By paying more for some goods, importing some of them, finding local alternatives where possible and learning to live without others, we will manage (hopefully).
    • Outside our control – The infrastructure in India is a daily challenge and there is no way to buy ourselves out of it. We know this going in and will have to just suck it up.
      Material things will not be a factor for the final judgment.
  3. Health– exercise (cardio, strength, stretching), food, lifestyle and stress
    • In our control – we will continue to go the gym on a regular basis and play the same sports we did in America. The quality of daily food will be an improvement in India since each meal will be freshly cooked. Even snacks have several healthy options here (eating them instead of chips is another matter!).
    • Outside our control – We will take reasonable precautions to mitigate the bad air quality, high presence of mosquito/food/water borne diseases, and other macro problems but a lot of it will be beyond our control. Thankfully, India has several gods to choose from to pin our hopes for a disease free stay.
      Health will not to be used in the final judgment unless all the gods conspire to give us dengue.
  4. Relationships – spouse, friends, family, children, mentors and larger community
    Every immigrant to the United States boasts of a stronger social fabric in their home country. America’s culture is surely lonelier than other places with television shows and household chores filling many American weeknights. This is an area where India will really need to shine at the end of our experiment year – do we have stronger social relationships with friends and family?

    20101212-IMG_7240PHOTO: Meenal cracking up when Akshay visited us in Gurgaon
  5. Work, intellect and hobbies – quality of professional work, daily learning, hobbies and recreation
    We have no idea going in about the work culture in India and will be learning a lot about it. Even though this isn’t a natural strength for India, both Meenal and I need work to be satisfying – are we happy with the work that we are doing in India and hopeful of remaining intellectually stimulated in the future?

    Consulting in IndiaPHOTO: Meenal’s consultant lifestyle – waiting for high speed train to the villages of Rajasthan
  6. Emotions and wisdom – morals, fun, happiness
    We want to devote more time to fun than we have in the last 5 years – travel more, pursue hobbies, sit in the sun, etc. This has less to do with India and more to do with us redefining ‘success’. This is not a basis of judgment for India. It is, however, an evolution of our priorities – can we bring ourselves to measure success with people, fun, professional work and intellectual stimulation?

For those of you lazily skipped to end, I’ll summarize: India needs to kick ass on 2 fronts for us to like it – relationships and quality of work.

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